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Apr 07 2014

The smartest thing written about #CancelColbert

When the Colbert Report twitter account posted that ‘joke’, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”, I understood exactly what he was talking about: that kind of remark was exactly what you’d hear said by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, in complete seriousness, and since Colbert is in the business of lampooning that kind of crap, I saw it as satire against casual racism.

But at the same time, it really bugged me. It was a lazy ass joke — it relied on a racist stereotype for laughs. And don’t talk to me about context; if you’ve got a joke that thoroughly depends on context, don’t put it on twitter, the worst possible medium for a lengthy build up. It also greatly put me off that Colbert doubled down afterwards. He’s a comedian. Are you going to tell me that comedians don’t understand that sometimes jokes fall flat? Is it a common response for comedians who tell a dud joke to then blame the audience for not appreciating it enough?

Maybe we should ask a comedian. Keith Lowell Jensen has some thoughts on Suey Park and the Colbert Report.

While many people of color defended Colbert, there were enough condemning the joke, even after the context was clear, that I had the choice to either consider the complaint further or assume that THAT large a number of people of color either didn’t understand satire and/or were hysterical and knee jerk and completely irrational. This seemed a poor assumption to make.

And while I considered Colbert’s joke, I don’t mean that I considered whether or not he should be cancelled (never Park’s real goal) or whether he was intentionally being racist (I have no doubt his intent was the opposite) but rather it was a good joke or not, whether this particular joke might have been a miss.

This discussion went on in my brain. I may have talked with a few friends about it, but I did so privately. What I didn’t do, was to immediately publicly condemn Suey Park and everyone else supporting #CancelColbert.

It seems to me that if an Asian woman finds a joke about racism against Asians (and about racism against Native Americans once context is added) offensive, the white guy should probably listen to her carefully and give her argument a lot of thought. The white guy should maybe not be SO quick to assume he knows more about racism than she does and should not be so quick to assume that she doesn’t comprehend or that she is hysterical and irrational. When many other people of color feel the same, this is magnified. I feel like a white guy navigating discussion of racism might want to be slower to respond, more eager to listen, less cocky.

That says it perfectly.

245 comments

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  1. 1
    Callinectes

    Point of order: he wasn’t the one who put it on Twitter. That account was run by Comedy Central with no oversight from Colbert or the people on the show.

  2. 2
    remyporter

    The humor of a comedic bit is not an inherent property of the joke. It’s something that arises out of the interaction between the joke teller, the audience, and the actual words said. It’s an emergent property of the experience.

    Every joke is built out of the context in which it’s told. There’s great power here- because it really does mean that there are no taboo topics, and you can tell jokes about anything- if you build the correct context for telling that joke.

    As we learned from Spider Man, with great power comes great responsibility. You have to build that context, and earn the right to tell the jokes you want to tell. When you fail in that goal, you have to admit you screwed up, and when people tell you that they’re offended, you have to say, “I’m sorry, I screwed up.”*

    As a special aside, here- I strongly believe that any topic is potentially in bounds for jokes- that includes racial humor and even the exceedingly taboo rape jokes- but you must build the context. These jokes are taboo and avoided for a reason- building that context is extremely hard, and unless you really really know your audience and have a strong context that earns you the privilege of telling those jokes, it’s going to blow up in your face, it’s going to hurt people, and it’s not going to be funny.

    * Now, in the case of Colbert, I don’t think he should break character to apologize, but find a way to make that apology real and in character. The man’s generally a comic genius, I’m sure he can handle that.

  3. 3
    Anders

    The problem is, Colbert, the comedian, didnt actually post the joke on twitter out of context. The twitter post was made by someone on the staff, probably more or less on auto-pilot if not automatically althogether, like the headline of your blogposts and spewed out on your twitter every time you update the blog.. Colbert explained it on a later show.

  4. 4
    remyporter

    It’s still his name, though. That’s the risk you accept when you let your identity be used by other people. Even though it wasn’t you personally, you’ve still put yourself in a position where you have to take responsibility.

  5. 5
    Anders

    Colberts response is here http://videosift.com/video/Colbert-responds-to-CancelColbert

  6. 6
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    It doesn’t matter that Colbert didn’t send the tweet personally. He defended it.

    And I mean, think about it. The point of the joke was to poke fun at an actual person who actually named a charity “The [Bigoted Slur] [Marginalized Group] Foundation.” When your satire is indistinguishable from things the target of your mockery actually does, you have failed at satire.

  7. 7
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Grrr! I have an opinion about this, too!!!

  8. 8
    carlie

    I read this on another site, but can’t remember which, so I don’t take credit for the concept: the thing about jokes like this is that they have no value. The targets usually don’t even realize they’re being targeted. The supporters don’t get anything but a sense of superiority that they can laugh at the other group. It doesn’t even work well as a joke, because “I’m going to pretend to be a bigot to make fun of the bigots” is such an old joke by now. So what is the lofty higher societal purpose for the joke that justifies the fact that, regardless of intent, it puts an actual piece of bigotry in the actual world? The end has to be a good one to justify the means, and in the case of jokes like this, there simply is no payoff. So how is it worth it at all?

  9. 9
    PZ Myers

    Yes. It’s the Poe problem. I hate Poes — what’s the point of satire if it’s totally indistinguishable from that which it satirizes?

  10. 10
    Drolfe

    Did he defend that joke? When he immediately voiced his “shared rage” from his personal account at the time? When the next time he was on air he blew up the account that tweeted it without his knowledge or context?

    Pretty weak ‘doubling down’ if at all. But I get his point, here we are again talking about Park and Colbert and Not Snyder and his slur-named foundation.

    I talked with some of you about this on twitter at the time, and we can dig stuff out of our timelines if necessary.

  11. 11
    Drolfe

    Carlie is saying what I was saying at the time and saying it before I got my post written.

    Being ironically racist follows the same trajectory. Bigots don’t know they are the butt of the joke, they don’t get it. All they hear is “it’s ok if you’re joking” while at the same time you’re spreading around splash damage.

  12. 12
    eidolon

    Let’s see – a twitter takes something out of context, thus making it offensive. Individuals appear to be unable to examine the remark in it’s original context. Satire has no requirement that it be easily distinguished from the target or even funny. Look at the use of :

    /sarcasm/

    on this blog just to make sure people do not get confused. Colbert’s remark was meant to appear bigoted – that’s what was the target of the satire. The character and the performer are not the same person. Anyone remember Archie?

  13. 13
    violetknight

    The last paragraph builds in a lot of assumptions about how much thought he gave it, seemingly implying that anybody (or, at least, anybody white) with his opinion just hasn’t thought about it enough. Having read through her Twitter stream and probably more commentary about the matter than is healthy, though, she does seem to be hysterical and irrational. That’s not to say her overall point is incorrect, but its defense should move away from her in particular.

    @carlie, he’ll have to pack up shop. That’s essentially his entire character.

    @Seven, I suppose he failed at satire if the joke has to be explained, but the point is that many people may not realize the equivalence, because having ‘Redskins’ as the name of a football team has inured them to it.

  14. 14
    Drolfe

    Archie is a good example of my point. Bigots loved Archie! They thought it was awesome one of them was getting laughs on TV. THEY DIDN’T GET THE JOKE. They didn’t know they were the joke.

    There are conservatives that love Colbert.

    Even now it’s still happening. Chapelle quit because of this. This will eventually burn Key and Peele, too. When all of the adulation they receive is dudebros laughing at something they took the racist way and quoting it back at them for years, we’ll all have to judge ‘was it worth it’?

    Maybe? I’m agnostic there on the goals and effects of comedy.

  15. 15
    Derek Vandivere

    What I find a bit odd is that, in interviews (like here: http://www.salon.com/2014/04/03/cancelcolbert_activist_suey_park_this_is_not_reform_this_is_revolution/) she insists that the context of Colbert’s joke is irrelevant, but seems to be a bit indignant that people don’t get the context of her action. It’s irrelevant that she didn’t see the original joke, but geez, people should get that she was engaging in sarcasm and hyperbole.

    So yeah, it was dumb of the show to post that tweet without, say, preceding it with “In response to Dan Snyder’s new charity…,” and people who send Suey Park racist and misogynist messages suck. And of course it’s Colbert’s name on the show, so he’s got the end responsibility. And if you’re interested in racism, Park’s worth reading (I’ve seen a bunch of her stuff on racialicious). But, there was something grandstandy and a bit trollish about #CancelColbert.

  16. 16
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    Having read through her Twitter stream and probably more commentary about the matter than is healthy, though, she does seem to be hysterical and irrational. That’s not to say her overall point is incorrect, but its defense should move away from her in particular.

    She’s right but she’s hysterical and irrational because I say so, so someone else should defend the point?

  17. 17
    violetknight

    @seven Didn’t say she was right. Only that she may be. And yeah, someone else should. YMMV on hysterical and irrational, but I find the evidence convincing. Not because I say so, but because of her words, e.g. in her Salon interview.

  18. 18
    doublereed

    Personally, I find it ridiculous that there was a huge twitter storm over a fake organization, but the real organization for Native Americans that had ‘Redskins’ in the name didn’t create nearly as many waves. The internet has its priorities totally screwed up.

  19. 19
    carlie

    eidolon – please read my comment at 8 and Drolfe’s at 14. WE KNOW IT WAS A JOKE. The point is that it is neither a good nor effective one.

    violetknight – I know. The irony of it is that this kind of satire is overused now precisely because he did it so well and made it so popular. And I enjoy it, I do. But maybe he should be more careful in the targets of his jokes and the content to not have splash damage like this happen.

  20. 20
    Alteredstory

    …I had the choice to either consider the complaint further or assume that THAT large a number of people of color either didn’t understand satire and/or were hysterical and knee jerk and completely irrational.

    Those are not the only two options. If Colbert’s time on TV has shown us anything, it’s that a large number of people of ALL racial backgrounds don’t understand satire or have irrational/knee jerk reactions to it.

    That’s not to say the complaint shouldn’t be considered, but this isn’t necessarily about people of color not getting things, it could just be about PEOPLE not getting things. A vast number of people, in my experience, quickly lose a degree of rationality when they think they’re being attacked or mocked. I don’t see why that trait would suddenly go away in this case.

  21. 21
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    , she does seem to be hysterical and irrational.

    Hey, there’s two squares on my bingo-card already.

    1. I hate the “it’s a joke” defense. It’s a get out of jail free card for hurting people and then expecting them to laugh it off

    2. People are not entitled to other people finding them funny. If somebody doesn’t laugh at your jokes it may be the jokes, it may be you, it may be them*. In two out of three cases there’s nothing “wrong” with them

    3. People who send threats and slurs to a woman who happens to criticise a comedian you like have:
    -no sense of humour
    -no sense of decency
    -no sense at all.

    *Point in case: my dad is horrible at telling jokes. He kills them all, slowly and painfully. The best joke he ever told was one everybody already knew and he butchered it so horribly that it was actually funny.

  22. 22
    violetknight

    @Giliell Of course. I think you’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit.

  23. 23
    Derek Vandivere

    @Giliell – I was surprised nobody mentioned the use of the word ‘hysterical’ yet. I’d have said something, but given the etymology I was hesitant…

  24. 24
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @ Derek #15

    It’s irrelevant that she didn’t see the original joke, but geez, people should get that she was engaging in sarcasm and hyperbole.

    The point she’s making, as I understand it, is that people are saying she doesn’t get satire, she doesn’t understand the context, while refusing to see the context in which people of color are constantly expected to play the whole respectability politics game and appease white people and gently educate them and to titter at racist jokes like this so people like Stephen Colbert can feel good about being less racist than conservatives. They’re criticizing her perceived inability to understand the context of the joke from a position of having no fucking idea about her context.

    I’m pretty confident Suey Park understands the context just fine. The context doesn’t make the joke OK, for exactly the reasons we’ve explained. The bigots don’t get that they’re the butt of the joke. Embracing the status quo, even jokingly, is not edgy or subversive.

  25. 25
    PZ Myers

    Wow. People already rushing to defend Colbert.

    Just curious: can you even admit that it was a poor joke that flopped miserably? Or is Colbert the perfect comedian, whose every word is a jewel of laughter-inducing perfection?

  26. 26
    Siobhan

    I didn’t see his subsequent apology (which happened on air as soon as it was feasible for him to do) as a double down, but I’m not good at spotting those sorts of things. I thought that blowing up the twitter account and the things he said while still in character were a serious attempt at showing he realized there was a problem and he was doing what he was able to do still in character (because he never breaks character on the show, never, ever, no matter who the guest is or what the subject is) to not just apologize but show that he understood the problem (to an extent, though probably not as much as we’d like him to), and that he did, actually, listen.

    Maybe I’m misremembering the bits that were doubling down because of the other bits that impressed me as adept for the character he has to play for the show.

  27. 27
    Drolfe

    @Seven, I suppose he failed at satire if the joke has to be explained, but the point is that many people may not realize the equivalence, because having ‘Redskins’ as the name of a football team has inured them to it

    Exactly, how did Snyder’s slur-named foundation see the light of day, and broadly get ignored in all of this if the public wasn’t completely desensitized to racism against native peoples.

    Even PZ’s op doesn’t name and shame the object of the segment, it goes straight to Colbert and Park. Perhaps because hohum racists being racist isn’t news, but people we like fighting is!

    Park is not hysterical. That’s pretty much a bullshit gendered description. If we have to discuss Park rather than slur-named foundations I think it’s weird that she adopted ‘chop suey’ as a moniker after an incident of racism against her of the same sort as the name of Colbert’s racist Asian caricature. Did she ever explain that? Was that the trigger, him using her schtick as a white person without the right?

    (Oh and refreshing people got to hysterical before me too.)

  28. 28
    The Mellow Monkey

    One thing that troubles me about this that hasn’t gotten much attention is the way that his single, shitty joke completely overshadowed the daily slurs against Indians that he ineffectively tried to call out.

    This is how to fail as an ally.

    I’ll admit to some hurt that this bad satire has inspired so much anger and passion in defense of people of Asian descent–well justified anger and passion!–and the issue that sparked the joke in the first place is still largely ignored. I keep running into the narrative that says that “real” Indians (read: people living on the rez, people in desperate poverty who are too focused on survival to be able to think about social justice beyond those immediate concerns, etc) don’t care about racist slurs and caricatures.

    Anything a famous, wealthy white man does is going to automatically be given more importance. If you’re an ally trying to point out racism, the best way is to ensure you’re giving the people actually affected a voice. Had Colbert involved an Indian in the discussion–even if it was all in the context of comedy–it would have been a very different discussion. Instead, the focus has remained squarely on him.

    If you care about any social justice issues that don’t personally affect you, then you’re an ally to someone. And that means sometimes it’s your place to shut up and use whatever privilege you have to promote the voices of others. We can do better than this.

  29. 29
    boyofd

    PZ and #6 — What’s the basis for claiming Colbert “doubled down” or defended the joke? From his response above, “when I saw the tweet out of context, I understood why people were offended.” He went as far as to have Twitter’s founder on in order to “blow up” the twitter account from which the tweet was sent (not his own). He attacked the tweet, in a humorous way, of course, from his own twitter account as well. At best, this is a poorly researched opinion on the kerfuffle.

    And for those who don’t see value in satire or parody, I’m not sure you are the target audience. You probably didn’t need to hear these jokes to be offended by the Redskins name, or the fact that the Redskins owner was trying to disguise the racism of the name behind creating a charity that included “Redskins” in its name. But there are far, far more people out there who aren’t honed in enough to be offended by those actions (like fans of the NFL who have seen the name Redskins mentioned every game day for years), but who might understand it better if it were parodied by a more obviously offensive, and less commonly used, racism. If you think that changing the name of the Redskins will happen because some Native Americans, skeptics, and humanists are offended alone, then you aren’t paying attention. Inroads have to be made into NFL fans and even Redskins fan before any change will come.

  30. 30
    Derek Vandivere

    Seven #24 – Sure, but I don’t think it’s reasonable for her to expect people to understand her context as well as they do Colbert’s. From that Slate article, I infer that she meant it as a hyperbolic provocation; I just don’t think it was a very good one.

    PZ #25 – I just don’t think it’s so black and white. Definitely the joke as told over Twitter failed; I don’t think anyone here is saying that it was. I thought it was funny on the show, though.

    But most importantly, Dan Snyder’s a pompous jerk.

  31. 31
    violetknight

    @boyofd To be fair, he did claim it was taken out of context, and that it seemed fine the first time it was run (and in the subsequent reruns). That’s not enough for some critics, who think no context will excuse it.

  32. 32
    anteprepro

    Wow. People already rushing to defend Colbert.

    Wow, there really isn’t a coherent attack against Colbert.

    What, exactly, is the issue here?

    That it relied on a racial stereotype? Because I can totally get behind the objections to the Ching Chong Ding Dong character and that bit.

    The joke that was retweeted on Twitter? Blatantly taken out of context and not posted by Colbert. And that part of the joke? An excellent lampoon of the racism that he was trying to lampoon. People are claiming that bigots wouldn’t get it. If it were only bigots that supported the Redskins name then how would it still be a thing ? The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of ignorant, privileged people out there, and noting that the Redskins name is in fact racist is an important statement to make.

    There a lot of complaints out there and some of them are based upon other mistakes based upon misunderstandings and it seems like a gigantic fucking game of telephone.

    What are the actual, real, true, accurate, insightful complaints here?

  33. 33
    doublereed

    Well actually I’m confused PZ why you saw his apology as a double-down. I’m not really sure how that impression came across. He pretty much disavowed the whole thing.

  34. 34
    violetknight

    @Drolfe “Park is not hysterical. That’s pretty much a bullshit gendered description.”

    It’s often used in a gender-biased way, that’s true. But surely it must occasionally actually apply to real individuals of either gender. My hope in pointing out that she is a flawed proponent of this idea was that we could move the discussion away from her personally (though, ironically, I didn’t do it very well).

  35. 35
    Derek Vandivere

    I’m reminded of a story from Glenn Washington on the Snap Judgement podcast, by the way. It’s the one labelled “The Tribe” here: http://snapjudgment.org/pariah, about his accidentally insulting visit to a powwow. And subscribe to the podcast if you don’t already.

  36. 36
    anteprepro

    Doublereed: In fairness, his apology was a tad defensive and based upon the fact that his joke was taken out of context. He pretty much blamed the thing on the twitter account that he didn’t have control over, rather than the joke itself. In fairness, as far as I can tell from this whole thing, he is right, because if people were really going to get up in arms about Poe’s Law and racism and what not, they wouldn’t be mentioning the tweeted joke! They would be mentioning the Ching Chong Ding Dong character! Which is offensive and even the framing device used to justify it doesn’t really warrant the over-the-top stereotyping!

    It is frustrating because I know a legitimate complaint about this could be made, but it has become a clusterfuck.

  37. 37
    boyofd

    @PZ #25 — False dichotomy and strawman. In any event, I thought his point was very effectively made. And since there did not appear to be much being said about the Redskins at the time he made the joke, I think it was a point and joke worth making.

  38. 38
    Derek Vandivere

    @Violet – well, it’s a dangerous word to use in discussions about bias, that’s for sure. As for accuracy, I think ‘hysterical’ is more frantic, more headless-chicken-running-around-with-your-arms-waving-in-the-air. In Park’s stuff, I see more over-earnestness and absolute self certainty, with a big addition of jargon that sometimes tends towards overblown academese that almost parodies itself.

  39. 39
    violetknight

    @Derek Fair enough.

  40. 40
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    Seven #24 – Sure, but I don’t think it’s reasonable for her to expect people to understand her context as well as they do Colbert’s. From that Slate article, I infer that she meant it as a hyperbolic provocation; I just don’t think it was a very good one.

    You don’t think it’s reasonable for her to expect people to understand her context.

    It is a problem that you don’t think it’s reasonable to expect white people to understand the context in which people of color have to exist our culture. I mean I get that they generally don’t, but they damn well should be trying.

  41. 41
    Drolfe

    Anteprepro:

    If it were only bigots that supported the Redskins name then how would it still be a thing ? The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of ignorant, privileged people out there, and noting that the Redskins name is in fact racist is an important statement to make.

    I agree, and I think the intention if the segment (not the tweet) was to recontextualize that awful slur-based foundation in a way that the vast legions of NFL and Colbert watching fans might get. He was trying to move the ball on the popular conception that naming your NFL team with a racial slur isn’t OK. We can agree that the response shows he failed, because we are talking about him and Park and not Snyder’s bullshit foundation to buy off his critics with meager charity.

  42. 42
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    I see more over-earnestness and absolute self certainty, with a big addition of jargon that sometimes tends towards overblown academese that almost parodies itself.

    It’s funny that you think this sentence is an improvement upon “hysterical.”

  43. 43
    The Mellow Monkey

    anteprepo @ 32

    What are the actual, real, true, accurate, insightful complaints here?

    Read my comment at #28. He failed as an ally. Indians have not been helped by what he did. All he managed to do was further distract from the issue at hand by insulting another group of people.

  44. 44
    anteprepro

    Mellow Monkey:

    He failed as an ally. Indians have not been helped by what he did. All he managed to do was further distract from the issue at hand by insulting another group of people.

    That’s not really a complaint about the joke as much as a complaint about its effectiveness. It’s just that he didn’t effect positive change. I wouldn’t really expect that from a joke. Even if Colbert and the Daily Show sometimes, through some baffling luck and/or magic, do manage to incite positive political change with a joke, it is still fairly rare. It is the ideal outcome and I think they hope that they sometimes cause a positive change like that, but it is by no means common or even expected.

  45. 45
    Siobhan

    An online friend of mine pointed out that what Colbert did was “punching up”, which is a valid way to make jokes of this sort, but he used Asian people as a battering ram. Which is very much not OK.

    That image of it helped me (a bi cis white middle aged woman) understand what was not ok about the joke (though when I saw it at the time, I didn’t think anything of it, hello white privilege). I’ve always been uncomfortable with the Colbert’s Asian character, but it wasn’t until my friend made the point above that I realized why.

  46. 46
    Drolfe

    I think this is worth repeating, anteprepro:

    if people were really going to get up in arms about Poe’s Law and racism and what not, they wouldn’t be mentioning the tweeted joke! They would be mentioning the Ching Chong Ding Dong character! Which is offensive and even the framing device used to justify it doesn’t really warrant the over-the-top stereotyping!

    But I think it’s clear The Mellow Monkey is making the most important point. I consider Park complicit in this though. If you’re going to wield “trend it” to shape the entire media’s narrative you ought to use that power against Snyder (again, still, more) rather than calling a focus switch to a different player, a nominal if fucking up ally.

    If I haven’t said this in every post, yes Colbert’s Asian caricature is racist as fuck. You’re right to be creeped out by it, I hope he abandons it after all this splash damage.

  47. 47
    doublereed

    @36 antepro

    Yea, but that’s not even close to “doubling down.” Blaming and evading is not doubling down.

    @43

    Read my comment at #28. He failed as an ally. Indians have not been helped by what he did. All he managed to do was further distract from the issue at hand by insulting another group of people.

    Do you blame Colbert for this or Suey Park? I think it’s kind of strange to blame someone for the reaction that happens afterwards. I mean Colbert was very clearly drawing attention the Synder thing.
    How can you blame him for erasing Native Americans from the story? He’s not the one that did that.

    In fact in his apology he emphasized that as the real issue.

  48. 48
    irisvanderpluym

    I dunno, PZ. This Keith Lowell Jensen d00d sure sounds an awful lot like he’s saying “shut up and listen.” And, well, we all know how Ron Lindsay feels about that.

  49. 49
    violetknight

    @Mellow Monkey

    I can see that, but here’s another perspective:

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/03/im-not-your-disappearing-indian-154311

  50. 50
    hoku

    My favorite part of this was her interview where she made the claims about just wanting to start a conversation, and then when asked if she saw his response, said “I don’t care what he has to say”. Nice conversation.

    Or her comment about white people, “I don’t want them on our side”.

  51. 51
    The Mellow Monkey

    anteprepro, doublereed, violetknight:

    Who do I blame? I blame a whole hell of a lot of people.

    As Siobhan @ 45 pointed out, he used people of Asian descent as a battering ram while “punching up.” That was shitty. He should not have done that. He does not get a pass on that.

    And, yes, any PoC and allies who erased Indians from the discussion made it worse.

    And all of the people who want to say that Colbert can’t be blamed for people’s reactions to him and try to sweep the racist hurt he caused under the rug “because Indians!”? Yeah, I blame them too.

    Do not use me as your weapon.

  52. 52
    anteprepro

    Mellow Monkey 51, I would quote that for truth, but I think it would be redundant because it would just be copying and pasting the whole thing. Suffice it to say, I agree wholeheartedly.

  53. 53
    qwints

    First, Snyder is a racist and the fact that there are multiple blatantly racist professional sports teams in Cleveland (baseball) and Washington (football) is a disgrace to the US.

    Second, anyone who thinks Park just missed the context or is in this to educate white people really doesn’t get it. PZ explaining this and linking to another white person explaining this is an hilariously inappropriate response to an expression of revulsion at white people being racist in any context.

    Third, I found black people’s reactions to blackpoweryellowperil (e.g. Can Afro-Asian Solidarity Exist and native people’s reactions to cancelcolbert informative.

  54. 54
    qwints

    Correct link for my previous post:
    Can Afro-Asian Solidarity Exist

  55. 55
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Another here in defense of Coalbear [phonetically]. He did *not* “doubledown” by just saying, “It was a joke. Taken out of context. These people just don’t get that I’m a joke teller.” No, “It was satire”, was just part of his defense. He was trying to point out just how racist the “Redskins yada yada” was. He was just saying that the tool he uses to attack such material is satire. I understand [and so should everyone ;-| ] that he could have said, “I was attacking that racist ad with my satire of it, which ironically succeeded at also being very racist. And it bit me in the ass. Sorry I went too far.” He *could* have said that, but that would have ruined that episode of his show, and brought it to a sad end. How could he follow that with his usual off-kilter satire?
    So, to double down right back atcha, is it fair to attack Colbert for just coming out with a bad joke, that this instance of satire failed the Poe Law? Sometimes jokes don’t work, and the teller needs to explain the nuances of the joke, as to why it is supposed to be funny. Do we blame the joke, or the writer of the joke, or the listener; for ‘not getting it’? And if we agree that the writer of the joke produced a bad joke, can we extrapolate that he wrote it badly because he is a bad person? That if the joke is a racist joke the joker is a racist person? Probable, but not definite. But speaking of “off the rails”: the point I intended to make is: Why is #CancelColbert even an issue, while the “Redskins Native American Foundation”, is completely glossed over?
    So, Colbert did a lousy job at satirizing it, but RNAF should be attacked for being reality [meaning, attack Ryan for proposing RNAF as a pass to keep the racist name for his team]; Colbert is just satire. If he aint funny, silence is attack enough. His lame satire is pointing at stuff that makes HIM angry. Look at what he is pointing at and then tell him he is wrong to be angry at it. Don’t attack the joke itself, attack him for choosing the *subject* of the joke; for being bad at writing jokes.

    – I liked Colbert’s response to the #C@ncelColbert meme. Except. when he tried pointing out that Sandy wrote a book exonerating the Internment Camps of WWII; He was essentially calling her, “a self-loathing-racist who can’t call anyone else a racist, and thus totally missed I was being satirical”. It was a form of racism/misogyny itself.
    Again: … why is #C_nc_lColbert overshadowing RNAF? Why are we even talking about #CnclColbert any more?

  56. 56
    jim

    @PZ “Wow. People already rushing to defend Colbert.”

    People are already rushing to defend Colbert? How much time, exactly, has to pass before someone’s opinion is considered thoughtful and reflective of the situation rather than characterized as knee-jerk? Maybe if you let us all know how much time has to pass then we can set our calendars as appropriate.

    I do agree with people whose opinion is that it is too bad that the focus has been pulled away from Snyder. Hopefully someone this all circles back to bite him.

  57. 57
    violetknight

    @Mellow

    I guess I just make a distinction between “using a satirical reference to a slur against Asians” and “using people of Asian descent”. I don’t think the former necessarily implies the latter, as it didn’t in Colbert’s many race-centric segments before (including his running “I don’t see color, but people tell me I’m white and I believe them because [white stereotype]” jokes) that didn’t get this sort of media treatment.

  58. 58
    doublereed

    @51 Mellow Monkey

    Er… so who don’t you blame? Because frankly I thought PZ kind of erased Native Americans from the conversation in his post. He only mentioned them in the quote.

  59. 59
    mikehuben

    I don’t see it as only satire: I see it as education. As a male of roughly PZ’s age, I was raised in a rather insensitive era and it sometimes takes strong explanation to make clear how some things that were part of the culture hurt people then and today.

    It requires education for us to learn what other people consider bigoted slurs and painful: my children have apparently learned the CURRENT list but it wasn’t taught to us in the ’60s when slurs were commonly used for almost every immigrant and minority group. And what’s considered a slur changes over time. We don’t intuitively know what’s a slur and in what context: we learn through exchange or more formal education.

    Colbert’s joke clearly tells me how insensitive the team has been. As somebody who has never had significant interaction with Native Americans and grew up playing cowboys and Indians, I think it is both funny and helpful. Funny because it is obvious even to me that it would be ludicrously insulting to Asians to actually do that.

    Yes, I can understand that some Asians might take offense even though the intention is clearly satire. But I would ask if the educational benefits are comparable to those of discussing use of the n* word. I think that’s how our cultural learning occurs, and Colbert gives us an opportunity for a two-for with Asians and Native Americans.

  60. 60
    anteprepro

    twas brillig

    Except. when he tried pointing out that Sandy wrote a book exonerating the Internment Camps of WWII; He was essentially calling her, “a self-loathing-racist who can’t call anyone else a racist, and thus totally missed I was being satirical”. It was a form of racism/misogyny itself.

    1. Pretty sure that was Michelle Malkin.
    2. Michelle Malkin is a raving Fox News fanatic.
    3. The point was the hypocrisy and that she was only in it to score political points.
    4. Not sure that misogyny factored in but I might have missed something.

  61. 61
    hoku

    I think the difference between Colbert and the usual “it’s just a joke/satire” people is history and the target of the joke. Unlike most people who use this argument, Colbert has a long history of only doing satire.

    More importantly, the satire here was used as an analogy to a third party, instead of as a way to back into insulting the group used. The target group wasn’t the one used in the joke. He could have used any offensive stereotype character to do it, and just happened to have already had that one.

  62. 62
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Read my comment at #28. He failed as an ally. Indians have not been helped by what he did. All he managed to do was further distract from the issue at hand by insulting another group of people.

    THIS
    If you’re from a privileged group, don’t use minority A in order to make a point about minority B by playing stereotypes. And always be very careful because you might be stepping on toes you didn’t even know exist.
    Suey Park does not have to shut up about her community being used as a means to an end so the discussion isn’t distracted from American Indians.

    violetknight
    Well, if you offer them…

  63. 63
    hoku

    Giliel @ 62

    Who would have made a better analogy to show how offensive Snyder was being?

  64. 64
    anteprepro

    violetknight

    (including his running “I don’t see color, but people tell me I’m white and I believe them because [white stereotype]” jokes) that didn’t get this sort of media treatment.

    See punching up vs. punching down.
    White people are privileged. Those jokes point out that privilege usually.
    The groups involved in the joke in question are not as privileged. They are minority groups and one was used as a tool to defend the other. I don’t think that is inherently wrong when done right. Pointing out how the hypocrisy of being cool with Racial Slur X but not Racial Slur Y is sometimes helpful and isn’t inherently hurtful, when done right. But you have to tread carefully. And when someone says that you aren’t careful enough, you should “Shut up and Listen”.

  65. 65
    violetknight

    @Giliell

    Don’t think I did. I don’t think anyone here has. Though you were able to dig up another one with, “Suey Park does not have to shut up”….

    I guess fighting straw men is easier. Have fun.

  66. 66
    gussnarp

    The kind of satire Colbert engages in can be dangerous. Certainly I get the satirical point the joke was intended to make, and I’m certain that he intended entirely to satirize the racism behind defenses of the Washington football team’s name. But yesterday on NPR I heard a commentary that showed me where Colbert (and I and many others) had made a subtly racist assumption. The problem this commentator had with the joke is that there’s an assumption that Asian-Americans are OK to make fun of. They can take it, they’re nice about it, they’re smart and educated and doing well in America as a group, so it’s OK to pick them as the butt of this satirical joke. They’ll get that I don’t really have a problem with them…Basically what the commentator said is that a lot of Asian-Americans are kind of tired of that.

    Notice that he didn’t call his satirical foundation the Stephen Colbert’s Porch Monkey’s Fund for Watermelon Eaters. And that’s the essence of it. I feel creepy and weird in my stomach just having typed that as an example here, I’m typing this wondering if I’ll really submit this comment intact. Which is just the way I should feel. Would I feel that way about an Asian stereotype? (well, yes, I think I would, especially after having heard this argument, but how many people would?)

    Here’s the link to the NPR piece: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/04/06/299699625/asian-americans-cancelcolbert

  67. 67
    Alteredstory

    My impression was the the original joke – with it’s full context and a comparison of his racial stereotype character to the Redskins – worked rather well, which may be why we didn’t hear massive amounts of outrage about it after he made it.

    The outrage came after the tweet.

    It’s a bit much to insist that it fell flat in that context.

    I think his joke also did a good job of lampooning the Colbert Report for still using characters LIKE “Ching Chong Ding Dong”, and he’d probably be on more solid ground if he took his own point and stopped using them, but it did provide him with a useful way to make his point.

    I also don’t feel particularly bad for “defending” Colbert, or at least discussing why I think that Jensen’s analysis may be off.

  68. 68
    Derek Vandivere

    @Seven #40 – Many more people are familiar with the Colbert Report than with Suey Park. More people will understand that ‘Stephen Colbert’ is a satirical construct than will understand that Suey Park is also a comedian and was engaging in hyperbole to illustrate her point. In the Slate interview, that’s the context she was complaining about people not getting – as far as I could tell, anyway. Nothing to do with white folks understanding what it’s like.

  69. 69
    carlie

    She gets it.
    She gets it.
    She gets it.
    SHE GETS IT.

    She just thinks it’s a shitty excuse for a joke, is analyzing it in the context of whether it does what it’s meant to do or not, and finds it not only wanting, but ending up with the sum total being a negative. THAT IS NOT “NOT GETTING IT”.

  70. 70
    Alteredstory

    there’s an assumption that Asian-Americans are OK to make fun of.

    Is that the assumption?

    I though the assumption was that his racial stereotype – which would have been considered mainstream and not shocking a few decades ago – was (a) incredibly offensive and (b) at the same level as “Redskins”.

    The entire piece relied on the assumption that mocking Asians like that is NOT ok, and that everybody KNOWS that, so then why is it ok to do the same thing to native Americans?

  71. 71
    hoku

    @gussnarp 66

    My guess as to why he used Asians is that he already had an offensive character lying around from an old bit making fun of Rush Limbaugh.

  72. 72
    violetknight

    @anteprepro I know that the point of those jokes is different, but they are similar in how they allegedly use groups of people as tools. There are plenty of other instances (how about when Obama teamed up with the KKK to destroy alien invaders?).

    Not a fan of the “shut up” language. I think “listen carefully” is enough. I think it would be interesting to see a poll of the Asian-American community on this… I think it’s fair to say that they haven’t been speaking with one voice.

  73. 73
    anteprepro

    Gilliel 62

    Suey Park does not have to shut up about her community being used as a means to an end so the discussion isn’t distracted from American Indians.

    She doesn’t have to, but it would be nice if she actually acknowledged that the original joke was about American Indians and tried to also work them into the dialog as well. Because, really, look at that shit.

    -A football team that has an American Indian slur as its name is totally a thing. Because tradition.
    -Said football team creates a pandering charity for American Indians as a stupid attempt for good PR.
    -Somebody mocks the stupid stunt.
    -Outrage occurs because the mockery of the charity with an American Indian racial slur in it was done poorly and insulted the Asian community.

    The American Indians just keep getting swept under the fucking rug and I wish that a person who was trying to defend their own minority group from being used as a weapon would at least try to help the group that was being defended as well. I just kind of wish there was a little more solidarity, is what I’m saying.

  74. 74
    jim

    @Mellow Monkey “Do not use me as your weapon.”

    Honest question–can a white comedian satire race issues at all then? Because even though the point of the satire is to punch up, there’s not much bite to it unless you leverage another minority for the satire. If Colbert’s fictitious organization had been “The White Cracker Honkey Fund For Racists” I don’t know whether that works nearly as well for satire because you’ve lost the element of satire that is making a hyperbolic analog of the original . . . and in this case the original (Snyder) is punching down at a minority.

    Because your point seems less like “Colbert went too far” and more like “White comedians should never reference Asians in satire”, but if you buy into that then I think you can see where the logical end of that is, because you can substitute “Asians” with other minorities and you can go even further by taking that and then adding all categories where you can change “white” to something else like “Hetero comedians should never reference LGBT in satire” . . . and then depending on how you look at it, how the ladders stack, can you define a class of groups that Asian comedians should never reference when using satire? It starts looking like a pretty complicated web of prohibitions, and racial satire . . . does racial satire even survive as a class of comedy?

    But I am willing to listen, am I getting your point incorrectly?

  75. 75
    violetknight

    @twas brilling

    YMMV, but in addition to what anteprepro said, Malkin is not Japanese, so you may be able to drop “self-hating” from “self-hating-racist”.

  76. 76
    chigau (違う)

    Why didn’t Colbert pick Irish Catholics for his satire?

  77. 77
    hoku

    @ chigau 76

    Because there’s nothing comparable to “Redskin” for Irish Catholics. It’s like when white people pretend that “cracker” is the same as the n word. It may be the same from a dictionary point of view, but it doesn’t have the hurt attached to it.

  78. 78
    Derek Vandivere

    @Anteprepro #73 – *A* team? More than 500, if you count high schools. That counts just plain ‘Indians,’ which I *suppose* a team *might* just be able to pull off without racism. But not likely.

    http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2013/10/11/500-high-schools-use-redskins-indians-or-braves-as-team-name/

  79. 79
    anteprepro

    Chigau: Because eating babies is sooooo retro.

    Derek Vandivere: “A team” because I was only talking about the one team, yes. But point taken. (Incidentally, at one point, the football team at my high school was named “Indians”. Up here in one of the more librul states too. Fucking depressing).

  80. 80
    gussnarp

    @Alteredstory, @hoku – That all depends on your point of view. Maybe from Colbert’s point of view this was all about shock value and recycling an old joke (although, in that case he’s just lazy and not being creative), but from the point of view of at least some Asian Americans, that assumption that it’s OK to make from of them is one that people make often and there’s plenty of reason for them to see that joke that way. And even if Colbert didn’t make the joke for that reason on a conscious level, that may well have been going on without his actually knowing it. He didn’t, at any rate, pick the most offensive and obvious group that he could have. At the very least that viewpoint is something we ought to consider and think about.

  81. 81
    anteprepro

    chigau

    Why didn’t Colbert pick Irish Catholics for his satire?

    Because eating babies is so retro. They were only doing that, like, way back in the Bush administration.

  82. 82
    Derek Vandivere

    Ante – I posted that mostly because I was surprised there’s so damn many of them…

  83. 83
    The Mellow Monkey

    jim @ 74

    Honest question–can a white comedian satire race issues at all then?

    I think it’s possible for white comedians to make jokes about race issues without causing splash damage. I’m not a comedian and I have a lot of respect for people who take it to the level of an artform, so I wouldn’t say that there’s anything that they can’t craft a good joke around.

    The trouble is in finding a way to do it that isn’t going to cause splash damage. Sometimes low-key satire isn’t the right tool for that and when it’s not the right tool for that and your entire schtick is a satirical character, maybe you aren’t the right comedian for dealing with it. Colbert has created a character that forces him into a creative corner and that limits him in what he can do and how he can do it.

    Stephen Colbert the comedian is talented enough that I’m sure he could manage to speak about all sorts of issues in a funny way without causing splash damage. Stephen Colbert the character is more limited than that. The character is low-key satire, so that the absurd things he says and does are still plausibly realistic. Therefore, the absurd things he says and does are also going to potentially cause harm by mirroring the harmful parts of reality a little too closely.

  84. 84
    hoku

    @ gussnarp

    The reason for recycling an old character is because it fit the joke better. Snyder is saying “I did this offensive thing, here’s a fig leaf to cover it up.” Colbert is just doing the exact same thing.

    Who would have made a better analogy?

  85. 85
    gussnarp

    @hoku – Fine. But my larger point was that that really doesn’t matter.

  86. 86
    anteprepro

    Splash damage minimal version of the same joke:

    Colbert founds a team called The Wall Street Honkeys. Their mascot is basically a peach-toned version of the Mets mascot wearing a suit.

    Colbert makes up complaints from various white folks being offended by the team name and mascot.

    Colbert founds charity called The Wall Street Honkeys Foundation for Melanin Deficient Americans.

    Better or worse?

  87. 87
    violetknight

    @chigau

    He has before. But if attacking Irish Catholics is “punching up” (and therefore presumably okay), then that would have weakened the point.

  88. 88
    hoku

    @ antepro 86

    Worse, and counter effective. That conflates the actual pain caused by terms like “redskin” with the made up hurt of “honkey”. It lets people internalize the idea that Natives feel the same way about “redskin” as whites feel about “honkey”, specifically not much. It’s kinda like the MRA’s saying “but men are so discriminated against too…”. For the joke to work, it needs to be compared to something that everyone recognizes as offensive and racist.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    The Mellow Monkey

    jim @ 74:

    And for clarification: what I meant by my statement about not being used as a weapon wasn’t in regards to satire in general. It was about people taking an issue that affects me (American Indian mascots/caricatures) and using that to try to silence other people about an issue that affects them. It’s a shitty thing to do. We should all be working together, instead of behaving as though only one issue and one minority group can be cared about at a time.

    This is something all of us fuck up on endlessly. Everybody shares a little blame in being self-centered or forgetting to be inclusive at one time or another. It’s not the end of the world to fuck up here. It’s just a nice goal to try to do better.

  91. 91
    doublereed

    @86

    Splash damage minimal version of the same joke:

    Colbert founds a team called The Wall Street Honkeys. Their mascot is basically a peach-toned version of the Mets mascot wearing a suit.

    Colbert makes up complaints from various white folks being offended by the team name and mascot.

    Colbert founds charity called The Wall Street Honkeys Foundation for Melanin Deficient Americans.

    Better or worse?

    Worse as far as the actual joke goes.

    The point was that the having the “Redskin” slur in the name of a charity for Native Americans is completely ridiculous. And in order to make that point effectively you have to be at least as offensive as the word “Redskin.” Otherwise you’d be trivializing the issue. As far as I know, there isn’t a slur against whites that is as offensive as that.

  92. 92
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @68 Derek

    Many more people are familiar with the Colbert Report than with Suey Park. More people will understand that ‘Stephen Colbert’ is a satirical construct than will understand that Suey Park is also a comedian and was engaging in hyperbole to illustrate her point. In the Slate interview, that’s the context she was complaining about people not getting – as far as I could tell, anyway. Nothing to do with white folks understanding what it’s like.

    As far as you could tell…did you read her answer to the second question in which she expounded upon the context to which she was referring? Because I didn’t pull that stuff about appeasing white people and gently educating them out of my ass. She was using the same tools Colbert uses to illuminate the irony in criticizing her for not getting the context (which isn’t even true) when the only way you can fail to see any problem with Colbert’s joke is by ignoring centuries of context.

    She gets it.
    She gets it.
    She gets it.
    SHE GETS IT.

    She just thinks it’s a shitty excuse for a joke, is analyzing it in the context of whether it does what it’s meant to do or not, and finds it not only wanting, but ending up with the sum total being a negative. THAT IS NOT “NOT GETTING IT”.

    Quoting for emphasis.

  93. 93
    chigau (違う)

    Can splash damage be avoided by only ‘punching in’ rather than ‘punching out’?
    Make fun of your own group not anyone else.

  94. 94
    carlie

    Is that the assumption?

    I though the assumption was that his racial stereotype – which would have been considered mainstream and not shocking a few decades ago – was (a) incredibly offensive and (b) at the same level as “Redskins”.

    The entire piece relied on the assumption that mocking Asians like that is NOT ok, and that everybody KNOWS that, so then why is it ok to do the same thing to native Americans?

    Then why didn’t he pick on black people instead? Everyone knows that’s not ok. Just think about it a minute – why didn’t he do as GusSnarp suggested at 66, and throw in a “n**r” for good measure?

    (The answer is that there are different degrees of how “wrong”society thinks it is to say those kinds of things in service of making a point, depending on what the group is. That’s the distinction she’s saying is wrong.)

  95. 95
    anteprepro

    hoku

    For the joke to work, it needs to be compared to something that everyone recognizes as offensive and racist.

    doublereed

    And in order to make that point effectively you have to be at least as offensive as the word “Redskin.”

    So basically you both contend that splash damage is necessary to this kind of joke in order for it to even function?

    Then the question is: Does that justify using slurs to point out slurs or does this mean, due to the fact that you are going to have to say worse than the thing you are opposing, that this type of joke just simply isn’t justified?

  96. 96
    kevinkirkpatrick

    My $0.02. I’d been tuned in and caught that segment when it was originally broadcast. And no, I can’t admit to this.

    “Just curious: can you even admit that it was a poor joke that flopped miserably?”

    Speaking for myself, I can only admit that it was a poor joke that *should* have flopped miserably. The only silver lining is, for the 3,198th time in my life, I’ve become aware of yet one more blindspot for over-looking “punching-down” humor when I’m not a member of the punched-down upon group.

    For what it’s worth, I’m more than willing to admit to my personal shortcoming on this, and hope to have grown one incremental step closer to the humanist ideals I aspire to reach.

    That said, Colbert’s response (linked in #5) struck me as a 100% double-down… and worse.
    The defense by reference to Michelle Malkin’s book was utterly cringe-worthy… how it came off to me: “My joke struck many people of Asian ethnicity as racist. Michelle Malkin, an author of Filipino descent, was so offended that she called for my show to be canceled. But Michelle wrote a book with a title that lets me imply she’s a race-traitor [because there's no problem whatsoever with people of majority status judging members of racial minority groups as "traitors" to their group]. As a race-traitor, it was hypocritical of Malkin to take offense at my racist joke. And because ‘gotcha’ and my mostly-white audience laughing along, my joke was not actually racist and people who say otherwise, Asian or not, are mistaken.”

    Just… wrong on so many levels. If I were ethnically Asian, I suspect that if I’d given Colbert any benefit of the doubt prior to watching that clip, I’d have completely written him off based on that response.

  97. 97
    Derek Vandivere

    Seven, I was looking at the quotes:

    “I think it was just an opportunity to use hyperbole in a way to make social commentary”

    and

    “what is so complex about understanding someone who is both a writer and an activist, understanding how I use satire and hyperbole to make a political commentary.”

    Both of which she said after saying “Because you’re still trying to understand my context, rather than the reaction and the conversation that I was trying to create.” When, of course, the conversation she was trying to create is exactly the context of her tweet.

  98. 98
    qwints

    A challenge to the other white people commenting in this thread. For every comment you post, read two by someone with personal experience.

    To help you start:

    “an Snyder, #CancelColbert and Splash Damage”

    An Ode to Angry Asians: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Suey Park

  99. 99
    violetknight

    @carlie There are also different degrees of slurs within racial groups. The n-word isn’t directly analogous to “Ching Chong Ding Dong”.

  100. 100
    violetknight

    @kevinkirkpatrick

    Not entirely comfortable with your imagined scenario that someone thinks Michelle Malkin, “an author of Filipino descent”, is a “race-traitor” because she defends internment of Japanese-Americans. “Asians” are not a monolithic group, as I think the reaction to #cancelcolbert showed.

  101. 101
    hoku

    @ 95 antepro

    I see it like this, the construction of the analogy is: “You know how thing A is offensive? Well thing B is just as offensive.”
    It doesn’t really matter if it’s a joke or not, the comparison needs to be made. Especially in this situation where there’s a huge group of people that don’t believe “redskins” is offensive. Would it have been better coming from a person of minority group talking about themselves? Yes, but that’s not Colbert’s style.

  102. 102
    gussnarp

    @violetknight – The n-word is, however, much more analogous to the name of the NFL team in our nation’s capital than Colbert’s chosen Asian slur.

  103. 103
    anteprepro

    Michelle Malkin, an author of Filipino descent, was so offended that she called for my show to be canceled. But Michelle wrote a book with a title that lets me imply she’s a race-traitor

    By fucking God. Do people just not know who Michelle Malkin is or do they simply imagine that Stephen Colbert wasn’t aware of her or something?

    But for serious? The point of bringing up her defense of internment camps is that she is a “race traitor”? Regardless of her race, if you are defending internment camps, you have a fucked up worldview .

  104. 104
    violetknight

    @gussnarp Is it? I really don’t know. But I guess the kerfluffle shows that it wasn’t necessary to go to the greatest extreme necessary.

  105. 105
    Matt Lane

    In his response, Steven Colbert implied and/or admitted that the tweet itself, lacking context, was not funny and should not have been sent. However, he was also careful not to throw some intern under the bus for tweeting the literal text of his show. Also, he acknowledged that the comment was offensive to Ms. Park, and that her point of view was worth listening to.

  106. 106
    hoku

    @ antepro 103

    Yes. Well said.

    Her race is irrelevant, she’s just a terrible person.

  107. 107
    violetknight

    @anteprepro

    This is the second time this thread that allegedly race-conscious people have defended, of all things, Michelle Malkin against an attack on her credibility on racial sensitivity after writing “In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror”. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  108. 108
    Derek Vandivere

    @ antepro: Well, I think she is kind of second-tier as far as right-wing nutters go. You’ve got your O’Reilly, Hannity, and Limbaugh, and she’s more in with Coulter, Bolton, Krauthammer, Alex Jones, and the like. That’s my impression, anyway.

    But I think we can all agree that she, like Dan Snyder, is a terrible person. Or at least the views she spouts in public suggest that she’s a terrible person.

  109. 109
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @ 97 Derek

    I’m this close to concluding you’re being willfully ignorant here.

    From the Salon Interview in response to the question “Do you want to continue your thought?”

    Yes, because I think this is important. A lot of white America and so-called liberal people of color, along with conservatives, ask, “Do I understand context?” And that’s part of wanting to completely humanize the oppressor. To see the white man as always reasonable, always pure, always deliberate, always complex and always innocent. And to see the woman of color as literal. Both my intent behind the hashtag and in my [unintelligible] distance, is always about forcing an apology on me for not understanding their context when, in reality, they misunderstood us when they made us a punch line again. So it’s always this logic of how can we understand whiteness better, and that’s never been my politics. I’ve always been about occupying the margins and strengthening the margins and what that means is that, for a long time, whiteness has also occupied the margins. Like, people of color get in circles with no white people in the room and we see that whiteness still operates. So I think it’s kind of a shock for America that whiteness has dominant society already, it also seeps into the margins. What happens the one time when the margins seep into the whiteness and we encroach on their space? It’s like the sky is falling.

    Pay special attention to the bolded part. People are demanding Suey Park apologize for not getting context she gets perfectly fine when the reality is the only reason they think the joke is fine is because they actually don’t get the context.

  110. 110
    Alteredstory

    And in order to make that point effectively you have to be at least as offensive as the word “Redskin.” Otherwise you’d be trivializing the issue. As far as I know, there isn’t a slur against whites that is as offensive as that.

    QFT

    Then why didn’t he pick on black people instead? Everyone knows that’s not ok. Just think about it a minute – why didn’t he do as GusSnarp suggested at 66, and throw in a “n**r” for good measure?

    (The answer is that there are different degrees of how “wrong”society thinks it is to say those kinds of things in service of making a point, depending on what the group is. That’s the distinction she’s saying is wrong.)

    That’s one answer. Here are a few others:

    One is that black stereotypes and insults are brought up ALL THE TIME in the press today, and are a subject of constant satire. Asian stereotypes come up less in mainstream politics, and at this point pretty much everybody recognizes the offensiveness of Colbert’s character. There are still people on the Right who put a lot of effort into complaining about how they’re not allowed to say “nigger” but black people are. Using a racial stereotype that is talked about less often, and that seems more antiquated sends a different message.

    Another is that he has an offensive Asian character ready to hand, after using it to make fun of Limbaugh some time ago. He COULD have used his Mexican character and “wetback” or some similar slur, but then he’d run into the same problem I mentioned above – there are a lot of people who wouldn’t see it as problematic.

    I can’t think of anybody who thinks that calling something “The Ching Chong Ding Dong foundation for sensitivity to Orientals or whatever” is remotely OK. There’s no mainstream debate about whether Asian stereotyping like that is “just being realistic” the way there is with black and latino stereotypes.

    Another is that

  111. 111
    twas brillig (stevem)

    there’s an assumption that Asian-Americans are OK to make fun of.

    I.Don’t.Think.So.. [I assume:] Colbert was assuming that his “Asian slur” satire was so OBVIOUSLY racist, that it alone would be OBVIOUSLY an attack on the Redskins use as being racist as well. Maybe he could sub-caption his show explaining the jokes, apologizing along the way. Under “Ding Dong…” could be the caption, “Racist, yes, so is ‘Redskins’”. I never got the impression that Colbert is saying i

    As for the Malkin book, etc. I apologize for losing the name of the author Colbert brought up. The author of the book, “The case for internment camps” [to paraphrase], who also initiated the #CancelColbert meme. Colbert declared her Japanese, and a Woman; which led me to say he was being both racist and misogynistic by calling her a self-loathing racist. My bad :-(

  112. 112
    doublereed

    So basically you both contend that splash damage is necessary to this kind of joke in order for it to even function?

    Sounds about right.

    Then the question is: Does that justify using slurs to point out slurs or does this mean, due to the fact that you are going to have to say worse than the thing you are opposing, that this type of joke just simply isn’t justified?

    I think this depends on how it is done, and I think Colbert did it well (obviously the tweet didn’t). Without the tweet, I doubt anything would have happened with this.

    But I’m of the general opinion that creative artists and comedians and such get a pretty wide berth for offensiveness. I’d probably give a lot more leeway than many social justice people, and this kind of points out why. I think the only solution for Colbert would simply be to not discuss the issue at all.

  113. 113
    Derek Vandivere

    @Violet #107 – I don’t think Kevin was neccessarily defending her; rather, he was saying that Colbert was lame to use her as a reverse but-I-have-Asian-friends! argument.

    I hope.

  114. 114
    anteprepro

    There should be a bit more focus on the people who are the voices on the topic of Cancel Colbert and its opposition.

    The two major Cancellers I’ve heard of:
    Michelle Malkin is an odious and extremist Fox News goon who hates Colbert and is only worried about the issue insofar as it is convenient for her politically.

    Suey Park is a bit hyperbolic and is indifferent to the original context, but has an excellent point about the racism involved in the segment, even if the original part of the joke she was objecting to wasn’t the actually racist part.

    The loudest Anti-Cancellers:
    Sexists and MRAs who are harassing Suey Park and giving her death and rape threats.

    Of all of the things that are not getting attention, that last part isn’t getting as much attention as it deserves. I’ve seen it glossed over in a few articles. That is a major fucking issue and it just shows the complex matrix that is American prejudice, privilege, and oppression.

  115. 115
    Derek Vandivere

    @Seven #107: Well, I’ve already concluded that you don’t bother reading what I actually write when you respond to my posts vs. what you expect I’m going to say, so perhaps we’re even.

    You’re not worth responding to any more.

  116. 116
    hoku

    @ antepro 113

    Honestly, I think that last group are just the usual morons who show up anytime a woman does anything public. Kinda the westboro baptists of women rights.

  117. 117
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @114 Derek

    In my 92 when I said “2nd question” I was referring to “So what do you want from this conversation?” I had forgotten there were questions above the ad, so that’s my fault and maybe that’s part of the misunderstanding.

    The point still stands though. Regardless of my numbering being off, you seem to be fixating on the questions before “So what do you want from the conversation?” to the exclusion of all else. She spends the entire rest of the interview expounding on what context she’s referring to and the conversation she was trying to start etc. etc.

  118. 118
    violetknight

    @Derek I suppose it’s lame, in as much as it’s lame to make this about any particular personality. But I think it’s worth Colbert pointing out that Michelle Malkin, who helped whip up a frenzy about this in the right-wing media, may well have been doing it as a cynical political ploy.

  119. 119
    Derek Vandivere

    @Violet: I completely disagree. She’s ABSOLUTELY doing it as a cynical political ploy (I just don’t think Kevin was defending her).

  120. 120
    qwints

    Malkin’s response
    Oneida Nation’s Change the Mascot Campaign

    @anteprepro, Malkin’s politics are terrible, but you don’t get to say her offense at anti-asian racism isn’t real.

  121. 121
    miller

    On my facebook wall, my queer & Asian activist friends complained about Suey Park rather than about Colbert. Granted, this is a small sample of maybe two or three people. Personally I had no problem with what Colbert said, or for that matter with what Suey said (I am Hapa).

  122. 122
    Kichae

    I basically just wanted to put giant gold stars on everything The Mellow Monkey and anteprepro have said.

    One of the things that has gone completely ignored in almost everything I’ve read on this is that racism has context, and the context of anti-Asian racism is different from the context of anti-Black racism is different from anti-Native American racism. It’s all racism, but the historical context can vary wildly depending on against whom someone is being racist against. Yes, there are many, many simularities, and the underlying goal is to dehumanize entire groups of people in order to justify the continued poor treatment of them by the socially dominant culture, but there are devils in those details.

    In North America, anti-Black racism carries the context of having been used to justify slavery. Anti-Asian racism comes with the baggage of having been used to justify internment camps and their “expendability” as general labourors during the American and Canadian expansion west. Anti-Indian racism has been used to justify colonialism and the continued colonization of Indian territories.

    By equating anti-Asian racism with anti-Indian racism, Colbert and his staff effectively equated the contexts of anti-Asian racism and anti-Indian racism, and they’re no more equivalent than the contexts of anti-Black racism and anti-Arab racism.

    I can’t, and won’t even bother to pretend to try, to speak for the first peoples of the US, but here in Canada one of the larger goals of our First Nations is, and has been for a long time now, cultural and legal quasi-independence. They’re looking to be respected, but they’re not necessarily looking for seamless social inclusion. They want their rights, and their lands, and their cultures back. They’re a colonized people with others from all over the world squatting on their lands, and they want that fact recognized. You can’t say the same thing about people of Asian descent in North America, or people of European or African descent. Canada’s indigenous population isn’t just looking for equal footing and equal opportunity. It’s also looking to have its legal autonomy recognized, and having their lands recognized as states-within-a-state.

    If any of that is true for the US’s indigenous populations, all of that is being completely washed over.

  123. 123
    Drolfe

    Some of you are getting the inclusion of Malkin really wrong. It wasn’t brought in as a “race traitor” attack or to deflect. He’s saying here’s another example of ignoring the actual racism to go after me. Ie, you say your goal is anti-Asian racism, and anti-racism and social justice broadly, but you’re going to befriend this Fox News right-wing racist hack that wrote a book in defense of internment camps for Japanese-Americans as a defense for conservative anti-Arab bigotry. You’re not gonna trend #cancelMalkin because she’s useful this one time as a woman of color?

    It’s part of the broader point that no one gives a shit about bigots saying racist shit, we only care when mommy and daddy are fighting.

    If I go to media matters am I going to find a week of cable news and mainstream blog coverage of the racist shit Malkin says? Sadly, No, it will just be the usual liberal blogs lampooning what a dumbass she is.

  124. 124
    anteprepro

    @anteprepro, Malkin’s politics are terrible, but you don’t get to say her offense at anti-asian racism isn’t real.

    For fuck’s sake, you don’t get to just assume that it is legitimate either! Do you know how these fuckers operate, at all? Does the fact that she fucking defended fucking internment not give the slightest hint, at all, that her indignation on this issue might not be genuine? I just don’t understand how people would take Malkin’s word on this. Find virtually anyone else, I will take their concerns seriously. I will not trust someone with such a history of lies and having this issue fall clearly within her political agenda. For fuck’s sake. Find virtually anyone else. Anyone else. But Malkin’s opinion is irrelevant because if it is politically convenient for her, it is proven that she will distort and lie. Malkin is NOT a honest representative for this issue and nothing from her mouth on this subject, or pretty much any other, should be trusted. Just like any other right-wing blowhard and Fox News thrall. She is not a credible source for anything. Do you understand that?

  125. 125
    methuseus

    I thought the joke was biting and horrible when I saw it, but I thought it got the point across well when it was the bookend to the whole segment on the ROAF (or whatever the offensive fund is titled). When taken as a single tweet, it was horribly offensive. I’m a white, cis male, so yes, I know I have privilege which I don’t always recognize. The joke may have fallen flat for minority groups, but it got the message across to many white people who don’t see why the team’s name is offensive. I also don’t think Colbert was doubling-down, but he could have been a little more sensitive and spent more time lambasting the real charity.

  126. 126
    David Marjanović
    I see more over-earnestness and absolute self certainty, with a big addition of jargon that sometimes tends towards overblown academese that almost parodies itself.

    It’s funny that you think this sentence is an improvement upon “hysterical.”

    It takes the potential sexism out, doesn’t it?

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/03/im-not-your-disappearing-indian-154311

    From there:

    “And ‘Stephen Colbert,’ the satirical character? He announced on Monday night that he will be closing his (fake) foundation and donating all the money to Dan Snyder’s OAF, because he didn’t hear [expletive] about that on Twitter.”

    I like that, for what that’s worth…
    (Brackets in the original.)

    “Let’s make sure he does. And hopefully, with our allies help our concerns and hashtags — #Not4Sale Snyder! — will be heard.”

    …I like that, too.

    I think it would be interesting to see a poll of the Asian-American community on this… I think it’s fair to say that they haven’t been speaking with one voice.

    That’s a strange expectation you have there. No group of people, artificially so classified or not, is a monolith.

  127. 127
    carlie

    Colbert was assuming that his “Asian slur” satire was so OBVIOUSLY racist, that it alone would be OBVIOUSLY an attack on the Redskins use as being racist as well. Maybe he could sub-caption his show explaining the jokes, apologizing along the way.

    But what goes along with that is that “and Asians should be ok with us using them as the punchline to make the point that racism is bad”. She is saying that no, they are not ok with that.

  128. 128
    anteprepro

    Kichae

    One of the things that has gone completely ignored in almost everything I’ve read on this is that racism has context, and the context of anti-Asian racism is different from the context of anti-Black racism is different from anti-Native American racism. It’s all racism, but the historical context can vary wildly depending on against whom someone is being racist against.

    I agree but I think that people sometimes try to avoid that angle, because in the minds of some people, pointing out the differences in kinds of racism will inevitably lead them to one conclusion: Some forms of racism are less serious than others, and therefore more acceptable. It’s a good point, but discussing it will most likely lead to a round of Oppression Olympics followed by certain groups that still experience racism being designated as Acceptable Targets because they aren’t quite as oppressed as a few other groups.

    I think I just made myself hate humanity even more by thinking about this. Ugh.

  129. 129
    violetknight

    @David

    “That’s a strange expectation you have there. No group of people, artificially so classified or not, is a monolith.”

    Well, that’s what I was trying to say. Look for the first use of ‘monolith’ on this thread!

  130. 130
    hoku

    @ 126

    But Asians are not the punchline of the joke. Snyder is the punchline, Asians are the setup.

  131. 131
    andyo

    I’m Asian ethnically, I’ve followed Colbert’s show for a while, and that is a years-spanning running joke that I never even thought about being offended. And this is the very first time this kind of backlash has been made out of it. It’s always made very clear on the show what he meant, it was not a Poe by any means. The only difference is that this time it was out of context on Twitter. I’m just not convinced that context (or lack thereof) didn’t play a role in Park’s initial reaction.

    Of course, others may feel otherwise. But just saying “it wasn’t funny” is not an argument for condemning the joke itself. Was it offensive? I think that does depend on context. This joke did not flop when it aired.

    Colbert being a satire of the rightwing pundit, uses as a “battering ram” poor people, women and other minorities. Feminists don’t seem to have much of a problem when he does, probably because most of the horrible things he says aren’t taken out of context.

    And just saying that people who “defend” Colbert think he can never be wrong could be turned around, could Park never be wrong? It’s a specious statement both ways.

  132. 132
    David Marjanović
    there’s an assumption that Asian-Americans are OK to make fun of.

    I.Don’t.Think.So..

    There may well be an assumption that they’re safer to use as an example.

  133. 133
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @125 David

    I see more over-earnestness and absolute self certainty, with a big addition of jargon that sometimes tends towards overblown academese that almost parodies itself.

    It’s funny that you think this sentence is an improvement upon “hysterical.”

    It takes the potential sexism out, doesn’t it?

    Ostensibly, yes. “Over-earnest” though? Kind of a mealy-mouthed euphemism for “hysterical,” IMO. Also, “absolute self-certainty” implies “unreasonable.” And “jargon” and “academese” (along with other terms like “buzz word”) are often used to dismiss marginalized people and social justice advocates by implying that they’re using fancy words to say nothing much. Also, liberal use of the prefix “over” is common among people being dismissive of the marginalized: everyone is “overemotional,”oversensitive,” “overreacting,” etc. I’m sure it wasn’t Derek’s intent, but he blew a lot of dog-whistles in that sentence.

  134. 134
    Drolfe

    one conclusion: Some forms of racism are less serious than others, and therefore more acceptable. It’s a good point, but discussing it will most likely lead to a round of Oppression Olympics followed by certain groups that still experience racism being designated as Acceptable Targets because they aren’t quite as oppressed as a few other groups.

    Yep, and bad for the same reasons as racial jokes taken out of context: people hear “it’s ok if I’m joking!” (It’s not OK, intent magic,etc.) The problem here is basically an overwhelming number of Americans are racist, subconsciously or not, and that everyone racist or not fucks up.

  135. 135
    Drolfe

    My blockquote there looks shitty, and I apologize for it. I should have included more in the copy/paste. I hope my meaning is still clear.

  136. 136
    violetknight

    @Seven Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  137. 137
    qwints

    “The first project for Snyder’s foundation: Changing a name”

    “An Asian American’s Thoughts on #CancelColbert and Suey Park’s Hashtag War”

    anteprepo@123

    Malkin is NOT a honest representative for this issue and nothing from her mouth on this subject, or pretty much any other, should be trusted. Just like any other right-wing blowhard and Fox News thrall. She is not a credible source for anything. Do you understand that?

    No, I don’t. That’s just poisoning the well. Malkin’s claims about the racist acts of liberal or media figures stand on their own despite her odious politics.

  138. 138
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @135 violetknight

    I said I was sure it wasn’t Derek’s intent, diddums, but Derek’s intent is no more magic than anyone else’s.

  139. 139
    violetknight

    @Seven “I said I was sure it wasn’t Derek’s intent, diddums, but Derek’s intent is no more magic than anyone else’s.”

    You said a lot of other stuff, too. Sometimes these words are accurate.

  140. 140
    SallyStrange

    I really liked Suey Park’s announcement that she didn’t want white people on her side. I am totally feeling her; after 2 decades of speaking out about reproductive rights, I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer want to ask for the support of men because 90% of the time their “support” is a distraction and an obstacle to success. What I took from that was that she doesn’t want people on her side who aren’t already there; if you’re willing to go looking for the context of Colbert’s jokes, but not willing to go looking for the context of hers, then fuck it, you’re not worth bothering with.

  141. 141
    violetknight

    @qwints

    Re: the second article, the Deadspin article was written by two Korean-Americans, which is only relevant in that I don’t think they had much interest in “dehumanizing Asians”.

  142. 142
    boyofd

    @qwints 98: fair challenge, and I read the first. I think it misses the point at several places (with respect to Colbert, not Snyder). This quote for one: “If the defense is anything like, “but he was trying to show how people already know when something is racist against Asians, so why shouldn’t they react the same way when it’s harmful terms used against Natives?”, it’s too simplistic. It comes from “racism is already over [against Asians]” which is WRONG. Asian people have to deal with racism all the time, which should have been evidenced by the backlash. Racism is not over. ”

    No, it doesn’t come from a “racism” is already over against Asians defense. It comes from a strong basis in reality that there is a much larger group of Americans who recognize racism against Asians than they recognize racism against Native Americans. People who are steeped in racism are not the target of the joke, but only those who would recognize the racism of Colbert’s foundation (but might not see it in the Redskins name or foundation, at least not as strongly).

    I think the other point the article misses is that it claims that the way for white people to help the cause against racism is “collecting your people,” which is a demand that the white people be the ones to shut down racism and call out racism when another white person does it. The irony, of course, is that is precisely what Colbert was trying to do. We can argue about whether Asians had cause to be offended by the show, but it also seems that Colbert was doing exactly what he was being asked to do in reference to Native Americans. Now, Colbert and I cannot speak for Asians and whether they are rightly or justly offended, but we can speak for many whites in saying that this is, in my view at least, a very effective satirical smack at the heart of the casual racism in white people that allows for things like the Washington Redskins (and Chief Wahoo) to exist.

  143. 143
    kevinkirkpatrick

    @all – Yes, my point was not intended to be any sort of defense of Malkin, but the cringe-worthiness of Colbert’s deflection. If I made a sexist comment, and was called out for it by, among many other voices, “Girl-Writes-What” vlogger Karen Straughan; I believe it would be in very poor form to respond to that collective criticism by focusing on Straughan’s response and linking possibly worse things she’s posted online. Frankly, I wouldn’t even consider such a response as sufficient to dismiss Straughan’s criticisms alone, much less as any basis to dismiss all criticism at-large.

    Ultimately, I guess Colbert’s reference to Malkin’s book just really smacked of “My using the ‘N-word’ wasn’t racist because here’s an example of a black person saying it twice last week!”.

  144. 144
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @violetknight

    I’m not interested in having a pissing contest with you. David asked for clarification of why didn’t think Derek’s inflation of “hysterical” into an entire sentence was any better than “hysterical” and I obliged. I don’t need you to explain the fucking obvious to me.

  145. 145
    violetknight

    @Seven I was just explaining why I think you were wrong, since you didn’t seem to get the obvious. I think we can leave it at that, before you get hysterical.

  146. 146
    doublereed

    Violetknight, don’t be a snarky dick.

    Can’t we all just get along? /last words

  147. 147
    anteprepro

    No, I don’t. That’s just poisoning the well. Malkin’s claims about the racist acts of liberal or media figures stand on their own despite her odious politics.

    I guess you don’t understand then.

    Learn about credible sources and why you strive to find them.

    Learn about conflict of interest and bias.

    Learn about Malkin and other right-wing pundits.

    Learn about how often the above will bullshit and fabricate and spin in order to suit their world-view.

    Poisoning the well? That well was well past toxic before I ever got there. This isn’t philosophy class where induction is forbidden or some such shit. I note that bullshit in leads to bullshit out. I note that Malkin is prolific in the bullshit industry. I note that you could easily try to get information from a more credible source. It’s all about who you can actually trust.

    I would ask for independent confirmation if she or any of her right-wing ilk said that the sky was blue. Citing them for any reason is worse than useless, due to the fact that they cannot be trusted in any way, shape, or form. Citing them on in issue in which they can clearly gain partisan points by lying or exaggerating? Ridiculous on its face. Their blatant dishonesty and bias can creep into non-partisan subjects, but if you have one where politics is even more front and center, they manage to become even less reliable than before. Find another source .

  148. 148
    lostintime

    I suppose you’ve all seen her utterly obnoxious appearance on HuffPost? How can you defend someone as vapid as this?

    Also take a look at this epic take down by Joslyn Stevens

    http://joslynstevens.com/

  149. 149
    violetknight

    @doublereed Hey, unlike you and Seven, at least I’m not cursing at anyone. I tried to make a point, and got nothing back but hostility. But I suppose you’re right, I should not be suckered into returning in kind.

  150. 150
    anteprepro

    lostintime: That “epic takedown” includes a mental illness shaming. But yeah, “epic”.

    Violetknight: Complaining about cursing and “hostility” huh? New here?

  151. 151
    A. Noyd

    anteprepro (#32)

    What, exactly, is the issue here?

    Park’s point, which I’m not quite sure you get, was that this sort of satire does nothing to change what it’s satirizing for the better and only makes the white people who get the joke feel smug for not being such obvious racists. It turns PoC’s struggles with racism into entertainment for whites. Here’s another person saying essentially the same thing.

    (#113)

    Suey Park is a bit hyperbolic and is indifferent to the original context, but has an excellent point about the racism involved in the segment, even if the original part of the joke she was objecting to wasn’t the actually racist part.

    “Actually racist part”? What?

  152. 152
    A. Noyd

    jim (#74)

    Honest question–can a white comedian satire race issues at all then? Because even though the point of the satire is to punch up, there’s not much bite to it unless you leverage another minority for the satire.

    I’m white, so take this with a grain of salt, but from what I understand of the objections made is that it would be more acceptable if the satire worked to make the white people in the intended audience question themselves rather than feel good that they’re not the racist ones (even if they are).

    Consider it this way: In the context of racism, all white people exist in the upward direction. Satire such as the tweet supposedly—in context—punches up, but at the same time it somehow bypasses a huge swathe of white people. So what is it really doing?

  153. 153
    A. Noyd

    carlie (#126)

    But what goes along with that is that “and Asians should be ok with us using them as the punchline to make the point that racism is bad”.

    For the benefit of white people who already know that racism is bad. (Even if they don’t quite know what racism is.)

  154. 154
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Hey, unlike you and Seven, at least I’m not cursing at anyone.

    Oh noes! Not cursing! How ever will you cope?

  155. 155
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    And there’s violetknight with the clutch exemplification of the point that he thought he was refuting.

  156. 156
    Alteredstory

    For me, what it comes down to is this – The Colbert Report is based entirely on a character that is a caricature of everything that’s terrible about the conservative movement today. The character Stephen Colbert is racist, sexist, anti-intellectual, anti-sensitivity, pro-war, and so on. When he testified against the GOP’s take on immigration, he took the “don’t make me have to do what poor people have to do” route, with a healthy side of “can’t we just keep exploiting these people for cheap salads?”

    His entire show revolves around SHOWING how things are wrong by associating them with things that are wronger. He mocks young-earth creationism by saying that the earth isn’t just young, it’s flat.

    So if he wants to tackle the despicable absurdity of a charity to help native Americans having the slur “Redskins” in its title, how can he go about it? He can’t just spend ten minutes explaining how “Redskins” is a slur and the charity is an exploitative attempt to gain acceptance by using the desperation of many native communities in America to claim their support. That’s not how the show works. That would be a straight news commentary show.

    So he has to either do it within character, or not do it at all. In character, the options are limited, because his character would think that the Redskins charity was a brilliant idea. The most commonly used way to satirize something like that is to do the same thing, but take it a step further. It’s not CREATIVE, but it’s basically the entirety of Colbert’s show. He’s good enough at it that he’s popular even though it’s not the most creative concept in the world.

    And as has been mentioned, it just doesn’t work if he tries to use a privileged group for that bit of satire. It either lacks any punch whatsoever, or it trivializes the genocide associated with the slur in question.

    So what it comes down to is this, as far as I can tell – the demand seems to be that either Colbert not deal with an issue like that, or that he use some group OTHER than Asians as his “battering ram”, because better that the damage be done to THEM.

    Or am I missing something here?

  157. 157
    violetknight

    @anteprepro Just explaining why my (I think mild) response might have given lost the vapors.

    @Thumper Hey, if I’m a “snarky dick” for calling someone hysterical, then cursing should make everybody drop their dinner forks.

    @lostintime That’s mostly just her being rude. The Salon interview is worse, since it reveals more of her actual opinions, with relatively little filter.

  158. 158
    A. Noyd

    lostintime (#147)

    I suppose you’ve all seen her utterly obnoxious appearance on HuffPost? How can you defend someone as vapid as this?

    Obnoxious and vapid? Park shut down the host and his pal, who were hostile and condescending from the start. I applaud her for not accepting that kind of treatment.

  159. 159
    violetknight

    @Alteredstory I think the only solution that would have offended nobody would have been to skip that joke entirely and try to make the point in some other way. Satire should do its best to make everybody comfortable, especially if it’s targeting ingrained racial prejudice.

  160. 160
    beergoggles

    @Alteredstory: When the whole issue blew up I did start wondering which group he could have used without causing more offense or seeming trite. It doesn’t seem like asians are currently on the lowest rungs of the oppression olympics. Heck, judging by republican rhetoric and the lack of cops shooting them, asians could be honorary whites so I guess his writers thought it was a ‘safe’ choice?

  161. 161
    lostintime

    A. Noyd #157

    I’m pretty sure she shut down the conversation from the start, culminating with “I’m not going to enact the labor of explaining that”. What a brat. Then there’s her embarrassing Salon interview, which you should try reading out loud for fun – it’s pseudo-intellectual crap from start to finish.

  162. 162
    Alteredstory

    @violetknight

    Satire should do its best to make everybody comfortable, especially if it’s targeting ingrained racial prejudice.

    Sorry – I genuinely can’t tell. Are you serious about this? This reads like sarcasm to me, but I haven’t read enough of your comments to be sure.

    asians could be honorary whites

    I’m really not comfortable with that terminology, but I think I get what you’re saying.

    And yeah, I had the same basic thought re: the “oppression ladder” metaphor (olympic rungs?). On the other hand, I know that for EVERY group, there’s an attempt to dismiss the existence of prejudice and/or racism, especially when it’s a group that seems to be doing well.

  163. 163
    violetknight

    @beergoggles That’s probably the hardest criticism as I see it… that it’s in itself racist to turn to racist portrayals of Asians as safe, even in satire. But you might also say that’s part of the point. If it’s offensive for “even Asians” to be mocked in this manner (since, I guess, it’s still not punching up), then maybe we should reconsider doing it with Native Americans.

  164. 164
    Alteredstory

    The thing is, I’m also not cool with just not doing it to avoid offending everybody else because the issues facing Native Americans tend to be ignored. They certainly weren’t covered in school, and the fact that oil companies are STILL forcing their way into and across Native lands never seems to make it into Congressional OR Executive considerations when dealing with thinks like Keystone.

    Ignoring them seems to be the default, which makes any attention given to issues relating to them all the more important.

    I realize I’m speaking as a white, hetero, cismale, so I’m not exactly at risk as a battering ram myself here, except perhaps in literal sense against doors.

    It just feels a lot like putting the considerations of one group – Asian Americans(or any other group that does suffer from prejudice) – as being so much more important than those of another group – Native Americans – that we should avoid engaging on the issue at all if it might hurt the feelings of the former group.

    I don’t think there IS an easy answer, but I also don’t think it’s as simple as “was this offensive, and if so, he shouldn’t have done it.”

  165. 165
    congaboy

    “Wow. People already rushing to defend Colbert.
    Just curious: can you even admit that it was a poor joke that flopped miserably? Or is Colbert the perfect comedian, whose every word is a jewel of laughter-inducing perfection?”

    I am going to defend Colbert and all comedians who use satire in a similar fashion, with the same intent. Whether the original joke fell flat or not is subjective. Satire, by its nature is offensive. It shows how horrible and disgusting human beings really are—and we, as a species should be offended by how disgusting we really are. The bit played well when it was done as part of the show. The tweet was extremely offensive and stupid. Colbert’s satire is different from many other shows in that, instead of being an outside observer commenting on the issues in question, he portrays the hated thing–he takes on the role of the narrow-minded, bigoted, privileged, white-conservative night after night. The “jokes” he does are all geared from that perspective. Perhaps he and his writers weren’t clever enough to figure out a more effective way for him to satire the original racist, Dan Snyder, while staying in character (I know I’m certainly not clever enough to figure out a way to do it), but that doesn’t mean that the bit flopped—the bit was actually well done and well executed. It was probably not the best way to express disgust at the racism and irony in Dan Snyder’s offensive foundation—the difference is that Colbert’s foundation wasn’t serious in the least and intentionally used the most offensive racial slurs possible, short of the “n” word, in an attempt to point out how disgusting the real racism was. It was intended to make the viewer say to herself, “Could you imagine someone actually being so stupid, clueless, and racist that they would actually call a charitable foundation a name like that . . . wait, some racist asshole actually did that? WTF!” Colbert doesn’t always hit the mark—he did a bit about atheists being offended about the cross being erected at ground zero in NYC. His bit was well written and funny, but it totally missed the point. I was disappointed that he didn’t see the real reason that the cross is inappropriate, but I’m not going to call for his removal, that’s just stupid. Just because his bits may not always hit the mark or properly convey the message in a totally acceptable format doesn’t mean he or any other comedian should stop trying. It just means that they should learn from their mistakes. Personally, I think it is actually racist and insulting to think that people of any ethnic group are incapable of understanding the point of the bit and that it was satire. There will always be people in every group who take offense at one thing or another, it doesn’t mean that the “offensive” thing is actually wrong—think of all of the religious people who take offense at the “blasphemous” things that are expressed on this blog. Many people take real offense and feel real pain when they read what PZ and others say about their religious beliefs, but that hasn’t stopped anyone on this blog from continuing with that behavior. At least with Colbert, he doesn’t believe the things he said while in character and he appears to believe that people of every ethnicity are smart enough and strong enough to understand why the bit was truly satire.

  166. 166
    A. Noyd

    beergoggles (#159)

    When the whole issue blew up I did start wondering which group he could have used without causing more offense or seeming trite.

    The issue of which group to use misses the point, which is that maybe white liberals shouldn’t be aiming to make this kind of self-serving joke in the first place.

    It doesn’t seem like asians are currently on the lowest rungs of the oppression olympics.

    Uh, “Oppression Olympics” is an invalid concept.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    lostintime (#160)

    What a brat.

    Nope, I’m firmly on her side. People of color should not have to stand for being talked down to and should not have to explain for the millionth time to each individual white person why our (white) opinions are not automatically just as valid. Park’s approach is really irrelevant; the host’s attitude and his reactions were typical of a white person participating in any discussion of racism that doesn’t defer to whites. White ignorance and white tears are constantly used to silence PoC or shift the focus onto white people’s feelings. Park obviously wasn’t having any of it, so good for her.

    Also, I really have to wonder if you’d think she was such a “brat” or so “vapid” or “obnoxious” if she was a man saying the exact same things. But, then again, I really don’t want to hear your explanation of how you’re totally not sexist because I’m sure it will be off the mark as anything you’ve said so far.

  167. 167
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Satire is hard. Colbert is not perfect at it. He did badly. The joke went the wrong way. Everyone agrees the joke didn’t work the way Colbert intended. Everyone seems to have different reasons as to why the joke didn’t work.
    Let’s just agree on that point: The joke didn’t work. We’re tying ourselves into knots; not doing very well at explaining why we didn’t like the joke, and whether it can even be called a “joke”, because it failed so badly.
    Time to be silent and hate the joke silently. Silence! Think! Quiet…

  168. 168
    qwints

    “Ending the Legacy Of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful “Indian” Sports Mascots”

    “How Colbert Report’s “funny” tweet is actually really racist and anti-Asian; but no, we shouldn’t #CancelColbert

    @Anteprepo: Just because the right-wing noise machine (of which Malkin is a part) takes glee in pointing out the hypocrisy of their opponents doesn’t make them wrong. You’re right that we have to double check everything they say, but they’re also likely to be among the first to point out when a liberal media personality screws up.

  169. 169
    consciousness razor

    The Colbert Report is based entirely on a character that is a caricature of everything that’s terrible about the conservative movement today.

    Well, it is a caricature of something at least. We shouldn’t assume that real-Colbert (the person behind the character) is always on the right side. That’s part of the danger here. You don’t just “get” the satire but also defend it, if you agree with real-Colbert’s outlook. But like anyone else, he can be on the wrong side. The thing is, you know that he’s a satirist, and you know you’re “supposed” to think exactly the opposite of whatever Colbert’s character does, because real-Colbert does seem to be a generally good, rational person who’s usually ridiculing all of the terrible shit people say and do. So it’s easy to become complacent about it: let him do the thinking for you, then entertain you with the results. You’re in entertain-me mode, not so much in thinking-mode. If you weren’t just looking to be entertained, you should probably trust him less than someone like Michelle Malkin, because it’s so much easier to convince yourself that he’s right. But when he’s targeted the wrong thing or his approach isn’t helpful, what do you tend to say to yourself? (1) He’s wrong, and it doesn’t matter that it’s satire, or (2) This is satire, so there must be something about this that’s worth ridiculing, in the specific way that he did it.

    When the whole issue blew up I did start wondering which group he could have used without causing more offense or seeming trite.

    I figure “using” a group is part of the problem here. He doesn’t need to stick with the same kind of joke, by just making some superficial change to it. Also, Colbert regularly breaks character on the show, whenever it’s useful (or easier for the writers), so there’s really no reason why he’d have to take this approach at all.

  170. 170
    consciousness razor

    Just because the right-wing noise machine (of which Malkin is a part) takes glee in pointing out the hypocrisy of their opponents doesn’t make them wrong

    What hypocrisy are they pointing out? I think what they like is their own bullshit and making lots of money with it.

  171. 171
    violetknight

    As for whether the joke didn’t work, just re-listened to the segment. It might not have gone down well with critical race theorists, but the audience seemed to enjoy it. The introduction of the charity name in particular got the biggest laugh.

  172. 172
    David Marjanović

    “Over-earnest” though? Kind of a mealy-mouthed euphemism for “hysterical,” IMO.

    …Really? I get pretty much opposite images from the two.

    Hey, if I’m a “snarky dick” for calling someone hysterical, then cursing should make everybody drop their dinner forks.

    Oh, you misunderstand. “Hysterical” has a rich history of being used as a misogynist slur.* “Fuckwit” does not…

    * Much like “vapid”, BTW. In context, “obnoxious” also fits. And “brat”? That only even makes sense in the context of the patriarchal attitude that only men ever really grow up while women stay children.

  173. 173
    A. Noyd

    twas brillig (#166)

    not doing very well at explaining why we didn’t like the joke

    See, I did like the joke, but that’s part of the problem. I’m awarding myself the privilege of being in on it, at the expense of indigenous Americans, Asians and Asian-Americans.

    Park’s criticism actually helped me a lot because I’ve been rewatching the first few seasons of The Office (US version) recently, and something about the humor in it has been bothering me, though I couldn’t say quite what. And Park made it really clear for me. It panders to privileged people who want to feel enlightened. It’s not calculated to make the audience say, “Ouch, that’s me,” but, “Haha, that’s them.”

    Even comedians of color struggle with making sure the targets of their humor know they’re being targeted, but when it’s white guys making the joke, it’s even easier for whites to be uncritical about ourselves.

  174. 174
    violetknight

    “Oh, you misunderstand. “Hysterical” has a rich history of being used as a misogynist slur.* “Fuckwit” does not…”

    Nah, we’ve covered that. But to be clear, it was Seven I was referring to (who, as far as I know, is un-gendered).

  175. 175
    chigau (違う)

    ‘hysterical’ and ‘dick’ as insults are both best avoided on Pharyngula.

  176. 176
    lostintime

    #165 A Noyd
    I would explain to you why she’s totally like, urm.. that the prisons can undergo reform and somehow do less violence as a structure, but a bird just flew outside the window. To be more clear, I always paint my white characters to be singular, to be ignorant, to reverse the gaze onto them instead when they are our subjects, instead of always constantly saying people of color are fucked and a way to kind of always reinforce our subject’s location in reference to white men as some metaphor. Got it now?

    I don’t disrespect her because of her race or gender, but because of her crappy half-baked philosophy. Also she hasn’t been ‘silenced’ – she’s been interviewed by black and Asian women, and when they question her she’s incapable of giving an intelligent answer. Instead she says “that’s an irrelevant question”, or more likely “you’re white so you and your translucent skin wouldn’t understand.” She’s just obnoxious, and you’re only defending her because she’s able to string together a series of buzzwords that sound progressive.

  177. 177
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    …Really? I get pretty much opposite images from the two.

    “Earnest” basically means you care very much about your cause, right? So “over-earnest” means you care more than is warranted, i.e. you’re overreacting which serves the much the same purpose as “hysterical” while sounding less inflammatory. So, no, it doesn’t have the implication that you’re frantic and distraught (assuming that’s what you mean by “opposite images”) but there’s still the implication that your response is out of proportion.

  178. 178
    doublereed

    @166 twas brillig

    Honestly, I hear people criticizing the tweet, which was obviously racist. The link in @167 says basically exactly that. That is, I see the joke in context as fine and therefore if you don’t then there is actual disagreement. It sounds to me like there is actual disagreement. The joke certainly did not fail badly in the show.

    And there also does seem to be genuine disagreement on Colbert’s apology, considering PZ apparently thinks it’s “doubling down” while I (and a few others here) considered it the exact reverse.

    So I don’t think there’s as much consensus as you’re suggesting.

  179. 179
    beergoggles

    @Alteredstory & @violetknight
    I really should have put a /tic after bringing up the ‘oppression olympics’ because it’s sorta a jab at our side and how we prioritize the interests of each minority.

    But on the whole I am ok with offending a few people to bring attention to how absolutely ignored Native American concerns are and how voiceless they seem to be in these conversations. And when those offended people begin making the conversation all about them without having the awareness or even willingness to assess the situation and see the forest from the trees, I’m really not sure what we can do other than mock them.

  180. 180
    Alteredstory

    We shouldn’t assume that real-Colbert (the person behind the character) is always on the right side.

    I absolutely agree, and I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. I ignored, for the most part, PZ’s implication that any defense of Colbert in this case means thoughtless devotion, and an assertion that he’s perfect. It’s a pathetic argument, and frankly it’s disappointing coming from someone I generally respect. It’s the kind of crap I see from religious people AND climate science deniers on a regular basis – the whole “anybody who agrees with Gore clearly thinks he can’t be wrong about anything” crock.

    I’m trying to figure out, in this instance, where the line he crossed is, and if there’s a way for him to have avoided that line without (a) throwing out the whole premise of his show and (b) throwing the native American community under the bus for the sake of the feelings of other communities.

    I figure “using” a group is part of the problem here.

    I think you may be taking a different definition of “using” here. When I’m writing educational material, I will use people, animals, and many other things as examples and/or content. It’s a form of use that doesn’t imply disrespect, it’s just a term that describes the process of writing about something, and employing rhetorical techniques to get a point across.

    He doesn’t need to stick with the same kind of joke, by just making some superficial change to it.

    So I’ll ask again – what superficial changes could he have made to it that would have made the point without being damaging in some other way? It’s an honest question, and one that nobody’s really answered thus far.

    Also, Colbert regularly breaks character on the show, whenever it’s useful (or easier for the writers), so there’s really no reason why he’d have to take this approach at all.

    Does he? I haven’t noticed that happening very often on OR off his show.

  181. 181
    violetknight

    @lostintime She’s a terrible interlocutor, and what she says about Asians who disagree with her is worse (that they’re Uncle Tom toadies). But let’s not make this about her. There’s no winning against those kinds of opinions, and it’s more intellectually honest to take on the opposing side’s best arguments.

  182. 182
    A. Noyd

    lostintime (#175)

    Got it now?

    That you’re an idiot who’s not really worth talking to? Yes, but that was clear from the start.

  183. 183
    consciousness razor

    I absolutely agree, and I don’t think that’s what I’m doing.

    Sure, but I wanted to make that premise explicit. If you agree with it, then move on.

    I’m trying to figure out, in this instance, where the line he crossed is, and if there’s a way for him to have avoided that line without (a) throwing out the whole premise of his show and (b) throwing the native American community under the bus for the sake of the feelings of other communities.

    He could’ve made another joke. The entire premise of his show is not one specific joke.

    As it is, it doesn’t seem to be structured around pointing out how absurd “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is. He ought to be railing heavily on the kind of people who would ever think that’s appropriate. Instead, the humor revolves around how silly those sounds are to white Anglophones, which is simply reiterating the prejudices people have about Asians, not attacking them. The bigots barely get any pressure directed toward them. The most you might say is that it’s made to seem kind of juvenile to be racist. It’s the sort of thing you’d hear on a playground. He could’ve easily picked something much more obviously aggressive and unfair, since racism doesn’t only or primarily exist on playgrounds, in order to show what’s so wrong with it; but the criticism of racists is weak at best, as if they ought to just “grow up” or something, or that they should come up with more inventive ways of attacking minorities.

    So for the people who say that only the Twitter-version was inappropriate, and that the “context” of the show somehow made it better: what is better about it? I don’t think that’s very clear-cut at all.

    So I’ll ask again – what superficial changes could he have made to it that would have made the point without being damaging in some other way?

    Do you understand what the word “superficial” means?

  184. 184
    Alteredstory

    He could’ve made another joke. The entire premise of his show is not one specific joke.

    Yeah, we’ve covered that. He could have told the one about the bug and the windshield. What I was looking for was another joke that would still address the issue that the segment was about – the slur “redskin” and Snyder’s attempt to basically buy his way out of having to acknowledge and deal with it.

    As it is, it doesn’t seem to be structured around pointing out how absurd “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is.

    No. It’s not. It’s structured around the assumption that WE ALREADY KNOW HOW ABSURD IT IS. It’s structured around the assumption that almost everybody in this country recognizes that both the name of the character AND use of the term “oriental” are offensive to Asians and Asian-Americans. Pointing out that offensiveness was not the point.

    The goal was to draw attention to the fact that the name of the team, “Redskins” is AS offensive to native Americans (if not more so) than “Ching Chong Ding Dong” and “Orientals” is to Asians, and the idea was that since most people, GET how offensive the LATTER insult is, it might help them get how offensive the FORMER is.

    Sorry if you get that already, but your comment seemed to be ignoring it, especially since you said: “The bigots barely get any pressure directed toward them.”

    Which bigots were those? The ones who are prejudiced against Asian Americans, or the people standing by their commercialization of a slur against Native Americans, and the attempt to exploit Native American poverty in order to buy false “support” for that insult?

    Do you understand what the word “superficial” means?

    Do you?

    You keep saying that a different joke or minor changes to the joke would remove the offense. I’m asking WHAT changes you think could be made that would remove the offense, without simply shifting it to another group, transferring it to the Native American community by trivializing them, or completely ignoring the issue, as has happened to the Native Americans for generations.

    As I said before, if you use a different oppressed group, then you’re just transferring the offense to someone else, and if you make it about white folks (as someone earlier tried to do), you trivialize the generations of suffering and genocide that are associated with the slur, and if you do neither, then you miss out on a powerful way to address an issue that’s important to one of the most wronged groups of people in the country (if not THE most wronged group).

    You’re acting like it’s a simple issue, and I’m not seeing it.

  185. 185
    John Horstman

    From Jensen’s article:

    What I do know is that whether I fully agree with Suey Park or not, the interviews I’ve heard and read that have actually allowed her to speak show us a very intelligent and thoughtful person.

    Wow, really? The one I’ve read showed me someone who was constructing answers from Mad Libs: Critical Theory Edition and losing her train of thought halfway through due to a combination of not knowing what she’s talking about* and ADD. Her response to the question starting, “You’ve also said you’re a fan of ‘The Colbert Report,’” is to state that she seriously inconsistent and actively maintaining cognitive dissonance. The sad part is that the angry response to the initial tweet was coming from what is, IMO, an entirely reasonable place – racism (and sexism, and intersectional issues involving both) is alive and well on the “Left”.

    *regarding postcolonial theory or critical race theory, especially when dismissing the importance of context when context is necessary for meaning in those frameworks; she may or may not understand satire, given that she has posited “#CancelColbert” as satirical, which would mean she was attempting to mock people who were reacting negatively to the joke – satire basically being turning the volume up to 11 on something ridiculous to highlight the ways in which it’s ridiculous – but that’s not what she really seems to have been trying to do; satire is hyperbole, but not all hyperbole is satire

  186. 186
    doublereed

    As it is, it doesn’t seem to be structured around pointing out how absurd “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is. He ought to be railing heavily on the kind of people who would ever think that’s appropriate. Instead, the humor revolves around how silly those sounds are to white Anglophones, which is simply reiterating the prejudices people have about Asians, not attacking them.

    What are you talking about? That’s not what the joke is about at all.

    The joke is a parody satirizing Snyder’s “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.” It’s not pointing out how absurd “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is, and it’s not attempting to. If anything it just takes that absurdity as an assumption.

  187. 187
    violetknight

    @consciousness razor
    “So for the people who say that only the Twitter-version was inappropriate, and that the “context” of the show somehow made it better: what is better about it? I don’t think that’s very clear-cut at all.”

    That’s… kind of hard to believe. You can believe that it’s still wrong, but the whole bit about Dan Snyder (not mentioned in the tweet) surely makes a difference. As does his using Ching Chong Ding Dong because he’s “part of the unique heritage of the Colbert nation that cannot change”, mirroring Snyder’s excuses.

  188. 188
    SQB

    The problem is that Colbert threw Asian-Americans under the bus to make his point about Dan Snyder.

  189. 189
    Alteredstory

    The problem is that Colbert threw Asian-Americans under the bus to make his point about Dan Snyder.

    I’m aware that people think that, but I’m not sure it’s that clear-cut. His entire segment rested on the assumption that everybody knows that what he said re:Asian Americans was racist and horrible. If people don’t agree that it’s racist, then the segment makes no sense.

    But let’s assume you’re not convinced of that. How SHOULD he have done it?

  190. 190
    teele

    Many of the comments above refer to “the original joke.” I actually saw the show this tweet derived from, and I wouldn’t call it a joke as much as a sketch. At the time, I didn’t think it was one of his funnier efforts, but I definitely understood what he was pointing out — that the Redskins charity fund name was just as acceptable as would be an organization with the ridiculous name he proffered purporting to help Asians.

    It seems to me that there are people commenting who don’t actually watch the Colbert Report. I can understand that some people do not care for Mr. Colbert — my spouse has a very difficult time with the show because he feels that the satire is often indistinguishable from the object of the satire (I think that is what you folks call “Poe”). Even when Mr. Colbert takes things to an extreme, he often falls short of the lunacy generated by the O’Reillys, Limbaughs, Robertsons and other RW commentators. The big difference, of course, is that Mr. Colbert is a comedian by trade, and has been for a long time, and does not take refuge in the “I’m just an entertainer” excuse only when it suits his purpose (like when he ticks enough people off, or provokes a couple of nitwit brothers to commit a hate crime, Mr. Limbaugh).

    I think this entire brouhaha says more about people who actually believe that Twitter offers a valid outlet for serious discussions about — anything at all.

  191. 191
    kagekiri

    #189: teele

    That’s a disturbingly short-sighted view. I think the racism and sexism being spewed on Colbert’s behalf is rather obviously far more a problem than even badly handled twitter activism or discussions, and dismissing an entire avenue of conversation is lazy at best as far as your conclusion goes.

    I get Colbert, but his defenders make the idea of liberal news humor seem like just another way to masturbate. If this is the thing liberals are willing to throw minorities and women under the bus for, man, that’s fucked up and we need to fight it.

  192. 192
    consciousness razor

    No. It’s not. It’s structured around the assumption that WE ALREADY KNOW HOW ABSURD IT IS.

    Yes, it is satire, and we know it’s satire. That doesn’t mean the force of the satire is automatically pointed in the right direction. You don’t get an Everything I Do Is Valid card, once you start doing satire.

    To me, it looks a lot like carelessly insulting Asians in an attempt to make a point for Native Americans. There’s no attempt whatsoever to put a spotlight on the careless insult itself, to put the problem back in the hands of the bigots. That’s just supposed to be hiding somewhere outside of the satire itself, in the minds of some people who assume the satire is doing what they think it’s doing. But there’s nothing in it that takes aim at the insult to Asians. Just your assumptions. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking at or listening for in the piece (or in his later commentary after the reaction), which changes that in any substantial way.

    You keep saying that a different joke or minor changes to the joke would remove the offense.

    I haven’t said a minor (or superficial) change would do that. You must have misinterpreted something I said.

    As I said before, if you use a different oppressed group, then you’re just transferring the offense to someone else, and if you make it about white folks (as someone earlier tried to do), you trivialize the generations of suffering and genocide that are associated with the slur, and if you do neither, then you miss out on a powerful way to address an issue that’s important to one of the most wronged groups of people in the country (if not THE most wronged group).

    Direct the ridicule toward the bigots. They are not “a different oppressed group,” and they’re not “white folks” which would need to be attacked with some other racist language. I’m not saying he should’ve engaged in a different flavor of dumbass name-calling. That would be pointless. I’m saying do an entirely different kind of joke.

    That is not impossible. That is not something we can’t expect of satirists. There is not only one conceivable joke that could’ve been made. It would not have broken his entire show to have done it differently. The hyperbole I’m seeing here is just amazing. It’s either that, or a complete lack of imagination.

    You’re acting like it’s a simple issue, and I’m not seeing it.

    I said it’s not “very clear-cut at all.” I don’t see how knowing it’s satire or knowing Colbert’s intent settles the issue either way. It doesn’t. If there’s something else to it, then what am I supposed to be missing?

  193. 193
    twas brillig (stevem)

    It’s not pointing out how absurd “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is, and it’s not attempting to. If anything it just takes that absurdity as an assumption.

    Ummm, yes and no. Yes the assumption is there, but his other assumption is that the satire will be obvious based on his facial expression when he announces the satirical name of his pseudo-charity. The problem is reducing his act to a simple text transcript. The satire depends on its presentation on a video medium. And it is dependent on the assumption that we understand the facial expression indicating satire, etc. etc. That’s why I said, “satire is hard”. All satire, visual or text, makes assumptions about the audience recognizing it. This instance of satire was not done very well. period. leave it at that.

    In reference to my previous comment about the difficulties we’re having. I just want to clarify that we obsessing over differing #details# of the arguments. In general, we all agree, it’s only the details we disagree about.

  194. 194
    kagekiri

    #175: lostintime

    Oh, I thought I liked the interviews because I actually understood what she was talking about. But no, you didn’t understand anything in the interviews, and you’re obviously unbiased, so she MUST not have said anything worthwhile and I must have been drawn in by “buzzwords”. Thanks for clearing that up! /sarcasm

    Seeing the sexist and racist shit and zero-empathy privileged dismissals thrown straight at Suey made my “getting the joke” damn near irrelevant. Even if she had no valid points to make, I still wouldn’t want to stand anywhere near most of Colbert’s “liberal” defenders. They’re not on my side, those white-splaining, man-splaining, condescending, and self-satisfied sycophants.

    I thought the #CancelColbert thing was a bit much at first, and Suey said it was more for shock value than out of a desire to actually get Colbert off the air, but you know what? If these are the other people appreciating the show, these who are willing at any perceived slight to become appalling spectacles of racism and sexism? Maybe this show is doing nothing worthwhile, just helping assholes get off on their sense of superiority.

    It’s also hilariously (well, horrifyingly) ironic to see the defense of “Malkin agrees with Suey, so you’re wrong”, when the hordes of sexist and racist asshats using ethnic slurs are the ones defending Colbert. I think their association with liberalism stinks far worse considering we already knew Malkin was an opportunistic scumbag and that Republicans will jump on any wagon that they perceive to be criticizing liberals.

    The consequences of Suey’s hashtag has made the racism and sexism on the left way too fucking clear.

  195. 195
    doublereed

    @192 twas brillig

    Why do you keep assuming that everyone agrees with you when there are people openly disagreeing with you? It’s just confusing.

    Stop saying things like “This instance of satire was not done very well. period. leave it at that” and “In general, we all agree, it’s only the details we disagree about.” No. This is not accurate. You’re just being weird. There is not a consensus here.

  196. 196
    Johnny Vector

    Arrgh, people! The pontifigurd is about the tweet. The tweet was not the joke. The joke was not tweeted.

    A joke is a setup plus a punchline. Intro to Comedy 101. The show had a long setup about Dan Snyder’s ridiculous charity, and a punchline showing just how absurd it is. We do this all the time around here. All. The. Time.

    The tweet was not the joke. The tweet was the punchline. A punchline without a setup is not a joke. Whoever posted that tweet needs a two-semester course on comedy writing, and an additional semester on micro-content, before being allowed near any CC twitter account again. Of course it was offensive, and not funny, it wasn’t a joke. And Colbert didn’t write it, or deliver it, or approve it.

    So yes, I’m defending Colbert. The original joke was completely in his style, was funny, and punched up at Snyder, by saying “look how fucking ridiculous this would sound if it weren’t something we were so used to hearing all the time.” Intro to Satire 102. And again, we do this all the time around here. The tweet was stupid, offensive, and not funny.

    I am not a comic, but I know enough about comedy to understand that. Sheesh.

  197. 197
    I, J

    Medieval morality plays would frequently include a comedic devil, which they would ridicule and satirize. This scandalized the Catholic Church, who found the portrayal of the devil on stage, even with noble intentions, offensive. In order to satirize the bigoted, racists asses on Fox, Colbert has to BE a bigoted, racist ass. A reasonable person would be “slower to respond, more eager to listen, less cocky.” Colbert, however, is playing a character that is the exact opposite of that, so it would follow that Colbert the Character would double down. To make fun of the devil, you have to bring the devil on stage.

  198. 198
    Hershele Ostropoler

    remyporter @ 2

    The humor of a comedic bit is not an inherent property of the joke. It’s something that arises out of the interaction between the joke teller, the audience, and the actual words said. It’s an emergent property of the experience.

    I would say the same is true of offensiveness. I don’t think there is anything one can say or write that is so inherently offensive as to obliterate any possible context.

    One could say that the joke here is still offensive in context, but that’s not the same as saying it doesn’t matter what the context is.

    Seven @ 132:

    I’m sure it wasn’t Derek’s intent, but he blew a lot of dog-whistles in that sentence.

    I don’t think you can blow dog whistles unintentionally. You can say things that sound like dog whistles without meaning them that way — which, after all, is why they are dog whistles — but that isn’t the same thing.

    Alteredstory @ 188:

    His entire segment rested on the assumption that everybody knows that what he said re:Asian Americans was racist and horrible.

    That’s how I saw it too. Which is why I don’t see the offensiveness of the on-the-show joke the way I do of, say, pretty much any mention of trans* people on nights his guest is cis (which seem to me to rely on a shared understanding — which I do not share — that trans* people are weird and worthy of derision and contempt).

  199. 199
    Alteredstory

    You don’t get an Everything I Do Is Valid card, once you start doing satire.

    Nobody said that, dear. You were going off at length about the structure of the joke, and you were wrong. Now you’re changing the subject. That’s fine, but in so doing you’re twisting what I was doing, which was pointing out that you were, at least from what I (and some others) could tell, acting like this was all about Asian Americans.

    There’s no attempt whatsoever to put a spotlight on the careless insult itself,

    No, NOT careless – intentional, but again, the very nature of the insult was that it ONLY worked for its intended purpose – spotlighting the insult to Native Americans – if everybody knows that it’s an insult that’s so far beyond the pale only an idiotic bigot would ever employ it. Maybe your experience has shown you otherwise, in which case, that’s terrible and we still have a long way to come as a society, but it is not at all uncommon for people of ALL kinds to make reference to something without including a laundry list of parenthetical statements.

    You keep insisting that he should have just done another joke, and ignoring the possiblity that when the issue is specifically that people seem to not realize that a particular slur is offensive, there is a limit to the number of ways an inherently satirical work can address that.

    When people think of ways to explain why one thing is offensive to someone who already GETS that other things of the same kind are offensive, they use comparison. They mention the other things, and say things like “Look, if I said, “x”, you would consider that to be an insult to this group of people, right? So if, then, I say “y”, isn’t it offensive to THAT group of people?”

    There is a reason that certain styles of argument are used repeatedly. They are effective, and are often the best way to get the point across.

    I spend rather a lot of time writing, and explaining things to people, although clearly I could be better, and I can’t think of a better way he could have addressed that particular topic. YOU clearly think there IS a better way, which is why I’m asking you to show me what I’ve missed, because I’m well aware that often people can get stuck in their way of thinking, and so miss what may be obvious to others.

    Do you have anything?

    You said, and I quote

    He doesn’t need to stick with the same kind of joke, by just making some superficial change to it.

    I took that to mean that he could just make a simple (minor, superficial) change to the joke, and fix the problem. Clearly I mis-read that.

    But again – keeping in mind what I went through in this comment, what do YOU think would have worked better. Don’t just “expect” someone to magically come up with a better way to do things.

    As to whether knowing it’s satire makes a difference, it does to most people. Context is a large part of how we interpret EVERYTHING we hear and say. Context is why “Springtime for Hitler” isn’t a song that’s vilified by people across the English speaking world. It’s why we all know that my comment is about the Colbert Report even though I haven’t mentioned it ONCE in this comment, until now. Context is also, incidentally why people generally assume that the Colbert Report is not ACTUALLY a pro-Republican show, even though it regularly makes pro-Republican statements. The fact that it is a KNOWN satire show is why Colbert isn’t lumped in with Glen Beck and Alex Jones.

  200. 200
    Alteredstory

    The problem is reducing his act to a simple text transcript.

    Yes, and that’s what a number of people have been saying. The problem (in my view) is not the segment, it’s that someone tried to cover a several-minute treatment of an issue relating to prejudice against Native Americans into a 140-character snippet that made no mention of Native Americans of Snyder. That was a bone-headed move, pretty much everybody agrees with that, and someone probably got reprimanded over it.

    But people ARE attacking the segment itself, and because of the nature of the program it’s on, there IS offensive material in it.

    People got offended, and that’s their right, and have said that it’s about the whole thing, not just the tweet, so we’re talking about it.

  201. 201
    Alteredstory

    I guess I should say that there are two problems – one is that a tweet doesn’t do the segment justice, and the other is whether the segment itself went too far.

    The second one seems more subjective to me, hence a my statements as to why I think it didn’t, and an attempt to look at how it could have been done differently.

  202. 202
    consciousness razor

    That’s fine, but in so doing you’re twisting what I was doing, which was pointing out that you were, at least from what I (and some others) could tell, acting like this was all about Asian Americans.

    If you tried at all to read what I said, you’d be able to tell I was not acting like that. We can talk about the point Colbert was making in support of Native Americans. That’s obviously relevant and important. But the problems some Asians have with how he got there aren’t just going to disappear either.

    But again – keeping in mind what I went through in this comment, what do YOU think would have worked better. Don’t just “expect” someone to magically come up with a better way to do things.

    I was specific enough to say exactly where, and in what way, I think he went wrong. He should target the bigots. That is where the heaps of ridicule should be piled. Consistently. I think that’s fairly unambiguous, and it leaves plenty of room for creativity. I don’t need to actually write out a bunch of jokes to make that point, nor do I need to record myself delivering them to make sure they come across just the right way. You don’t need to raise the bar that high. If you want to tell me that my job is not to write and perform satirical comedy, I will not argue that point. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making a valid criticism of it.

  203. 203
    doublereed

    @201 consciousness razor

    But you haven’t made a valid criticism of it. You’re just been making really bizarre and nonsense criticisms of it. The joke has nothing to do with how “ching chong” sounds. The joke IS targeting the bigot: Snyder. He’s the butt of the joke. He’s the one being ridiculed.

    Even Suey Park recognized that.

  204. 204
    theoreticalgrrrl

    “The show had a long setup about Dan Snyder’s ridiculous charity, and a punchline showing just how absurd it is. We do this all the time around here. All. The. Time.”

    Tweeting the punchline without the setup was awful and of course people are justifiably going to call it racist. It is racist without the setup and Comedy Central messed up badly.

    But the original joke, Snyder is the butt of the joke for his unbelievable stupidity and racism. Colbert was pointing out how horrible it was by saying something equally horrible and racist.

    #consciousness razor”He should target the bigots.”
    He did. Snyder’s racism and stupidity was the point.

    Colbert’s entire show is based on pretending to agree with all over the top conservative stupidity and bigotry to show how stupid and ridiculous it is.

    And yes, people do that here all the time. Mocking people’s bigotry by sarcastically agreeing with it.

  205. 205
    consciousness razor

    Colbert’s entire show is based on pretending to agree with all over the top conservative stupidity and bigotry to show how stupid and ridiculous it is.

    Wow, really? I had no idea. *eyeroll*

    And yes, people do that here all the time. Mocking people’s bigotry by sarcastically agreeing with it.

    When they do that, do they tend to change it from something ugly and repugnant to something that seems sillier and more childish and more innocuous? Do they make it so that it seems okay to laugh along with the bigots? Do they make it seem like, at worst, it’s just in poor taste or insufficiently clever?

    Is that how “sarcasm” works? You tell me. I’m totally new to this stuff, just like I’m totally fucking ignorant about what the Colbert Report is. You don’t have to think about it any more, so it should be really easy to answer.

  206. 206
    Alteredstory

    He should target the bigots.

    The problem is that that is SO much easier said than done.

    He DID target the bigots, but the way in which he did it apparently passed you by completely. I tried explaining it, but that passed you by as well.

    There are LOTS of ways to target bad people, but rather fewer if you are doing so by pretending to be ONE of those bad people.

    Colbert targets bigots by pretending to BE a bigot in such a way that it’s obvious, to most people, that he’s mocking them.

    That’s how he tackles issues.

    On the Daily Show, there are a MYRIAD of ways to tackle an issue like this. They could send in Jason Jones to be a bigot, or they could send in one of the other “correspondents” to take a different approach, and most importantly, John Stewart isn’t playing a character with a fixed set of responses. He can make jokes, or he can just directly point out the problem and explain it.

    Colbert doesn’t do that. He points out bigotry by acting bigoted. He occasionally makes something explicit (“I don’t see race. People tell me I’m white and I believe them because I just spent five minutes explaining how I’m not racist, which is something white people do.”), but even in that situation, he’s still technically in character.

    So his character SUPPORTS the name Redskins (until it starts making them lose money), and that means he can’t just say “this is racist and causes unnecessary pain to people who’ve already suffered a lot,” without breaking character and basically ignoring the whole premise of his show.

    Beyond that, it’s that specific KIND of satire that makes him so effective. It’s not easy to do, and it’s limiting, but it is a BRILLIANT way to turn the spotlight on the people he’s pretending to be like, but it does mean that he is, on a regular basis offensive.

    So his challenge is being offensive in such a way as to illustrate how offensive what he does, and by extension what the people he’s mocking do, actually is.

    That’s not “for” everybody, but it’s what his show is all about.

    Given that, what are his options? As we mentioned, he can’t just say “this is bad” without breaking character and making his show worse. So he has to find a way of agreeing with it that makes it clear that he’s a terrible person for agreeing with it.

    Sure, he could say something like “this is wonderful because we should always disregard the suffering of genocide victims if it makes us money and doing so is traditional”, but that’s seriously weak, won’t stick in peoples minds, and seriously under-serves the people he’s trying to help. The effectiveness of his satire is often proportional to the offensiveness of the character he portrays – he has to be just enough MORE offensive and insane that the real people. In this case, he wasn’t, except by societal standards. In this case he was literally AS offensive as Snyder, but he did it by pointing to another racial slur that is considered both offensive AND antiquated by a vast majority of Americans.

    I should also mention that it’s underserving them for the sake of the feelings of other groups, and that is not something he generally does. Why should he do that to the Native American community?

    He can’t compare the Native American slur to any of the sundry “slurs” against white people, because while that may satisfy the whole “punch up, not down” thing, it trivializes the horrors perpetrated against Native peoples all over the world BY white people, by pretending that the hurt feelings of white folks are somehow equivalent to genocide.

    What you are doing, consciousness razor, is basically like telling a sports team to play better and win more, and then when they ask you how you think they ought to do that, you say “I’m not the athlete, YOU figure it out!”

    You seem very certain that there is a way to avoid offending anybody except bigots, while still effectively defending the Native community and pointing out how bigoted and callous the name “Redskins” is, but as far as I can tell, you have no basis for that certainty. Again, I can’t read your mind, but it SEEMS like you just want the reference to Asians to go away, and you don’t care how it’s done, or whether it results in the Native American community being swept under the rug.

    I’m sure you WANT him to do a really good bit in support of them, and pointing out how horrid the name of the team is, but only if it doesn’t offend YOU.

  207. 207
    Alteredstory

    Wow, really? I had no idea. *eyeroll*

    You seem to have missed the implications of what that means, given that you’re demanding that he not act out his character if it offends YOU.

    When they do that, do they tend to change it from something ugly and repugnant to something that seems sillier and more childish and more innocuous?

    THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

    Prejudice against Asians has been used to justify and ignore slavery (mostly in the building of America’s rail system, but also in terms of sex slavery, servitude, and other forms of oppression today), along with other things, but the form of prejudice that Colbert evoked has become so taboo and un-used in today’s society that only a completely horrible, bigoted, tiny-minded asshole would use that and MEAN it.

    AND ALMOST EVERYBODY RECOGNIZES THAT. Including you.

    The point was to illustrate that the term “Redskins” is JUST AS ABSURD AND OFFENSIVE, and should be treated as the exclusive domain of the same horrible, bigoted, tiny-minded assholes that would call something “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever” and be serious about it – NOT the domain of the owner of a popular and mainstream football team. It’s an exercise in shaming bigotry by portraying it as both childish and unacceptable.

    Do they make it so that it seems okay to laugh along with the bigots?

    Who the fuck is laughing along with the bigots? I guarantee you that the vast majority of people laughing at the name of Colbert’s “foundation” are laughing at anybody stupid enough and douchey enough to call something that and mean it. NOT laughing at Asians. THAT is who that was aimed at.

    I said this before, but you seem to have missed the point so I’ll say it again – The ONLY reason his joke works – the only WAY it works – is if people have nothing for scorn and ridicule for the kind of people who would sincerely used phrases like “ching-chong ding-dong” and “oriental” to describe Asians. His joke reinforces that doing so is not ok, because it makes those people even more the target of mockery.

    I did not like that character when he first introduced it. I think he went too far, and DID do harm to the Asian-American community, while mocking Rush Limbaugh.

    But THIS use of it, as far as I can tell, does not do that. The only people “laughing along with the bigots” ARE BIGOTS, and if they’re laughing, it’s only because they’re too stupid to realize that they’re being mocked.

    You tell me. I’m totally new to this stuff, just like I’m totally fucking ignorant about what the Colbert Report is.

    I’m sorry, are you trying for sarcasm? Because based on what you’ve written here so far today, it seems entirely likely that you’re serious here.

    You don’t have to think about it any more, so it should be really easy to answer.

    If you’re able to take anything away from this conversation, it should be that satire, if someone wants to do it well, is difficult, nuanced, complex, and almost never makes everybody happy. My whole point is that there ISN’T an easy answer – it’s subjective and depends on context along with many other factors. That’s why it’s hard, and that’s why YOU can’t come up with an alternative “joke”.

    I was ASKING for any input you had, because I’m aware of that, and I was really, really hoping you could provide a new perspective, and show me something I had missed. You didn’t. You just asserted that “it should be easy” with all the confidence of a writer telling a boar hunter to jump over a charging boar, and left it at that.

  208. 208
    Alteredstory

    @theoreticalgrrrl #204

    But the original joke, Snyder is the butt of the joke for his unbelievable stupidity and racism. Colbert was pointing out how horrible it was by saying something equally horrible and racist.

    To be fair, there are many times when third parties are harmed when used against the butt of a given joke, and I think that’s the concern here (though I’m not positive Mr. Razor gets that); I just don’t think that’s what’s going on here. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think the joke itself, along with the setup, is reinforcing harmful Asian stereotypes. The message I got was that those stereotypes are bad and people using them should be ashamed.

    That said, it’s not my call to make, ultimately.

  209. 209
    A. Noyd

    Alteredstory (#208)

    The message I got was that those stereotypes are bad and people using them should be ashamed.

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. See here [emphasis added]:

    In our conversation, Park admitted that despite the hashtag’s command, she did not want “The Colbert Report” to be cancelled. [...] Instead, she said, she saw the hashtag as a way to critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told me. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

    [...]

    If we are to take Park’s explanation in good faith and see #CancelColbert as the work of a master provocateur who held up a mirror up to the way that self-identifying liberals of all races respond to criticism from people that they assumed to be allies, then it should be hailed as a rousing success.

    [...]

    Unlike Park, I tend to keep my political beliefs close to the vest, especially when talking to white liberal friends, because I assume—fairly or not—that they expect me to laugh at whatever gets mocked on “The Daily Show” or satirized on “The Colbert Report.” Like Park, I have seen how quickly a presumed collegiality can turn into a mocking, almost threatening, tone whenever I stray from the assumed consensus that we all hate “worse racists,” Fox News, and gun nuts.

    What’s being objected to is the way this kind of humor ends up as a self-congratulatory cover for and distraction from (mostly white) progressives’ own racism. That (mostly white) progressives are doing a sucky job at being genuinely not racist, which is evident from how much blatant racism comes pouring out of them the second they’re criticized for appropriating or laughing at humor based in racism.

  210. 210
    consciousness razor

    That’s why it’s hard, and that’s why YOU can’t come up with an alternative “joke”.

    Can’t or won’t? I guess you would know better than me.

    You just asserted that “it should be easy” with all the confidence of a writer telling a boar hunter to jump over a charging boar, and left it at that.

    You missed some sarcasm there. Just noting that.

  211. 211
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    I agree that part of the reason a lot of people feel OK to laugh at the “Ching Chong Ding Dong” thing is because we don’t generally see a problem with mocking the sort of sing-songy sound that asian languages have to Anglophiles. I mean how many times have you seen M. Night Shyamalan’s name rendered as “Shamalama-ding-dong?” That’s racist in the same way and it’s not a thing only conservatives and blatant bigots do. Even if that’s not the primary thrust of the joke, it still panders to the general acceptability of it.

  212. 212
    Alteredstory

    @A. Noyd

    It’s a good point, and most of that is true. I do want to pick one bone, however, and that is this assertion:

    Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,

    That’s a claim made without any backing. The reason that “Redskins” is still around, or at least part of the reason, is that a lot of people just don’t see what’s offensive about it. They don’t see that it’s a slur. One of the oldest ways to deal with that kind of misunderstanding/blind spot is to compare the thing in question to something similar, that people see differently. It’s a tactic used in a very wide variety of situations to make a wide variety of arguments, and part of the reason people keep using it is that it WORKS.

    What’s the basis for asserting that in this case it does NOT work.

    I’m no arguing that what Colbert said wasn’t offensive. I’m also not arguing that a lot of what Colbert (and other people like him) do is allow people to relax and feel better about themselves (although he DOES take a stab at that behavior as well, from time to time).

    What I’m arguing is that his segment WAS effective in casting the term “redskin” in a light that’s different from the one it’s commonly seen in. He didn’t say “This is bad and offensive and hurtful!” He said “This is just like this other thing!” and left it to other people to spot that the other thing was offensive, and therefor maybe the term Redskins is offensive for the same reasons.

    That’s why I keep asking for an alternative.

    A lot of the commentary in this discussion thread has focused on whether or not it was offensive to Asians. On that score, if Asian-Americans say that it’s offensive, and it hurts them, then that’s enough for me. Case closed.

    But Colbert’s schtick relies heavily on giving offense to illuminate other offenses, so the purpose of the argument matters to me, and just because one person SAYS it’s ineffective does not make that the truth. That kind of comparison has proven effective in making people re-think things for a long, long time, and I don’t see why it should be suddenly ineffective in this case. Nobody has made that argument convincingly yet.

    But even if that IS the case, it comes back to the same question – what would be a MORE effective, or an EQUALLY effective way to make the point in this context?

    Earlier, some people said that he should have used a different group, but it’s pretty clear that all that would do is shift the same harm to someone else, which (I assume) is not the desired outcome.

    Someone tried to show an example of using slurs against white people as a way to illustrate it, but it was pointed out that that then becomes an insult to Native Americans.

    So assuming that you don’t want the issue to be simply ignored, since that is a large part of why so many people think mocking Native Americans and using a slur against them is OK, it comes back to the same question: What would be a better way to do it?

  213. 213
    Alteredstory

    Can’t or won’t? I guess you would know better than me.

    You could end this whole discussion right now. If you were able to do it – ACTUALLY do it – it would be enough for me.

    And if you were able to do it and it WASN’T enough for me, then you would be able to point out my dishonesty and lack of reasoning abilities.

    I’ve been asking for an example for some time now, since before you and I began engaging directly, and nobody has provided one, yourself included. If you CAN but are choosing NOT to, what is your reasoning?

    If you CAN’T, then why are you refusing to acknowledge that? It doesn’t mean that no better way exists, just that your assumption that it does is unfounded. People make unfounded assumptions all that time.

    In the end it’s NOT up to me, it’s up to YOU. If you refuse to even try, then sure – it’s “won’t”, but there’s no good reason for it, unless you’re pretty sure it’s also “can’t”.

    Again – I really do want a better way to make this point from the constraints Colbert generally works with. It would be helpful to me in a number of ways, and it would be good to have it floating around the internet because it would help a good cause.

    I concluded that it’s “can’t” based on your behavior. Whether or not that conclusion remains the best one is entirely up to you.

  214. 214
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    What I’m arguing is that his segment WAS effective in casting the term “redskin” in a light that’s different from the one it’s commonly seen in. He didn’t say “This is bad and offensive and hurtful!” He said “This is just like this other thing!” and left it to other people to spot that the other thing was offensive, and therefor maybe the term Redskins is offensive for the same reasons.

    I think it’s at least somewhat in dispute that “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is as self-evidently unacceptable in the wider population as you seem to think it is.

  215. 215
    A. Noyd

    Alteredstory (#212)

    It’s a tactic used in a very wide variety of situations to make a wide variety of arguments, and part of the reason people keep using it is that it WORKS.

    Well, make a case for that, then. Currently, you’ve got a “yuh huhhh” to Park’s “nuh uhhh.”

    Also, it would be good to consider that even if it was demonstrably effective, we still should ask who gets to wield that kind of humor. Maybe white people with the sort of platform Colbert has should use it more to amplify the voices of the marginalized. And better care should be taken not to allow purported allies to think they get a free pass just because they’re in on the joke and not the butt of it.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Seven of Mine (#214)

    I think it’s at least somewhat in dispute that “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is as self-evidently unacceptable in the wider population as you seem to think it is.

    Yeah, this is a good point. Like this UCLA student and her infamous “ching chong ling long ding dong” rant. Massive downvoting but still there are at least 4467 people who liked it enough to click the thumbs up.

    And here’s some satire from an Asian-American dude in response.

  216. 216
    jedibear

    I’m sorry. I simply can’t see anything else in this debate than a person sitting next to me in a college class thinking Jonathan Swift is actually advocating that Irish people supplement their incomes by selling their babies to be eaten. It’s not clear to me how you could understand the joke and actually be offended by it.

    This may be because by now I’ve seen several examples of people being offended by it, but not a single one of someone being offended by it who actually understood it.

  217. 217
    theoreticalgrrrl

    I’m definitely not saying people who have issue with the joke should just be dismissed and told to chill out like a lot of people are doing.
    @consciounessrazor
    “I’m totally new to this stuff, just like I’m totally fucking ignorant about what the Colbert Report is.”

    I don’t know what to tell you. The Colbert Report has been doing this for years. There have been over-the-top sexist comments, pro-creationist comments, too. Colbert will have to change the entire format of the show to avoid misunderstandings. Of course there are going to be people who don’t see things as self-evidently unacceptable as The Colbert Report assumes its viewers do. I’m not sure how to get around that problem..

    A similar controversy occurred recently when one of the only Asian-American characters was killed off early in a current television show on NBC. People thought it was racist and sexist. The actress addressed that issue here:
    http://yellowbird66.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/racism-sexism-and-hannibal-eat-the-rude/

  218. 218
    knowknot

    “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”

    “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”

    Note the “whatever” in the second. And its analog in the first, “Original Americans.” Who the hell are they? The first British immigrants?

    The joke worked exactly as intended, in at least one aspect. It will never be explained by Colbert, because he’s smart enough to know that that way lieth madness (no, I don’t freaking worship him, not remotely).

    Within the confines of the ignorance and bigotry of Colbert’s character, the “whatever” implies that it’s possible to view Asians as they were viewed on the railroad – invisible. Not even inconsequential; just not there.

    Obviously, it isn’t possible. Not remotely, for reasons any idiot can name. Even in the armpit of creation I came from it wasn’t.

    But for the Indian kids and their families from the nearby reservation… it was. Same for several other armpits near reservations to which I was introduced. There was a level at which it was as if they just weren’t there. Even after they managed to make it out and away to college.

    And what happened with the “joke?” Where did the offense land?

    On people that are NOT invisible.

    Still, I honestly don’t believe it was meant to land the way it did.

  219. 219
    carlie

    Wow, two hundred comments in and people still aren’t getting it.

    If you say “Of course people KNOW not to make fun of Asians that way”, and especially if you are not any type of Asian, you are not getting it. The point is that no, people do NOT know that. You might know that, but a very large portion of Americans do no, in fact, know that. Talk to an actual Asian person and listen to their experiences in life. Read Yo is this racist or listen to its podcast. Look up how there’s a splash in the news every time a group poses with fake slanty-eyes, and how often it keeps happening despite those stories saying how awful it is. Try to find any Asians on tv shows or movies who are not either a nerd, restaurant owner, or villain (or listen to Maurissa Tancharoen sing Nobody’s Asian in the movies). Given that culture, a joke that presumes “everybody knows that it’s not ok to make fun of Asians like that” is really going to fall flat.

  220. 220
    knowknot

    #220 carlie

    Wow. 200 comments in and people still aren’t getting it.
    If you say “Of course people KNOW not to make fun of Asians that way”, and especially if you are not any type of Asian, you are not getting it. The point is that no, people do NOT know that. You might know that, but a very large portion of Americans do no, in fact, know that.

    Agreed on the 200 comments in. In terms of what Colbert did in the original piece, if by “getting it” you mean agreeing with your analysis of what happened… not so much. At least not yet.
    I don’t think any conscious person could imagine that racism is over, though it was recently implied (in public and apparently sober) elsewhere. I honestly don’t think that was the point, ever. And I’m going to have to read this whole bleeding thread again to find where anyone arguing that it’s OK or even sensible to think so. I’m not saying it’s not there, just that I missed it. AND I am willing to believe that my little social bathtub has distorted my views regarding white americans’ acceptance of asians.
    All I really want to see is something more in depth about the intentions and decisions behind the framing of the original Colbert piece. That would actually be illustrative of flaws in the thinking in the environment around the piece. Apart from that, I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore, other than who’s not getting what.

  221. 221
    knowknot

    Just throwing it out there:
    |A piece by Jay Caspian Kang
    |
    via The New Yorker.
    I am officially not opinion having in posting this, because I’ll be sorting all of this out for days.

  222. 222
    carlie

    All I really want to see is something more in depth about the intentions and decisions behind the framing of the original Colbert piece

    What depth do you want? How much depth is there beyond “It’s satire, it’s like Swift”?

  223. 223
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    The crux of it for me is that people are grossly overestimating how self-evidently racist it is to mock Asians and Asian languages etc. People think it’s effective because it’s so obviously racist that it’s ridiculous that anyone could possibly think it’s OK to say such a thing when, for a lot of Asian-Americans, it’s just another Tuesday. But apparently the last thing it occurs to some people to do is to trust people of color when they report on their own lived experiences. So you have a group of mostly white people wondering what the big deal is and talking about being willing to cause some splash damage in service of what they think is edgy and subversive satire but is actually them just lovingly embracing the status quo.

  224. 224
    knowknot

    Two more things:
    This
    and

    also this,
    just because they’re there.

  225. 225
    knowknot

    #222 carlie
    That, I get.
    Sorry. Obviously I misunderstood.

  226. 226
    violetknight

    @carlie

    “Talk to an actual Asian person and listen to their experiences in life.”

    Well, FWIW, my wife and I don’t get the sense you portray at all. Granted, we aren’t that sensitized to it (we don’t listen to podcasts about racial issues, for example). I can imagine that there are plenty of dumb people out there doing dumb racist things, however, like posing with slanty eyes. But the difference between that and Colbert is genuine racism versus a character mocking genuine racists.

    “If you say “Of course people KNOW not to make fun of Asians that way”, and especially if you are not any type of Asian, you are not getting it. The point is that no, people do NOT know that. You might know that, but a very large portion of Americans do no, in fact, know that.”

    Maybe, but it’s hard to believe that there could be a significant number of Colbert viewers not understanding that, particularly during the segment, he’s at once attacking the racism of Dan Snyder and saying that naming an organization the Ching Chong Ding Dong blah blah blah is an inherently bad thing to do. If there are many people who don’t know, I’d hope he woke more of them up to the nastiness on both sides of the coin than had people laughing because they just thought he was making a racist joke that had nothing to do with the context: criticism of Dan Snyder. I would expect that most irredeemable racists would want little to do with the Colbert Report.

  227. 227
    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    @violetknight

    Read what you typed again. You say you’re not sensitized to racial issues. You don’t get the sense that a lot of people don’t get that the Ching Chong Ding Dong thing is racist. But you admit to not being sensitized to these issues. Carlie says that Asian people would probably tell you differently. And your response to that is “Maybe, but I’ll just trust my own judgement instead even though I’ve just admitted that I’m not in the best position to be aware of how much this stuff happens.”

  228. 228
    violetknight

    @Seven

    I said I’m not “that” sensitized to it, in that I don’t hear about — let alone experience — every instance of anti-Asian racism out there. I gave my perspective, and similarly, I don’t think most Asian people are critical race theorists listening to podcasts about racial issues, but that’s just my hunch. I appreciate Carlie’s perspective, but I don’t think she can speak for all Asians either.

    Your last line is conflating my responses to two different parts of her post. The second part was an argument about whether and why “a very large portion of Americans” would misunderstand the point of the segment, not about what Asians believe about how much racism is out there (which, as I said, I’m sure there is plenty of).

  229. 229
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I just fucking wish that half the fucking ire directed at Colbert would be redirected towards the actual fucking racist asshole. I mean seriously. If half the people yelling and screaming to cancel Colbert because of an ill-made joke turned that attention towards someone who deserves it perhaps more, then I would be okay with this whole kerfluffle.

    Seriously – the joke was ill-made. No one should be turned into a punchline.

    Why the fuck aren’t people talking about the ROAF? I haven’t heard a fucking peep about it.

    It’s like the feelings of Asian Americans matters more than that of Native Americans. I’m sorry, yes, racism sucks. But while paying so much fucking attention to the goddamned “Ching Chong Ding Dong” thing, we’re ignoring the “Redskins” thing. We got distracted from the actually blatantly offensive racist asshole to turn to someone who made a stupid joke.

    Fucking social justice, how does it work?

  230. 230
    nich

    Fucking social justice, how does it work?

    By complaining without a hint of irony that GOSH DARN IT! WHY ARE WE PAYING ATTENTION TO RACISM WHEN WE SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION TO RACISM!!!!

  231. 231
    nich

    @229:

    And last I checked the fucking topic of the thread was the Colbert Thing? It’s right up there? Scroll up and look. For reals. It’s there: “The smartest thing written about #CancelColbert.”

    Omg, it’s like commenting on the Colbert thing is TOPICAL! Whodafuckinthunk?

  232. 232
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @nich:

    We’re so head-in-ass focused on a guy who made an ill-made joke that we’re completely ignoring the guy who thinks a racial slur is an acceptable name for his sports organization and he can distract from the controversy by throwing a couple thousand coats and a cheap-ass backhoe at the people he’s offending, while still using the fucking racial slur in the goddamned charity’s title!

  233. 233
    nich

    @232: AGAIN, I think people are “head in ass focused” on the topic of the thread.

    Sorry for jumping on you though.

  234. 234
    violetknight

    @nich

    Better, why are we paying attention to satirical mocking of racism than to real, genuine racism perpetuated by a $1.6 bln organization?

    The topic of the thread… well, that’s true, but that too could have been different.

  235. 235
    Alteredstory

    By complaining without a hint of irony that GOSH DARN IT! WHY ARE WE PAYING ATTENTION TO RACISM WHEN WE SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION TO RACISM!!!!

    Part of the problem is that the two are not equivalent, and pretending they are is, in itself, furthering prejudice.

    In one of the links posted recently, an author made that point that you can’t equate “ching chong” with “nigger”, simply because the harm inflicted on the Asian-American community throughout the history of this country pales in comparison to what happened to African slaves. That doesn’t make the former OK, but it does mean that there’s a different dynamic when talking about the two.

    In the same way, the Colbert segment was about Native Americans and a slur against them that ties in to one of the most egregious campaigns of genocide the world has ever seen. Part of the aftermath of that genocide was a deliberate suppression of all things Native American, and an attempt to effectively sweep them under the rug. They were given bits of land, often because it was land that nobody white wanted, and ignored, and left to fend for themselves.

    Which means that the sudden shift in focus from the actual actions of the Redskins owner to outrage over a piece of satire TARGETING said owner, to the point where we can have whole discussions about the piece without a single mention of Native Americans, well, that might be hitting a bit close to home.

    Omg, it’s like commenting on the Colbert thing is TOPICAL! Whodafuckinthunk?

    Last I checked, #CancelColbert was not “the Colbert thing”, it’s a response to a small part of the Colbert thing that has lead to long discussions ignoring the actual topic of “the Colbert thing”, which was the mainstream use of a racial slur tied to generations of genocide, oppression, and betrayal.

    But sure, be sarcastic and snarky about people pointing out that there may be a problem there.

  236. 236
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I honestly want there to be some call out about the joke. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be paying attention to that. Yes, it was bad, it was racist, and it relied upon mocking a group of people and using them as a punching bag for a joke.

    But if half as much energy was expended on calling out Snyder, then I wouldn’t be so upset.

  237. 237
    anteprepro

    The people bafflingly claiming that the racism wasn’t obvious/over-the-top enough to be a blip on the radar of the average privileged white person: Did you actually watch the fucking video?

    In addition to the ridiculous character name,
    1. Colbert makes the character have slanty eyes
    2. Colbert does the “r” instead of “l” thing.
    3. Colbert uses absurdist racial-tinged phrases like “Me love you long time”
    4. The Colbert character goes out of his way to distance himself from that character. Colbert frames it as racist on his own show .

    I have sympathy for the people who actually watched the fucking thing, saw the Ching Chong Ding Dong schtick, and thought it was too racist and the framing device wasn’t justification for that. The people saying it wasn’t obvious or racist enough? I don’t even fucking know what to think of that. It is hard to get much more obvious than that. If this is too subtle, then satire is fucking dead.

  238. 238
    qwints

    “#CancelColbert Collateral Damage to EONM”

    “Against Hashtag Warriors: Their Arguments and Why They are Wrong “

    [For why I'm posting links, see my #98]

    The argument that cancelcolbert silenced Native American voices (see my first link and the “Not Your Disappearing Indian” post] can’t be refuted by saying this is a post about cancelcolbert. That’s exactly the problem: PZ, a white guy, linked Keith Jensen, another white guy, talking about the conversation about the actions of Stephen Colbert, yet another white guy. Meanwhile, the campaign to end racist team names and mascots gets relegated to the last paragraph of the linked post which PZ doesn’t include in his excerpt.

    That said, I think the blame mostly lies with the people who reacted so vociferously to the basic critique, and the journalists who thought it was more interesting to write about the twitter argument rather than cover the longstanding campaigns against racist mascots.

  239. 239
    Merlin

    Apparently it is too hard for Colbert to just admit he messed up and threw fire where he did not intend. Seriously. If I make a questionable joke at work, and it offends someone, do you think my manager will accept, “It was just a joke, and that was not even the point?” Nope. I’d get a reprimand, and be happy to walk away without being fired. The proper response to finding out you have caused unintended harm is to say, “Oh! I am sorry, that was not my intent. How can I make this better?”

    As to a better joke…how about a formula he already uses:
    “That charity seems utterly reasonable and no one can tell me otherwise. Here to tell me otherwise is…”

  240. 240
    Alteredstory

    “That charity seems utterly reasonable and no one can tell me otherwise. Here to tell me otherwise is…”

    Good call, I hadn’t thought of that. That would get the job done, assuming he had someone (which he probably would if they tried).

    In my opinion, it would have less rhetorical punch, but it would still get the job done, and it wouldn’t have relied on as many assumptions about race relations with regard to Asian Americans.

    Thanks.

  241. 241
    speed0spank

    Hmm, so intent is indeed magic? Or is it only magic if the person is on “our side”?

  242. 242
    violetknight

    @speed0spank

    I don’t think anybody (here) has said anything along those lines.

  243. 243
    vaiyt

    @anteprepro

    The people saying it wasn’t obvious or racist enough? I don’t even fucking know what to think of that. It is hard to get much more obvious than that. If this is too subtle, then satire is fucking dead.

    You’ve just witnessed the lengths people will go to avoid calling racism racism.

  244. 244
    violetknight

    Wow… I guess #cancelcolbert worked! :o

  245. 245
    Nancy McClernan

    It wasn’t a bad joke, it was a very good joke and it worked on three levels:

    Irony 1:

    “Stephen Colbert” is supposed to be a rightwing bigot.

    Irony 2:

    [Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation] *IRONICALLY* [for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever]

    Analogy

    a.
    [Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation] IS ANALOGOUS TO [Washington Redskins]

    b.
    [for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever] IS ANALOGOUS TO [Original Americans Foundation]

    I would expect Social Justice Warriors to freak out about tricksy, scary complexity, but I’m extremely disappointed to see P.Z. Myers join in with them.

    Suey Park is the pseudonym of a Social Justice Warrior whose entire raison d’etre is to be offended by references to Asians in popular culture. And who relentlessly attacks people for the sin of being white.

    But she’s such a gigantic hypocrite that she’ll attack Stephen Colbert for satire while publicly allying herself with pro-internment Michelle Malkin. And we’re supposed to take her seriously? Well, no.

    The reason Colbert chose “Ching Chong Ding Dong” is because it’s a stupid racist schtick that his Stephen Colbert character has been doing FOR YEARS without a peep from Social Justice Warriors.

    And Native Americans certainly appreciated what he tried to do for them – and got that it was a valid use of satire:

    The idea was simple, and many viewers thought it effective: The public is so inured to the racial slur “Redskin” that Dan Snyder can actually use it in the name of a foundation he establishes to help Native Americans, so perhaps an analogy with another racial group and an accompanying racial slur would put the name of Snyder’s foundation in perspective. Colbert wasn’t the first to try it; writing in Slate, Josh Levin called the foundation’s name “something akin to calling your organization ‘Kikes United Against Anti-Semitism.’” The message of both phony foundation names: Society wouldn’t tolerate “Ching-Chong” or “Kikes,” so why is “Redskins” okay?

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/01/snyder-wins-how-cancelcolbert-drowned-out-native-voice-154270

    And then there’s Myers failure to mention that Stephen Colbert did exactly what Dawkins SHOULD HAVE DONE when his fans went on the misogynist attack – in his first chance to respond to the controversy, Colbert told his fans to stop attacking Suey Park, that she has a right to her opinion. He certainly deserves credit for that, but I suppose of your aim is to demonize a comedian doing legitimate and effective satire as a racist, you aren’t likely to give him credit for anything good.

    I certainly hope that Myers joins with Suey Park in the campaign to get Swift pulled off reading lists and stop All in the Family from being rerun – then they’d at least be consistent.

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