“(MSNBC host) Chris Hayes is like (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow, but with a smaller penis.”
—-WMAL syndicated conservative radio talk show host Chris Plante, riffing on the anti-Fox MSNBC’s new star, Chris Hayes.
As someone who often talks extemporaneously for a living, and who has slammed both legs up to the hip into my mouth more than once, I am genuinely sympathetic to the perils faced by radio and TV talk show hosts who have to be edgy, insightful and witty for three hours a day without a script, knowing that words, once out of their mouths, are irretrievable, and can lead to career meltdowns with the speed of Chernobyl. It’s a tough job that is akin to walking a high wire over a pit of crocodiles, and I usually have great sympathy for those who fall.
But there is no excuse for this.
Conservatives, including Plante, and fair-minded Americans of any political slant were justifiably outraged when Bill Maher began calling Republican women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann “twat” and “slut,” even though so-called feminist activists didn’t seem to mind very much as long as the one wielding “slut” wasn’t named Limbaugh. The conservative talk show brigade also had colleague Laura Ingraham’s back when MSNBC’s revolting Ed Schultz called her a “talk slut” on his radio show. Plante’s double slur on Hayes and Maddow is arguably worse than either Maher or Hayes:
- I know it’s faint praise, but while Maher is a boor, a sexist and a misogynist, at least he’s not a hypocrite. He thinks that uncivil, gender-based slurs are fair discourse. He is a gutter-dwelling idiot, but at least he has integrity. Plante has vehemently objected to Maher’s personal attacks on conservatives.
- Plante’s “joke” is anti-gay bigotry. Maddow happens to be openly lesbian, and what does that have to do with the price of cheese? Impugning her womanhood and suggesting she is male is flat-out, mean-spirited denigration on the basis of sexual orientation, hate for the sake of hate. It implicitly encourages disrespect and mistreatment by others, for two reasons, both lousy and unethical: she’s gay, and she doesn’t agree with Chris Plante.
- Maddow’s and Hayes’s “crime” justifying Plante’s attack on their gender identities is merely that they have different political views than his, and for that he tars them as impotent freaks of nature. This is troglodyte incivility that debases the airwaves, democracy and civic discourse. He perpetrated and embraced the dangerous national trend of equating adverse opinions with personal flaws of character and physique, marginalizing the intellect of opponents because they are fat, or bald, or unattractive, old, short, or gay. It’s despicable.
Plante has a rapid patter, breathless delivery and can be very funny at times. If this was an example of his filters and ethics alarms not working fast enough, then I expect to hear or read an apology from him to Rachel and Chris before the twitter feeds start flaming. Otherwise, he is guilty of turning political debate into hate, and we don’t need any more of that, not on the radio, not in Washington, DC, not anywhere.