Saturday, April 21, 2012






Work


O.K., O.K., everyone has moved on from Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney.      But, tiresome as it may seem to some, not this blog.    Writing on Politico on April 14, Patrick Gavin (prior to last night's episode) wrote

On Friday's "Real Time," Maher double (sic) down on Hilary Rosen's controversial statement that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life" by saying that, "what she meant to say, I think, was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work."

"No one is denying that being a mother is a tough job," said Maher. "I remember that I was a handful. Okay, but there is a big difference in being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out of the door at 7am when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, and even if you're unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours, that is a different kind of tough thing"...


And when Maher announced in March that he would contribute the substantial sum to President Obama's reelection efforts (calling it "the wisest investment I think I could make"), some called on the president to reject the contribution in light of some of Maher's more controversial comments (Maher has, for instance, called Sarah Palin a c-nt and has made sexual references to Rick Santorum's wife). The campaign against Maher heated up in light of the controversy encircling radio host Rush Limbaugh when he called Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and "prostitute." Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page to declare, "Pres. Obama says he called Sandra Fluke because of his daughters. For the sake of everyone's daughter, why doesn't his super PAC return the $1 million he got from a rabid misogynist?"...


The decision not to denounce Maher publicly struck some as inconsistent, as Obama was quick to weigh in on the Fluke incident, calling her during the heat of the controversy. And, during a press conference, Obama said of the incident that, "And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there's a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen."


Maher's comment on Friday's program was not taken lightly by many, especially several in the Romney campaign who have used Rosen's -- and now Maher's -- comments to political advantage.


How many times do mainstream journalists, convinced they're fair because they are "balanced," have to be told there is no moral equivalence between a) a fine comedian with no influence on the Obama campaign and the de facto vice-chairman (with respect paid to Chairman Norquist) of the Republican Party; and b) using intemperate, nasty language periodically and continually railing against "feminazis" and yes, occasionally an entire sex?  Apparently, many times.

But the lapse into moral equivalence is not the only obstacle to understanding Maher's comment.      As Gavin noted, Maher remarked

Okay, but there is a big difference in being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out of the door at 7am when it's cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, and even if you're unhappy you can't show it for 8 hours, that is a different kind of tough thing.

Bill Maher refers to being a mother as "a tough job" and a job outside the home as "a different kind of tough thing."     Outrageous!  Insulting!   Sexist!

Well, it is a different kind of tough thing, even though mothers who are not with their children 24 hours a day do have to get out in cold weather at 7:00 a.m. to get children to school or day care.         But few people seemed fully to comprehend Maher's reference to "getting your ass out of the door at 7am when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, and even if you're unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours,"  

It would have been surprising had there been any thought given by the Fourth Estate to that portion of the comedian's statement.      The members of the national media, or local media stars, who would have offered their opinion have little familiarity with a job entailing "getting your ass out of the door at 7 am when it's cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace," and not being able to complain for 8 hours about the job.

They may have to work evenings and/or weekends, have someone to answer to somewhere, and even have an office.    But many telecommute and even those who work a full day (or more) are unlikely to be tied to a 9:00 am.- 5:00 p.m. job.    Or 8:00 am- 5:30 p.m. job     Or 6:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m. job.    Their work requires flexibility, whether by choice of the employer or the employee (or both),      And they probably enjoy, or suffer, a job in which complaining is almost expected.     Try that if you're a secretary working at a professional office, waitress at the diner on the highway, or working the cash register at the local (probably non-union) grocery store.    If the journalist is unhappy, he or she may even have the opportunity to exercise at least some horizontal mobility.

When a libertine and occasional libertarian has a better grasp of what an individual goes through in the modern American economy than do most members of the media, the latter should exercise a little discretion in their criticism.


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