To read all the fake outrage spewed by schoolmarmish lefties over state Representative John Kavanagh's skewering of Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a recent roast of the aged autocrat, you'd think Kavanagh had shot a Mexican man in Reno just to watch him die.
Don't get me wrong, I take a back seat to no one in spanking the right-wing Republican from Fountain Hills whenever I can.
I've ripped Kavanagh new orifices in the past over his support for Arizona's ethnic-cleansing law, Senate Bill 1070, and for his slavish political alliance with recalled, disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce.
I've excoriated Kavanagh, chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, for accepting free trips for himself and his wife to Azerbaijan and Commie China, and then turning around and sticking it to poor Arizonans with a bill to restrict panhandling.
Why, this year alone, I've written two columns slapping around the former cop with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. And I've devoted one column entirely to his 2014 Democratic challenger, Paula Pennypacker.
But the liberal reaction to his about 20 minutes on stage February 22 at the Western Conservative Conference's Arpaio roast (held at the Phoenix Convention Center) has been downright ridiculous.
Have these nudniks never before seen a roast on Comedy Central?
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that usually spends its time hunting neo-Nazis, played thought police, publishing an article titled, "Exclusive: Latinos are Punch Line at Joe Arpaio Roast."
In reality, the story was not particularly exclusive, as other media were present at the event, including one local Fox 10 camera.
Also, the wingding streamed live, with local media people like myself, Brahm Resnik, and former Arizona Republic reporter Robbie Sherwood, chiming in with tweets.
Rep. John "Dice" Kavanagh is actually funnier than my wildest expectations. #ArpaioRoast
— Robbie Sherwood (@RobbieSherwood) February 23, 2014
Robbie is a lefty. He didn't flip his lid.
Kavanagh's zingers elicited zero indignation from these tweeters, probably because the jokes were told at Arpaio's expense. And for the most part, the jokes were funny.
— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) February 23, 2014
Channel 12's Resnik contributed a couple of Tweets as WCC streamed the event live.
My personal favorite dealt with the sheriff's posse.
"I remember the amazing story of how Sheriff Arpaio has his volunteer posse members . . . go undercover in massage parlors to do prostitution stings," Kavanagh said. "Is it any wonder he has 3,000 posse members!"
"I was a cop for 20 years in New York, I thought we had a good police discount," he cracked.
Here's another good one that could've been lifted from Animal House.
"The sheriff's been in office so long in Arizona . . . that he's become a fixture in this state," Kavanagh said. "Unfortunately, for many people, that's a urinal."
At the start of his segment, Kavanagh urged Joe to sit in a chair next to him, facing the audience.
"Get out here. I don't roast if I can't baste," Kavanagh told the sheriff
And baste he did.
Now, if you're going to make fun of Arpaio, you have to go after his obsession with running after Hispanics to the exclusion of almost all else. So Kavanagh went there.
"Sheriff Joe is the kind of guy that you gotta love," he stated at one point, "as long as you have papers."
This is the sort of joke a liberal would tell.
Hell, it's the kind of joke a liberal or conservative Hispanic might tell, though most hate Joe so much (and for good reason) that you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who'd admit it. Publicly, at least.
Early on, Kavanagh did his impersonation of the court-appointed monitor in the ACLU's big civil rights case, Melendres v. Arpaio, in which a federal judge found the Sheriff's Office guilty of racial profiling.
In the hot seat, Joe sounded confused.
"What is this thing?" wondered Joe.
"It's okay, I'm not the federal monitor," Kavanagh snarked, raising his voice. "How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio, huh?"
Ditto the League of United Latin American Citizens, which called on Kavanagh to resign because of his "racist remarks."
Kidded Kavanagh, "Going out with Sheriff Joe is always an adventure. Usually when we walk into a restaurant, most of the wait staff and cooks dive out the back window."
He added, "And when they don't, I never know what the hell's in my food."
Are these lines racist? Are they targeting the Latino community?
No. Admittedly, they are edgy. But let's be honest: The restaurant industry would collapse if there were no undocumented folk around to do the work that ofays won't do.
Crackers in this county would starve to death.
And, obviously, Joe's been known to target eating establishments as he hunts for the undocumented.
If I were undocumented and saw Joe coming in, I'd probably amscray. And if I didn't, I'd be tempted to add some really gross secret ingredients to his order.
Another Kavanagh joke that fired up the liberal echo chamber dealt with Senate Bill 1062, the denial-of-service legislation that teabagger Kavanagh supported and the governor vetoed.
Kavanagh told his audience that he scoffed at the idea 1062 would cause discrimination based on religious beliefs.
"Until tonight," he said, "when a Muslim waiter serving up here walked up to Sheriff Joe, wouldn't give him his dinner 'cause, he said, 'I don't serve swine.'"
For some reason, Arpaio put a napkin over his head, to which Kavanagh ad-libbed, "Not quite a burqa."
Imraan Siddiqi, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Arizona, criticized Kavanagh in a Republic story for making the joke.
I called Sidiqqi and asked him what made the joke offensive.
After all, the "swine" in question is Arpaio. He's the butt of the joke.
Siddiqi objected to the meme of Muslims being the ones who supposedly would deny service under 1062, and to the burqa comment.
"I understand it's a roast where people are going to be making jokes," the 34-year-old told me. "I watch Comedy Central, and I watch stand-up comedy. It's expected that the jokes are going to be edgy.
"But when it's an elected official, and it's in the realm of bad taste, it's probably not a good idea . . . for them to possibly be alienating parts of their constituency."
Fair enough, though the joke was still amusing, in my opinion, because it was on Arpaio. It would have been equally funny if the waiter had been a Jewish vegan.
Regarding the jokes mentioning Hispanics, I'm not blind to the suffering Arpaio has caused in the Latino community and elsewhere. I've written volumes on the subject.
But political correctness is a sword of censorship that cuts both ways. In fact, I've been boycotted by right-wingers before because they didn't like what I had to say. (More than once, actually.)
I asked Kavanagh about accusations from a Media Matters reporter that he had targeted a Hispanic waiter, after the jokes about visiting restaurants with Joe.
"There's a brave one," he said of the server. "Get him, sic him."
Kavanagh explained that the waiter "walked right in front of Arpaio, right in front of the stage," which is why he made the crack. He claimed not to know whether the server was Hispanic.
Hispanic or not, if the guy felt uncomfortable, maybe Kavanagh owes him a generous tip.
The legislator refuses to apologize or resign in the wake of criticism. He says he wrote his own jokes for the affair.
I asked him if he'd ever done roasts before.
"I've done a few," he said. "But not where I made national TV."
As for the source of his sense of humor:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I'm a New York smart-ass," he admitted. "That's how I grew up."
Well, that explains everything.