Ethics Dunce (But We Knew That): Roseanne Barr [UPDATED…Again!]

Ugh. The new, surprise hit reboot of “Roseanne” self-destructed when it’s star, not for the first time, couldn’t restrain herself from being objectively repulsive and tweeted a racist insult to former President Obama’s black chief-of-staff, Valerie Jarrett. This morning the comic—at least some people think she is comical—tweeted that Jarrett was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.” as in “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Barr apologized, but ABC was quick: it cancelled the series, saying, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

Rosanne didn’t just step on a landmine, she stepped on several, then jumped up and down on them to make sure they blew her to bits, or so it seemed. Can’t attack anyone associated with Obama. Can’t use “Muslim” as an insult. Can’t make monkey jokes about black people. Any of these can be career-killers, and Roseanne did all of them at once, in only ten words and two initials. Wow. It takes a Master Ethics Dunce to do that. I am in awe.

Does she deserve to lose her show over this? Of course she does. It was, by any standard, a racist, hateful tweet. No company, especially an entertainment company, especially a Disney company, can afford to be associated with that kind of  reckless, high-visibility employee,  She was on thin ice anyway, being a self-declared Trump supporter. She should have known that she had to be even more careful than other uncivil comics and celebrities, like Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Alec Baldwin, all of whom have  said or tweeted ugly and hateful things about the right kind of people—you know, whites, Republicans, the President, and his family.

One of Roseanne’s writers, stand-up comic Wanda Sykes, quit the show before it could be cancelled in protest over Roseanne’s “joke”, though Sykes herself was booed off the stage in 2016 after going on a hateful, expletive-filled rant against President-Elect Donald Trump, then flipping off the crowd as she exited to boos. Now that’s the kind of comic ABC is proud to employ! Continue reading

The Dishonest or Cowardly Joke Excuse

An enthusiastic commenter to the post on Tony Kornheiser’s suspension by ESPN bases his defense of the suspended sports commentator on what I call “the joke excuse”: poor Tony was only joking when he insulted colleague Hannah Storm on his syndicated radio show, and that should insulate him from any negative consequences because humor is subjective, and we don’t want people without senses of humor snuffing out laughter in the world.

As anyone who actually has read the contents of this blog (the commenter in question has clearly not), I tend to be in general sympathy with the concept of giving humor free reign. The problem with its application here is that I see no evidence that Kornheiser was joking. His words:

“Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She’s got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now. She’s got on her typically very, very tight shirt.She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body … I know she’s very good, and I’m not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won’t … but Hannah Storm … come on now! Stop! What are you doing?”

I’ll pause a second so you can catch your breath from uncontrollable laughter at Tony’s wit, deft use of irony. brilliant wordplay and creative absurdity. Continue reading