Jo Ellen Hovis of Harrisville asks a good question. 

Hearing the uproar about actor Michael Richards' angry outburst at a comedy club really upset me. I have to ask, though, what's the big deal?

Jo Ellen points out that its hard to muster up sympathy for two reverse-heckling victims when men, black and white, make huge profits publicly disrespecting women through their "art." 

All this talk about people hiding their hatreds and prejudices is noteworthy, but why don't men have to hide their hatred of women? They make money off of it. They get laughs with it. They let kids sing it.

I presume Jo Ellen is asking for the dialogue about hatespeech be expanded beyond using the "N" word and she's certainly right.  Disrespect is a cornerstone of contemporary pop culture.  From Justin Timberlake playing the choir-boy "I was duped" card to the horrific lyrics in woman-hating music, it pervades our lives 24/7.  When thinking people (especially women) strip these individual artists/performers of responsibility for achieving fame (or infamy) on the backs of our sisters, they are part of the problem.  Michael Richards behaved like an ass and deserves the public scorn and shame. 

But my own take on Michael Richards is that we are focusing far too much on the individual when we should be talking about why white people with power and privilege (such as Seinfeld residuals will get ya) feel free to cross these boundaries.  They know all the backstory on the word, but use it anyway b/c they feel untouchable.  I hear that word far too often in my own little circle of white people. Richards is getting some backlash just like Mel Gibson.  Both will survive the incidents.  Richards appears to have some deeper issues that prevent him from smoothly handling heckling.  Gibson appears to have a problem holding his booze.  Those things might fell them, but in a land of mighty white men they will both endure their racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny.  Fear not, intrepid upward looking, middle-class white boys -- your heroes won't let you down. 

On another note .... take a look at an article from Sunday's PG exploring the liberal classroom leanings of Penn State Professor Michael Berube.  Good stuff about academic freedom and the organized attempt of the far right to take control of liberal arts classrooms.