Comedian Steve Martin posted the heartfelt tweet above after the announcement of the death of “Star Wars” star Carrie Fisher yesterday. Some internet Political Correctness Furies were lying in wait, however, eager to find someone to bully for thoughtcrime, and pounced. In addition to the shaming tweets Martin’s reflection generated—Objectification! Objectification!—a New York Magazine writer named Claire Lansbaum scolded Martin on its affiliated website, The Cut. Martin, compliant progressive weenie that he is, deleted the tweet.
He’s pathetic. Martin is a skilled and literate writer and should stand up for the words he uses. “Creature” includes human beings among its accepted and traditional definitions. There was nothing inappropriate or in any way condescending about his use of the word, accept to those looking to be offended and to bend a victim to their will. Nor was an honest memory about how Fisher made Martin feel as “a young man” anything but truth—though we know that fanatics believe that truth they don’t like should be hidden and distorted. When young Martin saw Fisher, she was dressed like this…
…which was an appearance designed to make young men see her as a “beautiful creature,” to use one of the more restrained descriptions. Landsbaum writes about how Fisher fought against her image as a sex symbol. Well, of Carrie’s many admirable and provocative public positions, that was the least credible. The reason Fisher was an icon, the reason anybody cared about what she thought, and the only reason her death is being publicized like she was Katherine Hepburn, was in part because she excited young men as Princess Leia.
Martin’s tweet concluded by stating that Fisher was more than just beautiful, and that was basically what Fisher wanted people to recognize. Yet he pulled the tweet.
In 2013, Steve Martin tweeted a joke that was too nuanced for the Political Correctness Furies, who called it, and him, racist. He backed down then, too. What I wrote in response applies to this re-run exactly:
Martin, a novelist, a playwright, a TV writer, a comic and an actor, should have the integrity to stand up to this suffocating and unethical phenomenon. He has the stature to make a difference. He doesn’t have that integrity. He took the path of least resistance. He is a coward….What he had to do was show some principle and strength of character when being manipulated and unfairly attacked, and he wasn’t up to the task.
By giving them what they crave, Steve Martin made the censors, bullies, cyber mobs and political correctness dictators more powerful, and hungrier still.
Without champions who will fight for free thought and expression, we will lose them. Martin and people of his intelligence and credibility have an obligation to be such champions, and he failed us all.
A tangential aside for consideration: I am not using the “This will help elect Donald Trump” tag any more, but I keep seeing news items that would have deserved it had the unimaginable not already happened. Maybe I should launch a tag called “This is what helped elect Donald Trump.” I’m tempted to add to it “…and should have.” The problem is that while somebody should have been elected who had the courage and the commitment to American values like free expression to begin to reverse this oppressive cultural indoctrination, the process fingered the wrong man for the job. He, like his supporters, can’t distinguish between words and thoughts that public figures should avoid making public in the interests of respect, dignity and comity, and the legitimate expression of ideas that the Left wants to crush like bugs. Still, I’m beginning to wonder if Trump’s vulgarity and gratuitous nastiness isn’t preferable to the free speech-corroding cowardice of the Steve Martins in our midst.