Joan Rivers – antidote to PC totalitarianism ILANA MERCER

Joan Rivers in the 1960s...

…and now

Joan Rivers: antidote to PC totalitarianism

ILANA MERCER salutes a personality who has somehow lived on into the post-personality era

WARNING: If you suffer from spineless conformity; a deformation of the personality often euphemized as political correctness—quit reading this column, NOW!

If you don’t quite know whether you are thus afflicted, ask yourself this: Do I police what people say for political propriety? To the extent that I seek it out, do I scrutinize great literature, music, art, television or comedy for signs of so-called sexism, racism, elitism, homophobia, antisemitism and meanness? Am I incapable of appreciating a superbly written script or book; a sublime painting or symphony; a smart stand-up routine, if only because the material and its creator violate the received laws of political correctness?

Still unsure if you belong to the tyrannical, joyless tradition of cultural Marxism, read on. In the event that you convulse with laughter, give yourself a clean bill of health. If you foam at the mouth, fit to be tied, go away. And stay away.

Women who should make themselves scarce but won’t are the prototypical, inquisitor-cum-anchors plaguing leftist “news” networks. Acting anchor-enforcer for Fourth of July was CNN’s unremarkable Fredricka Whitfield. Fredricka What’sHerName would have left behind a sustained programme of non-achievement. No longer. Henceforth, her claim to fame is that she attempted to re-educate an iconic comedienne, Joan Rivers.

Since cultural Marxists police speech for propriety, if not consciously, then reflexively, they will take pains to stigmatize and isolate those who violate standards set by the PC set. The term re-education is associated with this totalitarianism. It has been used in the context of both brainwashing as well as “reformation” induced in labour camps.

Through a series of loaded, snide taunts, coupled with unhinged body language, the prissy preachy Fredricka set about reeducating her featured guest about the rules of conduct in the post-personality era. “You shall not be mean” (except to all men and all conservatives and authentic contrarians) is the latest monomania to grip the politically correct.

Alas, as the object of her pelting, Fredricka the fundamentalist was foolish enough to target the wrong funny lady. Rivers is too old and too independent for “rehabilitation.” Already in her 80s, the octogenarian is best-known nowadays for the sartorial send-up Fashion Police. The Rivers repartee is so ribald – it’s fair to say she’s the only woman who can get manly men to watch a show about fashion. While her humour has become a tad tame for me – Rivers once even disgorged, albeit with difficulty, praise for the loathsome Lena Dunham of Girls fame – she, nevertheless, stands out as the only public persona who flatly refuses to apologize for her signature wit.

Examples: Joan has compared the guest room she occupies at her daughter’s abode to the basement in which the “Cleveland kidnapping victims, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry, were bound, raped and tortured for years before their escape. ‘Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more room,’ quipped Rivers.

Describing one awful outfit on Fashion Police, Rivers ventured that “on the scale of really bad ideas, it falls between marrying Charlie Sheen and using Oscar Pistorius’s bathroom.”

When Madonna accused Lady Gaga of stealing her “music,” Joan wanted to know how you could steal a rash.

And Ms. Rivers walked in on a football party thrown for her grandson and his rowdy small friends by daughter Melissa. Looking on with disdain at the grubby little boys, Rivers blurted out: “I don’t know how Jerry Sandusky managed to do it.”

All wickedly clever.

Although a reporter is not supposed to privilege her own values, here, finally, was Fredricka Witless’ chance to publicly shame the lively contrarian into submission.

Whitfield: … your fashion critique is very mean in some ways.

Rivers: It’s not mean.

Whitfield (pulling grotesque faces): Really? It’s not mean?

Rivers: I tell the truth. I’m sure I said the same things that all your friends said to their friends sitting next to them on the couch. We’re one of the few shows that says, ‘That’s an ugly dress.’

Whitfield (cackling loudly as if to drown-out her guest and grimacing like a Gramscian explaining the theory of “Cultural Hegemony”): You’re never worried about feelings being hurt? What about things that seem off-limits to people? In your book you joke about the death of Casey Anthony’s baby, about Princess Diana dodging so many landmines.

Rivers: Life is very tough. If you can make a joke to make it easier and funnier; do it. Done. That’s all. Winston Churchill said, ‘If you make someone laugh, you give them a little vacation.’

Whitfield (baring fangs, humming non-stop like a deranged syphilitic): Yeah, and people love to laugh, that’s why they love you, but they also know that you have shock value … On the cover of your book you’re wearing fur, although you knew this would outrage animal activists …

Rivers: You know, this whole interview is becoming a defensive interview.

Whitfield (more face-making): Nah.

Rivers: Are you wearing leather shoes?

Whitfield: Yeah.

Rivers: Shut up. I don’t wanna hear, “You’re wearing fur.” You’re wearing leather shoes! You’re eating chicken! You’re eating meat. I don’t wanna hear this nonsense. Come to me with a paper belt, and I’ll talk to you.

Whitfield: Nah.

Rivers: All you have done is negative … I made people laugh for 50 years. I am put on earth to make people laugh. My book is funny. I wear fur that was killed 15 years ago. I work for animal rights. Stop it with, “And you do this, and you’re mean, and you’re that.” You are not the one to interview a person who does humour. Sorry.

It’s hard to surpass such a fabulous finale, but I think Joan would second this column’s coda.

Not so long ago, I wrote a favourable blog post about Mike Tyson (who really is an interesting guy), only to be immediately assailed, unfriended and unfollowed on social media.

The social-media collective: “How dare you praise a man with an anti-woman background like Tyson’s!”

Me: “Hush your mouth. So Tyson slapped a woman. Who hasn’t felt like doing that?”

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, “Return to Reason” and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, an award-winning, independent, non-profit, free-market economic policy think tank. She is also a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is She blogs at



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