Liberal-on-liberal outrage was in ample supply on Twitter Thursday night as Stephen Colbert drew the ire of politically correct progressives. It was a seemingly endless onslaught of the kind of self-righteous indignation you only get when a liberal steps out of line. That’s because the thing about liberals – and I should know – is that they love to show how accepting they are, and few things scream “I’m accepting!” like lambasting a fellow liberal for being insufficiently tolerant.
Here’s what happened.
On Wednesday night, Colbert skewered Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for his gauche handling of the controversy surrounding his team’s name. To achieve this, Colbert did exactly what he’s been doing for the last nine years: He caricatured a white conservative by making an argument so tone-deaf it was laughable. The satirist – and I emphasize satirist – poked fun at Snyder’s lame attempt at Native American outreach by announcing a similar (but of course fake) initiative in response to past criticisms of Colbert’s use of an Asian persona: “the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
The point, which was well taken by the audience, was to show the glibness of Snyder’s efforts and to reveal them for the window dressing that they are. The audience laughed, the segment concluded, another Colbert Report was in the books, and everyone was happy.
That was until the following night when the show’s Twitter account posted part of the joke from the previous night. The tweet has since been deleted:
In this context it’s no longer part of a critique of Snyder, just a standalone joke. But given the character Colbert plays – a racially insensitive Archie Bunker-style conservative – it still works as satire.
But why let that get in the way of an idiotic Twitter shitstorm?
Soon after the tweet, a woman with 18,000 followers started #CancelColbert, which is all it took to kickstart an orgy of self-righteous condemnation by liberals decrying Colbert’s “racism.” Having been given their orders by a fellow liberal outraged by a joke she deemed unacceptable, whole precincts of self-deputized PC police took to Twitter to call for the show to be canceled – canceled – over it.
Just think of the stupidest fucking commentary on this you can imagine and you’ll find it. Numerous tweets called Colbert “racist.” Others said he was showing his “true colors.” One tweet even said he was part of the white colonial patriarchy. Never mind that Colbert himself didn’t tweet it, because only a racist would have an underling who’d write such a thing.
So much liberal outrage today is made possible by a complete disregard for context and authorship of material they deem offensive. To many progressives, it doesn’t matter that Colbert is one of the most liberal personalities on television, or that he’s beloved by liberals of all races, or – and most importantly – that he’s a comedian. None of that does because apparently everyone is Roland Barthes and thinks that there’s no such thing as a point of origin of a text, meaning in this case, Colbert is really no different from Rush Limbaugh.
All that matters is that people have an opportunity to engage in a cathartic shaming of someone who did something they found offensive. #CancelColbert could’ve easily been #BoycottColbert, as in, those offended pledge not to watch the show while leaving the rest of free to do so. But if they did that instead, they would relinquish their presumed right to tell everyone else what they can watch. And there’s no fun in that.
Of course, lost in all of this is Colbert’s original point that the Washington Redskins can’t simply paper over their name with some half-assed perfunctory outreach scheme.
Increasingly, many liberals are becoming the kind of humorless, politically correct touchy douchebags that the right-wing loves to portray them as, which is a shame for the rest of us. Call it the Salonification of liberalism, where progressives define themselves not what they advocate or do to advance their ideology, but by what they’re outraged by. They can engage in it if they like, but it’s more a spasm than a cause.