Comedian Michael Richards got deservedly dressed down for his hateful tirade at a comedy club. The public outcry, fueld by the distribution of his comments via YouTube and the internet, was appropriate.
So why is it Rosie O’Donnell and other comics can say equally hateful things about Republicans/christians/conservatives–and I mean obscenity on par with Richard’s remarks–without so much as a raised eyebrow?
Do Republicans/christians/conservatives/ ever say inappropriate things about those they disagree with? I’m sure it happens and when it does it is just as inappropriate. But I’m not talking about having an opinion that is passionately opposed (and disagreement is often unjustly labled as “hate speech). I’m talking about mean-spirited language you wouldn’t want your kids to emulate even if you agreed with the assessment of the comedian (for an example, catch the recent Comic Relief which veers off course and stops being funny when comedians verbally attack and abuse those they disagree with). I don’t agree with the approach of several well-known television ministers, but I’ve yet to see any of them foam at the mouth yelling “Rosie O’Donnell sucks!” while simultaneously flipping her off.
Our culture faces many problems, but one of the biggest in my estimate is this: we don’t communicate anymore. There is no dialogue. The convenient way to disagree is to use mean-spirited or hateful monologues amplified to the equivalent of yelling to take the opponent off at the knees. Nobody learns anything. There are no new ideas or insights. Positions don’t stand a chance of softening or changing. The people who agreed with the “yeller’s” opinions still agree, and those that disagreed still disagree.
And we wonder why it is so hard to make progress on thorny issues?
What a sad state of affairs when we need to be reminded: hateful rhetoric is never appropriate, regardless of one’s opinion, beliefs or world-view.