I confess: I’m busy kicking off a busy summer with my four kids so I don’t always follow current events as closely as I should. Like a lot of Americans after the 2016 election, I try to avoid national politics in the interest of keeping my blood pressure within normal range. But I gotta say, it’s been hard to avoid the story you’re front and center of this week. Severed, bloody heads will do that, I suppose.
Can we talk about that for a minute? I understand you’re a comedian whose livelihood is shocking stunts and provocative words. Admittedly, your particular brand of humor isn’t my cup of tea, but that’s fine—live and let live, whatever floats your boat and all that. Here’s the thing though: this time, what you did simply isn’t comedy. It’s being disgusting for the sake of being disgusting.
Do you see me laughing?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those alt-right talking heads screaming for you to be thrown in jail for exercising your First Amendment right to say whatever you want or create whatever “art” you want about whoever you want. Our founders fought for exactly that freedom, and if anything, this illustrates just how brilliant they were for it. America is America because you are free to express yourself, even if I don’t like what you have to say or how you say it.
But severed heads cross a pretty clear line between humor and basic humanity. American or not, there are some jokes that have no place being made, and you just made one.
And yeah, I’m still not laughing.
By the way, my kids are watching. They’re not watching you specifically, of course (as your attorney said in a press conference today, your brand of humor isn’t designed for small ears), I’m not that inept as a parent. But cultural tone and public discourse in our country today are not lost on those little ears that soak up so much more than we realize about the state of the world around them. So while I’m not showing my 8-year-old that picture of what looks like President Trump’s severed, bloodied head in your hand, she’s forming ideas about the American experience from it anyway. It’s not the kind any decent human being hopes for, and it’s certainly not the ideas I wish for my children to form about feminism.
You made a point in that same press conference today that illustrates it pretty well, I think. You wanted girls to know, you said, that they could do anything men could do, it’s why you’ve pushed yourself so hard in your career. That’s wonderful, and kudos to you. It’s a solid lesson for anyone, and really what feminism is about—women chasing their dreams. But put yourself in one of those girl’s shoes for a moment; if you’re trying to model drive and passion and determination, you’re doing precisely the opposite by pulling a stunt like this. (And let’s be honest, I think we both know it’s just a stunt. You’re obviously a smart woman and I think you knew what would happen when you put that picture out there: we’d all end up talking about you, and hey, here we are. But, I digress.)
Instead, you’re showing girls that if they do something so outrageous, so completely outside the box and shocking, it will give them a platform to complain indignantly about being victims when they get backlash for it. And you know what? That does nothing to empower women. It’s the kind of thing I put my three-year-old in time out for. You don’t hit the baby (even if you don’t like him) just to get a rise out of me and then whine about me not treating you fairly when I react exactly as you’d expected. That’s not clever or cute. That’s beyond childish.
What you did was beyond childish.
You’ve built a wildly successful career that gives you a voice. Please, use that voice wisely. Use it to be funny (goodness knows we all need to laugh) but use it with respect for basic human decency. It’s what I’m trying to teach my kids, what I suspect all hard-working, average American parents are trying to teach our kids: kindness—decency—matters. Fake severed heads may make headlines for awhile, and get you in front of a few more cameras, but that sort of inhumanity lingers and leaves a stain on the very fabric of not only the American experience, but the human one.
And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather laugh a little more and be disgusted a little less these days. I think we all can agree on that.
Just another mom