Some LGBT groups are enraged that this joke about transgender Commerce appointee Amanda Simpson appeared on the David Letterman show this week, and are demanding that he apologize for it. Quick recap: Dave announces the appointment, and sidekick Alan Kalter reacts with horror: “Amanda used to be a dude?”
We suppose, this being network TV, that the cream of the jest is that Kalter had sex with or was attracted to Simpson, and is now mortified.
Change.org’s Michael Jones thinks it’s a “joke about how ‘sick’ she is because she’s transgender”; the Human Rights Campaign finds Kalter’s “feigned ‘trans panic'” to be offensive; “You may not be aware,” their Associate Director of Diversity for Transgender Issues has written to Letterman, “that the punch line in your skit has been used as a defense in nearly every hate crime perpetrated against transgender people that has come to trial.”
The folks at Queerty are less miffed. “If Kalter was fantasizing about her (thus, his being so upset upon learning she was born a man),” they reason, “that means her transition was that good.”
We tend to agree that the joke was meant to be on Kalter. We will admit that we have lived in New York a long time, which may have rendered us insensitive to how the joke may be taken in Fritters, Alabama. But we believe that the cause of freedom for all people gains nothing when Letterman is encouraged, as he was last summer in the Sarah Palin case, to tone it down for the rubes.