Roseanne Barr escapes burning at the stake – for now – but loses her hit show, talent agency, and career

Roseanne Barr now is blaming Ambien for posting (and then deleting) a tweet that implied simian ancestry for Barack Obama's chief White House adviser, longtime mentor, and current housemate, Valerie Jarrett.  For reasons obvious to anyone with even vague familiarity with the history of race relations in America, this is a line that must not be crossed and will trigger outrage and find few defenders.  Other than defending rape, pedophilia, and murder as recreation, I can think of no greater heresy in today's society than casting aspersions on the full humanity of those of African descent.

It took but a few hours for ABC Television to cancel her show, which was a hit in its re-booted version.  The loss of future income was seen as trivial compared to the cost of the outrage, boycotts, and other reactions if the show were ever to broadcast a new episode.  Besides, cast member Wanda Sykes, who announced she would no longer participate in its production, would have had much company, leaving no option for the network.  Ms. Barr's big-time talent agency, ICM, made a similar calculation.

Left in the lurch are the many craftspeople who worked on the production of her new show.  Wanda Sykes and Sara Gilbert will be fine, but the gaffers and others who make the production work are now unemployed.

The fact that Ms. Barr had expressed support for President Trump was seized upon, as expected, including by Valerie Jarrett.  Nobody is shaming 911 "Truthers" – among whom Ms. Barr numbers – as having some responsibility, nor members of any of the other causes she has supported in the past, including gay pride and the hyper-progressive Peace and Freedom Party.

Before Ms. Barr supported President Trump, her friends ignored a 2013 tweet that also implied a senior African-American adviser to President Obama had some sort of primate nature:

The best she can hope for now is withdrawal from show business for a period of time and, like Mel Gibson, eventual gradual return.  Kathy Griffin is already attempting her comeback following her picture holding a severed head resembling that of Donald Trump.  Metaphorical sackcloth and ashes would be a plus for Ms. Barr, though Ms. Griffin has avoided ritual debasement.

In the meantime, the Al Sharptons of the world will pose as righteous.  And Democrats have a strong interest in perpetuating the outrage through at least the November primaries.

Apparently, after swearing off Twitter, Ms. Barr has returned to tweeting and re-tweeting.  Wisdom and self-control do not seem to be prominent among her virtues.

My wild guess is that she will return to the public eye in the future, as she has name recognition and has a history of swinging wildly in her political passions.  Outrage burns brightly now but cannot sustain those temperatures in the long run.  And even if a network doesn't want her, there is always the internet.

Update. Kathleen Joyce of Fox News reports:

“Roseanne” fans have called on HBO to fire “Real Time” host Bill Maher in response to the comedian’s jokes that President Trump was part orangutan. (snip)

Following ABC's announcement, Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a right-wing nonprofit group, tweeted, “Wait, Bill Maher makes comparisons to Trump being a gorilla all the time? They get classified as ‘jokes’ by the media and he is of course allowed to keep his show and not have his life ruined. The difference? Bill Maher is a liberal, Roseanne is a free-thinking Trump supporter.”



The mostly unspoken rules of contemporary American society hold that African Americans cannot be insulted in ways that Caucasians and some other minorities can be. This is mostly a legacy of slavery and the official discrimination that followed under Jim Crow laws passed by Democrat-controlled governmental units in the post-Civil War South.

I am fairly sure Maher’s job is still secure, but it would be helpful if HBO were pressed to offer reasons. An explicit statement from HBO and its parent Time-Warner of different standards applied to insults for President Trump or whites in general might be useful in informing the conversation on race underway in America.

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