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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quipping

Funnyman David Letterman said Tuesday in his Late Night monologue that Sarah Palin, visiting NYC, had the style of a "slutty flight attendant." On a riff, he then quipped, "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game -- during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." The daughter in question is 14 years old.

Ms Palin responded thus: "Acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl, who could be anyone's daughter, contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others."

Todd Palin, father of the insulted child, said, "Any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable. Alaskans know it, and I believe the rest of the world knows it, too." Now follows a humorous sketch.

Todd Palin: [addressing camera of interviewer] This is a direct message to David Letterman. You have insulted my wife and my minor daughter. Sir, if this were 200 years ago I would hunt you down and kill you. I just called you 'sir', but you are scum. I'd call you a bitch but that's an insult to women. I'd call you a bastard, but that would mean your mother is a whore. Is your mother a whore? She must be a real bitch. Because you are a bastard. Like your child -- your son I believe, is a bastard, correct? Because you lived with some slut for a while, and had a bastard by her, and then finally married her, after the bastard was born? But he's still technically a bastard, I believe. Oh, you don't like what I'm saying, how I'm insulting your family? Hey, it's a joke, a joke. But if you don't think it's funny, I'm inviting you to meet me face to face. At which time I will accept your abject and very sincere-seeming apology, or give you the beating of your life.

The End

Letterman later explained that he was attacking the 18 year old, not the 14 year old. "I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I mean, look at my record. It has never happened. I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it was funny. I wouldn’t put it in a joke…" No apology there, but what would we expect. Letterman went on to say, to an imaginary viewer, "Gov. Palin, if you’re watching, I would like you to consider coming to New York City -- even Todd -- as my guests, or leave Todd at home. I’d love to have you on the show. It’d be exciting. All right, so there, I hope I’ve cleared part of this up. Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes. Did I suggest that it was okay for her 14-year-old daughter to be having promiscuous sex? No."

Of course we all understand that the daughter Letterman meant to attack is the older one, who had the child. His joke writers just didn't bother to get the facts straight. What do facts matter when you're being funny? Critics are exploiting this carelessness, because it was a cheapshot that opened Letterman up to the criticism. He didn't make fun of the horsefaced Clinton child; he did make fun of the partygirl Bush twins; he will not make fun of the Obama girls; he does attack Republican Sarah Palin's family. You see the pattern.

Letterman used to be the funniest man on TV -- back in the 80s. I don't have a TV anymore, but stopped watching him years ago. Just not my cuppa, anymore. I don't like bigot humor, which nowadays would all be coming from the left -- but I don't think Rush is very funny either. Substance. Foibles. Attack these. But attacking a whole side of the debate, because it's not your side? Sure, once in a while. I just did it. But who am I? And I attack error, on principle, and amid all the sarcasm there will be found some evidence, some rationality. FP is not about name-calling and driveby attacks. I will stand and fight. Letterman and his ilk are bomb-throwers.

I guess my point is that sometimes civility needs to be enforced with a horsewhip. Fear is one of the few things that keeps civilization from crumbling.


J

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