Stop Making Me Defend Joy Behar!

Preview: Conservative boycotts designed to punish individuals for speech are exactly as unethical as progressive boycotts for the same purpose.

The Victim: Joy Behar, alleged comic and long-standing co-host of ABC”s “The View,” or “A Lot Of Loud-Mouth Celebrity Women Without Special Expertise Or Insight Ranting Against Republicans And Conservatives With An Occasional Lame Interjection From A Token Conservative Woman Of Moderate To Negligible Erudition And Wit.”

Behar’s main function on “The View” is to be the upper limit for extreme abrasiveness and obtuseness. If a host exceeds Behar’s level of either, she has to go; thus former child star Raven (dumber than Joy) and Rosie O’Donnell (even more obnoxious than Joy) had to go.

The Controversy: In a February 13 segment discussing Vice President Mike Pence’s belief that God speaks to him, Behar said: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct . . . hearing voices.” Other members of “The View” panel piled on as the audience clapped and laughed.

The Aftermath: In a “People” interview about whether she would consider running for President, Oprah Winfrey, who can do no wrong in the eyes of The View-ers, said,

“I went into prayer: ‘God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that.”

Shortly after this, Behar said that she was only joking about Pence.

The Boycott: The conservative Media Research Center launched a campaign against “The View,” pressuring its advertisers to pull support for the show until Pence and viewers received a formal apology for Joy’s “crass, bigoted comments.”  Almost 40,000 calls were made to ABC from the MRC’s grassroots followers. The National Center’s Justin Danhof confronted Disney CEO Bob Iger at a Disney shareholder meeting last week, and asked, “Specifically, do you think, like Ms. Hostin and Ms. Behar, that having a Christian faith is akin to a dangerous mental illness?”

The Capitulation: First, Vice President Pence confirmed that Behar had called him and apologized personally. He told Sean Hannity yesterday that he had forgiven Behar, and that he had urged her to make a public apology to the millions of Christians she offended with her comments. Today, on “The View,” Behar said,

“I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith and I fell short of that. I sincerely apologize for what I said.”

Analysis: This occurred a full month after the comments, which Behar and “The View” knew would offend millions of people. They didn’t care. Thus Behar’s is not in any way a sincere apology. On the Apology Scale, it is a Level 7:

7. A forced or compelled apology in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent .

Obviously Disney, which owns ABC, told Behar that she had better apologize or else. If Disney or the show’s producers chose to force Behar to apologize on their own, or after reading various articles, essays and blog posts condemning the ridicule of the Vice President for his expression of faith, that would be appropriate. After all, she is their employee, and what she does reflects on them. However, this occurred because a conservative group used the threat of an economic boycott to bend Disney, ABC and Behar to its will, and by so doing, was warning others that anti-Christian statements, even jokes (although I don’t believe for a second that Bahar was joking), will be punished, not with “more speech,” but with potentially devastating economic attacks.

Behar was already in an uncomfortable place, since Oprah’s comments made it difficult to double down on her “mental illness” claim. That was enough, along with whatever individual viewers tweeted and emailed, to make Behar and the producers consider whether it might be wise to retract the wisecrack. But her actual apology was forced speech, speech compelled by power, and if Behar had any integrity or courage, or if she cared about or understood civil liberties, she should have said, “I’m sorry, but I’m a comedian and a pundit, I mock people for a living, and I’m not going to be bullied. If every statement the Right doesn’t like is going to be met with an economic boycott, then free speech will become impossible. And Disney should be standing behind me, not shaking in fear.”

Behar didn’t cross any absolute lines here, unlike, for example, Kathy Griffin, who made light of Presidential assassination, or David Letterman, who ridiculed Sarah Palin’s then minor daughter, or Stephen Colbert, who called the President of the United States a “cock-holster.” There is plenty to criticize about her comment, as there is about the insults “The View” harpies level at the President every day, so let the criticism rip.

Economic boycotts aimed at controlling speech threaten our liberties. They are unethical, and have to stop.


35 thoughts on “Stop Making Me Defend Joy Behar!

  1. It is generally a good thing to be able to agree to disagree. If your response to someone with whom you disagree is to refuse to patronize them, then you can’t agree to disagree. That’s a problem.

    (While I don’t like boycotts generally, there are instances where you can’t agree to disagree (e.g. the Montgomery Bus Boycott).)


      • Jack I generally agree with you about boycotts but I am getting to the point that I would rather see a boycott in response to the incivility that we are experiencing than violence. I am not opposed to lethal violence when life or limb is threatened. I am also not opposed to violence in defence of my rights or in response aggression. I fear the level of incivility is rising to the point that many will view it as aggression, as it in some cases. Now I am far from the point where I believe violence is the solution but I am starting to sense that many others are starting to approach this point. The right has had thier moments of insanity but more often than not it has been limited to certain segments of the right. The left universally adopts positions and hammers the public with it, in some instances such as gay marriage it is a benefit to society but currently they seem to only want to hammer thier fellow citizens into submission so that they can extract thier revenge on the Republican party for societies rejection of them.

        When three quarters of the media is rejecting to provide balanced reporting extrem measures will be adopted. The boycott and reaction from the right seems not just a response to Joy but to the overall situation.

        I don’t know what the fix is, targeted economic pressure has worked for the left in the past and it seems that the right has decided to adopt the same tactics, at this point I think this is a better outlet than violence. Obviously I am viewing this as a pressure vent to the overall situation, if the media and schools would just provide voices on the right a stage we wouldn’t be so close to descending into anarchy.

        The upset of 2016 seems to taught the left nothing, those who they continue to disparage will get thier voice one way or another.

        • This is what I have been saying. The left has used these tactics for so long, they are normalized. They right is just late to the party.

          Boycotts are wrong, but what else is left to the right?

    • Of course, one of my favorite lines from the Simpsons is the episode where Skinner and Kerbop.,, Krabapp..,, Crandall… Edna are fighting over school funding. Flanders attempts to mediate and, when he states that they just have to agree to disagree, neither one will agree to it.

      I tend to pull that line out when other lawyers say we have to agree to disagree. It usually leaves them perplexed.


  2. This is just great! We lost Billy Graham last week and the beloved boycott this week. Who or what are we Christians to turn to in our time of need? Oh, that’s right. I remember now.

    I have to say I completely agree with you on this issue, but it doesn’t diminish in the least that great feeling of winning one against “The View.” Can’t stand “The View.”

  3. “Conservative boycotts designed to punish individuals for speech are exactly as unethical as progressive boycotts for the same purpose.”
    Indisputably true. They have proven to be very effective political weapons though, and I doubt we will see unilateral disarmament on the part of conservatives. Here is a long list of current progressive boycotts:
    and here’s another, mostly Trump focused list for progressive boycott enthusiasts: . Here’s a Think Progress article complaining about, and listing conservative boycotts:
    and here’s the Business Insider listing of stuff Sean Hannity fans are not going to buy:
    Poor Starbucks and Amazon seem to make all lists, all the time, and so they will probably collapse soon, as no one buys anything from them. Ben and Jerry’s somehow incurred the wrath of liberals(!) for making insufficiently forward leaning ice cream, or something.
    The whole boycott game seems to be simply a publicity stunt, with a hint of extortion. If there isn’t an immediate media brouhaha, they seem to serve no purpose.
    When someone actually offends their customers, business associates or fan-base, the real world market impact is immediate, as happened with the Dixie Chicks. Their fans abandoned them. Harvey Weinstein became too toxic to do business with, so people don’t. Joy Behar backed off because advertisers don’t want to offend Christians, and Disney knows it. I’m not sure that a boycott need have any financial effect, but if it can pick up enough media coverage, mainstream or social, the desired result can be (sometimes) be achieved. In the case of Chick-Fil-A, sufficient coverage was there, but served to energize supporters, and backfired.
    The intent of a boycott to punish individuals for speech is unethical, but the results of such boycotts are so random and uneven, that I don’t know that the actual boycotts matter at all.

      • I wrapped that up poorly. I should have said: It’s unethical, AND rarely achieves the boycott objective. When they seem to, it was going to happen anyway.

      • I wonder: Are economic boycotts unethical in principle? What tools do I have to make a corporation change its policies? In the pocket booth, right? It happened in India when it sought independence from Great Britain. Indian boycotted silk, salt, and a host of other products, along with other campaigns to force the issue. How about South Africa? Economic pressure from many different angles forced the end of apartheid. The Montgomery bus boycotts brought a ton of attention to unjust laws. Is that consequentialism because they were effective, even though the rules/systems were unjust, immoral, and unethical?


  4. Huh. This is not the point of your post obviously, but I agree with what Behar said. I’ve always felt that way — even being raised in a faith-based family. None of my religious friends or family think God speaks to them. I encounter objectively mentally ill people on the street who hear voices — including the voice of God. In my opinion, if Pence thinks God is having a conversation with him, then I think his sanity is a legitimate line of inquiry. I’m happy to add Oprah to that list as well.

      • I don’t get annoyed at comments like that — although some atheists/agnostics would. When I hear something like that (and I mean this with no snark intended), my first thought normally is, “Which God?”

        Please continue reading — and I know tone sometimes can be inferred by the reader, so I want to reiterate that no snark is intended.

        Did you have this conversation with God and did he respond back, or did God just spontaneously send you this message? If it’s the latter, he probably would have been more successful in sending it to me. Or, if you are presuming that God misses me, I would ask you why you believe that?

        As a non-believer, I have not been punished by God. Perhaps I will when I die, but okay, I guess I will get what I deserve. But how about all the non-believers in Third World countries who are being punished right now? Why am I exempt from his wrath? I think that one of two truths must be present, and I don’t pretend to know which one is correct: 1) Either there is no God; or 2) God is an asshole. I have heard the explanations my whole life on why No. 2 isn’t the case, and it’s not God’s job to make sure that children do not starve, be born with incurable diseases, be sex-trafficked, etc., but none of those explanations have ever swayed me.

        If God exists and I am confronted with that truth when I die, and if he forgives me for being a non-believer, I hope I have the courage to tell him that I do not want any part of his club.

        • …my first thought normally is, “Which God?”

          There is only one God. Again, He told me so (not directly, this time: in His word)

          Did you have this conversation with God and did he respond back, or did God just spontaneously send you this message?

          He told me to, in His word: ‘Go and tell the good news to all living things (that’s you)’

          If it’s the latter, he probably would have been more successful in sending it to me.

          Nope, that is the problem. God IS calling to you, but you are not listening. This makes Him sad.

          1) Either there is no God; or 2) God is an asshole.

          Man fell. There are consequences to that right down to this day. God is not responsible for those consequences. Oh, by the way: you have never SEEN God’s wrath, and neither has those Third World unbelievers you are worried about. you see consequences from the Fall of Man, which work like the law of gravity.

          I do not want any part of his club.

          God does not reject you, but you are rejecting God.

          this message was approved by Jehovah Jireh, and His aspect as The Son of Man, King of Kings, and The Lamb that was Slain. Certain restrictions may apply. See instruction manual for details.

    • Well, don’t leave me off the list. My wife and I are together (now 35 years) because of that still-small voice. It has happened to me only very, very rarely, but it has happened. I don’t go to church and I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, either.

      Perhaps your friends and family aren’t really listening, or perhaps they are and God just hasn’t had anything to say to them. Who knows? I don’t know about others, but I don’t presume to know the mind of God. But I do know my life experience, and that happens to be one of them.

    • And Joan of Arc, as well.
      God doesn’t talk to people—I don’t THINK— but believing a sudden revelation comes from God isn’t crazy, like a schizophrenic hearing voices telling them to do things. If one has faith, I can easily see how the kind of spontaneous ideas that sometimes leap into one’s head can be seen as messages from God—and if there is a God, maybe they are.

      Several times in my life I’ve had a powerful, unexpected thoughts and conclusions come out of nowhere about what I should do, or a true “Eureka!” Who knows where these come from? Even brain science only has theories. Some of them have changed my life. So Mike Pence and Oprah think they come from God. i can’t prove them wrong. And the fact that and idiot like Joy Behar thinks it means they are nuts are almost enough to make me side with Pence and Oprah all by itself.

    • What is the point of prayer if it is always going to be completely one sided? Especially if God is really all knowing?

      I know most people who say that God told them something don’t mean they literally heard a voice speak to them. Some most likely do mean that. I’m not going to press them on that difference, and I’d imagine, if pressed, they too would admit there was no physical vibration of air waves going on.

    • I didn’t assume that when Pence and Oprah said they hear messages from God, they mean that they hear actual voices instructing them what to do.

  5. First of all, Jack, I want to say that I agree with you 100%. This is unethical activity by the Right generally and by the Media Research Center in particular. But just before reading your commentary, I read a piece at the Federalist by Asche Schow, in which she writes about the Left astroturfing the response to the Parkland shooting, in relevant part:

    There’s more. Tweets referring to the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance as “Murder Insurance” went from being largely ignored during prior pushes to getting certain Center for American Progress-related accounts hundreds of retweets. Those tweets were being pushed and circulated in a way they hadn’t been before.

    Basically, the left had money and infrastructure ready to go for an all-out assault on guns and the NRA, they just needed the right moment — the right victims.

    It’s sickening, when you think about it; they were basically waiting for children to die so that they could swoop in and blame everyone they dislike, instead of the actual shooter. They paraded grieving children in front of cameras without any care for their well-being just to help their cause.

    And as much as it pains me to say this, and as much as I think this was a horrible thing for the Left to do; the right should learn from these tactics.

    What your essay represents is the Right learning from the Left’s tactics, and responding in kind. That doesn’t make it ethical, or desirable, or good.

    But what we have here is a real war going on for control of this country, and real wars, when both sides feel like they are fighting for their very existence, are fought largely without rules, at least to the extent society will allow. While it would be ethical of the Right (or the Left) to denounce this behavior and refuse to continue it, it would be the equivalent of walking into the ring with boxing gloves on while your opponent wears brass knuckles.

    While I’m sure ethics hero status would be very comforting to the ghosts of those who get purged by the New Communists in America (described by the media as sweet socialists, to be sure) should they take power, I can’t see them going down that road. They are therefore adopting similar tactics, and ethics be damned.

    Is that a sad commentary? You bet. But until both sides are willing to agree to the political equivalent of Marquess of Queensberry rules, the gloves are coming off, to all our woe.

    • Thank you, Glenn. I have been talking about this for months here at EA.

      What is the right supposed to do in response. The ethical approach has utterly failed, with the media fully supporting socialists and suppressing the right.

      Time to be unethical.

    • I never put much stock in pieces like this, which in many ways take an idea and put their own thoughts into what happens, mainly to satisfy the bias that they already have. The same thing happens in many of the leftist opinion pieces, that try to speak out on what the right is doing based on what they believe.

      The real difference in this case is the victims were kids who were old enough to speak out on their own, and were persuasive enough to get themselves heard and sympathized with by most of the country. Elementary school kids can’t jump out in front of cameras and spout out speeches, so it wasn’t effective before. Las Vegas was a bunch of adults, Orlando a bunch of gays. But now we had high school kids, those who are still kids but have no problem with jumping in front of a TV camera, to get together for marches, to want to organize and do things. These were being organized and shouted in schools in South Florida by that evening, not days later. The left were of course happy to give them money to do so, but much of that was going to occur anyway.

      As for our right, it’s already there. While I have no problem with rightfully kicking illegals out of the country, going about it by demonizing every illegal as a serial killer/rapist in waiting is not any different. We just get to take advantage of every crime committed by an illegal to do so instead of a mass shooting. (Heck, she even references it in her piece, without even noticing it’s already happening) If that’s the way we’re going to look at it. I tend to think the vast majority (but sadly not all) don’t sit there hoping in glee for a mass shooting, or illegal murderer, to commit their crime to jump out. It’s more a matter of “It happened again” feelings where nothing has changed, and being frustrated by that, based on which side of the fence you sit on.

      • Except that the argument for enforcing laws has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not those who violate them later commit crimes. Your basically comparing the stupidest versions of two policy arguments as if that’s all there is. These are both emotion-based advocacy, and beneath the dignity of responsible self-governance.

        • The thing is, the reasoning being used now to go after the illegals is that they commit violent crimes and are a danger to society. Yes, they’re law breakers to start with, which is why they should be sent back to where they came from. That should be the reason enough, but instead what is being used is the same fear mongering push to get people to accept that as a reason to remove them from the US. We should be just saying “Hey, they’re here illegaly, that’s all that is needed to deport them. If they want to come back to our country, have them go through legal means”. Stooping to fear mongering tactics of them all being violent criminals is a low way to go. And also gives the left side the reasoning comeback of not all of them are, why aren’t we going after real criminals.

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