Comedian Samantha Bee has apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a "feckless cunt" on her TBS show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. A TBS spokesperson said Bee was right to apologize, tweeting, "Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it."
The apology comes in the midst of considerable conservative outrage over a perceived double standard: ABC canceled Roseanne earlier this week after Roseanne Barr said a vile, racist thing about former Obama White House aide Valerie Jarrett, but TBS has not cancelled Full Frontal in the wake of Bee's crude, sexist jab at Ivanka. The implication, of course, is that Barr, a Trump supporter, can be fired for insulting a liberal, while liberals are happy to let one of their own off the hook for insulting a Trump family member (and staffer).
Conservatives came away from the Roseanne incident eager to identify somebody on the left who had committed comparable crimes. Their first scapegoat was Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, who once compared Trump to an orangutan. Yet Maher, who frequently bashes political correctness and mocks easily offended college students, is no longer in good standing with the left, and plenty of liberals would be glad to see him go. Maher is one of the few TV hosts who invites people from all sides of the political spectrum to debate each other in segments that last longer than five seconds, and getting his show yanked from the air would be one of the most self-destructive things the right could do.
One of the biggest reasons I expressed concern about the hasty decision to can Roseanne is that it seemed like all too many people on the right would use it as a pretext to demand private censorship of speech that offends them. And hey, there's plenty of that.
"Liberals will come for your career for wrong-think," wrote conservative pundit Jesse Kelly on Twitter. "People on the Right have had about enough of it and will start returning the favor. I don't want liberals punished for what they think. I don't [want] conservatives punished for what they think. It's a free country. But if we're coming for people's livelihoods, then screw it. Let's come for people's livelihoods."
I think Kelly speaks for many conservatives. "Make the enemy live up to its own rule book," was No. 4 on leftist activist Saul Alinsky's notorious 12 Rules for Radicals, but I have rarely, if ever, heard this rule invoked by an actual leftist. In my experience, this rule is beloved by conservatives. If liberals want people fired for saying something offensive, well, there are lot of people who offend a lot of conservatives.
TBS and ABC are both private companies, and neither of them has to give a platform to Barr or Bee. Nobody owes Kathy Griffin a New Year's Eve show, either. But the "I'm offended" arms race might end up serving the interests of some very powerful people if it causes critics of the White House to self-censor. I don't want comedians to be afraid of slamming the president's daughter, who doubles as an important policy adviser. Holding the reins of power and sitting idly by while our broken immigration system separates families and destroys lives is a far bigger moral failing than using some really bad words.