Friday, August 22, 2014


Serbia Is Not Amused

As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once famously observed, "The measure of any great civilization is its ability to shrug off stupid remarks." What? That's not what Aristotle said? But it was something similar, I'm sure. As an American, I just can't be bothered to get it exactly right. Or even close.

Another American, television host Chelsea Handler, can't be bothered to get it right or close either. During a recent episode of her late-night program "Chelsea Lately," Handler and a coterie of on-screen humorists took what began as a mean-spirited jab at the irremediably whacked-out singer Amy Winehouse and spun it into a mean-spirited -- and uninformed -- jab at the nation of Serbia.

Amy Winehouse in better days
Contemplating a truly wretched performance by an incapacitated Winehouse during a recent concert in Belgrade, a Handler sidekick, comedian Greg Proops, referred with geographic abandon to Serbia as "a place that's had ethnic cleansing and genocide." (His point being that Winehouse's performance "was an [even] bigger bummer than that.")

Noting that Winehouse's tour was canceled soon after the Belgrade debacle, Proops, searching for what he considered an equally obscure concert venue, went on to query, "Where was she going next, Kazakh-a-stan?" (Thanks, Borat -- at least he was in the ballpark!)

Handler then picked up where Proops left off, citing a Facebook post by the Serbian defense minister, Dragan Sutanovac, who called Winehouse's concert "a shame and a huge disappointment." Her puzzlingly tart rejoinder: "Well, so is your country." Dragan, she added even more bewilderingly, was a popular "Bolshevik" name.

This is not great television, people. But Serbia, not content to let this sorry chapter of broadcast hilarity sink unsung into the dustbin, has responded to the ribbing with gale-force outrage.

The broadcast was "inappropriate, distasteful, and just plain bad humor," penned Serbia's ambassador to the U.S., Vladimir Petrovic, in a letter to the head of the E! Entertainment channel that airs "Chelsea Lately." In a fresh Facebook post, Sutanovac chided Handler as "arrogant, shallow, and mean," and mocked her colleagues as "not even aware how little they know about Serbia." ("Novak Djokovic will teach them!" he added.)

The imbroglio has also spawned a legion of angry Facebook communities, some, it must be said, filled with invective so violent it makes Handler's remarks seem almost benign.

The most popular (and invective-free) group -- "Boycott of Chelsea Handler until she apologizes to the Serbian people," created by the  Chicago-based Serbian anti-defamation group 28. Jun -- has more than 41,000 fans and links to an online petition supporting a boycott of Handler, E!'s parent station, NBC Universal, and the program's main corporate advertisers, including Belvedere vodka, Nikon, Samsung, and Dr. Pepper.

So far, Proops is the only party to the scandal to bow to the Serbian campaign, tweeting: "Dear Serbs, they were jokes. Please accept my apology. I am well and truly sorry. Hvala (Thank you)."

NBC Universal and E! have so far stayed mum, and Handler -- who, the Internet informs, owes Angelina Jolie an apology as well -- remains unrepentant.

Still, Serbia, regardless of whether it ever receives an apology, has scored a victory of sorts, making headlines for the better part of a week. As Aristotle might have said, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

-- Daisy Sindelar
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 5
by: Rick from: NY
June 27, 2011 15:28
Seriously? You thought what Chelsea said was offensive? You need to watch her show and see the insults she throws out. What she said was so very tame. Your country is a big disappointment? Actually, after hearing people whine about that comment, I agree with her. Get a sense of humor and then get a life.
In Response

by: Sekai from: The New World
June 27, 2011 23:41
Are you seriously telling a country full of people to get a life?
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by: Jelena from: Chicago
June 28, 2011 03:38
Would you write the same post if she offended the great ''Jew'' nation...or perhaps African Americans? There was no joke about one person, or few for that matter, but the whole nation....calling us all a disappointment!!!! You support that as HUMOROUS? Wow...America truly has bad taste in humor.
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by: Andrea from: Australia
June 28, 2011 03:56
Don't tell us to get over it when you know very well yourself you would defend your country if something was said about it and it's people. What difference does it make if she was a comedian or a politician...she still said it and it has hurt a lot of people. What, are we suppose to agree with her? Is that what you want us to do? Would you like us to shrug it off? No, we won't. And neither would you. And keeping in mind all the shit that has happened in the last 20 years and what has been fed to the media about us, how dare she say that. We aren't what the media has made us out to be and if you want to believe everything what the media says then I feel very sorry for you. Serbian people have a beautiful culture and are warm and caring. People like Chelsea Handler are making you Americans look like horrible, ignorant people.
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by: Andrew from: Auckland
June 29, 2011 07:06
Yes, very warm and caring, unless you are Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Albanian, or Jewish.....
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by: Ana from: Chelsea
June 29, 2011 12:36
Jews, Slovenians? Is it so important for you to add as many lies as you can? Maybe you should have added Greeks or Norwegians? But then it would be too obvious who you are “Andrew” from Balkans.
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by: Andrew from: Auckland
June 29, 2011 20:41
I guess, you uneducated woman, that you have forgotten the 10 day war where Serbian forces invaded Slovenia?

26 June - 7 July 1991.

You are a foolish little girl, and I can understand why you are so childish that you don't understand why every other republic in Yugoslavia wanted to escape Serbian oppression.
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by: Ana from: Chelsea
July 04, 2011 08:19
The only foolish person in this discussion is you mister “I’m ashamed to say my real name & origin so I use some foreign name & place to sound better”. It must be really dark where you are, little man blinded with hatred. Insulting me will not make it any better; you are just showing who you really are. You are basing continuous hatred of two nations on a 10 days war. If they hated each other so badly, do you think that it maybe would have lasted longer? You see, I trust more my Slovenian friends on this one. And no, I haven’t heard anything about the Jews.
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by: Andrea from: Australia
July 04, 2011 15:02
I know many Serbs that don't have anything against the nationalities Andrew has mentioned. Even though there still are 'serbs' that have something against these nationalities, it doesn't mean that you should put us all down.
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by: Marija from: Australia
June 28, 2011 04:07
Some people need to understand (Rick) that what is seen as funny in one country may not be in another. It is called cultural differences. Even in comparison to America and Australia, both English speaking yet ,what we see as humor you might be offended by. I am Serbian as well and I do have sense of humor and so do all the Serbian people. Chelsea goes beyond humor by not only slamming a single person but a whole country. Mind you she does not even know where Serbia is let alone the history behind the ethical accusation. You cannot bad mouth a country as a whole and to the degree that Chelsea has and expect everyone to laugh at it.
It is sad when an entertainer has to make fun of people, countries, and cultures just to get noticed. Clearly she is not the brightest crayon in the bunch.
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by: Omar from: California
June 28, 2011 08:26
How would you know if Chelsea knows where Serbia is or not? To be frankly honest not that many people. Another thing Chelsea already has a lot of attention so your comment about her wanting attention is stupid.
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by: LilSnowBunny from: Florida
June 28, 2011 04:25
Really? As someone who is watching her shows you couldn't be expected to post much better comment. Shallow and ignorant.

It seems that as usual you only care what is amusing to you, price never matters. Why would? You are so arrogant that are not able to see further from you back (ass).
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by: Marija from: Australia
June 29, 2011 04:03
I know becuase if she has ever set foot in Serbia she would not have made that comment. Belgrade (the capital city of Serbia) is voted as having the best nightlife in Europe. In addition, Exit the biggest festival of the year is held in Serbia (Nis) and people all over the world come as a result of this. No offence to you but American people do not know about a lot of countries not just Serbia. But that is not relevant. What is relevant is, when a person knows very little about a country or another person you would only assume one would refrain from accusations.

How would you feel as an American if a Serbian comedian made a comment about 9/11 and hypertaticaly speaking said a joke like "How many people died on that day? With the answer: Not Enough! " It is exactly the same thing. The only difference would be America would probably end up bombing Serbia again.

Serbia and its people have been criticised by a lot of people for numerous things and they are just without foundation. Give me evidence that directly correlates Serbia to the ethical accussations. There are none. But i will give you a fact, Serbian people have never started a war. Every war Serbia was involved in, it had to defend invaders that are after our land and that want to wipe out some part of our history. Serbian people have always taken the cricicism and brushed it off but there is only so much criticism someone can tolerate.

I was born and raised in Serbia and I can tell you that how the media portrays our country is totally opposite. Lies sells papers and creates money, no one cares about the truth. Serbian people love life and if you ever visit Serbia you would see that.

In Response

June 28, 2011 04:46
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by: Marina from: Toronto
June 28, 2011 04:51
Just because a comment could be worse doesn't mean it should not be reprimanded. I'm sure you are a proud NYker. I'm a proud Belgrade girl! No matter how much more wealthy or avant-garde you might be sitting in magnificent Manhattan, don't assume we are not sophisticated or relaxed enough to understand a joke. Try Belgrade any day of the week past 10PM any season and don't be surprised to find way more spark, character and meaningful interactions than in most "western" cities. For starters check out chelsea's Facebook page and see Serbians drown it chatting, laughing, even flirting on it while NOT talking about Chelsea. Howz that for spirit?
In Response

by: Rasto from: London
June 28, 2011 08:24
You are just a pathetic brainwash...Please respect that not all people on this planet are falling to knees beacuse of stupid and arrognat American attitude called (by you and some of your simmilarly brainwashed and uncivilised countrymates) a joke.
In Response

by: Fioridiseta from: Europe
June 28, 2011 12:37
Dear Rick, I can understand your way of thinking. In US you can offend, humiliate, discriminate as much as u can, in the name of comedy or freedom of speech. Worldwide is different , Public Media respect international law! Outside of US racism, humiliation, discrimination are not considered funny, they are named hate speech. Hate speech is outside of int. law. Normally those persons are processed and punished. ES Galliano! In those circumstances reaction of Serbian people is normal. An international artist that is on air worldwide can not use local rules. In some places of the earth for celebrating is normal to make people suffering and bleeding. I someone with those habitues came to US an beet you til blood I will never tel you - you deserve it because you don't know to celebrate. Get it ! Peace and Love
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by: Maki from: Germany
June 29, 2011 11:41
After years and years of heavy insults coming from US and EU through the media and also bombing a country for 3.5 months without any justified or legal reason, it's no wonder that Serbian people are heaving enough, specially when a person like this uneducated tv hostes starts with her comments! For Serbian people it is simply not possible to "live", as you are saying and to be finally left in peace!
In Response

by: maja from: toronto
June 29, 2011 12:37
Who are you to tell people to get a life ? You have no clue what is going on do you? if i were you i would stop being so brave behind the computer and i would go up to that nation that this stupid Chelsey claims on national tv should not be allowed to go to concerts.. and tell em face to face that they are a dissapointment ..ohh and dont forget to include genocide .. and then tell em its a joke.. you know nothing so say nothing.. if it were you i dont think u would laugh at the expense of your people suffering ..
In Response

by: Mira from: Chicago
June 29, 2011 19:56
Rick from NY,

What do you know about Serbia???? You say it is a big disappointment disappointing to whom? How can you agree with Chelsea when she is as clueless about what she is talking about as you. That is not comedy!
In Response

by: lived in the balkans from: France
July 14, 2011 17:42
Let's see - Serbia has yet to apologize for the mass murder/genocide/ethnic cleansing it perpetuated during the war in Bosnia, for hiding Mladic within its borders and only turning him over when it threatened their status with the EU (read - $$$), and for having a section in its history museum that labels the bosnian war 'the war of NATO aggression against Serbia'. Most of the world neither knows or cares about Serbia - they have made their 'reputation' as hate filled, zenophobic, fanatically nationalist killers themselves, and true - they have no sense of humor. I don't say 'get a life'.... I say 'EVOLVE already!!'
In Response

by: Ivana from: Novi Sad
June 29, 2011 22:35

America's genocide. FIRST PART:

1952-79: 70000 Iranians killed 1954: 120000 Guatemalans killed 1954-1975: 4000000 Vietnamese killed 1965: 3000 Dominican Republicans killed 1965: 800000 Indonesians killed 1973: 30000 Chileans killed 1975: 250000 East Timorese killed 1970s: 1000000 Angolans killed 1984: 30000 Nicaraguans killed 1980s: 80000 El Salvadoreans killed 1989: 8000 Panamanians killed 1991: 1000000 Iraqis killed, including 500000 children...
In Response

by: Doot from: Europe
July 14, 2011 17:28
No kidding, Rick.

Serbia is uniquely unprepared for life in the modern world.

Way to go, Serbia, for making this way bigger than it had to be.

by: Mike from: UK
June 27, 2011 17:51
In this clip imagine substituting the word Serbia for China ,Russia ,Israel or most other countires in the world and these 'Television Presenters ' would have been sacked by now.
In Response

by: Danilo Deletic from: South Africa
June 28, 2011 11:25
Agreed... Thank god there is someone normal out there
In Response

by: Renee from: Europe
June 30, 2011 11:14
Exactly. Thank you.

by: Bamboozled from: USA
June 27, 2011 18:02
Where to begin? This article is rife with goofy examples of pop culture.

First, who is Chelsea Handler, exactly, and why would anyone in Serbia care about her opinion, or that of her supporting cast? I had never heard of her until I read this article. She appears on a cable TV network that is the broadcast equivalent to the National Enquirer (or other tabloid trash, if you're not acquainted with US tabloid trash). Most of Chelsea's viewers probably know even less about Serbia that she does, and couldn't find Serbia on a map if their lives were at stake. These were comments mad by a second-rate comedienne on a TV network that gets thrown in free with the home shopping networks in the cable package and caters to trailer-trash housewives and pot-head welfare bums.

Second, why is the Defense Minister of a county debasing himself to comment on a pop music concert (and that of a self-destructive, boozehound lunatic, no less)?

Third, why is the ambassador of a country debase himself and his country by making official comments on the stupid, ignorant jokes of a no-name TV talk-show host on a network that caters to the type of people who stand in line to get Paris Hilton's autograph, or are merely channel surfing between hits on the pot pipe?

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. All of these upset Serbs say more negative things about themselves by complaining about stupid jokes (?) made for an audience of ignorant people, than the lousy comedians who made the jokes in the jokes could ever say.
In Response

by: Nesha from: Zemun, Serbia
June 28, 2011 03:46
Well, i have to answer to this comment and to share some info regarding Serbs. We may be a small country by size but we are a great nation with a 1200 years of proud history. We, as a nation (do not mistake for politicians) aren`t gonna let NO ONE (and that includes third rated wannabe comedians like above-mentioned persona) to slander us, even more she is American. (understand our resentment towards your nation, it has attacked us and tried to destroy us so many times) This is also answer regarding our minister of defense. Well you see, he is a human, who loves music, has a life, go to concerts and has an opinion. He is not only a figure who is governed by secret and shadowy organizations which creates fate of the Earth, decides where the next war will gonna be, sending drones and bombers to kill innocent kids. Same goes for the ambassador who is representative of Serbia in your country. Of course he will react, with letter that is, not with ( your favorite word) retaliation - sending bombers.

And finally, sense of humor? Well, someone calling slandering and insults a sense of humor, is talking more with that about themselves, and their level of psychic development. American`s sense of humor is stuck at insults. Visit Serbia and you ll fell the joy of life, learn about sense of humor and be amazed by Serbs.
In Response

by: Jelena from: Chicago
June 28, 2011 03:55
-Chelsea was popular among Serbs, most liked watching Chalsae Lately. Not only that, but many sponsors for the E! channel are well known and operated companies in Serbia as well. However, it is the Serbs in the USA that found it very offensive and took a stand.

- The minister twitted because the concert took place in Serbia...duh! Helps to read an

- The Ambassador took it upon himself to address the issue as would any other country or nation insulted. She did not insult one person, she kept going at it, insulting a nation, a country. You condone that kind of ''joke''? Would China react? African Americans perhaps? Think of a bad Jewish joke...and not just a Jew joke, but the jokes told about Serbia and its people substituted with the another word in stead of ''Serbia'', say...maybe Isreal???? What if Serbs said a joke about 9/11 on national television???? Joke...just a joke...right!?

- Americans brush everything off as a joke! If you country came under attach,you have an army to go to the war for you....In every other country, Serbia as well, we all go to war...and that, my American friend is why, we as a nation posses so much pride to not just brush it off as a joke, but get up and demand an apology....especially from a country that under Clinton administration bombed Serbian civilians and killed many kids (not to mention adults).

While you call it a stupid joke, I think of it as an insult on my homeland, because unlike yours, we have a history thousands years old and a pride that no American will ever have. The only way you show pride is but attaching yellow ribbon on your tree in your front lawn, while your neighbor is getting killed in Iraq.

Rethink your dumb words ... makes you very stupid and uneducated.
In Response

by: LilSnowBunny from: Florida
June 28, 2011 04:32
I agree with you to some extension. But as Serbian who lives in the USA I will gladly answer you questions. This is the problem - for last 20 years and even more, people around the world have been talking a lot of bad things about Serbian and Serbians. I am not saying some of that wasn't true but most of that was media manipulation and generalization. Now, 20 years later people treat us as cannibals who live in caves. Serbians are sick of it. Honestly I am too. The worst thing is most of this people like Chelsea don't even know where Serbia is, so what gives them a right to talk like that? Other then that, I have no problem with whoever is trying to be comedian in the USA. Serbians just need to be left alone after everything they have been through and need a chance to show /who they really are themselves.
In Response

by: Rasto from: London
June 28, 2011 08:28
I can just ask you oen question. Why you are trying to justify something by asking these stupid questions?
In Response

by: Pavle from: Belgrade,Serbian capitol
June 28, 2011 11:02
Most of Chelsea's viewers probably know even less about Serbia that she does, and couldn't find Serbia on a map if their lives were at stake.

Well that is the point! Those viewers will now think somthing like OMG they are allowed to go to concerts! OMG OMG OMG and etc.. What will those brainwashed people think of Serbia? Who knows maybe some think that war is still on!

Our minister of defense is a guy who likes modern music and I'm assuming he was on concert of that wretch but how ever he has his right to post on his public profile what ever he wants. He posts good music too!

Ambassador's duty is to defend and protect his people and their interests the best he can in country where he was sent to serve. That according to our constitution. If you think that US ambassador wouldn't react to something on our TV about Americans then you are naive.
In Response

by: Bamboozled from: USA
June 28, 2011 15:09
To my dear Serbian critics: I think my point may have been lost on some of you, and I take the blame for not expressing myself clearly enough. I was merely trying to point out that Chelsea Handler is a nobody on a network that covers nothing. Its all pop culture fluff and has no value what-so-ever. Neither does Chelsea Handler's opinion. By making an big deal out of the attempted jokes of a second-rate half-wit by issuing official statements, Serbian officials are bringing far more attention to the topic than it ever would have received otherwise and giving the comments credence they don't deserve. In effect, they are lowering themselves, and by extension, Serbia to the half-wits level. Its not as if an American official, or even a well-known, serious political commentator or news person had made the comments.

To Pavle: I certainly hope the American ambassador in Belgrade wouldn't lower himself to comment on a joke made by some knucklehead pop comedian on Pink. That would be much more embarrassing as an American than any joke the knucklehead could make. And if official persons want to indulge their private hobbies in public places, they risk making themselves look less serious, less professional and less competent.

And to Nesha and the others: I've been to Serbia many times and have many Serb friends, both in the US and in former Yugoslavia. I have great affection for many things Serbian. But many Serbs take things a little too seriously, especially if their feelings can be so hurt by the ramblings of an nobody like Chelsea Handler. And if you're a regular viewer of E network and Chelsea Handler, then these comments are probably going to be over your head.

June 27, 2011 19:34
Chelsea you'll fired!!!
In Response

by: serb
June 27, 2011 23:00
Nice attempt in making Serbs look illiterate. You wouldn't be sitting by your computer if it wasn't for Nikola Tesla, the Serbian inventor that made today's electric powered computer age possible.

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by: Ned from: NY
June 29, 2011 03:55
Tesla is from Lika,Croatia, he wasn't Serbian. He was Croat Serb, but not Serbian.
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by: Nemanja from: Serbia
June 29, 2011 14:19
Nikola Tesla was ethnic Serbian born in Croatian town(village) of Smiljan, at that time Austrian Empire, now modern Croatia. He even said once "I am proud of my Serbian roots and my Croatian homeland" , that clearly makes him Serbian. Please bugger off with those obscure intentions to reinvent history as it fitts to you and accept real fact. Cheers ;)

by: Rick from: NYC
June 27, 2011 21:01
Serbs males are a diabolical race of humans. This joke was very witty and tasteful!
In Response

by: Dragan from: London
June 28, 2011 13:13
You are an absolute and utter idiot as the majority of you in the west. You are proud of your stupidy to the extent that you do not realize how thick you all are in the west. americas traditionaly thinks they own the world and yet could not put simple word togetger and have got no clue about basic things. You have no sense of humour if you think this is a joke. You americans are the biggest murderers on planet and yet trying to give "lessons" to smallar nations. Frankly you americans everyone hates. Give me a break you moron....
In Response

by: Yaroslava from: Ukraine
June 29, 2011 00:17
Dear Serbs, I truly support your stand and outrage, but pleeeaase... do not do the same thing! don't make it about a country and insult people... and to those who think that it was taken too seriously: well, that's how some people are, emotional and sensitive. Too much for you, but you might seem a heartless stone to them. And we have to keep these differences in mind.
Really, not a funny joke. Just because as you say she is noone and why would anyone pay attention does not make her disappear. She is still there, on TV, and it still kind of hurts. Insulting millions in order to make few thousands laugh? This is not even second-rated, this is just pathetic... I am very sorry for all those people in the back who laughed at this joke to have their manners, upbringing and education at that kind of level to think it's funny. I am not from Serbia, have never been there, but a comment like this about any other country would insult me as well. I just don't see why and how Serbia should ignore this.
In Response

by: Dee from: Novi Sad
June 29, 2011 13:38
Just males? :) Guess one of them swiped your woman, which doesn't quite come as a surprise hehe
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by: Nikola from: Belgrade
June 30, 2011 11:11
Rick, try to find Serbia on the world map first, and then talk something about Serbs... In fact, have you ever met any Serb? And do you know a difference between Serbia and Siberia, since most of the Americans I met asked me is it cold in my country?

by: Igor from: SRB
June 27, 2011 22:29
I watched her on the MTV movie awards and i dunno found her kinda unfunny and awkward... That beside the point, i personally don't give a **** what a comedian says to get laffs, all is fair in love and jokes as Gaddafi once said ^^

by: Alex from: Melbourne
June 27, 2011 22:39
I guess some ignorant people like Chelsea think they can poke and ridicule a nation because they're small better think again. She's a moron along with the people that defend her.

by: Melvin from: USA
June 27, 2011 22:50
Chelsea handlers rant was not funny and no real attempt at comedy was made-it was just an ignorant, hatefull diatribe against a particular group of people. The next time some nation or group is roasted over the coals and the roaster fired for comments about one of the protected racial or ethnic groups in america we should quote this article and the many others that are proclaiming lighten up, stop complaining, its just comedy. This has set a new precedent whether you like it or not.

A few nights ago a black comic made some light jokes about Obama-he was ushered off stage and attacked for being racist by many main stream journalists. We know what happened to Mel Gibson and Gilbert Godfried recently. The double standards are immense-BUT REMEMBER WHATS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER-llets enjoy the Chelsea Handler precedent.

by: serb from: usa
June 27, 2011 22:57
I've never heard of Chelsea Handler, but I think that she should pay for what she said.

Is it acceptable for people to call Jews and blacks, or homosexuals degenerates? Why, then, would anyone find it acceptable for people to mock a nation of 10 million people as being sub-human?

If political correctness applies for other ethnic groups, then it should apply for Serbs too, because they are after-all human, just like the rest of you.

by: Daniel Kuang
June 28, 2011 00:00
Chelsea should be more disappointed in her own country for trying to police the world and igniting ethnic tensions in other nations like the former Yugoslavia.
Comments page of 5

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