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Basic intellectual honesty is no match for the sadistic impluse of the wingnutteria

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 23:33 EDT
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Un-fucking-believable. The desire to scalp someone, to separate someone from his job as a show of power to make the wingnuts of America feel like real men who break shit again, has gotten to the point where they’re self-righteously calling David Letterman a pervert and a pedophile because he made a joke lampooning an adult woman who is roaming the country preaching abstinence with a baby on her hip. It’s true that somewhere wires got crossed, and the daughter Palin took to a Yankees game was actually her 14-year-old and not her 18-year-old, but it’s obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the joke only worked if you thought it was Bristol Palin. And in case you have any doubts, Letterman took great pains to apologize for inadvertently mocking a 14-year-old.

I’ve seen a few liberals lean on the notion Bristol Palin is also off-limits for mockery, and I’m just going to say that’s nonsense. Bristol Palin is an adult woman now, and more to the point, she’s an adult woman who is putting herself out there as a public advocate for abstinence. Which means, as I argued on my podcast, that’s she’s actually on the “girls, have a baby in high school, it works out great!” tour. Which isn’t to say that the joke was a great joke—it just mocked Bristol for being sexual, as opposed to going to the juicier targets like the hypocrisy and deceit. I can’t get too upset about this joke, because it was flying in the right direction, but missed the mark. It wasn’t great satire, no, but it’s not something you want to fire someone over, or no one would ever be a late night talk show host again. But mocking the public adult figure Bristol Palin for roaming the country spilling bullshit ideas is not off the table. I guess I should be circumspect in pointing out that Bristol Palin’s abstinence tour is 100% bullshit, because I guess that means I’ll be the next person being called a fucking pervert and a pedophile.

Please, my feminist-sympathizing friends, don’t trip over yourselves to fall into the wingnut trap of condemning Letterman what amounts to a mistake plus a miss of the mark. To do so is to engage in classic missing the forest for the trees behavior. And not just because, as Samhita said, Sarah Palin personally is full of shit. Step back and consider what this wingnut temper tantrum is really about.

Part of the problem is protesters like the ones above, or anyone who is seriously touting the “pedophile” or “pervert” non-argument. The second you actually claim there was any real danger or intent to be sexual with a minor, you know that you’re lying and you don’t care. No one actually thinks that David Letterman has a thing for 14-year-olds and this is his way of expressing it. Or 18-year-olds, either, for that matter. The joke, as crude as it was, was obviously about poking at the gap between the goody two shoes “no sex for us!” image that conservative politicians cultivate and the reality. Anyone, left right or sideways, who pretends otherwise to get on a self-righteous platform is making a mockery of the very idea of arguing in good faith.

There is one reason and one reason only that the wingnuts are angling to get Letterman fired. Here’s a clue: it has nothing whatsoever to do with a genuine belief that there’s any real threat to any teenage girls, nor do they really give a shit about the sexism that makes writers go for cheap shots like that. It has nothing to do with anything except the well-established wingnut need for some regular blood-letting to make them feel powerful. Letterman is the target because getting him would be a real trophy for the mantle, right up there with Dan Rather. Every time the wingnuts on about this thought about getting Letterman fired, they’d feel engorged, powerful, and not like the pointless little pissants that they actually are, no matter how many times they demand someone’s head to prove that they’ve got the power. They are feeling the need for a big trophy especially right now, because their relevance keeps hitting new lows, and they need some proof that they can have some sort of effect on something. That’s all this is.

That, and their inadequacies are being exploited by Sarah Palin to raise her profile.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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