‘The Daily Show’ finally addressed the Dr. Laura flap last night, but they really took aim at the apparent hypocrisy of Sarah Palin with a big debate about which is the more offensive word: the N-word or the R-word.
“If there’s one thing that unites us as people, it’s that no matter what your race, creed or sexual preference, there is a word that people use to describe you that is very nasty,” Jon Stewart said to open the show. “It’s what we all have in common. That, and masturbation.”
After a recap of Dr. Laura’s recent controversy, in which her repeated use of the n-word actually ran uncensored on last night’s show (Jon even used the word once while lambasting her, and then immediately made an unpleasant face and said “Yeah, that doesn’t taste good.”), as well as her assertion that she’s quitting her radio show because she wants to regain her First Amendment rights, Stewart returned with “You’re quitting because you want to control people’s reactions to the crazy sh-t you say? I don’t think that’s a First Amendment issue, that’s a Jedi mind trick issue. ‘These are not the epithets you are looking for.'”
Then came the important segue: “Seriously, who knows so little about the Constitution and the First Amendment? Who thinks the way to be a more effective voice for your followers is to quit your job?” Smash cut to Sarah Palin and her Twitter defense of Dr. Laura, which encouraged her “Don’t retreat… reload!” and claimed her First Amendment rights ceased to exist thanks to activists trying to silence her – or rather “her 1st amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence’isn’t American not fair.'”
Stewart’s response: “Let me see if I can put this into terms you’ll understand – Twitter terms, if you will. ‘1st Amendment not guarantee no criticism or give u radio show. Playing victim pathetic. Dr. Laura Schlessinger threw down a triple nig-‘ Oh, I’m out of characters.”
“So to clarify,” he continued, “Sarah Palin believes it’s a violation of the First Amendment for someone to feel public pressure to leave your job just because they used an offensive term. Why is there something weird about that?” Another smash cut to Palin taking public umbrage with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel for using the phrase “f-ing retarded” and calling for President Obama to fire him.
This led to one of the more fun recurring segments in recent ‘Daily Show’ history – Wyatt Cenac and John Oliver debating over an issue while wearing t-shirts that proudly proclaim what team they’re on. In this case, they debated which term was more offensive, with Cenac on Team N-Word and Oliver on Team R-Word, and they both mockingly jumped on Stewart for using both words earlier.
“Isn’t the whole point that we get too caught up in the words? Isn’t this about context? Isn’t that what makes things offensive?” he asked, and when Oliver asserted that he didn’t think Dr. Laura was using the word to be hurtful, Cenac quipped “You’re right, it was all the other racist sh-t she was saying.”
“Everybody has different minefields when it comes to different words, and it’s hard to empathize with what hurts other people,” Stewart asserted. “Sarah Palin, I think, has a very legitimate reason to be very sensitive about the r-word. Her child has developmental issues. Perhaps it would be a different situation if Sarah Palin had a black child.”
To which Cenac responded “Sure. Todd would also have some legitimate questions. But still, even by Palin’s logic, I should still be way more offended. Dr. Laura dropped the n-world 11 times and Sarah Palin thinks she should reload, yet Rahm Emanuel says the r-word once and Palin thinks he should be fired.”
This led Oliver to reveal the exchange rates of offensiveness between the words via the “Palin Index” ticker, aka “the NASDAQ of insults,” which just has to be seen to be believed.