Inspection- The Don Rickles-ization of America

“I was just joking. Can’t you take a joke?”

Over the years I have heard this lame excuse spewing from the mouths of right wing pundits and, admittedly, a few… very few… left ones too. Essentially it means the speaker just got caught with their pants down and they’re daring the rightfully offended to call them what they are: liars and intentional provocateurs of hate. But I don’t blame Rush Limbaugh or Stephanie Miller…

I blame Don Rickles.

Yes, I’m showing my age. For those not in the know, Don was and still is a comedian. Mostly popular during the 60s. His one toot tune was to get on stage and insult everyone. Yes, it made the audience laugh, and because of his success he and the audiences of the 60s, I believe, opened the door to the name calling of this decade.

Once you watched Don for a while you realized it was an act, but that’s not my point. Even my parents; dedicated Conservatives that they were, found him offensive. From all reports he is, in private, a “sweet man.” But again… not the point. I have heard Rush Limbaugh is very much the same… in private.

How we make or living, and how it affects society matters: period… no matter what our actual intent.

When did we as a culture begin to accept pure insult as “humor?” One might argue that satire and parody were the start, but latter day spoofs like on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour may have some mean spirited-ness built into the scripts: but they were “scripts.” They were play acting. It was obvious. There’s a difference between playing the fool who mocks at the king’s feet… and actually splattering his face with fresh baby dung and then hiding behind a banner of “it was just a joke.” And if it were just kings and queens being splattered I might have less of a problem. No it’s everyone who dares to disagree or think differently. Anyone who questions the official story on 9/11 is a “conspiracy nut.” Any suggestion of punishing corporate excess, or saving corporations from extinction means you’re an evil socialist, Boris or Natasha, no-good-nicks.

Let me be clear here. I suffer from no illusion that Don intended any of this to come out of his act. I’m certain he never wanted to inspire the kind of vitriol that spews from talk radio today. And, despite my revulsion regarding this form of “humor,” I secretly long to see a grudge match: Don Rickles vs. Ann Coulter. My money would be on Coulter because Don, at heart, was a humorist. Ann is not. Ann is a hateful coward hiding behind the banner of humor willing to say anything. If someone went out and blew Barack Obama’s brains out, if Don felt any of his words inspired such, he would publicly admit his horror at what had happened. Ann Coulter would find some way to blame it on the Left while making a “joke” of it at the same time.

Some people do not deserve the term “human,” or even “less than human.” In my opinion Ann Coulter is one of the few who does not qualify to be considered human on a mental, and moral, level.

The difference here is a kind, gentle, man who simply became famous for a form of humor he should never have become famous for… and horrid, despicable people who should never be let near a microphone or allowed to be on camera. People who hold so much hate in their heart humanity would be better without them.

No. That’s not a “joke.” It’s truth.

And while I don’t blame all of this on Don, I think he may have unintentionally fathered more than a few bastard and bitch children who would have been better off aborted before their time.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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