Ethics Diagnosis: #SueyParkisanirresponsiblepowerhungrypoliticalcorrectnessbully

Colbert gag

Suey Park has declared war on Stephen Colbert over a promotional tweet made in his name by some Comedy Central PR employee. Not that there was anything wrong with the tweet*, unless you chose to willfully misconstrue it. The line was a quote from Colbert during a comic riff on his show mocking Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s lame effort to deflect criticism of his team’s name as being ‘racist.’ (Reminder: It isn’t—not in the context in which is being used. Tasteless? Perhaps…) Anyone who is familiar with Colbert’s schtick—it is all tongue in cheek, exaggeration, irony, sarcasm and satire—understands that the Twitter quote is mocking the idea that one can continue being “racially insensitive” as long as you set up a foundation to show sensitivity to the group you have been accused of being racially insensitive about. Here is an explanation of how Park saw an opening for some cheap social media muscle-flexing, from Slate:

“On Wednesday night Stephen Colbert made sport of Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and his plan to undercut criticism of the team name by founding an organization for the uplift of “original Americans.” Colbert ran though all the reasons why this was funny, then called back to a skit from one of the show’s first episodes, way back from the fall of 2005—a joke about the host being caught on a “live feed” playing a racist Asian stereotype (Ching Chong Ding Dong, from Guanduong), then not understanding why it was racist. Colbert would make amends with his new “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” He’d played versions of the game since then, dressing up in a sombrero for “Hispanic heritage month.” It’s one of the Colbert character’s oldest gags—he “doesn’t see color,” so he can’t ever be blamed if he accidentally does something horribly racist.”

The rest of the story: Suey Park pounced, first telling Colbert “Fuck you” and then sending her many followers a directive to flood the twitterverse with   …. and so they did, and have.

As I have here written many times, organized indignation and cries of racism over innocent uses of words, phrases, images and more in the culture are not really aimed at racism or bigotry, but at thought-control, limitations on expression, self-censorship, and most of all, elevating the critics to a position of power over the rest of us. The attack on Colbert, a reliable partisan ally of the critics themselves (the best comics are non-partisan, equal opportunity jesters; this does not describe either Colbert or his colleague, Jon Stewart, unfortunately), proves the point. Park, a “hashtag activist” and a Twitter power-monger whose blight on the planet I had been blissfully ignorant of until today, saw an opportunity to demonstrate her cultural thwack by victimizing Colbert, whom she must know is not  racially biased against Asians or anyone else, since he relentlessly mocks bigots and also imaginary bigots so labelled by people like Park (Exhibit A: Dan Snyder) on his show. Never mind. It doesn’t matter to Park that Colbert has earned the jester’s privilege; it doesn’t matter that his progressive credentials are proven and impeccable; it doesn’t matter that he was speaking in his satiric alternative identity of a post-lobotomy Bill O’Reilly. She wants a scalp on her belt (ooh, is that racist???). She wants to show she can take down a big media star, because it will make her a star too.

And who will have the integrity to defy this tin Twitter god and point out that she is either a dolt who didn’t get the joke, or a self-promoting cyber-bully who will mess with a talented man’s career for illicit personal gain? Not Comedy Central, which is grovelling; not Colbert, who had the “offending” non-offensive tweet pulled. The politically correct, who make up a tragically large percentage of the progressive recruits, certainly won’t. Neither will the more vengeful and hypocritical conservatives, who will cheer on the family bloodbath in hopes that it will wound an effective critic of conservative vices and quirks, which Colbert certainly is. In this group are the likes of right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, herself something of a tin Twitter god, who tweeted:

Co-sign! RT @suey_park I’m sick of liberals hiding behind assumed “progressiveness” #CancelColbert

Whatever that means. Clearly, however, Malkin is happy to contribute to the cyber-mugging of Colbert, not because he deserves it, but because she wishes him ill. Nice. But then, that’s Michelle all over.

Social media, for all its many benefits, has also had the retched effect of giving a large megaphone to mean, destructive, ignorant and/or stupid people, who abuse the power of the web to advance their personal agendas, which, in the case of Park, include influence without merit or good will. She is a cultural bad seed, a force for no good, and the cyber-sheep who let her shepherd them into expeditions like this are no better than she is.

Liberals, conservatives, all those in between and anyone else who cares about fairness and free expression should support and defend Stephen Colbert, even if he won’t do it himself.

*I keep forgetting that nobody clicks on links, so here is the tweeted quote, from the show itself, which I foolishly left out of the original post:

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”


Pointer: Althouse

Facts: Slate, Michele Malkin, Washington Post


25 thoughts on “Ethics Diagnosis: #SueyParkisanirresponsiblepowerhungrypoliticalcorrectnessbully

  1. “Hashtag Activist.” Or, in laymans terms, “Not a motherfucking activist.” You want to do good in the world? Go do good. As much as I hate stupid newly-coined internet words as a rule, I’m finding myself liking “Slacktivism” more and more.

  2. Snyder hasn’t changed his team’s name YET?!

    Federals, man. Federals. Be offensive to EVERYBODY.
    (Switch to “Elite,” and I will personally suicide-bomb a future game.)

    • “Couch potatoes?” “Twits?” (too busy with their phones on the bleachers to see the play)

      While I don’t agree with all that Colbert mocks, he has put in the time and effort to have a lot more credibility. Park and supporters are obliviots, drunk on the power of mass hysteria in social networking. They aren’t David and Goliath, but more like the Inquisition and have a not so secret wish to command everything about others’ lives like Jim Jones. I’m sorry that we’re seeing too many cases where the witch hunts are affecting even celebrity interviews and political comedians.

  3. Missing context, the “Tweet” sent by the Colbert Report:

    “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

  4. Calling our stupid statements could be viewed as the ultimate in non-racist behavior. ie I don’t give you points for your race or points off for your race, I call every stupid opinion stupid. no matter who says it.

  5. Co-sign! RT @suey_park I’m sick of liberals hiding behind assumed “progressiveness” #CancelColbert

    Whatever that means. Clearly, however, Malkin is happy to contribute to the cyber-mugging of Colbert, not because he deserves it, but because she wishes him ill. Nice. But then, that’s Michelle all over.

    No, it is because why should she make any effort to calm the Progressive Left when they are busy eating one of their own.

    She co-signs the effort to get rid of Colbert, not because of the “racism”, but because she doesn’t like COlbert and would like to see him not have a show anymore.

    I don’t see how that is “wishing him ill”, exactly, unless my dislike for him means I wish him ill as well, in addition to my wishing ill of Piers Morgan, Ed Schultz, etc…

  6. Relevant:

    “#CancelColbert could be seen as a similar attempt to carve out space for Asian-Americans to discuss something that has nothing to do with parody, Daniel Snyder, or the good intentions of “The Colbert Report.” There’s a long tradition in American comedy of dumping tasteless jokes at the feet of Asians and Asian-Americans that follows the perception that we will silently weather the ridicule. If I were to predict which minority group the writers of a show like “The Colbert Report” would choose for an edgy, epithet-laden parody, I’d grimace and prepare myself for some joke about rice, karate, or broken English. The resulting discomfort has nothing to do with the intentions of the joke or the political views of the people laughing at it. Even when you want to be in on the joke—and you understand, intellectually, that you are not the one being ridiculed—it’s hard not to wonder why these jokes always come at the expense of those least likely to protest.

    “In our conversation, Park admitted that despite the hashtag’s command, she did not want “The Colbert Report” to be cancelled. “I like the show,” she explained. 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.””

    • Strangely enough, that explanation only makes the whole affair even dumber for me. To put it bluntly, while “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot”, neither do Twitter campaigns aimed at whole inappropriate targets to begin with.

    • There is nothing inherently tasteless about ethnic jokes, if they are not hateful, are good natured,and adults are involved. If one is offended by the singing Chinese waiters in “A Christmas Story,” whatever your race, you need to grow up and take the chip off your shoulder. As for this example, it makes no sense at all to attack someone who is mocking racial insensitivity as a racist. Park knows that the intent isn’t racist, but is calling it racist. She doesn’t want the show cancelled, but intentionally suggested otherwise. Why would anyone take what she says seriously?

      The only difference between gags mocking the idiosyncrasies of Asians and similar gags about Italians, Irish, French and Canadians is that Asians can claim racial offense. The fact is that Asians—pick your reasons—are excelling in this country; if they are discriminated against, and there is little evidence that they are, it sure hasn’t hurt their test scores, crime statistics, poverty levels or salaries. They can afford to laugh. Nobody is denigrating them; the facts make it impossible.

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