I have a confession to make. I feel that some “liberal” causes are, quite honestly, a bridge too far. I put liberal in quotes in that confession because while these ideas almost invariably come from liberals or progressives, I consider them fringe ideas that are not held by the majority of “liberals.” You know, like if I said that banning contraceptives was a conservative cause, I’d put “conservative” in quotes because I realize that it a very extreme belief not held by the majority of con….Okay, bad example. I’ll try again. You know, like if I said that open carry was a conservative cause, I’d put…goddammit. Third try. You know, like if I said that starting a new crusade and wiping Islam off the map was a conservativ….. You know, with the way the GOP politicians rush to give the most conservative members of their base totally not gay rim jobs out of fear of being primaried, I have no fucking clue what is an actual conservative cause, and what is just the lunatic fringe with a megaphone. Deep down my faith in humanity has me convinced that all three of the above beliefs are on the extreme fringe, that the Republican party has a large silent majority that leans more moderate, but every time a moderate member of the GOP gets pasted like Jojen* by a far right wack-a-loon in the primary, this core belief of mine gets shaken just a little bit more. One last try. If I said that wearing a white sheet while singing the praises of Hitler was a conservative cause, I would put “conservative” in quotes, because for once, I am actually sure that is a very extreme belief not held by the majority of conservatives. Finally.
So no, I was not tweeting with the “CancelColbert” hashtag. While I am aware of my white, male, middle class privilege and do what I can to promote equality and call people out for bigotry, I am not going to remove the words “crazy,” “insane,” “insanity,” or “batshit” from my vocabulary because someone suffering from a mental illness thinks the usage of those words is discriminatory. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m a hypocrite. Perhaps I just haven’t faced a compelling argument. All I know is as a person who has been diagnosed as major depressive with social anxiety disorder and ADHD, I am not insulting people suffering with mental illness when I say that Ted Cruz is full of batshit insanity. Language is fluid, and I see major differences between those words and gender/racial/sexuality specific derogatory words. I’m not being “ableist.” Those words have well known and widely accepted definitions separate from referring to people with mental illness. As I said, maybe I’m wrong, but I have yet to hear a convincing argument.
These are the types of “liberal” causes I am talking about. I have to believe that the majority of progressives don’t consider the word “insane” to be off limits, and while many may not think that individual Colbert Report tweet was funny, especially out of context, I haven’t seen many recent liberal boycotts of Stephen.
Was there a point to any of that? Probably not. But it was the best way I could come up with to introduce this story, which you can consider today’s “Wait….What?!?” if you’d like. If you’ve spent any time here at FD, you more than likely have realized that I read Salon quite a bit. To be honest, it is one of my favorite stops on the web, hence the frequent stories that link back to Salon. One story today made me question that, and actually start poking around for a few new progressive sites to call my home. And while I know that is quite an extreme reaction for one story, well….. that’s what a bad taste it left in my mouth.
The story in question? Jon Stewart cursed me out: I dared question a “Daily Show” warm-up comic’s racist jokes. Feel free to go and read the article for yourself, and form your own opinion. I’ll wait.
For those of you who didn’t feel like clicking the link, or clicked then said “I’m not reading all of that,” I will attempt to summarize. In April of 2008, six years ago, the author attended a taping of The Daily Show, looking forward to seeing John Stewart and the show live and in person. Before the show began, a comic came out to warm up the crowd, telling what the author describes as racist and misogynist jokes. I see no reason not to take the author on her word on this; unfortunately racism and misogyny are part of many comics routine, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter to the story whether the author is accurately describing the content of the jokes.
After the warm-up acts set, Jon Stewart came out on stage to answer a few questions. (Note: The article does not say that he was watching the warm-up act. If I had to guess, I’d wager that Jon was busy prepping prior to the show rather than seeing how the crowd warmer was doing.) The author gets to ask a question, and I will quote her question so no one accuses me of misrepresenting it.
So I raised my hand and asked, “Why does your warm-up comedian use ethnic humor?”
To be fair, the author immediately concedes that she should have phrased the question differently. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve had a microphone shoved in my face and then spent the entire drive home thinking of the things I should have said. Unfortunately, we can’t travel back in time and re do those bone headed moves, so what comes out of our mouths is what comes out of our mouths. Now here comes the big Jon Stewart explosion, where he is going to curse out this poor audience member who was just asking a question:
Stewart’s face creased with annoyance. He said, shortly, loudly, glaring at me, “BECAUSE. IT’S. FUCKING. FUNNY.” The audience erupted into wild applause.
Meanwhile, he stared at me with palpable hostility. Once the applause had died down, he added, “Don’t you even watch the show?”
The article goes on. As I said, feel free to click the above link and read it all for yourself. I’m not going any deeper into it.
Look. I have no doubt that the author found the warm up comic’s jokes to be offensive. Judging from the pool of working warm up acts, there’s a good chance the jokes were offensive. But answering her vague question with “because it’s fucking funny” is not cursing someone out. Sorry, it’s not. This whole article is outrage click bait, and I can’t believe Salon posted it. As much as I disagreed with Suey Park over the whole #CancelColbert thing, I have no right to tell her what she is allowed to be offended over. The people who responded to her campaign with misogynist rants, racist ravings, and death threats are the lowest type of subhuman scum. Alison Kinney, the author of the article, has interesting things to say about using comedy as social criticism, but she chose to bury those things under a six year old story of her memories of attending a taping of The Daily Show, which the folks at The Daily Show have no recollection of at all.
Was Stewart’s face really “creased with annoyance?” Did he glare a hole into the author while answering her question? Did he truly stare at her with “palpable hostility?” Who the fuck knows? No, I am not accusing Allison Kinney of lying, not at all. But take a few minutes to research how memory works. After studying the subject a bit, I’m not 100% confident in my memories of last week, let alone an event from six years ago. And at this point, it is impossible to get confirmation or a denial from The Daily Show, because they’ve show six years of shows since then, with six years of questions, and six years of warm up acts.
Let’s see what Salon has to….Sorry, force of habit. Turning to The Daily Banter:
I keep bringing this kind of thing up because, believe it or not, it really does bug me. It bugs me that a website that was once a dependable resource for high-quality debate and analysis from the left now traffics almost exclusively — with very few exceptions — in silly opinion columns aimed at getting readers to make fun of them in the comment section. Seriously, try reading through the feedback Salon gets to some of this stuff sometime. 97-percent of it is outright mockery — and Salon doesn’t care because it means people are clicking. Whereas Buzzfeed aims for the lowest common Millennial denominator by running crap like “25 Signs You’re in a Romantic Relationship with Your Sandwich,” Salon pretends that it’s above that kind of pabulum and that it actually has something meaningful to say. The reality, though, is that Buzzfeed and Salon are exactly the same; they’re two sides of the same coin. Buzzfeed just puts its lowbrow click-bait in the form of harmless lists while Salon turns it into pseudo-intellectual self-importance.
It just published a column about this one person who was offended by this one thing once and who got even more offended that her initial offense wasn’t shown the proper deference. It made this its top story and slapped a headline on it that wasn’t just a lie, it kind of libeled somebody. Salon is now nothing more than Thought Catalog for angry liberals. It’s Thought Catalog for people don’t have any thoughts, just knee-jerk reactions.
If Allison Kinney wants to write another article, this time focusing on her points about social justice, social criticism, and comedy, I will gladly read it. Hell, I will link to it and discuss it here, though I can’t promise I will agree with her every point. But for now, I won’t even pay attention to the second part of her article, because I refuse to reward Salon (and the author if they pay by click) for using a six year old unverifiable memory to get people to click, click, click.
*1 point if you know who or what Jojen is. 3 points if you think that was an amusing reference to what happened on the show. 5 points if you can explain the “Jojen paste” theory from the books off the top of you head.