The podcast has it’s 5th birthday!

On June 14th, this podcast passed its 5th birthday! (Just a coincidence that it was Trump’s birthday, too.)

So again, I ignored the time limit and decided to get more in-depth into a topic. The more general topic is how the political rules keep changing. More specifically, I’ll discuss changes like what’s acceptable for mocking a President, and how some decide who to blame when a tragedy happens.

Much has changed…and changed back.  It’s amazing what a difference a change in political party makes.

Mentioned links:

Missouri fair bans rodeo clown wearing Obama mask

Rodeo clown banned for wearing Obama mask speaks out

“He broke me”: Kathy Griffin blames “bully” President Trump, “white men” for decapitation video backlash

Theater refuses to buckle after ‘Caesar’ Trump criticism

15 Times Celebrities Envisioned Violence Against Trump and the GOP

Virginia Shooting Suspect Was Distraught Over Trump’s Election, Brother Says

Sen. Sanders Sends Out Fundraising Email Citing Arizona Tragedy

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Show transcript

I want to tell you the story of Tuffy Gessling. You may not have heard his name before, but when you hear the whole story, you may remember him.

Mr. Gessling had been doing his job for at least 15 years, and he did it well. His job had two responsibilities. One was to make people laugh, but he wasn’t a comedian. The other one was to save people from harm, but he wasn’t a doctor or a first responder.

The thing he got national attention for, which is where you may know him from, was that he did something that some considered to be offensive towards our President. Some thought it was intended to make fun of him. It was so offensive to them, that politicians – Republicans and Democrats – thought there needed to be punishment, perhaps a financial penalty to Gessling’s employer.

The employer, though, was just as offended, and called his action “inappropriate” and “unconscionable”. Technically, Tuffy Gessling was a contractor, and what the employer did was ask the contracting company to ban him for life from ever working for them again, and the employer was reconsidering their entire association with the contracting company.

That’s a pretty serious reaction to Mr. Gessling. So what did he do? Well, he wore a rubber mask of the President as part of the comedy part of his job. That’s it? That’s it. Considering what others have done lately to mock the President, this seems rather tame.

And it is. But, as you’ve probably guessed, I’ve not told you the whole story. Yet.

Kathy Griffin did a photo shoot with a fake severed head of the President. She thought it would make a statement, and that it would be considered funny. Can’t really blame her for thinking that, I guess.  That’s especially true when a play that mimics Julius Caesar with the President in the title role gets rave reviews, and a standing ovation when he’s killed, is all the rage. Or when people take to the streets to protest against things the President hasn’t even done.

But of course, that standard is a double one. The national incident that Tuffy Gessling got banned for life for was wearing a mask of President Obama…while doing his job of getting laughs and saving people…as a rodeo clown. He saves the thrown riders as he keeps the animal’s attention, and in the process gets a few laughs from the crowd. What he did was “unconscionable”, and “inappropriate”, and “racist”. Never mind the fact that the rodeo clown contractor had done that same thing using masks of Bush, and Clinton, and Reagan. No, when Obama was in office, the standards were entirely different.

“But,” some are sure to say, “Kathy Griffin was fired from her CNN job.” True, a truly unconscionable act by an employee of a major news network did get her canned. But this was an act designed to be provocative. She wanted the publicity. She probably needed the publicity. And she was at least known to enough of the public before she did this. But you mostly likely never heard of Tuffy Gessling before that incident, and if you heard his name then, you’ve probably forgotten it in the intervening 4 years. And he wasn’t try to get attention or be provocative. He was doing what he’d always done until that point; protect rodeo riders, and get a laugh, sometimes at the expense of a current or past President.

The rules changed for Obama, such that even the most minor thing was “unconscionable”. And apparently the rules have changed again for Trump, such that plays depicting his assassination are hailed as a “masterpiece”. But please note who it is that is doing all this rule-changing. It is the Left. Yes, yes, both sides are critical of the other side, and both overreact to criticism of their side. But in the 21st century, liberals are untouchable for even the smallest of slights, but anyone else is fair game for even murder fantasies.

When asked whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, Tuffy Gessling put it all in perspective by answering, “I’m a rodeo clown.” I’d suggest that Kathy Griffin is one as well, but that’s unfair to rodeo clowns. They, at least, are funny.

The morning of this podcast’s birthday, June 14th, a man shot at a practice for a charity baseball game put on by US Congressmen. He targeted Republicans specifically. Fortunately, when he arrived, the Republicans were spread out in the field, not gathered in the dugout. As it was, he fired at them, injuring, among others, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

The last time a member of Congress was shot was back in 2011. It was Democrat Gabby Giffords, and members of both parties, as they are today, condemned the shooting. But beyond that, the pundits on the Left found some way to try to blame this in Republicans. Jared Lee Loughner was a registered nutcase, but the Left settled on Sarah Palin as the scapegoat. A map she had put out showed Congressional districts that were being targeted for replacing the sitting Democrat with a Republican. She used actual target icons on the map, and therefore, so the thought went, she was contributing to the “uncivil” political discourse, and helped create an environment where this sort of mass shooting was more likely.

A map of the US with targets on it, highlighting Congressional districts, set the stage for a shooting. Really? Then how about these events?

  • The aforementioned Kathy Griffin photoshoot, where she joked about killing Trump.
  • The aforementioned Julius Caesar remake where Trump is assassinated.
  • Madonna at the DC Women’s March: “I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
  • The Snoop Dog or Marilyn Manson videos where they kill Trump.
  • Larry Wilmore on his Comedy Central show: “Anyway, since we’re talking about bigotry, we have to mention Donald Trump. Sorry everyone, I don’t want to give him any more oxygen. That’s not a euphemism by the way; I mean it literally. Somebody get me the pillow they used to kill Scalia, and I’ll do it. I’ll do it!”

There are other examples in the show notes, most I didn’t use because I have standards for the podcast that they would violate. But there are a lot more, from Robert De Niro, Joss Whedon, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman, and more. And the guy who shot at these Republicans was distraught over Trump’s election. Jared Loughner was all over the map politically, starting out far Left and moving far Right, but James Thomas Hodgkinson was very engaged in politics, had worked for the Bernie Sanders campaign (though Sanders has vehemently denounced his actions), and had attended protests in DC. Whereas Loughner’s family was concerned for his mental state, Hodgkinson was described as just a normal guy. But he was also a hard-core, Trump-hating Democrat. How many people does this describe?

If there was ever a case for the incivility of our political discourse pushing a guy over the edge, this is it. James Hodgkinson is the poster child for what happens when one ideology has gone way, way over the line. And while the Left kept accusing the Right of such line-crossing, without any evidence, here we have precisely the situation they accused us of.

Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, you don’t hear Democrats bemoaning the incivility of our political discourse anymore. It was all a smokescreen to mute criticism of their side, much like the overused charge of “racism” was the past 8 years, until such time as a Republican was President. Then they put those tools away and brought out the fangs and the claws.

Am I blaming Ms. Griffin, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Madonna or Mr. Dog for this shooting? No. That blame rests squarely on the shoulders of Mr.Hodgkinson. I’m also not blaming his gun.  But I do have these observations. This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate. Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred. In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is this a place in which people who are not Democrats are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process? Have left-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions? Close quote, well, with a few minor changes regarding party affiliation. Those are the words of … Bernie Sanders, suggesting, in a fund-raising letter, that the incivility by Republicans back in 2011 was to blame for the Gabby Giffords shooting. I have a feeling that we will not hear something like that from him this time around.

I’ve quoted it before and I’ll quote it again. Evil preaches tolerance (or civility, or coexistence) until it is dominant, then it tries to silence good. And I’ll explain again that, no, not all liberals are evil, and not all conservatives are good, but if anyone uses this tactic to silence the opposition, they are evil. If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.

Filed under: Partisanship