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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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Letterman vs. Palin, Liberals vs. Decency - Monday, June 15, 2009 at 00:15


Letterman vs. Palin, Liberals vs. Decency

David C. Stolinsky, MD
June 15, 2009

On his “comedy” show, David Letterman insulted Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, who recently visited New York to participate in a charity event for autism. Letterman “joked” that Palin “bought makeup at Bloomingdale’s to update her slutty flight-attendant look.”

This remark is offensive and misogynistic. If a man is good looking, he is called “handsome.” But if a woman is good looking, what she is called depends on whether the speaker likes her. If he does, she is called “attractive,” “sexy” or “hot.” If he doesn’t, she is called “slutty” or “skanky.” And in this era of politics über Alles, it depends on whether the woman is liberal, when she is “attractive,” or conservative, when she is “slutty.”

How can we justify varying the description of a human being, depending on whether we approve of her politics? How can we vary her description, depending on her socio-economic status? Would Letterman have compared Palin to a “slutty attorney”? No, an attorney would be “hot.”

But he views flight attendants as servants, to whom “upper-class” men should not be attracted, because they would not make “suitable” wives. So they can’t be “attractive,” which implies that he is attracted to them. They are merely “slutty.” He adds classism to sexism.

Still, Sarah Palin is a public figure, and an adult well able to take care of herself. Letterman can fob off his continuing abuse of her as “political humor,” though it is largely unfunny. But what about 14-year-old Willow Palin? She is not a public figure. She is not an adult. She is not able to take care of herself.

In his monologue, Letterman said:

One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez…The toughest part of her visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter.

Later, Letterman issued a non-apology, claiming he was referring to 18-year-old Bristol Palin, who was not present at the game, rather than 14-year-old Willow, who was. He added that he never would joke about having sex with a 14-year-old girl. But that is exactly what he did.

Note that Spitzer was forced to resign as governor of New York for frequenting prostitutes. So Letterman’s “apology” did not include apologizing for implying that Palin’s daughter is a prostitute.

Is that a permissible way to refer to an 18-year-old girl, much less a 14-year-old? Is publicly shaming young people now acceptable behavior? If so, can we look forward to similar “jokes” about Obama’s half-brother and his problems with young girls, or about Sasha and Malia Obama? Of course not. If Letterman ever uttered a similar “joke” about them, the network would fire him the next day. But after trashing the Palins, Letterman was not punished − and his ratings rose.

But why the difference? Why is disgusting “humor” tolerated, even applauded, when directed against conservatives and their children, but it never would be tolerated against liberals and their children? What does this tell us about the moral level of liberals versus that of conservatives? Why do liberals condone callous, nasty behavior that conservatives find unacceptable? When did it become “liberal” to degrade women and sexualize children?

Recall that Letterman married his long-term girlfriend six years after she gave birth to their son. So Bristol Palin is a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she got pregnant at 17 and decided to raise her baby, but Letterman and his new wife are above reproach? Really?

Of course, if Bristol had an abortion, it would have been her “choice” about “her own body,” and no liberal would criticize her. The anger is evoked by her decision to let the baby live, and by her mother’s conservative politics. How revealing.

To a great degree, we define ourselves by what we tolerate − and what we don’t:

·         Who made endless “jokes,” in the worst taste, about how old John McCain is? Who called him “confused” and “joked” that he forgets where he lives when he goes out for the paper? Who “joked” that he forgets to put on his pants when he goes out? Who “joked” that he accuses nurses of stealing his sox, and that he needs Viagra because of impotence, and diapers because of incontinence? Who ridiculed him for having difficulty using a computer, though it is common knowledge that the function of his arms and hands is impaired by war wounds?

·         Who went so far in their contempt for the disabled as to tell Sarah and Todd Palin that their baby with Down syndrome should have been killed? This anger goes so deep that “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers appeared in liberal areas. To “abort” a born human being means to murder her. Is this drawing normal political dialogue? Is hitting a woman in the face, knocking off her glasses and knocking out a tooth an example of liberal thought? Is it “pro-choice” to threaten to beat up a woman for making the “wrong” choice?

Liberals tolerate all this. They tolerate Letterman and his bitter, unfunny, political “humor.” They tolerate sexist, classist “humor.” They make cruel “jokes” about children, the disabled and the elderly.

Liberals continue to spew anger, though current events should make them joyful:

·         They see their friends in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, many of the courts, most of the schools and universities, and almost all of the mainstream media.

·         They see the economy, from banks to automobiles to health care, being socialized faster than they thought possible.

·         They see roadside bombers in Afghanistan being Mirandized like teenaged shoplifters in New Jersey.

·         They see terrorists from Guantanamo brought to the U.S. for trial, where they will be accorded all the rights of citizens.

·         They want to see pictures released showing Muslim prisoners being abused, but they are indifferent to pictures of jumpers from the Twin Towers on 9/11, indifferent to pictures of Daniel Pearl being beheaded, and indifferent to pictures of shredded bodies of men, women and children after homicide bombings.

But after having all these things go their way, liberals are still angry and bitter. They still laugh and applaud when disgusting “jokes” are told, so long as the children of their political opponents are the butt of the “humor.” Perhaps their anger stems not from external events, but from internal conflicts, so it can never be appeased by political victories. In any case, their anger is vented on people who did not cause it − and do not deserve it.

People used to talk about the death of civility. But now that word sounds archaic, like something from Shakespeare. Now we worry about the death of common decency. Perhaps it happened when Bill Clinton used his cigar on Monica Lewinsky, an intern half his age, then disputed the meaning of “is.” Perhaps it happened when anti-war sentiment soured into anti-Americanism. Perhaps it happened when dislike of George W. Bush corroded into frank hatred.

But whenever it happened, now we must deal with it. We must deal with calling a woman a “dumb bitch with half a brain.” We must deal with sexualizing children, especially girls and even babies − in music, in clothing, on film and in school. If people laugh at a “joke” about raping the 14-year-old daughter of a governor, why would we expect them to be upset by films showing the rape of a 12-year-old or mimicking the masturbation of a baby?

Letterman is the symptom. The disease is callous insensitivity masquerading as “open-mindedness” and “tolerance.”

The true opponent of Letterman and his liberal friends is not the Palin family, or conservatives in general, but decency itself. It is only halftime, but so far, the score is Letterman 21, decency 0. We will have to work harder in the second half.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He can be contacted at