I have a confession to make. I watched David Letterman last night. Actually, on most nights at about 11:35 p.m., you’ll find my TV tuned to CBS. If that means I have to relinquish my conservative credentials for committing apostasy, so be it. I’m not so self-absorbed, thin-skinned and uptight to allow a stupid joke to change my viewing habits.
For the past two weeks conservative media — radio, TV and on the Internets — has been screaming about the crack Letterman made about Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter getting “knocked up” by Yankee third-baseman Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game. The late-night talk show host took another shot at Palin during his “Top Ten” list, comparing her wardrobe to that of a “slutty flight attendant” (why didn’t he just say “stewardess?”).
Mayhem ensued. Conservative media folk called for a boycott, demanded apologies, pressured Dave’s advertisers to drop their ads on Dave’s show, picketed outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre, and, of course, they called him a pervert.
When I heard the joke, I admit, I let out a little chuckle. I don’t buy the conservative line that Letterman was attacking Palin’s under-age daughter, Willow. It was clear he was talking about Bristol Palin, who in fact did get knocked up by an Alaskan douchebag during the lead up to the 2004 campaign.
In a classic “gotcha” moment, the right-wing bloggers and blowhards pointed out that Bristol wasn’t at the Yankee game, but Willow was. It’s just stupid to think Letterman was talking about Willow. The joke would be even less funny if he was.
The Letterman incident came on the heels of the now-infamous Playboy “hate f*ck” list of conservative hotties, which was treated with equal amounts of shock, outrage and disdain by conservative media.
The most surprising part of both incidents (other than that apparently some people actually do read Playboy), is that conservatives showed they seem to be just as thin-skinned as their liberal counterparts. Just as the left takes anyone to task for mocking race, the poor, gays or any other special interest, there’s a conservative thought police out there ready to pounce when idiotic comments are made.
I’m a big fan of Sarah Palin, but we really need to chill out. Letterman and Playboy aren’t worth getting your grannie panties in a bunch. Besides, isn’t this the game the left plays? Is it not ridiculous that comedians who make racial comments have to go groveling to Jesse Jackson to apologize? Was it not ludicrous that Trent Lott had to step down from his leadership position for complementing Strom Thurmond? Then how is it not just as absurd for conservatives to demand the same?
Yes, as many have pointed out, there’s a double standard. Liberal leaders and celebrities get a free pass when they say something stupid. But that’s nothing new, and frankly, we should be proud that conservatives are held to a higher standard — because, hopefully, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.
And aren’t there more important things to occupy two weeks worth of our time on radio, TV and online? During the same week that Letterman told his jokes, an abortion clinic in Philadelphia was giving out free abortions in “honor” of Dr. George Tiller, the gunned-down Kansas baby-killer. If you’re looking for something to channel your outrage — something that actually matters — get angry about that.
So I’ll continue to watch Letterman, at least until the thought police of the right forces me into rehab. And I’ll keep eating at The Olive Garden (I mean, c’mon, the never-ending pasta bowl promotion is awesome). I’ve got more important things to do than worry about what a comic says at midnight.
Let’s leave the feigned outrage for the sake of being outraged to the liberals.