Saturday, March 10, 2012

IF THE RESULT IS A GRETA SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS DANCE, THAT'S TOO HIGH A PRICE TO PAY (and other reasons I'm not crying over Louis C.K.'s cancellation)

This is the kind of post I write knowing I'll get nothing but criticism for it, but here goes.

Louis C.K. was going to host the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner until Fox's Greta van Susteren called for a boycott. Now he's decided to bow out.

Here's the thing: I despise Sarah Palin with every fiber of my being -- in the past 48 hours she's added "racist" to the list of insults that can reasonably be applied to her -- but I have a problem with insults of her that are purely generic hate-words based on nothing more than her gender. Call her stupid and that's fine with me. Call her a demagogue or a quitter or a grifter or a shallow craver of the spotlight and I'm right there with you. All those are based on what she does. They're not based on the apportionment of her sex chromosomes, an apportionment she shares with half the human race (the fucked-over half).

Let me put it another way. Even if you love Seinfeld, you found that racist tirade by Michael Richards on a stand-up stage in 2006 pretty appalling, right? And even if you're a 30 Rock fan, Tracy Morgan's anti-gay rant was way over the line, right? Well, that's how I feel about Louis C.K.'s Palin tweets -- and before you fire off your disgusted comments about what I'm saying, I'll try to answer most of them preemptively below.




I know it was a few fleeting drunken comments that were made about a public figure -- it wasn't, y'know, a deliberate multi-day slanderous repeat assault on someone who merely sought to testify in front of Congress. But is that the standard? Everything that doesn't rise to the level of Limbaugh's sadistic assault is harmless? I absolutely agree that it's not as reprehensible, but it's not harmless.

And the issue of public figure vs. private citizen is absolutely significant, but if the words are generic, and we let those words slide because they're used to attack Sarah Palin, that helps make them available to attack the next Sandra Fluke. Everything Louis C.K. says about Palin could be said about any woman -- so if you don't say those particular lines of attack are universally off-limits, you're implicitly giving Limbaugh, or the next Limbaugh, permission to say similar things.

And no, I'm not saying that Louis C.K.'s insults need to result in a career death penalty -- but I think a little more contrition might be nice. (Scroll down here to see what he thinks about what he said.)

My final point is that if people who detest the right keep the attacks out of this realm, the likes of Greta van Susteren are deprived of the opportunity to play the self-righteousness card. Why would you not want to keep that weapon out of the right's hands?

OK, fire away.

19 comments:

Tom Hilton said...

I agree completely.

Kathy said...

You won't get any fire from me - just thanks. I was trying to make this point to a local blogger the other day. The Alabama Democratic Party is bringing in Bill Maher for a fundraiser, and state Republicans are, predictably, getting their panties in a wad and calling Dems hypocrites. I left this comment: "I'm not crazy about some of Maher's rhetoric, and I won't be attending the fundraiser. But I'd love to know when [state Republican party chair] Bill Armistead has ever publicly called out Limbaugh for his consistently offensive spew." For that, I was told, verbatim, "Sorry if the truth hurts" and "I think we can all agree that he is extreme and sometime says things we do not endorse, but he is less offensive than every Republican currently in the spotlight."

I tried to point out that our standards ought to be a little higher than "less offensive than Republicans" and - just the point you made - Maher's (and others') sexist crap just opens the door for conservatives to say much worse and claim it's tit for tat. Hope it worked, but some people are just clueless.

Theophylact said...

I'd say "ditto" but I don't like the source.

Anonymous said...

You're right.

Unknown said...

I'm always grateful when male bloggers point out such obvious things. Thanks.

Varun Prasad said...

I am not sure why liberals are supposed to defend Louis ck here. This was not limbaughesque due to the alcohol factor (and that it was only a few tweets) but it is absolutely misogynistic claptrap Louis ck should at the very least apologize for, and should most certainly face the consequences for.

Danp said...

Where's the outrage?!?!?

Anonymous said...

I have a very simple rule about the "c-word" -- use it in my presence and I will kick you in the nuts. A public person who uses that word should have his career kicked in the nuts. I cannot understand why this is controversial at all.

If you take any criticism for this post, it should only be for your defensive tone. Misogyny is bad, even when it's directed at bad people. It's ok to say that.

BH said...

Can't do anything but sign on to what everyone else said. We can try to make all the fine (and logically valid) distinctions we want to between Limbaughisms & Louisisms, but it amounts to hairsplitting as a practical matter. Trashtalk is trashtalk, regardless of the political direction from which it emits.

debg said...

I'm with you, Steve, and everybody else here. Thanks for saying what needed saying.

TheFritoPundito said...

"the likes of Greta van Susteren are deprived of the opportunity to play the self-righteousness card"

Um, haven't you noticed those people are NEVER without an opportunity to play the self-righteousness card? If they don't have a genuine case, they just make one up (see the "attacks" on Rush Limbaugh). This notion that liberals acting better will somehow cut off the right-wing's criticism is misguided at best and self-destructive at worst. Maybe Louis C.K.'s comments were a bad idea, but if he hadn't said them, Greta would've gotten on her high horse about something else. That's the way they roll.

Never Ben Better said...

What the...?!? I don't care who said that vile stuff about whom, it's disgusting and contemptible. The misogynistic pinhead who spewed it should (when he sobers up) grovel out an abject and nonweasel-word apology and the rest of us, no matter what our political leanings, condemn that abhorrent garbage.

Donna said...

right on, Steve!

Mothra said...

You're absolutely right, and thanks for articulating it so well. The commenters at the link do not get it, they are offering a variety of rationializations for gender based attacks, because after all "she's SARAH PALIN"!!!!!!

Steve M. said...

Thank you all (or nearly all) for getting this.

Distortion not Noise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Distortion not Noise said...

Nicely said. I agree. It is perfectly appropriate to read someone out about the things they have done. It is perfectly inappropriate to call them names based on their physical attributes. And I also thin Bill Maher should shut up and stop defending Rushbo because he is only doing that to excuse his past behavior.

Roger said...

Greta van Sustern lost the moral high ground when she first appeared on the Bill O'Reilly show. She doesn't get it back because she points out some comedian is a dick.

Erik A. Prince said...

I certainly agree with you in principle. I am willing to let occasional stuff go in the context of a stand-up sort of thing. At least as long as it's really part of a joke and not a Richards style screed. And stuff like the Louis CK tweets you cited are just vile drivel.