Comic boundaries and women

Comedy is a very valuable reflective and introspective tool in our society.  Comics can make us laugh at ourselves or, at least, not take ourselves so seriously.  Comics can put the world in perspective when we get too caught up in political combat to “see the forest for the trees.”  And they can speak truth to power as only a court jester can and has for centuries. 

Comedy is an art, not a legal court proceeding or a news item.  I honestly believe this cause célèbre is more of a distraction than a real issue.  We are confusing the biased and deliberately inaccurate reporting by the MSM with comedy, which is an art.  And, like all arts, art is in the “eye of the beholder.” 

The right to free speech can only be measured by how a society treats the speech with which  it does not agree or approve.  Should there be reasonable limitations?  Of course!  And there are — in factual media:  they are libel and slander law.  But in comedy, where it is clear the comments are not meant to be factual, but rather entertaining, libel and slander do not apply, or, at least, the bar is significantly lower.   And this, for the most part, is a good thing.   Comedians like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and programs like Saturday Night Live may often blur the line between information and entertainment, as Katie Couric called it on her first broadcast, “infotainment,”  but there main function is the entertain.  If they can inform in the process, so much the better.

Was Letterman making a “bad” joke?  Maybe.  Was it in poor taste?  Possibly, but he did not cross the line or even lower the bar — all these kinds of jokes had been made before about other teenager girls (Paris Hilton, Nicole Richey, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Spears, Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, the Nixon girls, the Johnson girls and the Bush twins) in the public forum — even as underage teenagers.  His intended “victim” was the “of age,” formerly married Bristol Palin (who he confused with her younger, underage sister Willow).

Sarah Palin, like all politicians, knew when she entered the political arena that she and her family would be “fair game” for the media, both journalistic and entertainment.  She knew that any mistake her kids made would be subject to public scrutiny. 

She also knew that, when Bristol got pregnant out-of-wedlock and underage, that, given her political beliefs and her public evangelical Christian-based positions, that both she, her family and, especially, Bristol, would be the fodder for many jokes, and, frankly, reasonably so.

When Bristol decided to make “abstinence” ads targeted to prevent teen pregnancy, certainly Sarah should have known and informed her daughter if she didn’t know, that Bristol would be putting herself in the public forum and inviting public scrutiny and public humiliation.

So the false outrage shown by Sarah and her family mischaracterizing what Letterman said was not only a bit hysterical, it was more than a bit hypocritical.

II honestly believe this is “much ado about nothing,” or, at least, almost nothing.  Certainly, it is not a measured and rational response.  Further, it distracts from the real issues facing women.

If women want equality with men in all areas, including politics, they must be willing to accept the good with the bad.  Men in politics have been the brunt of jokes and personal attacks from the MSM for centuries now, as evidenced by every president, especially Bill Clinton and GWB. 

We wanted equality, now we have it.  Suck it up and focus on the real issues that can advance the causes of women.

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About Laura Schneider

Retired IT consultant (disabled), musician and animal lover. I support the constitutional concept of Right of Privacy and no discrimination against any person based on race, religion, ideology, gender, sexual preference or disability. I am very concerned about the erosion of our constitutional rights and protections under GWB (and even this administration). I strongly oppose torture, rendition or illegal search and/or seizure (without a warrant) and warrantless wiretapping. I believe that education is our best hope of a bright future for our children. Knowledge is power, and that's the kind of authority (Biblically speaking) that our children must have in order to be successful in a 21st century world.
This entry was posted in freedom of speech, irresponsible parenting, parenting, responsible parenting, women, women's rights and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Comic boundaries and women

  1. bj says:

    How is it that when you reflect on “Pregressiveism” you only refer to the last 10 years? This puts it on Bush when it is BOTH the Dems and Republicans that have moved us all towards totaliarism government … inch by inch since Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

    Have the courage to go on back to when it all started, study it and either claim that with pride or adjust your appreciation for those who would do away with what made America great.

    • lauraschneider says:

      I think you must be responding to a different post. Your comment on this post makes no sense….

      I don’t see where the Dems have moved the country to totalitarian government, far from it. During the last administration, our freedoms and constitutional rights and protections were severely curtailed and infringed. There is no other comparison in modern times for America.

      I have, indeed, studied history. Perhaps you are the one who needs to approach history with new eyes, mindful of the historical context, and quit swallowing neocon BS hook, line and sinker without question….

  2. Jack McIntosh says:

    I don’t like jokes about gays in a for profit entertainment setting. I didn’t like this and I have taken acception to many such incidents targeting gays, women, victims of rape and other identifiable “groups”. It is a poor commentary on our society that such low brow prejudice is taken as comedy and rewarded. Was the outrage hyped? Yes. Brilliantly.

    • lauraschneider says:

      I agree with you to a point.

      I want to make a distinction between what is OK (morally right) and what is LEGAL (constitutionally protected).

      I didn’t like the comments, although I did not take them to be as offensive as the reactionaries waging jihad against Letterman, and I do not believe he had malintent toward either girl.

      My concern is that confusing the standards to which comics are held and the standard to which journalists and the news MSM are held are two different things.

      If we make THIS the poster incident for sexism in the media, we will not have nearly as strong a case as our real concern: real bias in the MSM where news channels were acting as PR firms for a particular male candidate against a female candidate using lies, deliberate distortions and sexist remarks to discredit the female candidate.

      Comics entertain and can sway public opinion to an extent, but they cannot misinform the public in order to sway an election as did the MSM in the last election.

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