Carnes: A First Amendment discussion of Rosanne Barr, Samantha Bee’s shows (column)

Richard Carnes
My View

Ignoring the Federal Reserve’s concern over inflation, our skyrocketing national debt and the potential world-changing event that may or may not occur with North Korea, two vastly important facets of the “American Way of Life” were front and center last week:

“Rosanne” should not have been canceled.

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” should not be canceled.

Yes, I know, “vastly important” is the understatement of the year.

Suppose a Vail Resorts executive complained to the Vail Daily via a letter to the editor about a relatively tasteless joke I made at their expense in my weekly column.

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Would you:

A) Rejoice in their complaint and demand I be fired.

B) Rejoice in their complaint while reminding yourself of the integrity of the First Amendment.

C) Turn the page because you don’t really give a damn either way.

To begin with, “relatively tasteless” is a subjective term, so while I may see the phrase “corporate overlords hell-bent on forcing all but the wealthy downvalley where they belong” as hilarious, others may view it as vile and disrespectful.

Those choosing (A) either work for Vail Resorts, work in a position directly affected by the seasonal ups and downs of Vail Resorts or, as I suspect in most cases, still hold a personal grudge over something completely irrelevant I wrote over these past two decades, thus anyone discrediting me in any way, shape or form is perfectly legit in their eyes.

And this, in a (very) roundabout nutshell, is the “whataboutism” furor over Rosanne Barr having her show canceled due to a racist tweet and Samantha Bee not having her show canceled over a disgusting remark about Ivanka Trump.

In spite of what the president and some of his supporters are shouting, the two are only related in that they both fall under the protection of the First Amendment.

Both were intended as sarcastic insults, yet one was about character and the other about race.

Big difference.

Little more a coward’s attempt at deflection, those demanding Samantha Bee’s cancellation are simply using the whataboutism defense. It’s PeeWee Herman shouting, “I know you are but what am I.”

A juvenile response to juvenile name-calling.

Yet I wish “Rosanne” had not been canceled, not because I thought it was funny (I only saw one episode and thought it was predictable humor for the easily amused), but because the cancellation only proves the sad point of our nation’s divisiveness over all things left and right.

“Let the markets decide” should be the chant, not “What about fill-in-the-unrelated-blank”…”

I’ve never watched “Full Frontal,” but just like ABC, the owners of the show should determine the financial viability of future episodes, not which way the political winds happen to be blowing, as the main factor in their decision.

If not, then taking an Ambien while walking into a Starbucks with Kim Kardashian with “Fox & Friends” playing on the TV and asking to use the bathroom without purchasing a coffee is just asking for trouble.

Oh, and the Vail Resorts executive thing is pure fiction, so please refrain from using it as a whataboutism defense in the future.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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