Meryl Streep calls out Trump's bullying; Trump proves her point by insulting her in response


At the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep called out President-elect Donald Trump for having mocked a disabled reporter, noting: "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose." Naturally, Trump could not resist taking to Twitter to respond — and immediately proved Streep's point, by insulting her as "over-rated" and "a Hillary flunky who lost big."

Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes, and, during her acceptance speech, she criticized President-elect Donald Trump for having mocked disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital joint condition, on the campaign trail.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Naturally, Trump could not resist responding on Twitter, denying he had mocked Kovaleski, despite the fact that his physical ridicule of Kovaleski's disability is apparent, and insulting Streep, thus proving the necessity of her criticism.

Trump calls Streep, who was being honored for her lifetime of amazing work, "over-rated" — as if her status has anything to do with the veracity and significance of her criticism.

He further cites her support of Hillary Clinton as though that renders her criticism irrelevant, and suggests that, because she does not know him personally, she has no right to criticize him.

Those are chilling implications. A president (or even president-elect) intimating that citizens who supported his opponent have abdicated their right to dissent, or that the observations of citizens who do not know him personally — as most citizens do not — will be reflexively deemed illegitimate, is alarmingly hostile to free speech.

As is the president-elect using his unequaled platform to try to silence critics by demeaning them. That is precisely the abuse of his power Streep was addressing. She, too, is "someone he outrank[s] in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back."

Trump does not have to agree with Streep's criticisms, but he cannot use his enormous influence to try to silence her from making them.

There are people across this country with significantly less prominence than Streep who have similar, valid criticisms of Trump, and intimidating them with such public displays of mockery, insult, and hostility toward their free speech rights is a gross abuse of power.

And an entirely predictable one. Which is why a man with such a brittle ego and penchant for revenge never should have been elected in the first place.