Stephen Colbert is under attack by a young woman named Suey Parks and a small army of twitter followers References are below for those of you who need to catch up, but in the mean time, here are five reasons why this #CancelColbert thing is bad for Humanity.
1. It distracts the conversation from discussing *actual* racist remarks, names and institutions (ahem, redskins, ahem).
2. It distracts the conversation from *actual* prejudiced comedy, of which there is paaaaa-lenty. Including lots of cases where "ironic racism" is used as a defense to excuse actual racism (this just ain't one of those times).
3. By crying wolf about satire that aims at exposing prejudice, in comedy or in society, it makes it easier to disregard cries of prejudice that are totally on point.
4. Colbert has enough renown that he will weather this easily. But if he weren't so famous and something like this happened, he would be tried in the media and likely found guilty. This kind of thing sends the message to thoughtful comedians that if they dare touch on sensitive subjects they will be crucified by people who claim to be liberal, but are actually profoundly conservative.
5. An argument could be made against Colbert's use of his character. I've heard the argument made before. By intelligent, rational friends. And we talked about it. But when people use alarmist attacks like this one to cut through the noise and get attention, they're sacrificing a meaningful teaching opportunity for the chance to be written about in the news. And that's just gross.
Maybe Suey Park is young enough or unsophisticated enough that she just doesn't get comedy, or maybe she does and is just shrewdly using this as an excuse to get her name out there by attacking a high profile celebrity. I don't know her, and I don't really care. It upsets me, as someone who cares about injustice, ignorance, and prejudice. It upsets me that there are a bunch of people who are going to use this woman's terribly chosen campaign as a cudgel to silence others (or even her in a better moment) when they bring real complaints to the public sphere.
So #freecolbert or whatever. But let's please talk to each other like adults, preferably in more than 140 character chunks.
If you haven't seen what this whole thing is based on, the relevant joke in context is from 8:26 to end of segment here:http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/full-episodes/3w6ufc/march-26--2014---errol-morris
The following hoopla is summarized here:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/03/28/anti-colbert-activist-huffpost-live-host-grapple-over-racism-satire/