Reaching for Epithets (also: Paladino isn’t Mel Brooks)

16 Apr

Here, Channel 2’s Josh Boose interviews Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who needs no help from anyone to insert hoof in mouth.

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It really couldn’t get any worse. If Paladino spent as much time formulating a reasonable reform platform as he does hunting for appropriate epithets to hurl at his enemies, he wouldn’t be in this trouble.

Yesterday, two editorials excoriated Paladino’s judgment regarding the emails – one in the Albany Times Union, and one in the Buffalo News. But the Tonawanda News takes the Sandy Beach tack and calls it no big deal – just a matter of taste.

I reviewed the scant few examples reported by WNYmedia.net that embattled gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino apparently e-mailed to people he knows. They are all visual examples, and many are extremely crude. A couple of them have even been sent to me by friends, and I deleted them because, quite frankly, they’re not funny.

Which means you had the good judgment not to forward them, unlike the local gubernatorial candidate, who found them compelling enough to share along.

One doctored picture depicts the president and first lady as 1970s pimp and prostitute. I can see the humor in that. Of course, I see the humor because I remember some of the characters that TV’s Kojak and Starsky & Hutch dealt with in the 70s.

Could some be offended by that example? Sure.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some people ignore the blatant and obvious racial degradation in that specific example, but it’s quite palpably there. Hint: Obama is dressed up as a 70s ghetto pimp, and the First Lady is dressed as a 70s ghetto prostitute.

But there are also those who are offended by jokes about Irish drunks, dumb blondes — and their Canadian “Nuefie” equivalent — dumb Poles (the predecessor to dumb blondes) cheap Jews, pedophile priests, feeble/forgetful elderly, etc.

That paragraph is an example of the phrase, “digging a deeper hole”. Also, it’s “Newfie“, for God’s sake.

By the way, at least two other presidents have been compared to primates. Several photos of George W. Bush, doctored to depict him as a monkey, have circulated via e-mail. In the 70s, Mad magazine used President Nixon in place of Japan’s “Three Wise Monkeys” who “see/hear/speak no evil.” Although a precedent had been set, to make a similar example with President Obama is apparently wrong. But don’t you dare suggest that the one crying racism is actually the racist for pointing it out. You’re not enlightened.

Because comparisons of black men to simians is patent, blatant racism. Throughout history. I can’t imagine anyone denying that or not realizing that.

So, what’s wrong with Blazing Saddles? The movie that is ranked sixth by the American Film Institute in its list of “100 Years 100 Laughs” is apparently inappropriate, when taking public outcry over Paladino’s e-mails into consideration, because it contains 17 references to the N-word. I guess those people at AFI missed the week when sensitivity training was offered.

Yes, taste is subjective.

Well, here’s the difference.

First of all, Mel Brooks, the writer & director of Blazing Saddles, is a comedian. Carl Paladino is not. They have different skillsets, different audiences, and the public has different expectations from them. Secondly, you really have to be dense to not realize that Blazing Saddles was satire – it was mocking racism, not engaging in it.

Because it’s not addressed, we have to trust that the ethnicity issue with the e-mails were specifically related to or perceived as racism. But we don’t know for sure. The Web site alleges it’s racism, stating “Other emails display an attitude of misogyny or blatant racism — the latter being an issue with which Paladino already has a problem, given his past dealings with and criticisms of Antoine Thompson, Jim Pitts, Byron Brown and Dr. James Williams.”

This is racist. It really isn’t open to interpretation, but thanks for asking.

Yet, Paladino has been on record criticizing several politicians such as Eliot Spitzer, Rick Lazio, Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, Brian Higgins, Bill Stachowski, George Pataki and Michael Wilton, the former head of USA Niagara Development Corp. I guess that wasn’t necessary to report.

We’ve reacted to Paladino’s criticisms of the feckless Andrew Rudnick with glee. The Tonawanda News must be new to our site, and didn’t bother to check. But addressing the specific comparison here, Paladino never said, “Eliot Spitzer was elected because he’s white”. Or “Sheldon Silver is a corrupt white man”. Yet he has said that Dr. James Williams was selected because he’s black. You might want to look at Boose’s interview at the top of this post once more.

Also referenced in the report were emails pertaining to claims that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States while others “were just pictures of naked women.”

JUST pictures of naked women? Methinks that misogyny comment should be extended beyond Paladino.

As we’ve explained countless times now, we selected emails for publication that went beyond run-of-the-mill birtherism or pornography. In other words, no one reacts with shock-horror if a man like Paladino looks at pictures of a naked Kelly Monaco.

Paladino himself very likely has his own trust issues now. It’s not a crime to share an e-mail, but to me it’s a violation of trust. It’s also a good example of why one should cherish and protect his own privacy.

When you mass-forward an email, you have no expectation of privacy. No more expectation of privacy than when you, say, write an ignorant, childish editorial in your newspaper.

24 Responses to “Reaching for Epithets (also: Paladino isn’t Mel Brooks)”

  1. Joe Genco April 16, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Alan: To paraphrase, because you didn’t get Hopkins’ point, good or bad, who cares. The carefully orchestrated timing of the release of those e-mails exposes the bias and duplicity of WNY Media and marginalizes an outlet that should be gaining respect and credibility. Political hacks time releases to most benefit their cause, not journalists.

    • Alan Bedenko April 16, 2010 at 7:37 am #

      It was carefully timed to coincide with our busiest day of the week. If we were as evil as you think, we’d have released them a few days before the primary or election day.

      You should be thanking us for releasing it to give Carl ample time to repair his reputation. Instead, he’s just making things worse.

    • rustle April 18, 2010 at 9:20 am #

      “..While it is attainable to tell a joke ….”? This Hopkins hack constructs a sentence like that and isn’t embarrassed to have it published? They should really consider hiring editors at that rag. Otherwise they risk their columnists looking like high school remedial English students.

  2. Mike in WNY April 16, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Your allegations of racism are far more racist than any email forwarded by Paladino.  You guys have done a masterful job fanning the flames of racism (of course, that was intended).  

    • Alan Bedenko April 16, 2010 at 10:01 am #

      Use of the word “ni**er” may be considered acceptable to you, but most people consider it to be pretty fucking racist. Hope that helps.

      And frankly the Josh Boose interview shown above shows Carl at the exact, precise moment that he is (a) asked an uncharacteristically tough question by the usually compliant local press; and (b) realizes that what he’s been saying about Dr. James Williams’ selection is really quite indefensible, given that he’s not leveled similar criticism regarding racial selection towards white appointees or politicians he hates. It also underscores the fact that his entire campaign is based on anger and hatred. Hardly a winning theme for any campaign, anywhere.

      He does do a mean Vinnie Barbarino impression. “What?”

      • Samiam April 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

        A quick response to the “tough” Josh Boose question should have gone something like this: Well, the REASON person A was selected: he is black; the REASON person B was selected: NOT because he is white. His problem with Williams is why he was selected, his problem with other people will undoubtedly be for different reasons in most cases. Too bad he’s not so quick on his feet to answer those kind of questions.

    • Craig April 17, 2010 at 12:04 am #

      All right Mikhail time to knock off this bullshit of calling someone a racist when they say that using the word “ni**er” is racist.

      • Mike in WNY April 17, 2010 at 10:15 am #

        If the email with the “n” word poster were the only email, the case for racism would be stronger.  However, the plethora of emails shows a predilection for “adult” humor, nothing more, nothing less.

      • Alan Bedenko April 17, 2010 at 11:02 am #

        So, your defense is that, among other things, Paladino liked to LOL at ni**ers and anal horse porn.

        I think we understand your argument and we’ll take it under advisement.

  3. jesse April 16, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    The trouble with Alan’s suggesting that they just report the facts lies in a line like this: “we selected emails for publication that went beyond run-of-the-mill birtherism or pornography”.

    The fact that WNYM actively selected a subset of emails to provide the largest possible shock value is telling and belies their “We have no agenda” assertions. They should have released them all.

    I’m fine with them coming out with this stuff – it’s pretty critical in understanding the mindset of a candidate, but the big problem is that the folks who are angriest at NYS gov’t (justifiably or not) will just see it as a biased attack and will only steel their resolve. All this does, for better or worse, is make them even angrier.

    Finally, suggesting Carl “found them compelling enough to share along” demonstrates ignorance in how way damned too many (particularly middle-aged) people use email. They forward absolutely anything that comes along to all their friends, no matter how stupid. People who run websites generally don’t, because they know better. Acting like Carl loves all the crap that comes thru his email is silly – I’d be willing to wager he didn’t even consider this an issue ahead of time because he probably watched the crap, hit the Fwd button and completely forgot about them. That’s just the way non-technical people do it.

    In sum: Are they good? Of course not. Are they political-career-ending? Probably, but probably shouldn’t be.

    • Alan Bedenko April 16, 2010 at 9:58 am #

      We received almost 70 emails in all. It would have been a waste of space and perceived perhaps as piling on for us to have posted all of them, so we had to pick & choose. You’ll note that we did post one straight porn video as an example of the rest of them, and we posted another relatively benign softcore porn one to show that city employees had sent them to Carl.

      As for the suggestion that Carl is just another relatively unsophisticated boomer email forwarder, the recipients of some of the more outrageous emails were hidden through the use of the bcc field.

      • pirate's code April 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

        Some random questions that popped into my head while waiting for Carl’s 15 minutes of fame to be used up so he can just go away…
        — What sort of staffer tells the troubled candidate, “No, really, you can ride this out”? (pun only sort of intended)

        — Almost 70 e-mails? Some of which were, I believe, more than a year old? Who saves this sort of crap, and for what purpose?

        — @ BP, “and perceived perhaps as piling on…” Good thing you don’t want to be seen as piling on, all evidence to the contrary (how many posts since the breaking news? AND the only mildly funny “campaign ad”). Pile on all you want, because he deserves it (and so do you guys for breaking the story), but is there really concern at WNY Media about being perceived as piling on? Didn’t think so.

      • Jon Splett April 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

        @Pirate- GMail indexes every email you get and gives you more storage space than you could ever need. Who DOESN’T save every email? I have everything anyone has written to me going back to July of 2006. Why wouldn’t you save everything?

      • pirate's code April 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

        @splett — “Why wouldn’t you save everything?”

        Because I already have enough clutter in my life, electronic or otherwise. I could well be in the minority on this, I guess, but when someone forwards crap to me that is, well, crap — I tend to get rid of it quickly. The paranoid conspiracy theorist in me thinks that one of Carl’s “friends” had an ax to grind, even if it was just an ax about the e-mails.

        But, really, you’re yanking my chain, right? Every e-mail since mid 2006?

      • Jon Splett April 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

        @Pirate- Every email since 2006 minus a handful that went to my school account that won’t let me auto-forward.

        Seriously cannot recommend GMail enough. Instead of deleting spam and stuff I don’t read, it all just gets archived and I can search it just like I can search anything else on Google. It was a life saver when my house burnt down and I needed to get copies of stories I’d written to put on a resume. All my backups had burnt up but a quick Google search of my editors names and I instantly had everything I ever wrote and emailed in.

        Try it. It imports your old email address seamlessly and merges multiple email addresses as well. No clutter. No full inboxes. Just convenience.

    • Jon Splett April 16, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      By this logic, every journalist who has ever used a quote in an article has an agenda because they didn’t release a verbatim transcript of every word contained on their recorder.

      Stop making excuses for Paladino and go find yourself a new cranky, rich white guy to be your hero.

  4. Rob April 16, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    This is racist. It really isn’t open to interpretation.”

    Damn right it is. Keep spinning, teabaggers. You’re just re-confirming what a lot of people believed already.

  5. Hapklein April 16, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    I continue to be amazed that the forwarding of that one despicable portrait of the President and Michele was enough to end the career of Carl Paladino. Timing and strategies have nothing to do with the low level of sensitivity to the issue in that one mailing as much as the crass stupidity of Mr Paladino.
    As for the Tonawanda Paper they live in another planet. The dwell in darkness and enjoy it. I complained to the editor about letters to the editor that went unpublished and he replied that he was so busy such things just got lost. It happened at the time that the paper was siding with the city concerning wetlands in NT and the environmental people had voiced displeasure that their views did not seem to make the editorial page. Two of my letters were among those casualties.
    But there is a strong conservative element in the twin cities that seem to hold media things at about a 1955 level of perception.
    That analysis is typical. I get e-mails like those Paladino mailed and I respond with vigor no matter how busy I am. It is stupid but it is bigotry and deprecates woman and must be identified as such. The forwarders and originators must be informed that neither is acceptable.
    I have lost several friends over this sort of crap and just know I scored correctly.

  6. BrianS April 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Mike said: “Your
    allegations of racism are far more racist than any email forwarded by Paladino.” Let’s all think about how absurd that statement is–I mean really think about it. Hey Mike, nice to see how well you studied at the feet of Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity. The ol’ reverse-a-roo. If you are implicated as a racist, simply accuse your accusers of being the real racists! Rove and Hitler (yes, Hitler) would be proud. This is why Tea Baggers are so ridiculed by many Americans: They’re ignorant morons.

    • Mike in WNY April 18, 2010 at 10:36 am #

      I don’t listen to Limbaugh.  I have seen maybe 2 of Beck’s shows and find Hannity to be a total ass.  What’s your point?  Racial jokes are only racial if the intent is racial.  Humor is found in dark places, among others.  I’m not a Rove fan either.  As for Hitler, the left has far more in common with him than freedom loving libertarians ever will.

      • Carl April 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

        Really, Mikey? The left hates unions? I did not know that.

        (We know for a FACT that Hitler banned trade unions in Germany.)

        And libertarians are little more than right wingers dressed up in granola and hippie lettuce to misdirect people from their true beliefs.

      • Jon Splett April 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

        Actually, no..

        http://enpassant.com.au/?p=7001

  7. Ken April 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    The fact that this hack opined in the Tonawanda paper pretty much explains it all. Good job with the analysis, Alan, thanks.

  8. Eisenbart April 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    That’s it. Too many racists in Buffalo. Packing my bags and moving out to Clarence.

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