Mocking politicians is a time-honored tradition.
Mocking the children of politicians? Not so much.
Take it from me, certain topics don’t lend themselves to easy chuckles. Jokes can poke fun at many things but it’s difficult to write a zinger lampooning innocent victims.
When I was growing up, we only got one or two channels on what I now consider a really small TV. Johnny Carson would come on late at night and always say something about the president. Often the jokes were about Reagan’s age.
Carson once said something like: “You know Reagan wears a hearing aid in his right ear. Well they announced today the he got a second one for the other ear. They say his hearing hasn’t deteriorated, but he’s wearing it to balance his hearing. Now if he could just balance the spending.”
Pretty mild by today’s standards.
The leader of the free world is usually tough enough to take a joke. Children have historically been off limits to professional comics.
But it seems to be open season on Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of Donald and Melania Trump.
“Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich was suspended from her position after saying “Barron [Trump] will be this country’s first homeschool shooter” on Twitter.
I don’t write jokes for a living but I’m pretty confident that one’s not funny. And Barron Trump goes to private school.
Rich’s mistake was repeated by other comics.
“Barron Trump looks like a very handsome date-rapist-to-be,” tweeted comic Stephen Spinola. He followed that gem up with “I don’t want my mom to get raped, but if she does I hope it’s by Barron Trump.”
Mom joke are lame. Rape jokes are shameful. Combining the two to victimize a child is a hitherto unexplored level of loathsome.
Matt Oswalt, who claims to be a “writer, director and arsonist” on Twitter used the social media platform to say “Barron Trump is wandering around the White House right now looking for stuff to burn.”
TV personality Rosie O’Donnell suggested Barron’s yawning during his dad’s late-night victory party was a sign of autism, and the unfair medical assessment still persists online.
Chelsea Clinton defended the young Trump on Facebook, saying he “deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid” but couldn’t resist using the incident to try and score political points by adding “Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids.”
Chelsea was largely ignored by professional comedians but conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh mocked her physical appearance. Sen. John McCain, when Bill Clinton was president, asked a crowd “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”
Compared to Chelsea, President Obama’s children, Sasha and Malia, went unscathed. The only incident I recall is when a spokeswoman for a Tennessee congressman resigned after suggesting the teens dressed inappropriately for a televised event.
Amy Carter, the 9-year-old daughter of President Jimmy Carter, was portrayed on Saturday Night Live as spoiled and homely with a thick Southern accent.
Still, no one suggested Amy, Chelsea, Sasha or Malia were going to shoot, rape or burn someone.
Barron Trump is different from the other kids who recently spent time in the White House.
He’s male. There hasn’t been a boy in the White House since 1963, when John F. Kennedy Jr. was a very photogenic 3-year-old.
Maybe it’s OK to pick on boys.
He’s also the son of a man many in the entertainment industry despise.
Maybe it’s OK to cyberbully the children of those we don’t agree with politically.
Maybe comedians are coming up with a different set of rules now that they’re all so desperate for attention on Twitter.