Shameful words, shameful silence

Item: CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty has apologized to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a morbid joke that went bad in a Dallas magazine.

The joke? “From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though,’’ Feherty wrote. “Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.’’

Funny? Does anyone reading that find it funny?

Item: Edgy comedienne Wanda Sykes took the microphone at last weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner, and delivered some “jokes” skewering right wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh.

“Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails, so you’re saying, ‘I hope America fails,’ you’re like, ‘I don’t care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq.’ He just wants the country to fail. To me, that’s treason,” she said. “He’s not saying anything different than what Osama bin Laden is saying. … I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.” 
Sykes continued: “Rush Limbaugh, ‘I hope the country fails’ -- I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? ... He needs a good waterboarding, that’s what he needs.” 

Funny? Outrageous, perhaps, stunning in its construction. But funny? White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said of her remarks, “There are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection, rather than comedy -- I think there’s no doubt that 9/11 is part of that.”

It is unfortunate that such remarks somehow have taken the place of public discourse in today’s America. For every liberal American who has decried golfer David Feherty’s lines about Nancy Pelosi, there’s a conservative somewhere crying foul over Ms Sykes’s over-the-top words. But this is not about political differences. Lack of civility is everywhere now – in the endless array of blogs, in the “comment” section of online news sites, and on talk radio; especially on talk radio! Angry, hateful, hurtful comments have become the accepted order of the day.

As for this guy Feherty, and that gal Sykes, their notoriety has grown, thanks to their unduly harsh public words. But the shame of their words sits squarely on their shoulders, and on those who, hearing them, remain silent