You can’t really blame conservatives for savroring that rare moment when liberal celebrities, who are typically shielded from their bad behavior by the popular culture, finally get their comeuppance. That same culture has, after all, treated us a lot like a high school lacrosse team treats mathletes in the locker room after gym class. Why shouldn’t we want to get even? After enduring all the wedgies, swirlies and getting stuffed into lockers, revenge isn’t just sweet–it’s a moral imperative.
Last week handed us that chance. Fresh off her Bride of ISIS gag with a replica of Donald Trump’s head, Kathy Griffin was shocked to discover that, outside of a Monty Python movie, most people don’t find decaptiation all that funny. Unfortunately for her, that includes CNN–which, after a brief waiting period to see how bad the blowback would get, fired Griffin from her soft core porn gig with Anderson Cooper on New Year’s Eve. On top of that, it also looks as if the few live shows she had scheduled at different spots around the country have been canceled. My guess is that the venues wanted to avoid violence from angry protestors demanding a refund on their tickets.
Bottom line, though, is that Kathy Griffin has effectively been scalped. And a lot of folks on the right have hoisted that bright red tuft into the air and are dancing around and singing, “Finally! We got one!”
But it didn’t stop there. Not by a long shot.
Bill Maher–host of HBO’s Real Time and the reigning King of Liberal Condescension–also got in on the act when he poured gasoline all over himself and lit up a Kool during a chat with Ben Sasse last Friday:
During an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., about his new book, The Vanishing American Adult, Maher and Sasse were discussing adults who dress up for Halloween. Sasse said that happened less often in Nebraska, where the practice is “frowned upon.”
“I’ve got to get to Nebraska more,” said Maher.
To which Sasse earnestly replied, “You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.”
Maher narrowed his brow. “Work in the fields?” he said, raising his palms. “Senator, I’m a house [N-word].”
Sasse smiled uncomfortably, and some groans were audible from the audience. “It’s a joke,” protested Maher, moving the conversation along.
Now I realize that Maher prides himself on being politically incorrect–but if he was Bruce Banner, the radiation from that joke would have him hulking out right about now.
Maher has apologized, saying in a statement:
Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive, and I regret saying it and am very sorry.
Of course, this hasn’t stopped the social justice warriors from calling for Maher’s job. Autum Price has a really good roundup of the reactions–including, incredibly, those who blame Sasse for not upbraiding Maher on the spot. None of the invective is surprising, because it’s just the sort of thing you expect from the perpetually aggrieved progressive class. But that does leave the question of how conservatives should respond. Do we accept Maher’s apology, taking his word at face value as we advocate free speech rights–or do we pile on with his detractors, in the hopes of claiming another liberal scalp?
I’m torn over the issue. Even if he made a really poor joke, it’s obvious from the context of the interview that Maher was joking, and doing so in a self-deprecating way. To me, that’s not much different to the kind of bawdy humor you used to see in a movie like Blazing Saddles–a profoundly anti-racist comedy that could never be made today because people are too damned sensitive. Moreover, we’re losing the anti-racist message conveyed in that kind of humor. I’d rather we all be able to have a laugh, and maybe learn something profound in the process.
Also, Bill Maher is no Kathy Griffin. That’s to say, he’s not a fame-seeking nitwit who spouts things off just to get attention. I don’t agree with most of what he says–but he does seem to have thought through his positions, and actually seems to believe them. And, unlike most other creatures of Hollywood, he’s not afraid to call out radical Islam as a real problem.
On the other hand, I’ve also seen conservatives crucified for making totally innocuous statements that get twisted into something racist, sexist or whatever else progressives need to assassinate the character, reputation and careers of their political enemies. Even worse, it’s often the media leading the charge. That’s how a decent, moral man like Mitt Romney got painted as a dog-hating homophobe, and Trent Lott got branded as a segregationist for wishing Storm Thurmond a happy birthday. Holding Maher to the same standard–making him, a liberal, live by the same insane rules that his prog buddies have imposed on conservatives–kind of seems like justice to me. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll make those progs realize that their game of boycotts, bullying advertisers and social media terror can be turned against them–and make them want to stop.
What say you, Bill?