Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great Moments in Conservative Humor

The day Jerry Falwell died, I wrote up a tossed-off little satirical post about how God was punishing him being a sinner. "The wages of sin is death," and all that. I ended up not publishing it because, while scanning around the Net for juicy Falwell quotes about the wages of sin, I found that several other bloggers had already had the same idea.

It was, after all, kind of an obvious joke. Falwell seized on every opportunity to use tragedy or death to make his case for a theocratic America, so it's only natural to point out the silliness of this line of reasoning when the tables are turned and the man himself dies.

That's what makes Bill O'Reilly's shocked and appalled response to Amanda Marcotte so difficult to believe. Can he be so out of touch with reality that he doesn't understand the Pandagon post in question? Jerry Falwell never once held back in mocking the dead or politicizing tragedy. He's the guy that went on TV while the World Trade Center was still smoldering and blamed feminists for terrorism! Why does he then deserve kid gloves when it's his turn to go?

Bill's headline - "Disrespecting the Dead" - could just have easily served as the title of Falwell's autobiography. This was his exact M.O.; wait until Americans were all paying attention to some big story, and then use it to make the case for the evangelical perspective. It's almost a form of homage to turn it around and use it back on him.

But worse yet, Dennis Miller's then appears on "The Factor" to concur with O'Reilly's take on the story. Now, okay, Bill O'Reilly is a half-wit, maybe he couldn't fire the proper neurons in order to comprehend Marcotte's rather simple joke. But Dennis Miller was a successful comedian for years. There's no way he didn't get it. He's just become a desperate wannabe demagogue. Think about that...a guy who once had a lucrative film, television and publishing career is now making a desperate bid to be a second-tier Sean Hannity. That's a considerable fall in just a few short years...I guess it all started with getting fired from "Monday Night Football."

Let's look at the quote that has Bill so upset:

"The gates of hell swing open and Satan welcomes his beloved son. Jerry Falwell's dead. Guess god [sic] liked the ACLU better after all."

Bill throws in that "[sic]" to point out how shocking and horrible it is that Amanda refused to capitalize the "G" in god, a silly complaint. If Marcotte doesn't believe in the Judeo-Christian "God," or even if she does believe but doesn't think the existence of a deity requires fiddling with conventional rules of grammar and written language, she is under no legal mandate to capitalize her G's. Is Bill's audience really so sensitive that a non-believers failure to capitalize their lord will actually matter? I'm afraid so...

Anyway, it's clear that Amanda's joking here. That's exactly the kind of thing Falwell would say, get it? The overheated language, the casual certainty about God's and Satan's motives, the invocation of the ACLU...This is parody.

Bill feels that it "symbolizes the hateful far left in America." Symbolizes? How so? Can one woman's humorous statement on her blog - a blog that gets a good amount of traffic, but is hardly the keystone of some large political movement - really "stand" for an entire large cutout of the American political spectrum? Of course not. What a stupid thing to say. This is just how Amanda Marcotte feels, which probably reflects how a reasonable cross-section of the small, self-contained liberal feminist blogging community feels (though I'm not sure, even, about that).

Bill goes even further to say that "this group deserves no respect." I guess he's saying that it's not worth listening to people on the left (though why he'd devote a segment of his nationally-broadcast television to say so is curious). But this kind of language has some deep implications..."No respect." Don't all of our fellow citizens deserve some measure of respect? Isn't that really the definition of a society?

Miller finds Marcotte's remark "reprehensible." Seriously...You know who else is totally out of line? This guy:

But...but...Jerry Falwell was still alive when Miller insulted him! So no harm, no foul!

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