Monday, March 05, 2012

In defense of entertainers and freedom of speech

I admit I really like Howard Stern. I don't listen to him these days because because my morning drive to work involves me padding from the dogfood bowl to my desk in the dining area, plus I'm too cheap to pay for satellite radio. I also understand Stern going to paid subscriber radio so he doesn't have to deal with the same FCC cavalcade of bullcorn that is attendant with the fickle wiles of the listening public on open airwaves.

That said, Howard Stern used to, on occasion, (and I'm sure now does on a daily basis) say things I find repugnant, but I also knew I could turn my melon-farming radio off if he grew tiresome. Occasionally, I'd hear some flap about some group who was offended by something he said, and I thought they were pretty much full of shit for protesting, because I knew bloody well they were not in his listening audience anyway. Hullo. He's an entertainer, and you can turn off your radio or not listen.

Same goes for Rush Limbaugh. I don't agree with everything he's ever said, and I don't listen to him these days, but used to listen to him frequently. In fact, other than my girlfriend who was on the radio Saturday and Pandora, I'm not radio-listening public these days at all.

Rush Limbaugh is not a politician-- he is an entertainer. He has a right to say what he wants, however questionable the taste of his commentary.

I cringed when Gilbert Gottfried made crappy jokes about the Japanese tsunami last year, but nearly un-hinged my eyeballs from rolling them so hard when AFLAC canceled his endorsement contract. Gilbert was an asshole comedian BEFORE they hired him and BEFORE the tsunami, and they HAD to know this. It was therefore asinine to drop him as a commercial announcer because he suddenly said the wrong jerky thing. I spit on the spinelessness of a commercial entity who whiplashes themselvesin a 180 degree turn to distance themselves from someone based on political correctness.

Same goes for Rush Limbaugh and the current flap about birth-control, video sex, whatever. I used to listen fairly regularly, and I find him entertaining, thought-provoking and -- yes-- occasionally exasperating. But again, I can exercise my ability to turn off the radio. I'm really too intercoursing busy to waste a lot of energy reading the whole story, but I can say unequivocally that I'm sure what he said was in very poor taste and I'm sure he regrets it. I can also say that in this election year, there MUST be more important things we need to decide and discuss (or is that only a valid point when the person on the hot seat is a Democrat?).

The huge public outcry of a bunch of people who don't even listen to his show, is therefore, pretty weak, in my opinion. What about when James Carrville said "if you drag a $100 bill through a trailer park..."??? I found that offensive to the core of my being and he is involved in our political process and was at that time. Sexism and offensive comments are not unique to one side of the political aisle or the other. I just know that we're not going to solve or resolve it, ever, and this looks like an opportunistic swipe at freedom of speech, to me.

Do I want to pay for the birth control for millions of horny coeds whose annual college tuition costs more than I earn in a year? F*** no.

Do I want to see videos of them using the birth control I paid for? Certainly not.

Playing the hypocrite card here-- I can think of many of my fellow Americans to whose sterilization I will happily contribute.

If I wait for an entertainment forum that will be 100% in lockstep with my own views and tastes, then there will be no one to entertain me but myself, and that would get old. I require amusement. I realize on a daily basis that things I've said here or there may have cast me in the light of the most inveterate jerk. When appropriate, I try to apologize and/or explain myself. Other times, my jerkiness is just like the bellybutton thing and we all need to accept that we don't always agree.

As for the hue and cry from an outraged public regarding what pretty much any entertainer ever says, well, get over it, darlings. Don't listen to him. But don't try to shut someone down because you disagree. Build a better mousetrap. Bring a better argument. Win on the battlefield of ideas rather than bringing the censorship.

And if you suddenly find yourself involved in a letter-writing campaign to sponsors of a show to which you did not listen anyway, you really need to think about your own sense of balance and fair play, or maybe you -- like myself-- are comfortable with a certain degree of contradiction. Or hypocrisy.

I have to go study now.


Roscoe said...

Some have suggested that the girl should sue, but I speak from experience when I say that *anything* she allowed to end up online is out there somewhere waiting for a clever lawyer with a good research department.

Limbaugh has enough money for very clever lawyers.

Matt G said...

Rush is an asshole.
But he's appealing to many, not for the least reason that the man's got pipes, and knows how to use them.

The question of why the American public should pay for private individual's birth control-- or any OTHER medical need-- is a good one to pose. But he did it in a disingenuous manner, to intenionally create salacious commentary.

I notice that he didn't suggest that we see videos of Grammaw's publicly-funded enema...? (Ew.)

"Playing the hypocrite card here-- I can think of many of my fellow Americans to whose sterilization I will happily contribute."
That's not hyprocrisy. Choosing to donate to a charity or worthy event is not the same as choosing to have all your fellow citizens involuntarily contribute, at the barrel of a gun.

Thud said...

You have to give the left credit, when they find a weapon they certainly know how to use and abuse it.