On the whole, I consider myself at least a marginally witty person, but at the very least, I am an avid consumer of humor. I enjoy frequenting Dad’s Garage, and as a former improv performer myself, I appreciate the fact that those individuals have worked for years to hone their skills. I often see professional standup comedians at the Laughing Skull Lounge as well, some of whom make jokes with pointed commentary on race, gender, and sexuality.
The difference between the performers I see at various Atlanta establishments and the posters on Peach Pundit is that the former make a profession of satirizing various aspects of our society, while the latter do not. So when I open my inbox to read the Peach Pundit Daily, while I might expect a witty jab here and there, I’m generally not prepared for a full-fledged sexist or homophobic “joke.” Now before I get to the meat of this piece, let’s discuss “jokes.”
Not all jokes are created equal. Those that you see on late night shows, at comedy clubs, and on HBO specials are delivered by people who make a point of satirizing society, and on the whole, do not believe the occasionally offensive things they are saying. While I do see problems with such jokes, I at least can rest my head at night knowing that those delivering them are professional comedians- people who make their living aiming to shock and appall, sometimes to point out the follies of society as a whole. For them, this is an art and a science at the same time, and (pun intended) they don’t take their profession as a joke.
Then there are websites like this one (WARNING: offensive and NSFW), that attempt to find humor in the “N-word” and in proclaiming that dead <black/gay/female/trans/Mexican/etc.> people are the best kinds of <black/gay/female/trans/Mexican/etc.> people. Not funny. Not witty. Not any of the things the above paragraph describe. Just flatly offensive.
I make this point to state that just because you call something a “joke” does not make it a “joke,” and it does not mean that people should up and say “oh, as long as you’re joking, what you just said is totally fine.” But apparently, that’s exactly what our friends at Peach Pundit want us to say.
So now we get to the heart of the matter, yesterday’s Peach Pundit Daily. For your viewing pleasure, I reprint the offending portion, in total:
There Shall Be Candidates Going For Sure Things! Elena Parent, the “telegenic” former State Representative, will seek the Senate seat being vacated by Jason the Carter, who has abandoned the people of Decatur and North Druid Hills in his quest for golden fleece and the governorship of Georgia. Parent may find stiff competition for the nomination, as Decatur attorney Kyle Williams has already announced. Compare their similar blond-and-blue pictures for a moment, and answer the question: Will the real legislative Barbie please stand up? More importantly, where is the Democratic “diversity” we’re always hearing about? Surely there’s an African-American who can represent the good people of that district more effectively than two extras from “The Sound of Music?”
Since the authors of the above statement are obviously oblivious, I will take it upon myself to explain the multitude of things wrong with this disgusting statement.
Let’s begin with the political, generally unimportant portion (this is a political blog, after all). Republicans obviously have no idea what the word “diversity” means. To them, “diversity” is simply a buzzword for “black.” This is simply not the case. Miriam-Webster defines diversity as “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” In other words, diversity refers to the opposite of homogeneity. If the Georgia Senate and House Democratic Caucuses were comprised of only African American members, neither Caucus would be diverse by definition. So when we Democrats talk about “diversity” we are talking about people of all races, genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, and yes- that does include white people.
But this brings up another point that should be mentioned- Georgia Republicans want to brand the Democratic Party in Georgia as “the black party.” They took steps to do so though the 2012 redistricting process, drawing white Democrats in with black Democrats in majority-minority districts. Today, the House Democratic Caucus has 11 white members and 1 Latino member, a severe decrease effectuated by the Republican redistricting. The Senate Democratic Caucus has three white members, and only SD 42, currently held by Jason Carter, is a majority white district. This map is by design; Republicans seem to sincerely believe that Democrats in Georgia should be equated to being black.
I’m not going to spend my time in this post discussing the offensiveness and myopia of this belief, but it is out there, and Peach Pundit continues to prove that Republicans completely fail to comprehend the concept of diversity in governance.
The truly offending statement is the reference to “legislative Barbie.” Besides being completely unfunny, even if it were to come from Louis C.K., it has the honor of being both sexist and homophobic.
To start, and I’m shocked I even need to say this, women should not be objectified. Yes, Elena Parent is a good looking, young, white woman who has blonde hair. She’s also a Phi Beta Kappa UVA Law grad who worked at one of the most prestigious law firms in Atlanta, a wife, a mother, and a proud Georgian. So to simply focus on her looks is subjugating her to the lowest common denominator. To debase her by calling her a “Barbie,” a doll that is best known as being a disgusting role model for how young women “should look,” and who was known for the majority of her existence as an example of institutionalized sexism just shows how out of touch Georgia Republicans are. And to further attempt to dismiss legitimate criticism of such a statement only proves the point. I am, of course, ignoring the fact that you just called a women’s organization “adorable,” another word used to debase and delegitimize the opinion of women around the world.
Next, to call Kyle Williams, a good-looking out gay man a “Barbie” is so incredibly homophobic I am failing to find the words to describe my outrage. Gay men in America are constantly subjected to emasculating remarks from the classic “Nancy boy” to the equally offensive question “So which one of you is the woman?” Gay men are not somehow more “feminine” or “ladylike” because of their sexual orientation, and any suggestion to the contrary is flatly anti-gay. I don’t know what degree of bullying Kyle has experienced in his life, but I don’t see why the Republican Party has to get in on that action. In fact, for a party who is out of touch with LGBTQ voters, I’m shocked that anyone would try to defend a self-evidently homophobic remark.
Now I’m truly shocked that I even have to give you a basic English lesson, but I feel like I must because you evidently think that it’s inconceivable that anyone would think that you were calling anybody a “Barbie.” I’ll put the lede up here: it’s because you were. No, you did not artfully craft the sentence “Elena and Kyle are Barbies,” but we should all know better than to realize that our language is so simple. No, you spent an entire paragraph describing their looks (blond, blue eyed, attractive), and then asked the rhetorical question: “Will the real legislative Barbie please stand up?” I’m not an English teacher, but I’m rather positive I have a grasp of the English language. You used a referential rhetorical device towards Elena and Kyle, effectively asking which one of them was more Barbie-like. It would like me saying “I didn’t call anyone a sexist” if I wrote “Will the most sexist Peach Punditeer please stand up?” Fun fact: if I wrote that, I’d know exactly what I was doing.
So yes, I’m outraged, and I’m hardly the only one. You had the opportunity to apologize, and you didn’t take it. Instead, you tried to excuse your actions, and then turn around and pin this on us, the offended people. You’re calling this a manufactured controversy, which I guess is true, because you manufactured it with your homophobic and sexist remarks. Maybe you should call up Elena Parent and Kyle Williams, and ask them how they feel about being subjugated by your straight-male dominated worldview? See how they feel. Because I’ll tell you what- I know both of them, and neither of them will say “Oh, you’re hysterical!”
P.S. your e-mail completely ignored Russell Waldon, or did he not fall into your little Aryan “joke?”