I’m being kind and restrained here. John Oliver is a lot worse than an Ethics Dunce. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.
The video above was Oliver’s final show this season on HBO. It is a full half hour of insults and hate directed at the President-Elect of the United States of America. Some of his insults and ridicule are based on substance, some appear to be pure bias and stupidity. I almost bailed when Oliver, to the bleating of his all blue, all juvenile audience, implied that being endorsed by the head of the KKK obviously disqualifies someone to be President. Unpack the logic in that contention.
Mostly, however, it is a vicious ad hominem assault on the newly elected President of a level of unfairness and disrespect that has never been directed at any previous President Elect in public. Never, because Americans have always realized that the slate is cleared when someone becomes President, and that the individual inherits the office and the legitimacy of that office as it has been built and maintained by it previous occupants. He (no “he or she” yet, sorry: not my fault) becomes the symbol of the nation, the government and its people, a unique amalgam of prime minister, king and flag in human and civilian form.
That immediate good will, respect for the Presidency, and forgiveness of all that went before has made the transfer of power in the US the marvel of the world, and has kept the nation from violence and division. It is part of our strength as a society. It is part of the election process, and a vital one. John Oliver is intentionally tearing at that process.
I don’t want to hear about the Jester’s Privilege. Oliver’s goal isn’t to be funny, and it isn’t satire: he’s fueling hate against our new President, and perhaps fear and violence as well. There’s nothing constructive there, or “all in good fun.” This is a fact: any comedian who launched into that kind of rant against Barack Obama in November of 2008 would have been permanently shunned, and probably ruined. It doesn’t matter that Obama “didn’t deserve it.” He, like Trump, was President-Elect. What he, like Trump, deserved was respect.
In John Oliver’s own country, Great Britain, where the free speech is not nearly so robust as here, an equivalent attack on the Queen by an American comic would prompt a diplomatic incident. [CORRECTION: In the original version of this post, I referenced a news item that Trump had announced that he would seek a return of the Churchill bust that Obama had allegedly returned to the U.K. in 2009. I had the original story of the bust’s return in my files dating from 7 years ago. It was in error. Trump may have made the statement, since he believes bad sources even more than I do. It doesn’t matter: he” find the bust in the White House if he looks for it. I apologize for the error. This would have been fixed much earlier, but I’m flying cross country, and the in flight internet wasn’t working.] As with the insufferable Piers Morgan in his CNN disaster, I don’t care to hear smug foreigners tell us how superior they are, and how little they respect our leaders. This arrogance and rudeness personified. This is our President, and you’re our guest. Behave.
You smug jerk.