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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Has David Letterman gone too far?

Interpret that question as you will. Did Letterman go too far with his tasteless joke about Palin’s daughter getting knocked up by a Yankees baseball player, even if you buy his explanation that he was referring to the of-age Bristol, and not the underage Willow? (I do buy that explanation, and while I do think the joke was in poor taste, it’s clearly a snarky reference to the young woman’s public work as a promoter of sexual abstinence, and not a random sexist swipe at an undeserving figure. It’s a deliberate swipe, however poorly constructed, at her public hypocrisy.) Did Letterman go too far when he apologized last week for the outcry over the joke? (Since when do comedians apologize for being idiots with no sense of appropriateness?) Did Letterman go too far when he apologized again yesterday?

All right, here – I’ve been thinking about this situation with Governor Palin and her family now for about a week – it was a week ago tonight, and maybe you know about it, maybe you don’t know about it. But there was a joke that I told, and I thought I was telling it about the older daughter being at Yankee Stadium. And it was kind of a coarse joke. There’s no getting around it, but I never thought it was anybody other than the older daughter, and before the show, I checked to make sure in fact that she is of legal age, 18. Yeah. But the joke really, in and of itself, can’t be defended. The next day, people are outraged. They’re angry at me because they said, ‘How could you make a lousy joke like that about the 14-year-old girl who was at the ball game?’ And I had, honestly, no idea that the 14-year-old girl, I had no idea that anybody was at the ball game except the governor and I was told at the time she was there with Rudy Giuliani … and I really should have made the joke about Rudy …” (audience applauds) “But I didn’t, and now people are getting angry and they’re saying, ‘Well, how can you say something like that about a 14-year-old girl, and does that make you feel good to make those horrible jokes about a kid who’s completely innocent, minding her own business,’ and, turns out, she was at the ball game. I had no idea she was there. So she’s now at the ball game, and people think that I made the joke about her. And, but still, I’m wondering, ‘Well, what can I do to help people understand that I would never make a joke like this?’ I’ve never made jokes like this as long as we’ve been on the air, 30 long years, and you can’t really be doing jokes like that. And I understand, of course, why people are upset. I would be upset myself.

There’s more (from The Live Feed).

Has David Letterman gone too far? Whatever that may mean to you.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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