Roseanne Fired For Being a Comedian

by, Renee wood

I happened to watch the full series of the new Roseanne right before she made inappropriate comments that seemed racist.  I really enjoyed the show and actually analyzed what was being said.  I haven’t laughed like that in a while.  The show had some good issues that were covered for poor, and middle class people.  Yes, the family, is Republican, well Roseanne and Dan are Trump conservatives, whereas her sister is a diehard liberal.  Makes for some interesting exchanges.  I would guess Darlene and Rebecca are liberals from what they said on different issues the show raised.  D.J. I don’t know about.  One might conclude he’s a liberal because he married a black woman, but if one thought that, they may be accused of having implicit bias because the assumption would be, “Only liberals would marry a black person”, which, of course, just isn’t true.  Rather than, “Liberals are not bound by society’s backwards morays, so they are more likely to be open to marrying someone of another race”.  But even if one said that, that would be implicit bias because it assumes conservatives are bound by outdated social norms.  One can’t win, so we should just shut-up?

One issue the series covered was Darlene’s 10 year old son, Mark, who wears girlish clothes, and like Dan said, “It’s ok at home, but if he goes to school like that, those kids are going to eat him alive”.  So Roseanne ends up having to take him to his first day at his new school (she’s clearly not thrilled by this), so when they’re alone she says, “Let’s talk.  I’m going to ask you some adult questions but you’re a big person now, I think you can handle them”.  She asks, “Do you feel like you’re a boy or a girl”?  He responds, “A boy”!  So the exchange goes on, and she begins to understand how he dresses is really important to him, but she also wants him to understand what he’ll be facing and make sure he is strong enough to handle it”.  So she’s says, “You do know this won’t be easy”.  He acknowledges that he’s aware of that.  She says, “You know Mark, in life we have to pick our battles, is this really important to you”?  He responds, “Yes, grandma, it really is”.  She says something like, “Ok, I’ll support you”.  At school she speaks to his class so they understand, and wants to make sure they don’t tease him.  I felt it was well done.  It showed how talking and listening can change someone’s attitude.

Did Roseanne really mean that tweet as hate?  I don’t know, I can’t judge her heart.  This has bothered me for a while, I hear a lot of judging going on by those who say, “Don’t judge”.  Don’t judge also means, “Don’t judge those who you view as judging”!  I’m not defending what Roseanne tweeted at all, it was clearly inappropriate, thoughtless, and like she said, “Stupid”.  But haven’t we all said things we wish we could take back?  Just the other day, I can’t remember what Floris did, but I remember it really ticked me off at the moment, and I just blurted out without thinking, “You stupid idiot”!  Now I knew as soon as it left my lips I shouldn’t have said that.  He hates being called stupid or dumb, he probably would rather be called an ass, then those words.  I know it hurts him and I usually find more creative words to express my displeasure when he doesn’t think things through.  Of course, I apologized later, and then I found out Roseanne had been canned for her words that hurt people.  So I said to Floris with a half a smile, “Are you going to divorce me”?  Floris responds, “What”?!  I said “Well they canned Roseanne, and I called someone who I actually know is smart, stupid”!?  Floris said, “Little extreme, don’t you think”?

If someone has racist beliefs, is firing them going to make them non-racist?  It probably will embolden them and their followers by them seeing it as extreme – not only to them, but those who view the series.  They’ll become kind of a martyr of sorts.  Has anyone just tried talking?  Like, “Roseanne, why did you really say that”?  Everything is about punishment now, oh, except police shooting young black men for no good reason – they go free, while a comedian makes an insensitive comment and gets a number 1 rated show cancelled!  Our p. Trump has said a multitude of far worse things and he still has a job!  There is no common sense used in response to the gravity of the offense.

There’s a lot of ignorance out there, but punishment doesn’t educate or bring us closer together as a people who are divided right now.  I can’t tell you how many ablest remarks I hear (or I hear them that way, although they may not know it, or mean it), even from people in the disability field who should know better.  My mom taught me when I was young that I would hear a lot of ignorant people say things about me not understanding my CP.  She would say too, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.   But the truth is words did hurt, that is until I learned to step back from my feelings and start a conversation to try to understand what they meant.  Often times it wasn’t meant to hurt me, it was just ignorance, which gave me the opportunity to explain why something offended me as well as to educate them on better ways of saying what they were trying to express.  However I pick my battles and do not engage with every ablest comment I here, just the most egregious.

Also, when I was young, apologies (if earnest), was meant to save your butt, now they’re useless, even if they are truly contrite.  Why bother admitting you made a mistake if the retribution for your actions is just as harsh.  There is no more mercy in our nation – everything is about forcing people to behave in the way a certain percent of society deems appropriate.  Yes, we need to have laws to protect people from harm, but we have free speech in this country, and we need to use speech to understand where the other person is coming from – that’s how we cure racism, not by shutting people up.

And what about other comedians such as Bill Maher, whose politics I don’t agree with, but the way he expresses his beliefs I find humorous – although they could definitely offend those of us who lean right.  He compared p. Trump to an orange orangutan (I’m not a Trump supporter but he is a person too [I think]), and had the nerve to put up a side by side photos of p. Trump and an orange orangutan, and kept his job!  It was a real ape, not an actor dressed like an ape named Zira (who I think is cute) in Planet of the Apes.  By the way, I loved Planet of the Apes.  That’s a movie where the oppressed take over and dominate their oppressors.

Do I think people should be held accountable for their words that they knowingly, and with forethought, used to inflict harm on an individual or particular group?  Yes, but there has to be a process involved in really figuring out what their intent was before an aversive action is imposed – that’s what we do in America.  It’s called due process.  We don’t try people in the court of public opinion which is guided by both sides of the media, depending on which media station one chooses to listen to.  If everyone on TV were subject to firing every time anyone used ablest language – there would be no media period.  Why does one minority group get to cry foul because of their history, when another minority group is living the reality of being warehoused as commodities, desexualized, used as slave laborers for others to make money off of, their children our often taken away or aborted without their consent, we (my people) are paraded around the community in groups of 4 or 5 with a person who is considered “above them” in charge of the invisible leash.  My people have little opportunity to really connect to others outside our group.  We are exploited by pity for money, our bodies and dignity are medicalized and objectified, and we suffer sexual, emotional and physical abuse at sky high rates with little justice.  Society sees this and thinks; “That’s just how you take care of ‘those unfortunates’”.  The media only reinforces these biases towards my people.  So pardon me if I don’t get too upset about one person in a minority group who is being merely called an ape, when my people are being treated like apes right now today and every hour of every day.  You want my sympathy?  Then start to recognize the current treatment of my people as slaves of the Disability Industrial Complex (DIC) and help us get free to live TRULY self-directed lives.

Here’s my blog I wrote several years ago about social construct that really fits today too.