Yesterday, I weighed in on the controversy surrounding comedian Stephen Colbert, who is under fire over a tweet many have suggested was insensitive to Asians. I particularly singled out fellow conservative blogger Michelle Malkin–who, let me say again, is not only brilliant, but a personal inspiration–for her support of a wrongheaded Twitter protest against Colbert which is using the hashtag #CancelColbert. In my post, I explained why it is a bad idea to push for those whose speech we find disagreeable to lose their jobs. Judging from the comments, some of you missed the point. And like Malkin, you are, well, wrong.
The comments of one reader, who posted under the name Lockstein13, are a pretty good encapsulation of the arguments against me. He wrote:
Waah! Waaaaaaah!! WAAAAAAAAAAAHMBULANCE for Mr. Zeiser, STAT! Look, if you are uncomfortable using the Left’s tactics on the Left, don’t criticize those of us who *do* have the courage to smack the bully right back in the face.
Oh yeah…and, about that “we’re better than that…our ideas are better” cr*pola schtick… We’ve seen the “success” of your President Dole, President McCain and President Romney to have learned from that route.
At least, I assume Lockstein13 is a he. Your humble blogger posts under his own name, whereas Mr. Lockstein’s stirring exhortation of courage was written under a pseudonym. If Lockstein had bothered to read any of my work–including the very piece he was commenting on–he would have noted that I have no hesitation to punch back at the left. But there is a difference between subjecting bad ideas to the harsh ridicule they deserve and being self-defeating.
If those on the left are trying to create an America in which people can be fired for saying the “wrong” thing and WE are also fighting for an America in which people can be fired for saying the “wrong” thing, how are we any different? Many conservatives routinely mock activists on the left for their efforts to get people like Phil Robertson and Rush Limbaugh canned, and rightly so. We should point out why bad ideas are foolish, not attempt to scrub them away. As conservatives, we must never lose sight of what it is we are trying to conserve.
What you may have missed is that the Colbert controversy is creating a rift on the left. And given that I *do* have the courage to smack bullies right back in the face, I am enjoying every second of it. A thought-toilet of a blog called “The Wire,” which is part of The Atlantic Media Group, had this to say:
Whether the joke was offensive or not is really up to personal taste, but the line isn’t particularly surprising. Colbert’s entire schtick is playing a more overt caricature of conservative talking heads, making their implicit racism explicit in what is now an extended, decade-long bit.
Get it? Conservatives are at least implicitly racist, so it’s ok for Colbert to poke fun at their racism. The venerable Washington Post had dueling takes. On their culture and politics blog, Alyssa Rosenberg pointed out that while “the language Colbert intends as a showcase of the ludicrousness of racism is in fact so rough and so hurtful that it overwhelms the joke,” he really did just mean to make fun of Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, and his supposed racism. She also highlighted that Colbert’s offense was part of the act, an illustration of “his character’s utter ignorance of race and racism.” We must be mindful that his “character” is a send-up of what the left thinks conservative pundits are like. Obviously, conservatives are utterly ignorant when it comes to race and racism. Get it? It’s funny because conservatives are backwards.
Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple wrote a piece about a HuffPost Live interview with Suey Park, the activist responsible for the protest. Wemple jeered at the HuffPost host for his condescending attitude towards Park, who, Wemple tells us “launched #CancelColbert, not to mention a massive discussion about how we mix race and humor, and whether we should at all.” A discussion about whether certain thoughts and words should be off limits? How very Soviet.
But there has been a backlash on Twitter from Colbert’s mostly left leaning fans, and Park wants you to know that she is not amused. From a Time blog post co-written by Park:
After observing the progress of the hash tag we started yesterday, #CancelColbert — which we set up in response to a blatantly racist Tweet about Asians from the Colbert show’s account — we’ve seen some new variations: “Get Over It,” “Deport Suey,” “You’re Anti American,” and even a petition to have Suey Park’s First Amendment rights revoked. This last one is particularly ironic, as Suey and other tweeters to #CancelColbert had simply dared to challenge the First Amendment rights of a white male comedian. It seems “freedom of speech” has the assumed caveat “freedom of speech — for white men.”
If you push aside the usual hack activist gripe about race and gender, the language here is revealing. Park “dared to challenge the First Amendment rights” of Colbert. She didn’t claim that she was pushing back against his speech rights by using her own, but that she was challenging the very premise of his rights. It should not be hard to see why it is troublesome that Michelle Malkin would align with someone like this, even rhetorically. The funny thing about using your speech rights to chill those of others is that sometimes it backfires, and people call for your cancellation. That, Park is learning the hard way. Serves her right.
If you only read one Salon article today, it should be Brittney Cooper’s piece on why, as a Colbert fan, she thinks he needs to make things right. No, scratch that. If you only read one Salon piece today, you should read “My boobs, my burden,” Chloe Pantazi’s exploration of the pitfalls of being a well endowed woman. But if you have time for a second piece, read the Cooper thing.
Or, you could save the time that you would have spent reading any of the items I’ve linked to and just check out these few sentences from Andrew O’Hehir’s piece on how the Colbert flap is an illustration of the growing instability of “progressives” in the social media era:
I do share the feeling that “progressive” discourse on the Internet sometimes feels too much like San Francisco in 1991, a shifting ideological mine field of hyphenate identities, ever-evolving nomenclature, “subject positions” and “intersectionality.”
So sit back and enjoy the show while the left eats itself over just whose speech should be restricted, and while they invent new jargon that alienates normal people. Take it from me, a white cis-het male; when media hosts say stupid things, they lose viewers and revenue. Just look at what is happening at MSNBC. If you think what Colbert said was stupid, or better yet, if you are frustrated that a conservative would have been hanged for the same offense, shout it from the rooftops. But don’t encourage a campaign for him to be fired. That’s a bully tactic of regressive leftists that we should never support, regardless of the target.