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The Palin/Letterman feud

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I'm sure you've all heard of what happened by now. Here's the "protests", as seen by Greta van ... on FoxNews:

(be warned, contains extreme stupidity, so if you're offended by that kind of thing, don't fire me please)

Anyways, I wrote the following letter to the sponsors ( [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] -- the list is from a website called "Fire Dave Letterman!") :

Dear Late Show Advertisers:

As a conservative leaning, rational person, I understand that Dave's joke was not meant to be about a minor, and are well aware of the Late Show's policy to not allow such jokes.

I wanted to let you know that, despite the propaganda you see on some of the more sleazy conservative outlets, most people who lean right have no vested interest in silencing their opposition, or even people who might insult or upset conservatives. We simply do not wish David Letterman to be fired, and we despise any person who would go to great lengths to make such a firing happen, over what is essentially a slip up.

The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment in recognition of a simple fact: due to each individual's ability to make rational judgments on their own, all viewpoints, jokes, insults or even plain stupidity can only add or not add to a conversation or to public discourse. They can never take away something of value from it, that someone else already contributed. In other words: Words don't hurt. Ever. They can only help or at worse, add nothing new.

So, while your decision, whatever it is, has nothing to do with the First Amendment itself (you are well within your rights to decide whatever you decide), it has everything to do with the principles behind it. Please consider those principles, and allow David Letterman to continue adding his sometimes silly jokes, other times poignant satire, to the public discourse. And I, in turn, will be grateful that you make it all possible, and will make sure to support you.

I don't watch Letterman much, but I'm annoyed by these "campaigns" that pop up every once in a while. Between this, and Michelle picking peas, I'm especially annoyed because there's a revolution going on in Iran I have to learn about on blogs and youtube.

I'd love to hear others' take on this, perhaps I'm missing some reason as to why those people are right to stand there and do their best to get Dave fired. (by the way, I don't see a chance of that actually happening, but this might hurt CBS's advertising a bit)

And yes, I posted the list of e-mails for the obvious reason.

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... as to why those people are right to stand there and do their best to get Dave fired. (by the way, I don't see a chance of that actually happening, but this might hurt CBS's advertising a bit)
It is quite pathetic to watch idiots like O'Reilly and Hannity try their best to make an issue out of this nit; it speaks to their intellectual bankruptcy.
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I don't see a problem with the offended people demanding a man be fired, as long as the scope of their complaints do not call for censorship or government intervention. I know you know the difference between censorship and refusing to subsidize your antagonists, so why would you care if advertisers pulled out, or people decided to boycott until he was removed?

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I don't see a problem with the offended people demanding a man be fired, as long as the scope of their complaints do not call for censorship or government intervention.
They have the right to do so; but, they are not right to do so.

I know you know the difference between censorship and refusing to subsidize your antagonists, so why would you care if advertisers pulled out, or people decided to boycott until he was removed?
What's wrong with caring that some people are being stupid, even though they are fully within their rights to be stupid? Edited by softwareNerd
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They have the right to do so; but, they are not right to do so.

Why not?

Is it just a matter of opposing personal values designated to personal taste? As in, you happened to think it was funny, as opposed to those who thought it was offensive, therefore you want to continue to watch the show, versus people who want him taken off the air? If so, why bring up the First Amendment?

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Why not?

Is it just a matter of opposing personal values designated to personal taste? As in, you happened to think it was funny, as opposed to those who thought it was offensive, therefore you want to continue to watch the show, versus people who want him taken off the air? If so, why bring up the First Amendment?

They are claiming that words hurt, and Letteman's words caused a lot of pain to the Palin family. If that were true, the First Amendment would squarely contradict the DOI, and people's right to happiness.

Saying that words hurt (without action, as in a joke like this) goes against America's founding principles just as much as calling for affirmative action or a welfare state does. It's all protected speech, sure, but it is wrong.

If so, why bring up the First Amendment?

For the same reasons any Objectivist, ever, would bring up the Constitution. It, and America's success under it, are evidence that we are right. I explained how the First Ammendment is based on the same principles of completely open dialogue I am calling for, except in a different, corporate, context.

I did make double sure to not claim any First Ammendment rights have been violated.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I can understand being offended by Letterman's remarks, they were low brow and I disagree with them, but I can't understand being THAT offended. I mean, this is way out of proportion to what happened. Turn the channel if you don't like the show. That is all this merits.

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They are claiming that words hurt, and Letteman's words caused a lot of pain to the Palin family. If that were true, the First Amendment would squarely contradict the DOI, and people's right to happiness.

Saying that words hurt (without action, as in a joke like this) goes against America's founding principles just as much as calling for affirmative action or a welfare state does. It's all protected speech, sure, but it is wrong.

Of course words do not cause physical pain, but don't you think it is possible to cause emotional pain to the family of Sarah Palin in this way? Isn't it possible to inflict emotional pain? Certainly they would be justified in having the opinion that NBC should fire Letterman, should they choose to react that way? If I were Mr. Palin, I know I would certainly be a little upset about having my wife and 14 year old daughter being degraded in a sexual manor. Don't you think it's perfectly logical for someone to react negatively and desire a course of action in which the employers of Letterman decide it is in their best financial interest to voluntarily remove him?

For the same reasons any Objectivist, ever, would bring up the Constitution. It, and America's success under it, are evidence that we are right. I explained how the First Ammendment is based on the same principles of completely open dialogue I am calling for, except in a different, corporate, context.

I did make double sure to not claim any First Ammendment rights have been violated.

Noted. But nonetheless, the First Amendment prevents government from interfering with free speech. It doesn't claim that one should not have to take responsibility for their speech in a non-coercive, private context. I'm having trouble understanding why the specific principles should be applied in a corporate context, when free individuals clearly disagree with eachother and ought to be able to call upon and convince others to cease subsidation of something they disagree with, without government getting involved.

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Of course words do not cause physical pain, but don't you think it is possible to cause emotional pain to the family of Sarah Palin in this way? Isn't it possible to inflict emotional pain? Certainly they would be justified in having the opinion that NBC should fire Letterman, should they choose to react that way? If I were Mr. Palin, I know I would certainly be a little upset about having my wife and 14 year old daughter being degraded in a sexual manor. Don't you think it's perfectly logical for someone to react negatively and desire a course of action in which the employers of Letterman decide it is in their best financial interest to voluntarily remove him?

The joke wasn't about the 14 year old daughter. (it was a pregnancy joke, about the one that got pregnant before, the 18y.o.) There is proof of intent on that, because Letterman doesn't do statutory rape jokes, in fact he makes a point out of not allowing any allusions to sex with a minor, and has been doing so for 30 years. The 14y.o. thing is just a misunderstanding(not really his fault) he cleared up the next day, and Fox chose to ignore it and lie.

With that cleared up, Sarah Palin and her 18 y.o. daughter are both public figures. They both addressed the country, and had some pretty questionable things to say. Letterman has been attacking Palin for months, pretty consistently, and probably for political reasons, in response. It is not his job to be fair, politically unbiased, or nice to people in the public eye, so that's perfectly fine. His responsibility is to entertain his audience. He also made Paris Hilton cry, and everyone was happy about it. Paris Hilton didn't call for his firing, she accepted that he doesn't like her and moved on. Why can't the Palins do the same? Should everyone who picks on them and their stupid hypocritical stance on "religious values" be excluded from the public eye? That's unreasonable.

As for Mr. Palin, he should not be upset at jokes directed to his adult wife or his adult daughter, any more than they themselves should be upset with it.

Isn't it possible to inflict emotional pain?

With an irrational person, it is impossible to tell what causes them pain. Most often, it is impossible not to "inflict" emotional pain on them, no matter what one says.

However, a rational person would not feel pain if a stranger has a negative opinion of them, no matter how he chose to express that opinion. Why would they?

Don't you think it's perfectly logical for someone to react negatively and desire a course of action in which the employers of Letterman decide it is in their best financial interest to voluntarily remove him?

Of course not. The Palins should understand that David Letterman does not like them, and avoid him. That is the logical course of action. Seeking out confrontation with strangers who dislike you is illogical.

If I were Mr. Palin, I know I would certainly be a little upset about having my wife and 14 year old daughter being degraded in a sexual manor.

If his wife and daughter(18!!) can't handle being joked about (or insulted, whatever), now that they are public figures, he should protect them by removing all televisions from the house and keeping them at home at all times. If he can't handle it emotionally himself, then he should not watch TV or leave the house.

It is in no way David Letterman or CBS's responsibility (not legally, and not morally) to to protect anyone's feelings. In fact it would, in my opinion, be immoral to sacrifice that joke Letterman told for the sake of Palin's feelings. (except for the confusion, between the two daughters) If it were up to me, Palin jokes would be free for all more than ever at the Late Show.

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The joke wasn't about the 14 year old daughter. (it was a pregnancy joke, about the one that got pregnant before, the 18y.o.) There is proof of intent on that, because Letterman doesn't do statutory rape jokes, in fact he makes a point out of not allowing any allusions to sex with a minor, and has been doing so for 30 years. The 14y.o. thing is just a misunderstanding(not really his fault) he cleared up the next day, and Fox chose to ignore it and lie.

With that cleared up, Sarah Palin and her 18 y.o. daughter are both public figures. They both addressed the country, and had some pretty questionable things to say. Letterman has been attacking Palin for months, pretty consistently, and probably for political reasons, in response. It is not his job to be fair, politically unbiased, or nice to people in the public eye, so that's perfectly fine. His responsibility is to entertain his audience. He also made Paris Hilton cry, and everyone was happy about it. Paris Hilton didn't call for his firing, she accepted that he doesn't like her and moved on. Why can't the Palins do the same? Should everyone who picks on them and their stupid hypocritical stance on "religious values" be excluded from the public eye? That's unreasonable.

As for Mr. Palin, he should not be upset at jokes directed to his adult wife or his adult daughter, any more than they themselves should be upset with it.

With an irrational person, it is impossible to tell what causes them pain. Most often, it is impossible not to "inflict" emotional pain on them, no matter what one says.

However, a rational person would not feel pain if a stranger has a negative opinion of them, no matter how he chose to express that opinion. Why would they?

Of course not. The Palins should understand that David Letterman does not like them, and avoid him. That is the logical course of action. Seeking out confrontation with strangers who dislike you is illogical.

If his wife and daughter(18!!) can't handle being joked about (or insulted, whatever), now that they are public figures, he should protect them by removing all televisions from the house and keeping them at home at all times. If he can't handle it emotionally himself, then he should not watch TV or leave the house.

It is in no way David Letterman or CBS's responsibility (not legally, and not morally) to to protect anyone's feelings. In fact it would, in my opinion, be immoral to sacrifice that joke Letterman told for the sake of Palin's feelings. (except for the confusion, between the two daughters) If it were up to me, Palin jokes would be free for all more than ever at the Late Show.

I don't really know the details about the 18 versus 14 year old thing, I was simply going from the report that it was the 14 year old at the baseball game about which he made the joke. Perhaps it was probably a misunderstanding on his part as meaning to target the 18 year old for being pregnant / having a kid / whatever. I don't know the details of the joke, at all, really. I am just coming from a point of view that it is perfectly fine to demand someone's employer fire them if you feel like it.

I think in essence we are in agreement. I see what you are saying and I don't think it's Letterman's job to not cause anyone emotional pain or that he should be sued or anything, I just still don't see why the Palins or anyone else in a similar situation would be wrong in counter-protesting against their antagonizer.

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Well, yea, if you discard any notion of the virtue of justice. It's perfectly fine then.

Certainly, and anyone who found it to be an injustice can demand that the other person shove it, that would be perfectly fine too. Either way, it would be up to the employer to determine what is in his self-interest. What am I missing?

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Are the Palin's actually calling for Letterman to be fired over this or is it just the usual group of sycophants like Oreilly and Hannity? I saw Palin on NBC's morning show the other day and she basically said Letterman was encouraging child molesters, which seemed like an over-reaction. For anyone who has ever seen a stand-up comedy show, these comments were pretty mild.

Even though this has gotten quite a bit of play in the media, one does wonder what kind of shit-storm would have been stirred up if say Limbaugh, for example, had said something similar about Sasha or Malia. Generalisimo Sharpton would have had his troops on the march.

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Are the Palin's actually calling for Letterman to be fired over this or is it just the usual group of sycophants like Oreilly and Hannity? I saw Palin on NBC's morning show the other day and she basically said Letterman was encouraging child molesters, which seemed like an over-reaction. For anyone who has ever seen a stand-up comedy show, these comments were pretty mild.

Even though this has gotten quite a bit of play in the media, one does wonder what kind of shit-storm would have been stirred up if say Limbaugh, for example, had said something similar about Sasha or Malia. Generalisimo Sharpton would have had his troops on the march.

Palin originally reacted very strongly , but it is reasonable to assume that she thought the joke may have been about her younger daughter. Then, that reaction would've been more than justified.

However, Letterman went on the air the next night, and explained both that he does not joke about minors in that way and that the joke was about the 18 y.o. And then refused to appologize. That was not enough for Palin, even though it should've been: her adult daughter's pregnancy is fair game for jokes, and people have beeb joking about it quite a bit.

Anyway, Letterman was eventually forced to apologize (he should not have been, if there was any of the aforementioned justice in American society), about a week later (the advertizers were probably insisting that he do it), and at that point Palin declared that she was satisfied. The current nonsense is no longer her doing, it's 50 mostly crazy people (and I mean that literally, I've heard them interviewed and they are mostly incoherent) protesting, and FoxNews covering it as if they represent conservatives at large.

[edit] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZMEaJNrJ14(getting set up by an Opie and Anthony producer, actually, for a funny bit, but they are allowed to speak their minds). It's hard not to laugh, as they are standing there, saying insane things that are far worse than what Letterman said, while calling for his firing.[edit over]

Plus, at this point Letterman is in the clear, and enjoying the massive publicity which is helping him overshadow what was supposed to be his rival Conan's big second week as the host of the Tonight Show. He actually can't stop mentioning the protests and the media coverage, it is a godsend for his ratings.

While the bias in the media is clearly there, and Obama is treated with kid gloves, I do think there is a difference between saying something like this about the President's minor daughters and Palin's 18 y.o. Chelsea Clinton was also left alone, while she was a child, and you can't say the Clintons were ever spared from ridicule on network comedy shows.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Even though this has gotten quite a bit of play in the media, one does wonder what kind of shit-storm would have been stirred up if say Limbaugh, for example, had said something similar about Sasha or Malia. Generalisimo Sharpton would have had his troops on the march.

That's exactly what so riles those on the right. But since you mention Limbaugh, he was fired from a gig on an NFL pre-game show by one network some years back when he maed a comment on, I believe, Donovan McNabb. He said the media paid too much attention to McNabb because he's black and not beacuse he's a good QB.

This was a minor firestorm, Rush hadn't been at that gig for long, and the other pre-game shows made a little satire next week and then it was all forgotten.

Now, I understand the right's frustration over the liberals' double standards, I share it to some degree. But 1) they can't spend the next four to eight years complaining that if Bush had said something Obama said the media would have crucified him, and more important 2) they shoulnd't pick up the enemy's premises and amke them their own. If both parties wind up with hurt feelings as the standard of value, man, we're in deep, deep, trouble.

As to Letterman, I used to see his show back in the 80s and early 90s. He wasn't as good or as funny as Johny Carson or Jay Leno, but he was tolerable then (his viewer mail segment sometimes was hilarious in an absrud kind of humor). But he has since lowered his standards, becoming more crude and mean towards people he doesn't like. So I stopped watching him years ago.

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Now, I understand the right's frustration over the liberals' double standards, I share it to some degree. But 1) they can't spend the next four to eight years complaining that if Bush had said something Obama said the media would have crucified him, and more important 2) they shoulnd't pick up the enemy's premises and amke them their own. If both parties wind up with hurt feelings as the standard of value, man, we're in deep, deep, trouble.

Point number 2 is dead on. Conservatives have a tendency to do that and thus they argue in circles.

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Point number 2 is dead on. Conservatives have a tendency to do that and thus they argue in circles.

I agree. They also legitimize (further) whatever the liberals are espousing or peddling. BUt they'd do that anyway since they aren't that far apart.

But point one also counts. If nothing else conservatives should slow down the Obama revolution. They won't accomplish that by setting up hypotheticals around things Bush never said and Obama or his supporters did. Some days all the better conservative blogs consist of little more than that.

They should hold the liberals fully accountable for their double standards, yes, but around issued that matter. Like the treatment of women and gays in Islamic countries, for example, or the lack of tolerance towards other religions in such places. That might actually acomplish something.

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Someone needs to call the waaaahmbulance for these middle age housewives who have nothing better to do than demonize a late night comedian. Ever think he is on late for a reason? Letterman picks fun at everyone; it is his JOB. These people are laughably pathetic picketing outside CBS for his head on a platter, for a man in the world of comedy who made a joke that wasn't funny, but also wasn't offensive. It was about an 18 year old girl who got knocked up before, now getting knocked up by a known playboy.

What offends me is a person like Bristol being used as a spokesperson for abstinence when clearly she is smart enough to know teenagers aren't going to stop screwing because politicians and teachers tell them to. In any other family, Bristol probably would have gone and had an abortion, but no one ever wants to consider abortion "responsible", even liberals.

So, go Dave. I don't think he owed anyone an apology, and it's too bad that Palin's hate campaign succeeded in tar and feathering a man who has been in that profession for 30 years and made plenty of off-beat comments.

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The joke wasn't about the 14 year old daughter. (it was a pregnancy joke, about the one that got pregnant before, the 18y.o.) There is proof of intent on that, because Letterman doesn't do statutory rape jokes, in fact he makes a point out of not allowing any allusions to sex with a minor, and has been doing so for 30 years.

That constitutes proof to you? The proof of who he was talking about lies in the fact that there was one Palin daughter at the Yankee game--the 14 year old. So like it or not, the joke (if you can even call it that) was aimed at a minor. I dont see why Palin should have assumed Letterman was talking about the daugher that wasnt at the game just because Letterman wants to backpedal or pretend he has some standards. I see no reason to cut this asswipe any slack. It was a stupid and obviously ignorant thing to say and he should have been man enough to immeidately apoligize for his own and his writers' stupidity.

The 14y.o. thing is just a misunderstanding(not really his fault) he cleared up the next day, and Fox chose to ignore it and lie.
You mean the way they ignored his apology in this

story from the Fox News website on June 16?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,526525,00.html

As for Mr. Palin, he should not be upset at jokes directed to his adult wife or his adult daughter, any more than they themselves should be upset with it.

Actually, Mr. Palin stayed completely out of the news while his wife has routinely attacked and mocked for the past year. He didnt step forward until Letterman attacked his 14 yr old daughter. He had every right to be upset and would have been justified as a father to punch that clown Letterman in the face. I wonder if Letterman would find that funny.

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That constitutes proof to you? The proof of who he was talking about lies in the fact that there was one Palin daughter at the Yankee game--the 14 year old. So like it or not, the joke (if you can even call it that) was aimed at a minor. I dont see why Palin should have assumed Letterman was talking about the daugher that wasnt at the game just because Letterman wants to backpedal or pretend he has some standards. I see no reason to cut this asswipe any slack. It was a stupid and obviously ignorant thing to say and he should have been man enough to immeidately apoligize for his own and his writers' stupidity.

You mean the way they ignored his apology in this

story from the Fox News website on June 16?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,526525,00.html

Actually, Mr. Palin stayed completely out of the news while his wife has routinely attacked and mocked for the past year. He didnt step forward until Letterman attacked his 14 yr old daughter. He had every right to be upset and would have been justified as a father to punch that clown Letterman in the face. I wonder if Letterman would find that funny.

Actually the reason you would assume Letterman was referring to Bristol is because she is the one who got knocked up by an athlete a year ago.

And that was Letterman's second statement on the matter, not the first which Ellison was discussing.

Edited by TheEgoist
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Actually the reason you would assume Letterman was referring to Bristol is because she is the one who got knocked up by an athlete a year ago.

Was Bristol at the Yankee game, which was the basis for the 'joke?'

And that was Letterman's second statement on the matter, not the first which Ellison was discussing.
Was Letterman's first statement really an apology? Or a snotty monologue?
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I dont see why Palin should have assumed Letterman was talking about the daugher that wasnt at the game just because Letterman wants to backpedal or pretend he has some standards.

The standards are in place, and have been common knowledge for 30 years. They would stand up just fine in a court of Law, through witness testimony (guests who have been prevented from breaking those standards, and fans who can testify to never hearing such a joke on the show).

The claim that a nework show doesn't have standards is ridiculously uninformed. Plus, it could easily be backed up with a few examples of sexual jokes about a minor, if there were any. In this setting, I can't prove a negative going back 30 years, you're supposed to come up with evidence of those type of jokes.

He had every right to be upset and would have been justified as a father to punch that clown Letterman in the face. I wonder if Letterman would find that funny.

This is an Objectivist website. We believe in the rule of Law. Not only does Palin have no right to punch someone, he has no complaint against anyone: Letterman's statements are protected free speech. You're advocating the initiation of force, and emotionalism.

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