Monday, February 8, 2010

Palin: OK to use "R" word if it's satirical

Former Alaskan Governor (and potential 2012 presidential contender) Sarah Palin spoke this past weekend at the Tea Party Convention in Tennessee. She spoke of the future of conservatism, and at times mocked the current administration, asking how that "hopey-changey stuff" was working out (nevermind that Palin had once tried to hop on the "change" bandwagon).

Palin also sat down with FOX News's Chris Wallace, who talked to the former one-term governor (if you can call half a term that) about another topic that has concerned her as of late.

Current Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently criticized liberal Democrats for wanting a stronger health reform package by calling them "f---ing retards." Palin, whose youngest son has a cognitive disability, called on Obama to fire Emanuel for his derogative use of the "r" word.

In her interview with Wallace, Palin said that she didn't want to be overly "politically correct," but that she felt the comments were out of line and grounds for Emanuel's dismissal.

But when Wallace questioned whether she supported Rush Limbaugh's use of the word, Palin's tone changed entirely.

"Rush Limbaugh was using satire," she said. "I didn't hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with [the "r" word]...there is a big difference there."

Satire or not, Limbaugh was using the word quite often -- over 40 times after the Emanuel incident, as ThinkProgress has pointed out. Even if Limbaugh was making a political statement, his past views on politically correctness in political language hardly qualifies him as the voice of reason in this case.

Palin forgets something else: Satire, too, can be offensive. Limbaugh played the song "Barack the Magic Negro" on his his program during the presidential campaign, a song that many in the African-American community took offense to. Many in the homosexual community, too, take offense to jokes that are satirically driven. And, yes, those with cognitive disabilities find troubling the jokes that are made about them...even if done satirically.

It's interesting, then, that as the mother of a cognitively disabled child, Palin has no problem with the "r" word being used as satire. One might wonder, if a liberal were using satire to belittle those with cognitive difficulties, would Sarah Palin dismiss that as "just satire" as well? Probably not.

It appears as though Palin is only OK with satire when it's being used to combat those she disagrees with. When Limbaugh says the "r" word, it's to bash those darn liberals; therefore, it's perfectly acceptable in the minds of many conservatives, Palin included, to use the word in such a demeaning way.

Emanuel was wrong to use the word in such a way, and has apologized for doing so. Limbaugh was also wrong to use it satirically, but has yet to apologize for it. Both of them have protected rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to use the word however they'd like, but that doesn't mean it should be acceptable to use within our culture. Palin found for herself a sneaky way to trick her conscience into accepting Limbaugh's method as permissible. It's a hypocritical action, one that she'll likely have to live with in the weeks or months to come, perhaps her whole lifetime.

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