The right targets, the wrong language

THE RIGHT TARGETS, THE WRONG LANGUAGE…. Regular readers know I have no qualms about calling out ridiculous far-right Republicans like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. I consider them national embarrassments, representing the worst American politics has to offer.

And yet, I’m uncomfortable with language like this, even from a talk-show host I generally like.

It’s all fun and games until someone brings out the “c” word. Comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin just that on Sunday night in Dallas, laying into the former Alaska guv and saying that “there’s just no other word for her.”

Maher also referred to Palin last week as a “dumb twat.” As part of a larger comparison of the Republican presidential field to the characters on Gilligan’s Island, the host also characterized Palin and Bachmann as the “two bimbos.”

Look, I know Maher is a comedian, and often, he’s a good one. I also know that in comedy, being outspoken and over the top is just part of the act — discomfort and a high shock-value can lead to bigger laughs. And it’s not lost on me that Maher hosted a program called, of all things, “Politically Incorrect.”

But I don’t like language that’s demeaning to women, even if I’m offended by the women on the receiving end of the criticism. There are endless ways to mock conspicuously unintelligent conservatives — from either gender — without using ugly language like this.

It doesn’t matter if Palin and Bachmann are idiots. It does matter how one goes about describing them as idiots.

If this were 2007 and a conservative talk-show host had used identical language to describe Hillary Clinton, I’d be livid. If prominent voices on the right used racial and/or ethnic slurs, they’d face serious pushback, from me and others, and they’d deserve it. If conservative media figures used degrading language to target religious minorities, that’d be unacceptable, too.

The point is not to suggest the need for “language police.” Obviously, Maher is free to speak his mind. His word choice is between him, his conscience, and the folks who sign his checks.

But I want to be intellectually honest and consistent. If I don’t like it when hosts on the right use language that’s demeaning to women, I’m going to call out hosts I do like for doing the same thing.

Wrong is wrong.