OPINION — I’m not quite sure who Samantha Bee is, but she found a strange bedfellow in Roseanne Barr last week when she went after Ivanka Trump with a vulgar misogynistic expletive while criticizing her for her support of her father’s cruel and insensitive immigration policies, particularly regarding the separation of parents and children.
On the other hand I’m pretty familiar with Barr, who has equally guttural comedic instincts, which were on display via a racist tweet she made last week regarding a former aide to President Obama, comparing Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior advisor in the White House for eight years, with a primate.
Barr lost her television show over her remarks.
As of now, Bee is still employed by the TBS network.
This was pointed out immediately by members of the far right who got their knickers in a wad because TBS did not fire Bee.
Bee’s comments were crude and distasteful.
So were Barr’s.
But there are major differences at play here.
Barr leveled a seriously racist volley at a woman who has left public service, been away from the Beltway game for more than a year now and is working in the private sector. There are no scandals attached to her, no investigations, no whiffs of tainted behavior. She’s clean, detached from the vicious cycle of hate and discontent that is the lifeblood of Washington D.C. and certainly undeserving of such an ugly remark that insulted an entire race of people.
Ivanka Trump is a current and highly visible White House advisor. She lugged water in support of her father’s tax plan and continues to do so with his immigration policy. She is in the game and, quite seriously, is open for criticism on this particular issue after a photo of her cuddling her child was released following her support of an immigration policy that separates families caught up in the white nationalist rhetoric of a racist president who wants to build a wall and, in fact, has suggested that, perhaps, he should completely shut down the border with Mexico, at least temporarily.
When things began to go south for Barr after her racist tweet she started looking for something, anything, to deflect the reactions of the outraged.
She claimed she had taken Ambien and that is why she posted the offensive tweet.
Manufacturers of the sleep-inducing drug quickly responded saying: “Racism is not a known side effect.”
She claimed that she did not know that Jarrett is African-American.
Sorry, that flag won’t fly, either, not here, not anywhere else because we know how the right feels about everything Obama as they try desperately to erase his tenure from the history books. These white nationalists weren’t against Obamacare, they were against Obama, and they tried, unsuccessfully to those paying attention, to mask their racism with politics. It didn’t work, at least for those of us with cognitive skills.
Over the years, Barr has blamed her aberrant behavior on mental illness that manifests itself in a multiple personality disorder. We may never know how true that may be or how, if it is true, it may influence her behavior, which, at least as far as her public persona is concerned, is consistently angry, abusive and anti-social.
Bee, on the other hand, owned her comments. She admitted she knew exactly what she was doing when she uttered them and, we are led to believe, was appropriately contrite afterwards. Was it a PR move to soothe the network? Probably, but she didn’t try to downplay what she said. To come out with such strong language to begin with makes it obvious she, as many others, has little regard for Ivanka Trump. But she didn’t dodge the issue or try to place it into some sort of contrived context.
As a point of disclosure here, I’ve never been a fan of Roseanne Barr.
I have always found her brand of comedy to be sophomoric at best. Still, she had a wonderful platform to bring forward issues of the lower middle class and, of course, working women. But her behavior – whether through her outlandish rendition of the national anthem or other outrageous actions of a mildly talented Hollywood celebrity – always got in the way of making an important statement about the human condition. Every time we tried to get close to Roseanne Barr she would push us away. It’s impossible to cozy up to somebody with so much turmoil and anger in their blood. It’s best, for your own sanity, to simply walk away. But, Roseanne is like that train wreck that you can’t help but stop and stare at.
Samantha Bee is one of those curious, low-echelon celebrities who, I guarantee, was looking for a headline when she uttered her skanky words about Ivanka Trump.
Trump, of course, opened herself up to public criticism when she accepted a post on her father’s cabinet. She is fair game for criticism because she has put herself in that position. This isn’t some little daddy’s girl sitting quietly in the shadows; she has thrust herself into the spotlight through her business and political endeavors. She is out there now, in the political mix, fair game for friend or foe.
Bee’s words were harsh.
Bee’s words were crude.
Bee’s words were juvenile.
I wouldn’t use Bee’s words to describe Trump.
But she has a constitutionally protected right to use them.
What makes this an instance of apples and oranges is the fact that Bee took on Ivanka Trump, one-on-one. She was calling her out and she was purposefully inelegant.
Barr, on the other hand, smeared an entire race with a vulgarity. Yes, she, too, has a constitutionally protected right to say what she said. But her target has moved out of the public eye and is no longer relevant in the news media.
Both of these supposed comedians can say whatever they wish. That does not mean there are no consequences. And even though there are vast differences in what transpired, both were artless in their conversation.
What the events of the last week have launched, however, is new crowing and much gnashing of teeth bout how unfair it was that Barr lost her job and Bee did not.
It brings out a high level of hypocrisy, of course, from conservatives who applauded the National Football League for instituting punishments for those who take a knee during the national anthem.
They stand, every man, woman and child among them, steadfast to the notion that an employer – even one doing business in a monopoly restricting where an employee can earn a paycheck – can rescind freedom of speech rights while the employee is on the clock.
Let me underscore that point.
The people who said an employer has the right to control how employees conduct themselves in the arena of free speech are now saying it was unfair of ABC to cancel Barr’s show because, well, free speech. And, of course, at the same time criticizing TBS for not firing Bee.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about the TV fortunes of Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee, especially when we have conservative reality playing out before us on TV.
Unfortunately, we already have enough tragedies playing out on the tube and really don’t need another.
No bad days!
Read St. George News columnist Bryan Hyde’s take on the Roseanne Barr incident here: “Perspectives: Falsely crying ‘racism,’ the latest weapon of the thought police”
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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