At the end of last week, Twitter's social justice warriors found a surprising target for their always fierce, often necessary and occasionally misguided anger when it landed on Stephen Colbert, the left's most beloved satirist, after a Comedy Central-run account for his show The Colbert Report tweeted the following:
The joke was pulled from a segment on his show which mocked Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's mind-bogglingly named Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, a charity which seeks to both help Native American communities and further subjugate them by calling them a racial slur.
Of course, once removed from the segment, Colbert's joke doesn't make a lot of sense. Like Erin pointed out on Friday, context is pretty damn important in relation to satire and by taking the joke out of the show and isolating it on Twitter (without any link to the original segment), Comedy Central created a confusing situation where it wasn't entirely clear who Stephen was making fun of.
Enter #CancelColbert. Spearheaded by writer/activist Suey Park, the hashtag gathered steam, some supporters (most notably, right-wing mouthpiece Michelle Malkin) and a lot of media attention. However, once it came to light that Stephen didn't run The Colbert Report twitter account and that the tweet was taken out of context, the campaign for his cancellation struggled to be taken seriously.
Unfortunately, the fallout surrounding the debacle has been far worse than the joke was to begin with. Suey Park was interviewed on Huff Post Live and was treated appallingly by host Josh Zepp. (Bro, even if you disagree over what's good satire and what's not, it's still probably a good idea to at least try to listen to a person whose race is being used in a joke to see how they feel about it. You can be respectful and still disagree with Suey Park. Look, I'm doing it right now, so clearly it is possible!) Racists have taken to Twitter like, well, racists to Twitter to voice a variety of Asian and sexist slurs in support of Colbert (I think Stephen would rather pass on your racist assist, thanks) or, more likely, because they'll take any excuse to be openly bigoted.
The whole thing has resulted in a big mess with Stephen Colbert at the center and yesterday, he addressed the matter on his show.
After disbanding the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation, firing its sole employee James, and delivering an excellent dig at the hypocrisy of Michelle Malkin, Colbert concluded:
"That ends that controversy. I just pray that no one ever tweets about the time I said Rosa Parks was overrated, that Hitler had some good ideas or ran a cartoon during Black History Month showing President Obama teaming up with the Ku Klux Klan because, man, that sounds pretty bad out of context."