I love freedom of speech. My fondness extends well beyond that of most, in that I actually embrace a belief in near absolute free speech. However, I still have a sense of decency. Mocking groups and public figures is fine by me. One issue where I personally draw the line is the targeting or use of children in order to mock and/or deride an adult.
Recently David Letterman decided to target Sarah Palin on his show. He chose to use her daughter in his sad attempts at humor. Letterman’s first attempt is far from shocking given his clear disdain for Governor Palin. Letterman said,
“One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”
Sadly, the child who accompanied Sarah Palin to the Yankee game was her 14 year old daughter, Willow. She will now get to go home and deal with awkward looks from classmates and cruel snickers. Letterman may have been targeting Bristol Palin, who is barely 18, but his joke landed squarely on Willow. Letterman implied, through his joke, that Willow was a slut who was statutorily raped by the Yankees star. Willow Palin never asked for the public spotlight and did nothing to deserve such treatment from Letterman. She’s just a 14 year old girl trying to live her life. Say what you will about her mother, she’s an adult and a public figure, but leave her child out of the attacks.
Letterman was not satisfied with his initial foray into humor at the expense of a 14 year old girl. He raised the stakes by yet again referencing Governor Palin’s daughter. As can be seen here, at the link Jim Treacher originally posted on Twitter, Letterman takes another shot at Willow Palin. Letterman’s remark, “The toughest part of her visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter” is yet another thinly veiled slight against a 14 year old child. Spitzer is notorious for his relationship with prostitutes and to imply that he’d be after Willow is to imply that she is in fact a prostitute. She’s a 14 year old child.
Letterman’s jokes crossed the line of decency in my judgment. To use, and harm, a child for a cheap joke is rather disgusting. I embrace edgy humor to a greater degree than most, but taking shots at children is where I draw the line. I’m going to violate my own ethical beliefs and venture into Letterman territory in order to make a point. I don’t do this lightly. I do this in order to make clear to Letterman and his defenders, just how abhorrent his actions truly were.
So David Letterman is in trouble with his wife again. It turns out he let Michael Jackson baby sit his son, Harry. Now Dave has to figure out how to get Boone’s Farm and semen out of a little league uniform.
That joke is disgusting and I hope it doesn’t extend beyond this page. But, though my joke may seem worse than Dave’s, it’s actually better. I’m not implying that little Harry is a whore or slut. I’m implying that Dave is an idiot and Michael Jackson is a pedophile. But none the less, Harry is tainted by my joke. A 5 year old boy is implied to have suffered something horrible for the sake of a joke aimed at Letterman.
There’s a reason we expect people to leave the kids of celebrities and politicians alone. They didn’t sign up for the harsh treatment of public life. They have their entire lives ahead of them and they don’t deserve to be targeted by powerful adults. She is a 14 year old girl with her whole life ahead of her. She’s going to have a difficult enough time growing up in her current circumstances. She doesn’t need David Letterman’s help in making her life even harder.
Follow up: As noted here, by AllahPundit, Letterman has been signed to a contract extension by CBS.
More follow up: I searched CNN.com for info on the Letterman controversy and surprisingly I found nothing. We get news of the New Orleans Mayor’s release from quarantine, but nothing on a Late Night talk show host who has targeted the 14 year old daughter of Alaska’s Governor. Some may argue that this is an entertainment, rather than a political, story. It’s a shame that CNN Entertainment also failed to cover the issue. But that didn’t stop them from covering the latest news on Miss California. Such is the state of the media in America.
Cross posting here