On Saturday, Jane Fonda was scheduled to pimp her new book on the QVC Network when company executives suddenly cancelled her appearance.
The explanation for why Fonda’s segment was cancelled depends on who’s answering the question. A spokesperson at QVC stated that a scheduling conflict had caused Fonda’s snake-oil sale to be axed. Fonda is skeptical of QVC’s response. She claims that top network executives caved to unnamed “extremists” who were pressuring the network to cut Fonda’s segment because of her liberal political activism.
I have to admit I’ve never watched the QVC network. In preparation for writing this column, I actually had trouble finding its position in my local cable line-up. As best I know, my family has never bought anything from QVC. However, the network’s decision to cancel Fonda (for whatever reason) has me tuning in and searching the screen for something to buy in sincere appreciation.
In response to QVC’s action, Fonda complained that people were spreading lies about her. “I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us,” Fonda said.
Fonda’s new book (unnamed here because I don’t want anyone to buy it) is reportedly about aging and the life cycle. The book better have some memory exercises, because Fonda’s recollection of her actions during the Vietnam War indicates that her mind is slipping.
Most Americans do not have a problem with the fact that Jane Fonda was an outspoken critic of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Many shared her view. But, the manner in which she expressed her opposition was beyond the pale and did hurt the men and women of our military.
In 1972, at the age of 35, Fonda traveled to Hanoi as a guest of the government of North Vietnam. Photographs of her smiling behind the trigger of an enemy anti-aircraft gun, which was seemingly aimed at American planes, opened an ugly wound that remains unhealed all these years later.
After American prisoners of war claimed that their captors were torturing them, Fonda labeled them as “hypocrites and liars.” She called the POWs professional killers and war criminals. The joyful enthusiasm by which she made these claims was what so many people found unforgivable.
Some may argue that Fonda apologized for her transgressions and should be forgiven. I encourage those folks to go back and re-read the so-called apologies. They were conditional and shallow. Fonda may be sorry that she’s hated by so many for what she did, but her words indicate that she is not at all sorry for what she said or how she said it.
On her website, Fonda blamed her QVC rejection on “some well-funded and organized political extremist groups.” Or, maybe, the fault is with Fonda herself for failing to understand that the pain she caused in 1972 will never properly heal.
The freedom of speech is our country’s most basic right. It gives people like Fonda the privilege to make inane statements that will never be forgiven by a segment of our society. The right to free speech even grants Fonda permission to blame reaction to her callous behavior on some invisible right-wing conspiracy.
Of course, what Hanoi Jane has failed to recognize is that our country’s right to free speech also gives QVC viewers the opportunity to call the network and complain.