Simple-answers-to-simple-questions Dep’t

“Should Letterman be fired for a joke?”
When the joke is about the sexual morals of a minor girl, yes.

Laugh-In comedy writer George Schlatter asks “Should Letterman be fired for a joke?”

When the joke attributes what used to be called “loose” sexual habits to an underage girl, yes.

If there are no more questions, class is dismissed.

Footnote It’s possible that Letterman thought his target was Alex Rodriguez. If so, perhaps a few years off the air would allow him to improve his aim.

And of course the outrage from the right is mostly synthetic &#8212 How many of them complained about Limbaugh referring to Chelsea Clinton as “the White House dog”? &#8212 but that doesn’t make Letterman’s words any less hurtful to a girl who has quite enough trouble in her life.

And no, it’s not “humorless” to regard cruelty in the guise of humor as disgusting. I enjoyed Laugh-In, but the “queen” jokes about a couple of Ronald Reagan’s aides (when he was Governor of California) who had been outed as gay don’t seem quite so funny in retrospect.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com