#CancelColbert #DontCancelColbert #IStandWithSuey #ISitWithAnEffort #CancelSatire

On the Colbert Report the other night, Stephen Colbert parodied the attempt of the owner of the Redskins NFL team to dismiss racist criticism by setting up the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

He did so by reviving his intentionally racist caricature to launch the "Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever" in his character's belief that this would also dismiss criticism of racism.


It may not have gone over with everyone in that fashion. When the Comedy Central owned Colbert Report twitter account backed this piece up by tweeting,


activist Suey Park, who has had a history of successful social media campaigns, tweeted,

And the world exploded. She was backed by many but condemned by more, including death threats. Those who supported her got the same. Stephen Colbert pointed out that he didn't tweet the statement.

A Huffington Post video report only piled on, half an hour in, with Josh Stepps calling Suey Park stupid, and Park criticizing Stepps' right to talk on the subject. Lots of folks took sides and Liberal America tore itself apart, with each side claiming racism and rude behavior against the other,

with Suey finding herself in the possibly rare position of being supported by Michelle Malkin.

But as she says,

At its heart, is the question, is it acceptable to make racist jokes in the ironic context of making jokes about racism? Are you laughing at the absurdity of the Redskins name, or having a chuckle at an offensive stereotype being played out like a drunk uncle at a wedding?

Especially when some of your viewers like having a chuckle. From Alf Garnett in Death Us Do Part to Al Murray's Pub Landlord, it's a knotty problem when people use comedy to highlight issues. Hell, even I fell foul of it a few weeks ago, when I presented a preview of Marvel's new All-New Ultimates series, a superhero team that had no white men in it, unlike almost every other superhero team on the face of the planet, with the title "All New Ultimates #1 Continues Unfortunate Trend" to point out the rarity of a non-white superhero team in an effort to support the change.

I thought irony would cover it, writing,

This is the problem with modern day comic books. There just aren't enough white male characters. And the All-New Ultimates #1 makes that very clear, from Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna.

Featuring Spider-Man, Black Widow, Kitty Pryde, Bombshell, Cloak and Dagger, it's just another example of instutionalised racism against white male characters in modern comics.

People say they'll never sell, but how will you know if you don't try?

Some people liked it.

Some people… didn't.

I apologized to those I had offended, but it did get me thinking. I'm white, straight, cis, male, and I've checked my privilege so often that I qualify for air miles. I enjoy the Colbert Report, I enjoyed that piece, but was I enjoying it for the wrong reasons? Was there some part of me enjoying the "me love you long time" schtick in very unremoved terms? Would it matter if I had?

I've always felt that good comedy should be free to offend, and I've been offended myself by some things that I've been able to realize had different intentions. And if no one says anything for fear of offending someone, no matter what the intent, then that's the end.

I used to be quite didactic on this point. But right now I'm becoming less sure.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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