Thoughts: From Michelle Wolf to George Washington

Holy hangover! Everyone is buzzing about Michelle Wolf and what she said at the Correspondents’ Dinner to Sarah Sanders’ face!   Should we laugh with her? Should we hate her?   How confusing! Let’s puzzle it out and see which arguments have merit and which do not:

Here is what Wolf’s defenders are saying:

1) They were solid, cutting jokes. IMPLICATION: Anything that makes us laugh is OK, especially if the jokes “cut.”

2) Sarah Sanders deserves no pity because the White House lies all the time and should be called on it. IMPLICATION: We should let no opportunity go by to remind people about lies that have been told.

3) She works for a guy who has demeaned women publically, so we should be able to demean her publically. IMPLICATION: Any woman who works for Trump is supporting his behavior toward women.   All women should quit his organizations or be tarred with the same brush that his opponents are using on Trump.

4) Comedy is protected by First Amendment rights. IMPLICATION You can say anything you want anywhere, anytime to anybody as long as it’s funny to someone.

5) Get over it. It was only 90 seconds long. IMPLICATION: It’s OK to say anything  no matter how cruel or distasteful if you do it briefly enough.

6) It’s a roast, you guys! It’s supposed to walk the edge of cringeworthiness! IMPLICATION: See no. 1 and 4

7) Why are the organizers complaining? Didn’t they do their research on what Wolf’s act is like before hiring her? Now that is a very good point.

But really, isn’t it clear that only 2 and 3 have any merit? And both are valid defenses only if you believe it’s a good idea to invite people to your dinner party with the express purpose of telling them to their face how much you despise them. I guess some people find nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s done in a way that makes other guests laugh at the nasty things I say to you.  OK, it’s a roast–but we’d be better off without roasts.  These days they’re about as funny as giving someone a hotfoot.

Freedom of speech is a great thing, but to use it demean people, to humiliate them is what tyrants and bullies do.   It’s what Trump does, and if this episode demonstrates nothing else, it shows how the hateful, mocking tone he uses has pervaded this once noble land of ours.  He didn’t start it, but he sure has spread it.

I have a new suggestion for a bumper sticker that we could all support.   Instead of “What would Jesus do?” (which is fine if you’re a Christian but unfortunately we haven’t all seen the light), let’s ask “What would George Washington do?”  He’s the man.  We didn’t put him on the dollar and the quarter for nothing.  Let’s think about George and raise the level of discourse in our country.  Let’s use free speech the way it was intended, to enable robust political debate and not as an excuse to humiliate, demean, and ridicule.

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