Among the people I follow on Twitter is the popular comedian and writer Andy Borowitz, winner of the first National Press Club Award for humor. He pops up all over the place: you can read him in The New Yorker, at the Huffington Post, and in syndication in many major newspapers. He’s contributed to lots of TV shows, and turns up on screen all the time. Everybody in mainstream media loves this guy.
Not like that nasty Rush Limbaugh, who went right beyond the bounds of civil discourse a few weeks ago by calling Sandra Fluke, who at the time had just petitioned Congress to compel others to subsidize her sex life, a “slut”. How dare he? That’s just beyond the pale, and there was a good deal of stern tut-tutting from the Left about what is and isn’t permissible in a decent society. The President himself, Barack Obama, even called Ms. Fluke to tell her how badly he felt for her.
Now you may have heard that Dick Cheney, former U.S. Representative, White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, and Vice President, is recovering from a heart transplant.
Here’s a tweet posted this morning by Andy Borowitz:
All kidding aside about Dick Cheney, he really is a cocksucker.
As far as I know, this hilarious observation has caused no storm of outrage. Mr. Borowitz is of course free to say whatever he likes — and I realize that he is simply an entertainer, playing to an audience, and that japes like this are how he earns a crust. (The same, of course, could be said about Rush Limbaugh.) I repost his tweet here only to make clear that what you can and can’t get away with in the nation’s media depends very much on who you are, and on whether you insult approved targets — and there is no class of people more acceptable for all levels of vile derision than conservative white male demons like Dick Cheney. Imagine, if you can, Bill O’Reilly making the same tweet about Michelle Obama on the occasion of her recovery from life-threatening surgery, and the liveliness that would ensue.