Parker column: A Bee in Barr’s bonnet
WASHINGTON — Call me naive – I’ve been called worse – but it never occurred to me that Roseanne Barr’s firing would be viewed by some as a political statement.
Alas, it seems I’m a mere babe in the thicket.
When I recently wrote about Barr’s racist Twitter attack on Valerie Jarrett, I was commenting on why this particular event was so foul. However, because I didn’t also address every other person who has been rude or profane, namely comedian Samantha Bee, or the alleged double standard in their treatment – Barr’s show was canceled, Bee’s was not – I’m somehow a liberal shill, along with various choice anatomical descriptors. So wrote a couple of dozen readers of websites, if not precisely my column.
Since you brought it up: First, it has always been deeply depressing to me that Barr has an audience at all. Please see previous column. Second, until a few days ago, Bee wasn’t on my radar. For the record, what she said about Ivanka Trump, calling her a “feckless c—,” was disgusting. What else?
I’m reminded that when playwright Eve Ensler came out with “The Vagina Monologues,” one of the chapters – or episodic hysterias – concerned women’s reclaiming of the C-word. In Ensler’s play, which prompted me to pen a play in one word – “Ennui” – a woman spends an uncharitable amount of time saying and savoring the word with accompanying lingual histrionics.
The play, oft-performed on college campuses, apparently helped certain women liberate themselves from the word’s traumatic effects when uttered by a male of the species. Women would own it, thenceforth, and could use it with impunity for their own unhinged purposes. Sorry, I meant to say, unchained.
Given said appropriation, might one conclude that Bee, being a woman, is within her monologist rights to use the term just so long as she’s referring to another woman? Apparently, no. It seems that, to some people, it would only be OK if Bee’s target were also a liberal woman. Picking on the daughter of a Republican president is tantamount to attacking the entire Republican cohort, while the C-word seems secondary to the partisan point.
Bee is certainly liberal if you’re an ultra-conservative, but the show’s executive producer describes those behind the program as “radical centrists.” But even if Bee’s a liberal, aren’t conservatives also concerned that immigrant children are being separated from their parents upon entering the country illegally – the point of Bee’s segment? Don’t like the joke, don’t watch. By all means condemn the language. But a tit-for-tat firing makes sense only if your world is defined by politics. Bee’s show is often political and part of her shtick is saying outlandish, gross things to get laughs. In a sense, she was just doing her job, which is probably why she wasn’t fired.
Also, she quickly apologized without making excuses, as Barr did.
Meanwhile, the fact that Trump likes Barr, who is a conspiracy theorist as well as a racist, is hardly reason to consider her a conservative victim or to believe that she was fired only because she attacked a liberal. She was fired because she ill-represents the values of her former network, ABC, even if its enunciation standards were late in coming.
Trump’s outrage about Bee’s remarks, appropriate to any father, is surely one of his shinier moments. But he’s hardly an avatar of moral rectitude and decency. Pop quiz: Which president put the P-word into public circulation? Also, thanks to Trump, everybody in the world, save for a few Sentinelese in the Andaman Islands, knows the name “Stormy Daniels.” Trump’s own record regarding the respectful treatment of women is, moreover, a tad spotty.
Finally, Bee’s remark doesn’t rise to the level of what Barr said, which has nothing to do with my knee-jerk moderate politics. As for my choice in comedians, I prefer that they be funny. Most, regardless of persuasion, poke fun at the powers that be. It just so happens that the current majority lends itself to the genre.
Comparing Barr’s fate to Bee’s as strictly political fails on its face. One uttered an obscenity; the other a mean-spirited, threatening slur that has caused immeasurable suffering. By referring to Jarrett as she did, Barr employed the same simian imagery that was used to rationalize the enslaving, lynching and terrorizing of African-Americans.
The Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow could not have hoped for better, or worse, than Barr’s revealed mind – far more offensive than the C-word, which, remember, women now own.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group