PLANET’S PREDICTIONS AMAZE! INAUGURATION DAY GOES AS PREDICTED … plus … COMIC, MSNBC HOST GET IT RIGHT (THE COMIC) and WRONG (THE HOST) on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND OVERSENSITIVITY TO WORDS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JAN. 7, 2014) — First up, THE PLANET presents a quick update on yesterday’s action at city hall in the chamber of our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield city council. It happened just as well called it, weeks ago, which says when you get it from THE PLANET, you get it first and you get it right.
The incumbents and new members of government took the oath. As THE PLANET predicted, the council named Melissa Mazzeo as its new president in an 7-4 vote. MelMaz then selected Ward 4 councilor Chris Connell as her vice president. We alone called that one.
One interesting moment. When it came time to adjourn, Mazzeo seemed to forget she was council president, understandable given the unusual nature of an inaugural meeting and the role of Top Dog being only minutes old. The final item on the agenda, #15, reads “Adjourn via motion.” The new council president looked like she didn’t know what to do. Connell, her VP, was of no help. Finally, in an ironic moment, Jonathan Lothrop suggested to Mazzeo that she needed to introduce the motion to end the meeting.
Chalk it up to first-day jitters, but one of the most important duties of the council president is to conduct effective meetings. That is done by knowing the rules and the rules of order front to back. It also is incumbent on the VP to be a procedural wonk. Observers will expect that from Mazzeo and Connell from this point forward.
Mayor Dan Bianchi made a typically blarneyed speech that in its colorlessness sent listeners scrambling for toothpicks and dictionaries. The first was to keep their eyes open. The second was to find synonyms for “boring” (“dull, monotonous, unimaginative, characterless, lifeless, insipid, uninspiring, unstimulating, flat, bland, dry, jejune” … can we stop now?).
He had such gems as this: “Working together, we have the potential to unleash the creativity and innovation that will make Pittsfield a great small city.” Sounds good, right, but when you look at what it actually means, the question becomes: “Just what does it mean?” To which the intelligent observer must reply, “Nothing.”
We would have much preferred: “This year, I will become a leader. I’ll will cut spending and lower taxes for homeowners and businesses.” We’d even take, “Well kiss my gonads. I’m going to keep working full-time at my other job while pretending to be a full-time mayor.” At least that would have, we think, a measure of honesty.
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A TALE OF TWO PEOPLE, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, AND THE FRAGILE NATURE OF VIGOROUS, EVEN OFFENSIVE FREE SPEECH
THE PLANET presents two stories involving political correctness. The first involves comedian Natasha Leggero, who made a joke at the expense of Pearl Harbor veterans. The second concerns a TV host who made fun of Mitt Romney’s extended family. Both faced a storm of protest for their speech. The first, the comic, did not apologize and essentially told people to toughen up. The second folded in light of social networking protests and did an embarrasing mea culpa.
Can you tell with whom THE PLANET is siding? Let us now get into the long and short of it with coverage taken from the entertainment wire:
Comedian Natasha Leggero says she isn’t sorry for a joke she made about Pearl Harbor veterans during NBC’s “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly.”
“I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt? Let me just try instead to be honest,” Leggero said on her Tumblr Friday. “I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television.”
NBC declined to comment Friday.
Leggero, Jane Lynch and Anthony Anderson were joking about a recent tweet by SpaghettiOs that many saw as an attempt to cash in on Pearl Harbor Day: “Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us,” the canned food tweeted.
Quipped Lynch: “I’m offended because they were referring to SpaghettiOs as pasta.”
Added Leggero: “It sucks that the only survivors of Pearl Harbor are being mocked by the only food they can still chew.”
Some viewers expressed their offense on Twitter. Others contacted Leggero with threats. She wrote Friday that she was subjected to “creatively misspelled death threats, rape fantasies, and most of all repeated use of the the C word.”
“In the past few days I have been called a cunt so much I felt like I was in a British pub rooting for the wrong soccer team,” she wrote.
But she added that she didn’t see any point in apologizing.
“Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about SpaghettiOs too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat,” she said, describing her New Year’s outfit.
“On the one hand you have me, making a joke about how old people can’t chew tough foods very well,” she said. “On the other hand you have Veterans who receive inadequate care upon their return from active duty, rampant sexual assault against female soldiers, staggering rates of suicide, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse and depression among soldiers and political gridlock that prevents these problems from getting solved quickly.”
“Where do you think your outrage and action would be better served, calling me a cunt or doing something about the above problems?”
Leggero concluded with a message to vets: “I love you. I truly hope you know that.”
And she had a message for SpaghettiOs: “Let’s do lunch.”
MSNBC HOST GETS IT WRONG ON FREE SPEECH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, AND OVER-SENSITIVITY TO LANGUAGE
Melissa Harris-Perry broke into tears on Saturday while apologizing to Mitt Romney and his family for comments made on her MSNBC show about the former Republican presidential candidate’s adopted, African-American grandchild, Kiernan Romney.
“I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny, or deserving of ridicule,” Harris-Perry said at the beginning of the morning edition of the ”Melissa Harris-Perry” show.
Her voice cracking and her eyes welling over, Harris-Perry said she apologized to the Romney family “without reservation or qualification” and added, “My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground rule that families are off-limits. For that, I am sorry.”
Harris-Perry has been fiercely criticized for presiding over a segment last weekend that used an image of the Romney family to illustrate what it claimed was the monochromatic nature of the Republican Party.
“It sums up the diversity of the Republican Party and the [Republican National Committee], where they have the whole convention and they find the one black person,” panelist Dean Obeidallah joked.
During the segment, Harris-Perry said she would like to see the Romney’s African-American grandchild grow up and get married to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North.
“Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?” she mused.
The MSNBC host said that her comments were glib and not representative of the ideals her show espouses.
“On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families, it is one of our core principles,” Harris-Perry said. “And I am reminded that when we do so, it must be with the utmost respect. We’re genuinely appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday’s program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.”
In proverbium cessit, sapientiam vino adumbrari (“Don’t take up serious matters when you drink”) — Pliny the Elder, 50 AD.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.