by Marc H. Rudov
June 21, 2009
Almost every year during the George W. Bush Administration, David Letterman told a version of this joke:
Do you know Condoleezza Rice, our secretary of state? Today is Condoleezza Rice’s birthday. Yep, today’s her birthday. Are you going to get her anything? If you don’t know what to get her, get her l**d.
I never heard anyone — including Rice — complain, demonstrate on Broadway, or call for Letterman’s head in response. Shocked but amused, I cringed and laughed each time he repeated it.
Fast-forward to June 2009: Hundreds of angry protesters stand outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, on Broadway, hungry to skewer Letterman — while Republican New York State Assembly Leader Brian Kolb asks Leslie Moonves, CBS’s CEO, to fire him. What’s going on?
Letterman, left-leaning funnyman, had described Sarah Palin, who was at the time in NYC with 14-year-old daughter Willow, as having a “slutty stewardess” look. Tasteless? Yes. Worse than the jibe at Rice? Not in my opinion. Frankly, I didn’t care.
Then, Letterman crossed the line. He joked that, during the seventh-inning stretch of a Yankees game, A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez, third baseman) had knocked up the Alaskan governor’s daughter. Now, I was offended, and I wasn’t alone. The outrage began to percolate around the world.
First, Mr. Letterman claimed that, when he had approved the joke, he intended to slight Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter who recently had become an unwed mother. Two problems: one, Bristol wasn’t at Yankee Stadium; two, joking that A-Rod had impregnated any of Palin’s daughters is the epitome of poor judgment — an insult to the Palin family and to A-Rod.
He Forgot Alex
The furor escalated and became a global news story: Letterman’s joke, at the end of the day, was about statutory rape. So, Dave finally relented, admitting that, regardless of his intent, perception rules. He performed a mea maxima culpa, apologizing profusely to the Palin family and everyone else he offended. Well, not everyone.
He forgot Alex. While prostrating himself and appearing to convey total and absolute contrition, Letterman forgot to ask forgiveness from the “perpetrator,” the guilty party, in his inappropriate joke: Alex Rodriguez.
In New York State, an adult older than 18 having sex with a minor younger than 15 is committing second-degree rape, a class-D felony. So, was Letterman not equally offensive to both A-Rod and Willow Palin? You betcha.
Why, then, no apology from Letterman to A-Rod? Why, then, no demonstrations on Broadway about offending A-Rod? Why no complaints from A-Rod, the Yankees, Major League Baseball, or Brian Kolb? Simple: A-Rod is a man. Hurting a man has no consequences. A man, after all, is supposed to “take it” and keep his mouth shut.
Cannonballs to the Stomach
As I explained in “Rebranding Manhood,” it is common to see men resort to unproductive, false expressions of manhood in America, a country that devalues them. Such macho behavior is a sign of deep insecurity and a direct reaction to a climate of insulting TV commercials and sitcoms, “tolerated” female-on-male violence, and unconstitutional anti-male laws like VAWA.
No matter how far and illegally the so-called equality pendulum swings in the female direction, America expects men to “take it” and keep their mouths shut — like Frank “Cannonball” Richards, the circus performer of yore who took cannonballs to his stomach:
When Letterman failed to apologize to A-Rod, he underscored our society’s view that false rape accusations are mere cannonballs to the stomach, affronts men should just take. Unconstitutional rape-shield laws encourage these accusations, and courts almost never arrest, prosecute, or convict women who perpetrate them — as we saw when Crystal Gail Mangum falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players with impunity.
It follows that, if our legal system — which men built — considers men a joke, why shouldn’t David Letterman? Exactly. That is why not one person, including A-Rod himself, expressed outrage that David Letterman impugned a man as a child rapist, just for laughs.
To explore this further, I conducted a poll to ask people whether David Letterman should have apologized to A-Rod. About 1000 people participated, 95% of them men (women, for the most part, don’t care about men). Of the men who voted, 80% wanted Letterman to apologize to A-Rod — as did the same percentage of the handful of female voters.
Let’s observe, though, that 20% of male voters didn’t believe Letterman should apologize. Based on anecdotal feedback, via e-mails, this “20% block” either fit the “cannonball” category or the Palin-hater category. Alas, what most people failed to grasp is that my poll, at its core, was not about A-Rod or the Palins but about principle.
The NoNonsense Bottom Line
Men must wake up to a simple reality: if they don’t demand respect, they’ll never get it. Expecting it to appear naturally or automatically is pure folly.
Watch my Fathers’ Day debate with Lis Wiehl on Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto. Try to detect any natural or automatic respect for men from Lis (click below to watch):
Real manhood cannot exist without self-respect and respect for other men. Many mistakenly believe that manhood is about deference to women — which, ironically, is neither respect for women nor manhood.
By not apologizing to A-Rod, and experiencing zero public outcry as a result, David Letterman proved that manhood, like capitalism, is in short supply in America.
Manhood and capitalism have much in common: both made America great, and both remain frequent subjects of reminiscence.
© 2009 - Marc H. Rudov - All Rights Reserved
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Marc H. Rudov, The NoNonsense Man®, is a globally known radio/TV personality, relationship coach, speaker, and author of 100+ articles and the books Under the Clitoral Hood: How to Crank Her Engine Without Cash, Booze, or Jumper Cables (ISBN 9780974501727) and The Man’s No-Nonsense Guide to Women: How to Succeed in Romance on Planet Earth (ISBN 0974501719). The 2008 recipient of the National Coalition of Free Men’s “Award for Excellence in Promoting Gender Fairness In The Media,” Mr. Rudov is a frequent guest on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor and Your World with Neil Cavuto.
Rudov’s books, articles, radio/TV archives, and podcasts are available at TheNoNonsenseMan.com.
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