I'm a comedian who often deals with edgy, politically incorrect and controversial material who thinks that Family Guy's Sarah Palin joke was not only offensive, but irresponsible.
Sarah Palin is a liar. She tells a whole lot of lies, from her "thangks, but noo thangks" to the Bridge to Nowhere to her assertion that Obama had "authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform." But my favorite one was the victim card she played while resigning.
Palin's family and the ridicule they endure being in the public eye was part of her decision. She complained that her 14-month-old son, Trig, who was diagnosed with Down's syndrome, had been "mocked and ridiculed by some mean-spirited adults recently." She didn't elaborate.
She didn't elaborate because it was another manipulative untruth. No one in the Hollywood, lefty, socialist, mainstream media was ridiculing her son... till now.
Most are by now familiar with the controversial episode in which a main character dates a mentally disabled girl who tells him, "My dad's an accountant, and my mom's the former governor of Alaska."
We hear "former governor of Alaska" as the punch-line and so it sounds like a Sarah Palin joke, but she's not the punch of the joke. The joke was on Trig. OK. On a comedic level, it was not a funny joke, the premise of it simply being that the governor HAS a down-syndrome child. That's not in itself funny, is it? With all the material this lying, manipulative, incompetent, ill-informed public figure has to offer, THAT is his target? And on that same level, it is offensive.
Just as there's no subject off-limits to art, I believe there's no subject off-limits to comedy. Anything, and I mean anything, can be made funny in the right hands and the more highly charged a subject, the more ripe it is for the sort of explosive, and sometimes beneficial, reaction humor can elicit. I've heard comics tell spot-on bits about 9/11 right after 9/11, Columbine right after Columine, etc. And as a comedian, there's nothing I admire, or try to achieve, more than precision slights at political-correctness. A good "wrong" joke is a convergence of Funny and Non-PCness. Excuse me, not a convergence -- a collision. A nuclear reaction. But if one train isn't fast enough, you either have a weak slap or you have simply an offensive remark. The deftness of humor has to totally consume the attendant revulsion to the subject matter, so those who venture into those waters better be damn funny.
And to those who still accuse me of fuddy-duddiness, I have heard funny Trig bits. I'll dare to bring one up as a comparative example:
Comedienne, and friend of mine, Jena Friedman once observed that it was insensitive for the governor to name her down-syndrome child after a math concept he'll never understand. (Yikes!) Horrible! And funny.
OK, yes, it is offensive but it can at least plead smart. There's nothing smart about "My mother is the former governor of Alaska" which is as weak as it is predictable and the writers should have taken some care not to deal a habitual victim-card player a full house.
Now, just because she's right, doesn't make her any less wrong. She milked Letterman's misfire long after it was established that he got the two daughters mixed up, she gave Rush Limbaugh a pass saying that he was using satire when he wasn't by any stretch of the definition (he was practically defending Rahm Emanuel). She's still a liar and manipulator but now she has an ace to vindicate all her previous claims.
She'd been inexplicably and falsely claiming that Trig -- and by calculated extension, she -- was a target of the left forever, and now Family Guy goes and does it.
Congratulations, Seth, you made my favorite Sarah Palin lie true.
CORRECTION: I originally wrote that on Real Time with Bill Maher, Seth MacFarlane stated "Sarah Palin doesn't have a sense of humor." This is incorrect, he was actually summarizing what Andrea Friedman, the actress who voiced the character, had to say about Sarah Palin. My apologies.