I haven't watched David Letterman since I was in high-school (my 20 year reunion was last year, so he must be getting pretty old); however, this exchange between him and Governor Sarah Palin has caught my attention. It's not the crudeness of Letterman's joke that caught my attention (although I did send an e-mail to CBS through the American Family Association asking for an apology). What really caught my attention was the environment in which this joke was deemed acceptable.
I accept that Letterman made a mistake about which daughter was with Governor Palin at the ball game, and that the intended subject of the joke was Bristol and not Willow. What I don't accept is that the American public seems to think that this joke is acceptable now that Bristol is 18 years old. Implying that Bristol Palin is promiscuous because she became pregnant at 17 by who she thought would be her future husband is completely unacceptable.
What is even worse is that if she were promiscuous, as long as she didn't get pregnant, likely no one would make a joke because she'd be considered a normal teenager. If the Palin family decided to keep the whole thing quiet and make Bristol have an abortion, there would be no joke because nobody would know (Do the laws in Alaska allow teenagers to get abortions with out their parent knowledge? If not, Obama will soon give them such rights.)
Bristol made a mistake by having pre-marital sex with the person she thought she was going to marry. Now that it looks like they aren't going to get married, she's probably regretting it; although, I'm sure she and the whole Palin family do not regret having little baby Tripp.
There are many young women that make the same mistake. Sometimes they go on to marry the father of their child. Sometimes these are good and happy marriages where the only person the couple ever know sexually is their marriage partner. Sometimes the story isn't so happy. Nonetheless, it is appalling that these moral young women are the subject of such vulgar humour.
It is an appalling and sad reflection on western culture: It's OK to have pre-marital sex, just don't get pregnant, but if you do, just have an abortion before anyone knows. It doesn't matter. Just don't have a baby before you're married.