Ed Driscoll

'After Joan, Who’ll Slaughter the Sacred Cows Now?'

Peggy Noonan has a beautifully written encomium to the late Joan Rivers:

She was a Republican, always a surprising thing in show business, and in a New Yorker, but she was one because, as she would tell you, she worked hard, made her money with great effort, and didn’t feel her profits should be unduly taxed. She once said in an interview that if you have 19 children she will pay for the first four but no more. Mostly she just couldn’t tolerate cant and didn’t respond well to political manipulation. She believed in a strong defense because she was a grown-up and understood the world to be a tough house. She loved Margaret Thatcher, who said what Joan believed: The facts of life are conservative. She didn’t do a lot of politics in her shows—politics divides an audience—but she thought a lot about it and talked about it. She was socially liberal in the sense she wanted everyone to find as many available paths to happiness as possible.

* * * * * * *

I last saw her in July. A friend and I met her for lunch at a restaurant she’d chosen in Los Angeles. It was full of tourists. Everyone at the tables recognized her and called out. She felt she owed her fans everything and never ignored or patronized an admirer. She smiled through every picture with every stranger. She was nice—she asked about their families, where they were from, how they liked it here. They absolutely knew she would treat them well and she absolutely did.

The only people who didn’t recognize Joan were the people who ran the restaurant, who said they didn’t have her reservation and asked us to wait in the bar, where waiters bumped into us as they bustled by. Joan didn’t like that, gave them 10 minutes to get their act together, and when they didn’t she left. But she didn’t just leave. She stood outside on the sidewalk, and as cars full of people went by with people calling out, “Joan! We love you!” she would yell back, “Thank you but don’t go to this restaurant, they’re rude! Boycott this restaurant!” My friend said, “Joan, stop it, you’re going to wind up on TMZ.”

“I don’t care,” she said. She felt she was doing a public service.

As Roger Simon — who once pitched a script to Rivers — noted last night, eventually she did wind up on TMZ, as recently as this past July, when she brilliantly batted back their concern-trolling over the Palestinians:

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Her comeback to their reference to Selena Gomez’s take (!!??) on the geopolitical realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was priceless.

Nancy McDermott, a New York-based contributor to England’s Spiked Website asks, “After Joan, who’ll slaughter the sacred cows now?”

Irreverence like Rivers’ has become increasingly rare as comedy has retreated into ideological niches where comics can preach to the choir without giving offence. The political correctness Rivers poked fun at through most of her career has slowly hardened into a climate of conformity in which it is not permissible to say certain things – not even in jest. This shift was not lost on her, and it made her irritable.

Over the past year or so, she seemed to go out of her way to wind up prudes and the press. She upset the PC brigade with her quip about the model Heidi Klum: ‘The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.’ In a facetious response to a reporter asking about same-sex couples in the White House, she said, ‘We’ve already got one!’ (because, she quipped, ‘Michelle is a tranny’). Then she refused to condemn Israel for attacking Gaza, and even worse, committed the modern sin of supporting Israel, igniting a Twitterstorm that is raging even now.

Perhaps this is why her death seems like the end of an era.

Indeed it does. For a snapshot of the world we now live in, where Very. Serious. People — who once mocked the Moral Majority, described themselves as “hip” and “liberal,” and preached the importance of “tolerance” — race to see who will become the most offended over a sexy comic book cover, check out this new clip by videomaker “Maddox:”

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Fortunately, in an ever-changing world of global complexities and contradictions, the New York Times, with its layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors remains a constant — the all-knowing, all-seeing oracle that all of America can reply upon for its news:

Of course, if the Times really does believe it’s 1914, and Woodrow Wilson is in the White House, that would explain volumes about their “Progressive” worldview.