Here we are again. This blog started with the new NFL anthem policy.
Then Roseanne Barr dropped her Tweet bombs. It helped me finally manage to wrap my head around some concepts that had been floating around for a while. So, I set the anthem policy comments aside for a later date to make observations about the Barr situation instead. Oh well. Best laid plans and all that.
Then, Samantha Bee got thrown in the mix as well. What I planned to write changed yet again.
And grew to a four part blog.
I will be swearing in this. Those who know me personally know I can be foul-mouthed, although lacking in creativity. And a lot of this may be directed at a “you” who may or may not be a reader of this blog. I am so fed up right now that I don’t even care.
A lot of things I have seen lately inspired this blog series. I want to thank friends and other blog writers for their influence in this regard: Jon Gold, Rob Henderson, Gary Christiansen, Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, Mahablog, and Hullabaloo, to name just a few.
STATUS UPDATE: PI$$ED OFF
Like I said, I originally planned to cover the NFL anthem policy. I spent days and days looking over oh-so-reasonable-sounding statements refuting points no one was making and listening to gently false equivalencies, all largely in support of the NFL anthem policy. Some people saying these things could be identified as Trump supporters, Conservatives, Republican, or Right-leaning. But some also claimed to be Progressive, Liberal, Democrat, or Left-leaning. Some clearly despised NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Some claimed to support the players.
And, as the days went on, I began to yell at the screen in frustration as two things became apparent. One, they saw American principles themselves as special snowflakes. Two, their statements missed the concerns actually being raised about the decision.
I admit I get defensive about the nation’s core principles. Mainly because so many people pound the table to tell me how much they are being violated while demonstrating they have no clue what those principles are.
All this is to explain that I was already on edge when the Roseanne Barr stuff went down on May 28 – 29.
Again, I watched the post-game analysis. Again, people missed the point. Again, false equivalencies were raised. And I waded through the filth of arguments amounting to:
- Bigotry is okay in a free country; and
- That those who espouse tolerance are duty bound to be tolerant of those espousing intolerance.
To both those concepts, I have a few words to say.
No! Just, no!
You know what? Not good enough.
Scr#w that! F%ck no!
And then Samantha Bee’s comments came out, and the taps on the flow of filth opened wide. As did the flow of false equivalencies.
So now I am wading into this putrid flood with my own commentary, before we all get sucked under by this morass.
I want to make clear. This four part series is not about all Trump supporters. Or all Conservatives. Or all Liberals. Or all of any group. I heard people make reasonable statements and respond without being sucked into whataboutism and false equivalencies during the past week. But I also saw many others get dragged under completely.
I admit freely here. I am tired. I am angry. I am frustrated as heck at the garbage people are throwing around in the guise of thoughtful argument these days. I am steaming mad about the intolerance allowed to romp around unchecked.
WRAPPING MY BRAIN ABOUT THE LINE BETWEEN TOLERANCE AND INTOLERANCE
I am sick to see the level of bigotry and racism openly displayed by so many in this country. I am heartsore to see how many claim to not see it or get it. I am fed up with folks trying to use my stances on tolerance and free speech to force me to accept bigotry and racism.
I confess that I have struggled in the past on where lines need to be drawn. My devotion to the principles of tolerance and free speech has tripped me up. I have run across several people lately, clearly as fed up as I am, making an argument I had difficulty wrapping my brain around:
For tolerance to thrive, one has to be intolerant of intolerance.
But, if I do that, doesn’t that make me intolerant?
Intellectually, I understood the argument. But I could not get my mind to accept it. I could not fully grasp it.
However the stuff surrounding Roseanne Barr this past week has put things into better focus for me. So, let me put matters another way.
To stand up for my principles, I have to stand up for the bullied, not the bully. It’s okay for me to shut down the bullying.
BREAKING DOWN THE EVENTS AROUND SAMANTHA BEE’S FULL FRONTAL COMMENTS
But that gets ahead of things here. So, let’s start at the end. With Samantha Bee.
Specifically, Samantha Bee is a comedian who has a show called Full Frontal, during which she projects a persona and spears current political, economic and social issues. Very similar to shows by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert. In order to understand the context of what happed this week, understand that both swearing and making biting commentary are a big part of Bee’s shtick on the show.
So, what did she say?
To set the stage, as Memorial Day weekend approached, news reports were breaking about how the government could not account for 1,500 immigrant children it had taken into custody at one point. Other reports indicated some children seized by immigration agents in the past had actually been trafficked. Other reports broke that under Trump’s new policies, children of legal asylum seekers were forcibly separated from their parents.
People were often conflating these stories, and the underlying context was often getting lost in the process. It’s not as simple as “Trump policies bad.” And all of this is not on the Trump administration.
Regardless, as a result, while Memorial Day weekend broke, many in the U.S. felt highly alarmed about this country’s treatment of immigrant children.
When Ivanka Trump posted a fairly innocent photo of her and her son together over the weekend, many people found it tone-deaf and insensitive given the administration’s policies and the roles both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, play as advisors to Ivanka’s father, President Donald Trump. Also keep in mind, one of the areas in which Jared Kushner advises the President is in our relations with Mexico.
THE HEART OF THE SAMANTHA BEE MATTER
All of that provided fodder to Samantha Bee’s show this past week.
But what did she say?
During a segment, Samantha Bee showed the photo Ivanka Trump Tweeted over the weekend.
“You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c*nt! He listens to you. Put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to f*cking stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing, and see how it goes, OK?”
That last part was accompanied by a photo of Ivanka and her father that has always given me a creepy incestuous vibe. Not necessarily on Ivanka’s part. But certainly on Donald Trump’s.
Some more background. When 16-year old Ivanka co-hosted the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant, Trump asked the then Miss Universe, “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?”
Most non-pedophiles would not refer to any teen related to the pageant as “hot” publicly. Certainly, most fathers would refer to their teen daughter as “pretty”, “beautiful,” or “gorgeous.” Not “hot.”
In a 2004 interview between Howard Stern and Trump (I can’t remember if Ivanka was present too), Trump told Howard Stern it was okay to call Ivanka a “piece of ass.”
In a 2006 interview on The View, with Ivanka present, Trump said that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter, he would date her.
Again, these are not the things most dad’s say about their daughter.
Take those altogether with the allegations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House that Trump’s inner circle views Ivanka Trump as the President’s real wife.
So Bee’s comments regarding tight and low-cut were rooted in the President’s own statements.
Here’s the full clip of what Samantha Bee said:
Warning: This version is not edited.
THE IMMEDIATE FALLOUT TO SAMANTHA BEE’S SEGMENT
To lay all the rest of the background on the table, calling a woman a c*nt is often seen as a step too far in hurling insults.
Samantha Bee apologized for using the c-word. To be clear, Bee did not apologize for suggesting Ivanka take advantage of her father’s creepy, incestuous-seeming attitudes about her.
“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”
TBS, the channel that airs Full Frontal, also issued an apology for allowing the segment to air.
“Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night. Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it.”
To add to the controversy, Samantha Bee was slated to receive a television award only few days after the segment aired, which award she has since received.
Samantha Bee’s show has not been cancelled. There is no indication she has otherwise been disciplined. However, at least two advertisers have suspended their ads on the show. Others may follow. And she will probably experience more fallout before I even publish this blog.
Many online have condemned Bee’s comments as crossing a line. Many have done so for use of the c-word, but many have issues with rest of the commentary about wearing something tight and low-cut. And in the #metoo era, such concerns are heartening to see.
Many have also drawn equivalencies between Bee’s comments and Roseanne Barr’s recent comments and railed at Liberal media hypocrisy and unfair treatment of those voicing Conservative views. Many are also Liberals themselves, finding the nature of Bee’s comments as offensive to women as Barr’s comments were on race and bigotry.
I say bullsh!t. The two are not equivalent.
But let’s not go there just yet. Wait until Part 3 of this series.
LEARNING TO ASSESS WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE
First let’s break this down into parts. Which is why this blog is a four part series.
We are talking about the Liberal media letting Liberals slide when they have gone too far. The assertion that there is a double-standard. Later, I’ll cover whether I think that’s an accurate statement. Right now, let’s just try to establish some baseline standards.
To do that, let’s look at Samantha Bee’s comments by themselves. Leave Barr out of it, for right now. If she had never said anything at all, you would still have an opinion on Bee’s comments. We should assess whether Samantha Bee’s statements were offensive or not by the words themselves and not by what Barr said or the consequences Barr faced. So no “But what about Roseanne”, okay?
So what is your opinion? Where do you draw your lines? Did what Samantha Bee said go too far? Which part? The c-word? The comments about tight and low-cut? Both?
Okay, most people, myself included, thought she went too far. I found both part’s disturbing. I understood the joke, and maybe it had some valid point about Ivanka using her influence or being tone deaf. But I think this time the joke fell flat.
I also think that context really, really matters here. Bee was not on her private Twitter account mouthing off something that may or may not be a joke. It was in the context of her show, the shtick of which is already anticipated by those who watch it. It was said in the context of her persona. The audience knew it was supposed to be a joke, however ill-advised it may have been.
The kind of humor and its presentation usually aired on Full Frontal may work for you. It may not. It may only work for you when the side being lampooned is one you oppose. I am not saying you should love or not love Samantha Bee’s show or the persona on it.
But try to recognize whether your beef is because she said this about a woman, or because she said this about Trump’s daughter in particular.
In doing so, you should also recognize some other context. Unlike, for example, Obama’s daughters, Ivanka was already an adult for a while before her father became President. She serves in a position in the White House, as an advisor to the President. She is not Barron Trump, a minor child with no role in the administration other than, by accident of birth, being the President’s son. Further, Ivanka’s husband also serves not only as an advisor, but specifically one with respect to Mexican relations, which would reasonably include some of the immigration policies in play here.
So take a deep look and try to figure out what truly bothers you about what Samantha Bee said.
Are you defending women here? Or are you defending the President? Or are you defending your own politics? Or your own bigotry?
Where do you draw the line? When is it okay to use the c-word and when isn’t it? When is it okay to make sexualized commentary about a woman and when isn’t it?
PUTTING THE OFFENSIVE PART OF THE COMMENTS IN CONTEXT
From my perspective, growing up, the ultimate you-can’t-say-that-in-public swear word was f*ck. Then that shifted, and it was mother*cker. That was “the worst.”
In those days, I was called a c*nt multiple times, by men and women. It was meant as a vicious insult. Deemed worse than calling me a b!tich, but not viewed as vile as it appears to be today. For the record, I have been called a c*nt multiple times since those days as well.
That said, I have to judge the use the word by the current social standards, not the ones of my past personal experience. Samantha Bee used a vulgar expletive that is considered completely unacceptable in the modern day. She could and should have put in some other expletive instead. Basic editing skills should have prevented this. It’s right to call her out on it. And she has been, by the Liberal media. She and her network have fully apologized.
As for the tight and low-cut part of the comments, again I understand feeling they go too far. Good for you. For me, this comes down to context. My take on the statements was not that Ivanka was being called incestuous, but rather being asked to use her dad’s creepy sexualizing of her as an advantage for once. Trump’s own statements make some of this fair comedic game. And this was said in the clear context of a joke, as part of a comedy show.
However, it was in poor taste. I understand how the joke was meant, but I am not okay with peddling the body of another female, especially to her father. Once again, Samantha Bee should have known better. It’s right to call Samantha Bee out on this. I don’t know if I would have wanted an apology from her on this, but I would have liked a recognition that this was in poor taste.
To me, Samantha Bee used a crass expletive and made an offensive suggestion as to how Ivanka Trump should comport herself prompted by a weekend photo that had already been blown way out of proportion. I was not amused. I understand wanting to call Samantha Bee out on it all. I agree she should be.
LOOKING AT THE CONTEXT OF MODERN DAY COMEDY
However, Samantha Bee does not have a repeated history of doing this. Her show can be crass and nasty to the current administration, but it rarely, if ever, has crossed so far over the line. As a result, she has been given a strong approbation. If she continues to cross the line, there should, and most likely will be, consequences down the road.
But she also said what she did in the confines of a comedy show in keeping with the persona of that show. To say she should say nothing snarky or nasty or cutting at all, because it is all offensive, would be to basically say the show’s whole premise should be jettisoned. And that of numerous other comedy shows, sketches, and routines.
Maybe you do feel that way. But if you are not going to be hypocritical, you have to jettison any comedy routine or show that lampoons or skewers society or politics, regardless of its slant. I have heard plenty of profanity and slicing criticism from Conservative leaning comics along the way. Comedy skits slamming Liberals or progressives would have to be shut down too.
And if you extend it too far, it means no one can say anything bad about anyone, no matter whether it is insightful, or accurate, or just meant to be funny. Whole swaths of the comedy genre would be forbidden.
Dad jokes for everyone, ‘cause that’s all that will be left.
LOOKING AT STANDARDS USED TO ADDRESS LIBERAL LINE-CROSSING
So where do you draw the line? When should there be punishment? When is it hypocritical to not call it out or not punish or reject the behavior?
Because if you are going to play the “Liberal media hypocrite game,” you have to make sure there is no plank in your own eye.
If we are going to play the double-standard game, we’ll be volleying shots back and forth across the net all week.
When people go too far, many who would normally be in their camp, do call them out. That’s actually very reassuring about human decency.
Don’t let a few people frothing at the mouth let you lose sight of what the greater populace is doing.
And there are often consequences, when the folks going too far also have the public eye. There has been professional censure, lost positions, and other fallout for those who go too far, regardless of the politics of what has been said.
From what I can tell, this is not a “Liberal media hypocrisy” matter. Liberals and Conservatives have suffered consequences of crossing lines. Others haven’t when they should have. I don’t find a particularly Liberal partisan slant in all of this.
I do find sometimes a monetary one. And let’s not forget the old-boy network plays into this too sometimes.
Contrary to the narratives some folks push, people have been fired, fined, censured, had reports retracted, lost shows or gigs, and otherwise been treated harshly by the “Liberal media” for going too far in what they said about the President or his administration.
Reporters have faced severe consequences, as have celebrities. Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently tried to cite Kathy Griffin as an example of the Liberal media letting something slide. But Kathy Griffin was slammed hard by the Liberal media for her actions. She lost gigs, sponsorship, etc. It was made emphatically clear that her actions were not acceptable. And any of her whining regarding that treatment has largely fallen on deaf ears.
When folks do get a pass on a “Liberal media” network, I often see a bigger motivation than political bias. The desire to protect the cash cow. To use an example from a Conservative network, Bill O’Reilly was shielded by Fox News for quite a while, in part because he had a top -rated show.
Sometimes, as is also probably the case with Bill O’Reilly, the old-boy code comes into play. The white, middle-aged or older males in the networks higher positions close ranks to protect their status quo. So they shield other members of their set who are behaving badly against women, or minorities or whomever. “There by the grace of G_d…” and all that.
The past is littered with examples of men shielded from the consequences of their conduct toward women by Liberal and Conservative networks alike for just this reason.
So a lot of times, if the “Liberal media” lets someone slip through the cracks it’s got less to do with Liberal hypocrisy and more to do with the same money and male power dynamics that effect every media source.
UNDERSTANDING HOW DOUBLE-STANDARDS WORK
A double-standard occurs when everyone agrees what the standards should be, but only some folks carry through. In this specific context, Conservatives complain that Liberals are the folks that are not carrying through. But that only works if Conservatives have been carrying through consistently.
Have they been carrying through? Let’s see.
And no, looking at how the Conservatives have comported themselves in this instance is not whataboutism. Conservatives raised the issue of double-standards. That requires looking at the Conservative track record too.
So let’s take a peek.
The President recently demanded apologies for bad things said about him. Well apologies were made by Samantha Bee and the network.
Regarding Samantha Bee, Trump Tweeted she should be fired. And others cite TBS’s failure to do so as strong evidence of Liberal double-standards of protecting those saying things against Conservative ideals and the present administration while punishing severely those that support them.
So we have to take a good, hard look at that standard’s application specific to past statements which were similar in nature to Samantha Bee’s.
Bee called a woman the c*word. Trump says that merits firing. And many have jumped on board in support of that standard and the idea that, if TBS doesn’t fire her, then it should face rejection.
How has that played out in the past?
WAS TRUMP REJECTED OVER P*SSY?
Therein lies the first problem. If that’s how it should work, then Trump supporters should also have rejected Trump. Not only for crossing the line multiple times in his attacks on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, and on other women in general. But also, in his failure to reject his supporters that also crossed that line. Instead of rejecting, they elected him and continue to excuse his behavior. And he encouraged rather than discouraged vulgarity and violence by his base.
We can start with Trump’s admission to committing sexual assault from Trump’s own mouth, “grab ‘em by the p*ssy.” Trump apologized for his statements too, although he undercut his apology immediately by then going on to say Bill Clinton was worse.
Hint: When you are apologizing, don’t resort to whataboutism. It serves as an attempt to defend yourself through the back door. And just points out you really don’t believe you did anything wrong. Which makes your apology sound insincere.
Regardless, Trump did issue an apology. If his apology is acceptable enough to merit not taking further action regarding him, then so should Samantha Bee’s and TBS’. If not, then the double-standard is by the Trump base.
WHAT ABOUT REJECTION OF SUPPORTERS CALLING A POLITICAL RIVAL A C*NT?
Now let’s move on to the Trump presidential campaign and presidency in general. Several slogans, memes and statements made by Trump supporters during the campaign and since were abusive and horrible. Most directed toward one woman, in particular. Hillary Clinton.
Among other filth, Clinton was frequently called a c*nt. Doing a basic Google search comes up with numerous videos, memes, shirts, posters, and so on labelling her a c*nt. Trump knew his supporters did this. Far from rejecting it, he encouraged the behavior.
Let me make it clear. This man is standing in a way to make sure his shirt and its message are seen by the candidate and the camera. This kind of message by Trump supporters was known and understood. People asked then-candidate Trump to speak out against the kind of abusive stuff his supporters were saying, and he instead praised them for it.
Not that they were the only ones. Sexualization also was part of the dialogue.
Again, Trump encouraged followers to think of Hillary not as the woman who had been cheated on, but as the woman who could not sexually satisfy her husband and then was an abuser of women. That too should be deemed too far, but again, it was not.
WHAT ABOUT CONSERVATIVE CELEBRITIES USING THE C-WORD?
Now let’s talk celebrities, instead of Joe Average. Scott Baio Tweeted a meme that referenced Clinton as a c*nt.
Baio was not, as he later claimed, offering it without comment. He called it “the best meme out there.” To be absolutely clear, according to Baio, the best meme out there is the one calling Hillary Clinton a c*nt.
He not only called Clinton a c*unt through the meme. He also used his celebrity status to spread the meme further.
Trump did not censure him. Instead he personally invited Scott Baio to speak at the Republican convention about a week after the Tweet. And then invited Baio to the inauguration.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT’S USE OF THE C-WORD AND OTHER STATEMENTS TOO FAR?
Trump has allegedly used the c-word as well. Most notably of late, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury said he called acting attorney general Sally Yates a c*nt, although not to her face. While the book may be seen as a salacious money-maker for the author, many of the salacious comments appear to be borne out by other evidence coming from the White House.
And honestly, would such an expletive coming out of Trump’s mouth about someone he saw as a political roadblock really surprise you? Isn’t his crassness, his willingness to say it like he feels it, a virtue touted by many of his supporters?
Tump’s many insults of Hillary Clinton include saying, of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, “But he made a deal with the devil. She’s the devil. He made a deal with the devil. It’s true.” Trump even called Hillary Clinton the devil, i.e., evil incarnate.
Shouldn’t some of this behavior be deemed too far?
“VICTIMS” OF DOUBLE-STANDARDS HAVE TO BE APPLYING THOSE STANDARDS TO THEMSELVES TOO
So, if Samantha Bee deserves to be fired, and TBS should be rejected for failing to do so, and all of this is a sign of the Liberal media hypocrisy, what then of Trump and Conservatives?
By the same standards, Baio should face severe backlash from Conservatives, not speaking engagements.
Trump should be rejected for repeatedly failing to admonish folks for going too far in this regard and, instead, egging them on. But rather than rejection, supporters rally strongly around Trump as the victim. By the way, hold onto that victim thought. It will come up again in Part 4 of this series.
Why is it too far and hypocritical and not enough in the case of Samantha Bee, but not when Trump or those supporting him do it?
Where do you draw your lines? And are you drawing them hypocritically?
If you looked at the examples above and thought to yourself, “But Hillary is a c*nt,” or “But a woman like that can’t satisfy her husband,” then Samantha Bee’s comments crossed the line for you not because you are concerned about women. In fact, this isn’t about crossing a line. It’s about defending your own politics. And that is pure hypocrisy.
So where do YOU draw your lines?