Opinion

‘Planet of the Apes’ and a ‘Feckless C-word’: Why Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee Should Keep Their Jobs

If you have somehow managed to avoid all broadcast media, online news, and social media for the last week, I first want to congratulate you on a job well done. And thank you for making OpsLens your first stop after your self-imposed digital exile. During your time wandering in a screenless wilderness, you have missed out on the “most important discussion of the year”…or at least something everybody was talking about for 15 Internet minutes.

In a very poorly thought out tweet, controversial comedienne Roseanne Barr referred to an advisor in the Obama White House as being the theoretical love child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet Of The Apes.” Immediately following the predictable backlash around the possible racial implications of the tweet (of which Roseanne insists there were none intended), ABC immediately announced the cancellation of her show.

“We’re easily offended right now and frequently about things that are ultimately probably not that important,” said Big Bang Theory star Jim Parson’s on CNN.

Appearing on the Ben Shapiro Show, Joe Rogan revealed that Roseanne had reached out to him about appearing on his podcast to discuss the entire situation and Rogan said that Roseanne had told him that when she sent the tweet, she didn’t realize that Valerie Jarrett was even a black woman. Although this episode of the Shapiro show aired on Sunday, it was apparently recorded in advance as Rogan announced on Saturday that Roseanne would not be appearing on his show after all.

Even though Roseanne gave conflicting versions of whether she thought Jarrett was Saudi, Jewish and Persian, or White, it is worthy to at least note that Jarrett does indeed have ancestry that is multi-racial. On the PBS documentary series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., DNA tests showed that Jarrett is of 49 percent European descent; she is also of 46 percent African and of 5 percent Native American descent. However, even if Roseanne did know that Jarrett was black, comparing someone to a fictional group of hyper-intelligent primates that enslaved the human race in a science fiction film does not immediately equate “racism.” One of the primary roles of a comedienne in our society is to push the envelope and force us to confront things we’d rather not think about.  Sometimes it is shocking or “offensive,” to pretend that comics/comediennes should be limited in their speech is ridiculous.

Within a matter of days, comedienne Samantha Bee used the dreaded “c-word” to refer to the daughter of President Trump, while also implying an incestuous relationship between her and her father. Samantha Bee immediately apologized (as did Roseanne) and kept her job while also losing a few advertisers. In back-to-back tweets, Bee’s network applauded her receiving an award for “advancing social change” and then praising Bee’s apology before condemning what was said (and what they aired).

Some have decried a double-standard and demanded that Bee should be fired immediately as well. Most of these calls are coming from conservatives, which is alarming because it engenders the desire for fascist suppression of free speech that we have witnessed coming from liberals in the wake of the 2016 elections.

Both sides need to take a step back and embrace Free Speech. Neither of these women said anything illegal, no matter how offensive their statements may or may not have been. Granted, both networks have a right to hire or fire whomever they want. But to pretend that firing Roseanne was some sort of ethical decision is silly.

No matter how unamusing I find Samantha Bee’s show, there is an audience that wants to see it. TBS is standing by her, even as they lose money due to advertisers pulling out. ABC cancelled the top show in their lineup in what basically amounts to virtue signaling. Let the audiences decide, they can manifest their dislike simply by not watching the show.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Adam P

Adam is an Army Special Operations veteran, with over ten years of active duty service and multiple combat and training deployments to various locations throughout the world.

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