Toby Harnden, the U.S. editor for Telegraph.co.uk had an interesting blog about comedian Wanda Sykes’ controversial jokes about right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Here is one excerpt from Harnden’s blog:
“He’s not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.”
She then concluded: ”Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a good waterboarding, that’s what he needs.” Obamaseemed to think this bit was pretty hilarious, grinning and chuckling and turning to share the “joke” with the person sitting on his right.
There’s not much room for differing interpretations of what Sykes said. She called Limbaugh a terrorist and a traitor, suggested that he be tortured and wished him dead.
What was his crime? Hoping that Obama’s policies – which he views as socialist – will fail.
That’s way, way beyond reasoned debate or comedy and Obama’s reaction to it was astonishing.
Imagine if a comedian ”joked” that Obama was a terrorist who was guilty of treason and should be tortured and allowed to die. There would justifiably be an outcry.
I think what Sykes said, relative to Limbaugh (even though I have little use for the racist, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic commentator), was over the top. But, I think some of our conservative friends might do well to think of some recent jokes. People have joked about President Obama being a terrorist and saying how it might be nice to get him as well as Osamabin Laden. Sykes was a bit over the top, but she is a comedian and this is what comedians do. Comedian Jackie Mason said some nasty things about President Obama, but Mason is a comedian and that is what comedians do.
Remember this from joking statement from Liz Trotta (who is not a comedian) of Fox News:
…”and now we have what … uh…some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama …uh..um..Obama….well both if we could “…
Also, consider this from a column written by golf analyst David Feherty:
“From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”
I wonder of Harnden missed those two examples.