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Spike Feresten jumps into the Barr/Bee controversy. Spike who?

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Spike Feresten jumps into the Barr/Bee controversy. Spike who?

Spike Feresten jumps into the Barr/Bee controversy.  Spike who?
June 04
13:47 2018

Spike Feresten is not very well known, to say the least. He is a comedy writer/performer with a rather obscure podcast program. To those who are comedy aficionados, however, he is a bit of a superstar. His writing credits include Saturday Night Live, the David Letterman Show and Seinfeld – where he gained comedic immortality for creating the Soup Nazi sketches.

He was recently brought out of the shadows by CNN’s Michael Smerconish to comment on the Rosanne Barr/Samantha Bee controversies. His role was to support the left-wing narrative that what Barr tweeted was terrible (and it was) and she deserved to be fired – if not hanged, drawn and quartered. Whereas, Bee’s use of the c-word deserved nothing more than a collective wince.

Feresten was one of a seemingly endless series of contributors on CNN and MSNBC who proffered the same liberal narrative that the two cases are totally different. Perhaps that is because the left has long been the defender of “profanity” – a currently meaningless word that once described certain terms as blasphemous, vulgar or obscene.

These were words never to be uttered in mixed company, in front of children or on the airwaves. In fact, intelligent people were educated to never use such words at all. They were a sign of low character and limited intellect.
It was the Berkley Free Speech Movement that declared constitutional protection for any public expression of vulgarity. Today, the academic descendants of those 1960s free speechers now believe it is justifiable to shut down any speech with which they do not agree politically or philosophically in the name of political correctness — although vulgarity is still permissible in their view.

Comedy has played a special and significant role in the coarsening of our language. From an era when such comedians as Lenny Bruce could be prosecuted for “profanity,” we have evolved into an era where profanity IS the mainstay of comedy.

This was made clear by Feresten when he expressed his opinion that Bee’s joke was not only not offensive, but it was a good joke. He claimed as proof the loud round of laughter that ensued. Feresten must intuitively know that it was shock-value laughter – not an affirmation of wit. It is the same reason that we humans tend to laugh when we see a person stumble or fall. It is a cheap way to get a chuckle and one of the reasons mediocre comedians rely on vulgarity to build their reputations – and quite successfully in some cases.

In some ways, Bee’s crossing of that intangible line was more offensive than Barr. The latter made a despicable statement on her private Twitter account – perhaps under the influence of something or other. Bee made her equally offensive remark on a broadcast program. It was not an off-hand comment, but a planned and scripted comment. It was not a joke. It was a shrill insult that had no punchline.

In comparing Barr and Bee, it is noteworthy that both are women attacking women – a protected class in modern America unless you are a conservative woman. The differential in value of racism and sexism is purely in the eyes, or ears, of the beholder. What is also clear is that the official and public reaction is yet another example of the bias in the entertainment and news industries. The Barr/Bee statements are more similar than dissimilar. It is the response that exposes the nation’s philosophic chasm.

Feresten defended his entire profession by claiming – and this should result in one of those skeptical chuckles – that today’s comedians are not biased along political or philosophic lines. He really said that. The use of humor, he claims, is only to distinguish right from wrong. Ponder for a moment the arrogance of Feresten in assuming that the incessant mocking and condemnatory jokes of the far-left comedians against Trump, Republicans and conservatives are just to make a distinction between right and wrong – proving yet again that the hardcore left has no objectivity gene.

Feresten closed off the interview by declaring, “we are okay with (the c-word).” Really? I wonder who the “we” might be to whom he refers.

As a conservative, I do not believe that the Rosanne Barr show should have been canceled – not because it is one of the rare shows without a left-leaning storyline, but because I believe that it should have been up to the public to decide. I feel the same with Samantha Bee. Unless such entertainment figures commit real crimes (thinking of Bill Cosby) – not just offenses against political correctness or good taste – the public can provide judgment via the ratings.

As a free speech conservative, I can always wish that our culture was more refined and civil, but I tend to be an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment. Free speech – even when vulgar or provocative – is, or at least should be, protected by the meaning of the First Amendment. The failure to fire Bee only establishes the hypocrisy. It would not have been an issue had Barr been reprimanded and allowed to carry on with the show. It would have also saved the jobs of a couple hundred folks associated with the show who did nothing but produce a top-rated program.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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