Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh Dave, Seriously Not Funny

It seems as though everyone is up in arms again over a David Letterman joke. Though not about Sarah Palin, this time he took on President Obama's appointment to the Commerce Department, Amanda Simpson, a transgendered person.

See for yourself:

I know.

Not terribly funny; more along the lines of the typical frat boy humor you get on late night talk shows, but, man, Dave is taking the heat for this one. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, well, except for wingnuts and homophobes, is out for him.

But then you have people like Peter LaBarbera complaining to Focus On Family, and saying:

"Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama administration? How far does this politics of gay and transgender activism go? Clearly this is an administration that is pandering to the gay lobby.We should consider what transgender activism is about, which is essentially recognizing civil rights based on gender confusion."

Gender confusion? And yet I don't hear anyone up in arms about his statement. GLAAD isn't demanding an apology and the HRC isn't releasing a statement. They're targeting a talk show host. And it gets worse.

WorldNetDaily, on its website, was very offensive, going so far as to use the words him and he when talking about Amanda Simpson, and putting quotation marks around her first name as though it was some kind of an alias:

Mitchell Simpson, now known as "Amanda" following a sex change, is said to have been appointed senior technical adviser at the Commerce Department. He purportedly began work today.
Simpson, 49, is a former test pilot who made the gender switch 10 years ago while working in Tucson, Ariz., for Raytheon Missile Systems, a major Department of Defense contractor where he became deputy director. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Simpson underwent six surgeries at a cost of $70,000 to make the transition from male to female. He had his Adam's apple
removed, breasts added, forehead ground down and genital surgery.
Simpson became the first openly transgendered candidate to win a primary election in the U.S. in a 2004 bid for the Arizona state legislature, the New York Daily News reports. He lost the general election. He's not the first high-profile transgender appointment in Washington, D.C. In 2008, Diego Sanchez was named chairman of the House Financial Services Committee by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

GLAAD? Anything? The Human Rights Campaign? Have a comment? That would be no, though they both called on David Letterman to apologize; a comedian.

GLAAD issued the following statement:
Depicting people reacting in horror to transgender individuals is a dangerous stereotype for popular media to perpetuate because it contributes to the societal conception of transgender people as abnormal and deceptive, which all-too-often results in anti-transgender violence and/or discrimination when played out in reality. We are reaching out to CBS “Late Show with David Letterman” with our concerns about this transphobic joke. Please send your concerns to CBS.

And the Human Rights Campaign chimed in like this:
You may not be aware that the punch line in your skit has been used as a defense in nearly every hate crime perpetrated against transgender people that has come to trial. For example, the “trans panic” defense was infamously used by Allen Ray Andrade, who was convicted in 2009 of beating 19-year-old Angie Zapata to death with a fire extinguisher after learning of her gender history. According to media reports, it has also been the main defense employed by Juan A. Martinez for the killing of Jorge Steven López Mercado, 19, in Puerto Rico last November.Your skit affirmed and encouraged a prejudice against transgender Americans that keeps many from finding jobs, housing, and enjoying freedoms you and your writers take for granted every day. We ask that you apologize publicly to Ms. Simpson and the transgender community for this unfortunate episode.

Now I get it, Letterman's little skit was offensive, and he should apologize to Amanda Simpson, but, you know, sometimes comedy is offensive. So, why run after Dave and let these people who are saying far more vile things about Miss Simpson off the hook? If you're going to get up in arms about a comedy skit, you ought to get up in arms about any anti-LGBT statement made by anyone.

Like I said, Dave's was in bad taste, but I don't think he meant it as an insult to Amanda Simpson, or any transgendered person. Sadly, we cannot say the same thing about Peter LaBarbera and WorldNetDaily.


Kevin said...

The joke shows how some people's hysteria is just plain stupid.

Gender hysteria + typical hetero hysteria + homophobic hysteria =
barely offensive social commentary.

I say Dave (and his WRITERS) should get a pass on this one.

Kyle said...

Dave's writers should take some heat for this ill conceived joke, as should Dave. Bob I've given up on our major orgs PR and responses to attacks. Often they are too directly focused and don't address the full complexly of the issue at hand. They have started to cater to our mass idiot mentality in that respect and we lost a lot of ground with that approach by my account. Or, as in this case, they haven't addressed the character attacks at all.