"You can argue that the joke wasn’t funny, that it was mean spirited, that it was politically motivated, that it was sloppily constructed, that it attacked an innocent “child,” etc. But those are critiques of the joke, not reasons the joke shouldn’t have been attempted. For good or ill, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy long ago became a public event, and it is part and parcel of the “Sarah Palin” construct Letterman was taking aim at.
What is interesting to me is that, ordinarily, teenage pregnancy and tacit acceptance of same is tied to the left. Which is to say, the left generally doesn’t snipe at teen pregnancy as a problematic moral condition. Here, however, the joke relies on the suggestion that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy maps with her snowbilly trashiness, while simultaneously rubbing against the perceived morality of her mother and, by extension, any and all Republicans (who, for better or worse, are tied in the public consciousness to the kind of “family values” platform that here is being ironized). The joke was a political one that simultaneously took shots at the rural bourgeois and Alex Rodriguez, a favorite NY media whipping boy. And so while it may have been unfunny to those with certain sensibilities, the only “justification” necessary is that someone thought it funny enough to make public, and we (thankfully) still have the right to make those kinds of decisions ourselves," - Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom.
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