Chelsea Handler Body Shames Sarah Huckabee Sanders, And Worse

Chelsea Handler Body Shames Sarah Huckabee Sanders, And Worse

This post is a transcript of the “6 Minutes With Brad Hirschfield” podcast. Listen and subscribe below.

Pure evil. Is that even thing, and if so, how would you define it? Why does it even matter if there is such a thing as pure evil, or if you think there is such a thing as pure evil?

Well, most immediately, it’s a thing because the term is being invoked in all kinds of places. In fact, over the weekend, Chelsea Handler said that she could answer my questions, claiming not only to know exactly what pure evil is, but using her understanding of the concept to explain her behavior.

While I would never call the comedienne evil, and certainly not pure evil, her sense of things when it comes to this debate, is actually pretty twisted I think, and I want to tell you why. A little background first…

Over the weekend, Ms. Handler retweeted an utterly gross and genuinely cruel video, mocking White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, specifically her weight and her physical appearance. Now, you can’t see me, but in the interest of transparency, I’m a fat guy, so maybe I’m a little bit overly sensitive here, but I don’t think so. In fact, I’m an overweight guy who finds a lot of the briefings that Sarah Huckabee Sanders does to be somewhere between silly and genuinely abhorrent, and I still find what Ms. Handler did and said to be totally wrong.

This video was a disgusting attack on a person for no reason other than the fact that the person sharing it thinks, “Well, why not? I don’t particularly like her. I don’t particularly agree with her. Why not mock her body and why not mock how she looks and why not say terrible things about her that have absolutely nothing to do with why I don’t like her?” That’s what Chelsea Handler did.

That, to me, if it’s not evil, is at least twisted, and it’s particularly twisted given the fact that Ms. Handler, whose comedy I often enjoy, has recently said that women have to protect other women — that it’s very important that women especially, and people in general, not play this debasing game of objectifying other women, and that women must take the lead in that defense of their sisters.

That actually sounds pretty smart, pretty wise, pretty compassionate. Yet apparently, when it comes to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, there’s a big, whopping exception that allows not only, not stepping up to defend people and not only mildly insulting them, but utterly denigrating them. Why?

Oh, she tweeted that out too. Why is it okay? Because, she said, referring to Sarah Sanders, “This woman deserves to be taken down. She is pure evil.”

Taken down? If that language was used by someone who was a known NRA supporter, I’d be sitting here today, talking about someone who embraces guns, actually calling for an execution. So why should supposedly progressive Chelsea Handler get a pass for using the same language?

“Pure evil”? What in the world? As disagreeable as Sarah Sanders may be for Handler, or for many other Americans, does that makes her pure evil? That language is all the more disturbing when it’s in the context of last week, and another use of the language of pure evil.

Last week, a California judge described a man who ran down a police officer with his car, and did it for no other reason than his pathological interest in trying to kill a cop. At sentencing, the judge looked at that man and described him the exact same way that Chelsea Handler described Sarah Sanders.

“You sir,” the judge said as he sentenced the car-driving cop-attacker, “Are pure evil.” Now I don’t know what you’re thinking, and I don’t think I would use that language of pure evil even for that man, but I’m sure as hell clear that he’s a whole lot closer than Sarah Sanders is. So if there is pure evil, lets save that language for those attempting murder, or rape, but Sarah Sanders?!

What is going on here?

This is really nothing more than using words to feel good about doing things that we deep down know are simply wrong. Chelsea Handler would like to be, and I think in most circumstances, generally is, a defender of women, and someone not interested in denigrating people because of their physical appearance. But she was angry and she wanted to feel good about her rage, so she labeled Sarah Sanders “pure evil,” and all bets are off. That’s why I’m so cautious when I’m asked about labeling people or things evil.

The label of evil, and pure evil even more, gives people permission, when they use it, to say that they don’t have to be the people they most want to be, or claim to be. It’s a free pass to engage in all the hate, vitriol and even violence, that people typically say, “Oh no, we would never do that,” but now grant themselves a grand exception to do.

Human history is littered with people invoking those grand exceptions in the name of God, in the name of some flag, in the name of something abstract, that allows for the destruction of actual human beings. I am sure there are times we have to break the rules, leave our norms behind and stand and fight for things. I’m also sure that labeling Sarah Sanders pure evil isn’t one of them.



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Brad Hirschfield

Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC's Nightline UpClose, PBS's Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, "For God's Sake," for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.

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