The incident involving liberal commentator Sam Seder at MSNBC was bizarre. After a tweet surfaced where he made a rape joke about his daughter, he was let go by the network. The tweet was made about Roman Polanski, stating he didn’t care about him, “but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene.” Reprehensible language that any respectable organization should disavow.
The problem is that Seder’s fan-base of celebrity and internet liberals came to his rescue, defending him despite joking about raping his daughter. One of those criticizing MSNBC for the firing was liberal comedian Sarah Silverman. Silverman, instead of addressing the tweet itself, attacked the one who found the tweet.
Mike Cernovich, a prominent member of the alt-right, dug up the tweet and spread it around. Silverman referred to Cernovich as “Mr. Pizzagate.” Pizzagate was a conspiracy theory spread by the alt-right in the last election cycle, which alleged that prominent political figures were operating a pedophilia ring out of a pizza restaurant.
Does it really matter who spread the tweet? Does the messenger diminish the message?
Obviously, smear tactics are commonly used by both sides of the aisle. Is it possible that Cernovich did this for purely political purposes? It is very much likely that Cernovich did this for political purposes, as both he and Seder have competing agendas.
But the thing is that Seder’s words weren’t altered by Cernovich’s writing. People could just ignore what Cernovich said in reference to the tweet and read it for themselves. Is “…I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene” something that is appropriate for a news commentator to say? What kind of father makes a rape joke about their daughter?
Silverman justified Seder’s comments in two ways. First, she claimed that the language was satire. Second, she implied it was excusable because he was a progressive fighting Alabama United States Senate candidate Roy Moore. Essentially in Silverman’s world, raping your daughter is a punchline and these jokes are fine so long as they are said by a political ally.
The irony here is that Silverman slammed MSNBC for using Cernovich, or “Mr. Pizzagate” as their moral compass. But who is she to judge someone else’s moral compass at this point? The comments are inexcusable, and MSNBC made the right call the first time to can Seder.
This whole saga taught us some interesting things about MSNBC as a network and liberal celebrities like Sarah Silverman. Politics is undoubtedly a dirty game and both sides play nasty. But beyond all of this, we should have uniform decency guidelines. If anything at all, we should be able to agree that children should not be attacked or exploited for political gain. This would include using them as the punchline in a rape joke. Whether it qualifies as satire or not, it is wrong.
Sam Seder, Sarah Silverman, and MSNBC should all be ashamed of themselves.