The “#CancelColbert” mini-movement may finally be it.
After years of steamrolling toward this apparently inevitable conclusion, we may at last have reached the point wherein the universe of the offended folds in on itself. We’ve found our way to “snake eating its own tail” territory now.
It was just a matter of time, really.
In case you missed it, here are the basics. Taking issue with Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s effort to create a foundation addressing Native American issues, Colbert (tongue-in-cheek) “praised” Snyder. Colbert went on to say that he was setting up a foundation of his own to honor Asian-Americans after some were offended by an Asian character of his (dating to 2005).
The name of the foundation? “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
The idea behind the joke is obvious, spawning from the position of anti-Redskins critics that Dan Snyder has only nefarious, insensitive motives behind his latest move. But let’s table that topic for now.
What happened in the wake of the Colbert bit (or, more properly, a tweet from the show that included the name of the “foundation”) was the rise of the #CancelColbert hashtag, which has been a top trending topic on Twitter for over 12 hours as of this writing.
The responses have fallen into a few categories, both from the Left and the Right. Those on the Left have descended into a Twitter civil war, or at least a skirmish. One side is quoting chapter and verse from their sociological playbook, saying that “racism” to make a point about racism is still evil, especially when it comes from someone endowed with “white privilege.”
Other liberals, themselves huge Colbert fans, take issue with the first group. Their argument is that Colbert is “one of us,” and is actually using the joke to make a point about why something truly offensive should be eradicated from our society. Attacking Colbert is seen as a form of friendly fire.
A variation on this theme is that the Colbert Report shouldn’t go anywhere, but Fox News (obviously also super-offensive) should disappear. This sentiment is usually phrased in the form of “What Colbert said was a joke, but Fox News is genuinely racist every day! Why are they still around?!?,” or words to that effect. Still another sub-group consists of those saying, “Oh, this is a big deal now because Colbert offended Asians, but, when he offends [e.g.] black people, you’re silent?,” usually accompanied by the apparent shaking of heads.
Meanwhile, hypocrites (or disingenuous opportunists) on the Right have seen an opening to bash their longtime tormentor Colbert. Forming an unwitting alliance with one camp on the Left, these folks have made the argument that Colbert should be condemned and possibly be fired because he was so offensive. This is “another example” of how the Left are the “real racists.” And so on. See also: Pouncing on Alec Baldwin.
As a general rule, don’t believe these people, especially if they’re months removed from writing columns defending Phil Robertson.
The specific pickle in which we find ourselves is that many people at either end of the political spectrum have now broadly accepted the premise that offensiveness alone is grounds for firing someone. This is true even if the person is an entertainer, and, over and above that, even if the person is specifically using offensive speech to make a point.
This is a premise born of narcissism.