I Was Supposed to Get a Pass: Stephen Colbert’s White Privelege, and Other Exercises in Doublethink


Historical Racism, defined either as discrimination formalized in law or as open white supremacist hostility, has ceased to excite progressives in proportion to the degree it has vanished from American public life. In order to maintain their cultural edge, the Left has instead declared war on the more nebulous (and thus, easier to accuse) “White privilege”. This concept has a long and tenuous definition, but in practice means that the white may not speak to or about the nonwhite in any way that sounds bad to the latter. If the nonwhite says it is offensive, then it is offensive. Full stop. Intent does not matter.

You may not recall the instance, in late 1999, of a white employee of the DC government who, in a private meeting, used the word “niggardly” and was afterwards forced to resign, because it happened before the Internet had taken over the news. By all accounts, he used the word correctly, implying miserliness, and not as a racial slur. This fact was deemed irrelevant. A nonwhite was offended, and it was decided that he should have known better than to use a semi-homonym for a racial slur in the hearing of nonwhites.

These are the rules. To be offensive is a crime requiring punishment, and if you are white, you cannot judge what is offensive or not. You will be told if you are, and you will confess your heresy according to whatever auto-da-fe we have set aside for such matters.
There are gender and sexuality versions of these as well, known as “Patriarchy” and “Heteronormativity”. It is not for the man to discuss whether there is really such a thing as “rape culture”, for example. He can have no knowledge of such things (men are never raped, you see). Likewise, the straight cannot speak about the gay except in approved ways.
All of which makes the hullabaloo over #CancelColbert the more delicious. If you need background, please read this summation at Ace of Spades: White Liberals: We’ll Say Who the Racists Are .

I followed the blowback on Twitter, where it soon became clear that the White Left had settled on the position that anyone who was offended by Comedy Central advertising Colbert’s ironic appropriation of “ching-chung-fung” racist humor was too stupid to understand free speech or satire.
And even if he was regrettably offensive to some people, well, he’s on the side of the angels. He’s supposed to get a pass.
Like Joe Biden got a pass.
Like Harry Reid got a pass.

You may ask why I bring all this up, aside from offering an explanation for why shrill blather about how racist the Tea Party must be causes my eyes to roll so far back in my head I can see my cerebellum (I understand how disconcerting that is in public). You may even go so far as to say “But Andrew, as a right-winger, wouldn’t it be better from your point of view to defend Colbert? Isn’t a defense of Colbert’s non-racist intent a principle conservatives would prefer to be established?

To which I say: you’re adorable.
Above: You.
Above: You.

I would have to smoke a particularly piquant selection of minty-scented crack to believe that a successful defense by intent of a popular liberal like Stephen Colbert would ever prepare the battlespace for a similar defense of a conservative. That will happen on the same day Colbert invites Bill O’Reilly to guest-host his show while flying pigs deliver the orders to the seven angels to pour out their bowls.

How do I know this? Because Colbert “me-luv-yoo-long-time” gag was aimed at Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s defense of the intent of that particular franchise’s use of that particular name. Snyder is not a liberal-in-good-standing, so his intent is meaningless, even if LIGS believe that his intent is what he says it is, which they don’t.

The Pass is for Democrats. It is only for Democrats.

This isn’t even an exercise in that tried-and-true content generator for wingnuts, the Liberal Hypocrisy Rant. This is beyond hypocrisy. Ted Kennedy staying in the Senate despite crimes against women that would have gotten Mitt Romney ridden out of town on a Minuteman missile, that was hypocrisy. This is something Orwellian. This is doublethink.

You will recall: doublethink is the act of maintaining, and following, two directly opposed principles, and unconsciously knowing when to switch from one to the other. At present time, White Progressives have in their minds, concurrently operant, two utterly opposed philosophies:

  1. White privilege is real and means that any utterance by a white which offends a nonwhite must be derided, regardless of how trivial the offense may seem.
  2. The intent to do good, or at least, the lack of intent to give offense, matters and is even exculpatory.

Rule 2 is for Democrats. Rule 1 is for Republicans.  So if I, a Republican, joined in a Rule 2 defense of Colbert, hoping that my defense of free speech and satire by an enemy – disagreeing with what Colbert says, but defending to the death his right to say it – would earn some good will for the next time a Republican says something deemed offensive by an Official Victim, I would be the stupidest person who ever lived. If I trusted the people who insinuate with every breath that the only reason I oppose the President is because of his terrifying blackness to safeguard my free speech, I would have no intellectual value save as a subject for a study in cognitive dissonance.

The Pass is for Democrats. It is only for Democrats.

Do I think Colbert should be cancelled? Yes, because I’ve never been able to regard that smarmy mug of his without wanting to stuff a brick through it. But that’s me. Do I think his “dung-a-lung-fung” joke is a hanging offense? No, I think free speech and satire should be judged by intent. But I am stuffed with white-privileged, patriarchal, heteronormative cooties, and I won’t be deconstructed, and I do not give a damn. What I think is compromised.

What I think is that to the extent Rule 1 has been accepted, things such as free speech and satire are dead. Because if free speech and satire only run in one direction, they are not really free. There was plenty of free speech in the antebellum South – so long as you were white.

And if free speech and satire are dead, then the future promises instead vulgar displays of power. Remember the great Duck Dynasty controversy? Was Phil Robertson saved from being blacklisted on his own show by a spirited defense of his intent? No. He was saved by his fans, who made it clear to AMC that they liked Duck Dynasty just the way it was, and they didn’t give two ducks who Phil offended by his exercise of free speech. It was a rare instance of conservative-minded people having some power in the cultural sphere, and using it. 

But fear not. As OKCupid just demonstrated, the Left has far more experience with these things.

Far more...
“It doesn’t matter who casts the votes, it matters who reads the list of political donors.”

11 thoughts on “I Was Supposed to Get a Pass: Stephen Colbert’s White Privelege, and Other Exercises in Doublethink

  1. I’ll argue with you. Democrats get to call out Republicans when it comes to race issues because Republicans are way more blatant about being racist. What Colbert said on his show is permissible because satire is deemed permissible by our society. You can twist it around to mean whatever you want, but Colbert making a joke that calls out the absurdity of a rich, white, megalomaniacal football team owner creating a bullshit charity in order to help garner support for his refusal to change his football team’s nickname (which is, admittedly, only seemingly offensive to white people who are offended by things that may be construed as offensive to the people who should be (but generally aren’t) offended (in this case Native Americans)) is not a Democratic privilege, but something that Republican public figures don’t seem to understand or be good at disseminating. What Colbert said is completely different from O’Reilly saying that Common defends cop killers. It’s not even close to being on the same par with just about anything that comes out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth. You can’t both be upset about what Colbert said and also understand the intent behind it. Please, by all means, show me an example of Republican “satire” that doesn’t sound completely and 100% like an actual belief. I’m sure Jonathan Swift would be happy to be a part of this conversation.

    1. Jonathan Swift is a white male, and so irrelevant to the conversation. He doesn’t get to say if the Asian people offended by Colbert are “legitimately” offended or not. You don’t either.

      Like I said, these are your rules. The fact that you apply them selectively, and defend said application with “But Republicans are SOOOOOOOO awful!!!!” is…well, I’d say it’s revealing, but it’s become so commonplace that it barely registers.

      This is how the Left operates. Free speech for me, but not for thee, and we get to define what free speech means. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.

  2. i love when you are succinct.
    I would make the point that the antibellum Southern attitude is alive and well in the Democratic party. Personally I am tired of these children and their tiraides , I think its time for others in the room to tell them to go to their rooms and shut up. They are boring and I for one am tired of the whinging.

  3. It’s not just the rules of white males. For example, when Dave Chappelle made fun of white people I wasn’t offended. I laughed my ass off. I’m not saying someone doesn’t have a right to be offended by satire, but if they don’t understand that it’s satire then I don’t feel bad for them. I also don’t want to lump all Republicans as being racist (or say that no Democrats are) because that’s obviously ridiculous. The point is that Republican politicians are generally the only ones dumb enough to say something racist and mean it. That being said, I have no defense for Anthony Weiner being a sexist idiot so I’m not trying to play favorites, just clarifying my point.

    Your point about the Left is equally as broad and hyperbolic as what I originally said about the Right being racist. Also, free speech doesn’t mean that you get to say whatever you want without having to defend yourself. If you say something horribly offensive, and you mean it, and someone calls you out, I don’t see the issue with that. If you make a satirical remark and someone takes it as offensive, that’s fine, they have that right, but it makes it hard to defend your stance if the offended party doesn’t understand that it wasn’t meant to be offensive.

    And of course, just because you don’t mean to be offensive doesn’t mean you can’t be offensive, but intent does matter at least a little bit.

    1. Fine. But who gets to say where the line is? Are progressives the only judges of what can be considered “too offensive to be allowed”? Because they seem entirely happy to play that part.

      Consider also, that terms such as “racist” are badly defined. What seems obviously racist to one, is entirely permissible to another. For example, to conservatives, things like affirmative action and race-weighted college admissions is profoundly racist, and although intended to be benevolent, actually does harm. But to progressives, even saying that is evidence of deep-seated racial animosity.

      Frankly, I’m tired of the whole debate. But as long as the progs use “racism” as a trump card to answer any critique, I’m going to hold them to their own standards. They’re the ones in the cultural driving seat.

  4. You’re absolutely correct that racism is poorly defined, but I don’t know that it can actually can be concretely definitive. It is (almost) entirely subjective to both the offender and the offended. Now, sure, there are some examples where people are clearly being racist, but there’s also a ton of grey area. If I make a joke about black people and then immediately tell one about white people, am I being racist? Can’t humor be used as a type of catharsis? Sure, there’s a chance I might offend a small percentage of people, but chances are, if they can’t see the humor in it, or the point that I’m trying to make, then they are probably so steadfast in their beliefs that nothing would get through to them anyway. And just because they try to scream the loudest doesn’t mean I should care what they have to say.

    To your other point, progressives certainly do like to put themselves in the cultural driving seat, so to speak. However, they are called “progressives,” so this should hardly come as a surprise. By their definition they strive to make things better through change (you can argue whether or not they actually do make things better, but that’s another argument for another time). Either way, their actions are well-intentioned, if nothing else.

    Without question, some progressives are way too easily offended by things that are not meant to be offensive. It happens all the time and it’s annoying. But as someone who considers himself a progressive, I constantly look at the people and think “Will you kindly shut the F up, because you’re making us all look bad!” I’d imagine that thought has crossed your mind once or twice being on the other side of the fence as well.

    Contrarily, conservatives don’t get a pass in the “too offensive to be allowed” game. Case in point: Every state that is trying to pass “religious freedom” bills. Now, for what it’s worth, I do think that a good number of these people actually believe that homosexuality is morally wrong and against their religious beliefs. However, you know as well as I do that there are many people who are made extremely uncomfortable by gay people and are upset that public opinion (of both conservatives and liberals alike) is taking away their “right” to discriminate.

    They’re “offended” that they can’t openly be intolerant of gay people without being chastised.

    Now, this is all a slippery slope. Religion, in my opinion, is held in too high of regard. Essentially, I could say that I believe anything I want, and find a way to correspond it to religion. Everyone should be able to practice whatever religion they want on their own time, but that’s where, to me, it ends. When your religious beliefs (and that’s what they are, after all — beliefs) promote hatred and intolerance, perhaps that shouldn’t win out over allowing someone to get married to the person they love.

    I mean, just because our Constitution says (loosely speaking, of course) that we have the right to be raging dickheads, does it mean that we should be?

    1. You’re doing it again. The words “hatred and intolerance” are loaded, and again, poorly defined (for that matter, so is “raging dickhead). One side’s “intolerance,” is another’s “self-expression.” You can’t say to someone “be religious in such a way that I never notice it,” any more than you can say “be gay in such a way that I never notice it.” Identiy is identity.

      To the issue you hint at, there’s an ontological debate going on about the nature of marriage. What is it? Does it have a nature, or is it just a word we use to describe two people sharing a bed and a silver set?

      This debate has been badly executed, because venting and screaming at each other gives the illusion of righteousness. But that’s the debate, and neither side should be considered automatically illegitimate or hounded from their jobs by the other side.

      Commit to that principle, and I’ll believe you actually care about everyone’s rights. Otherwise, it’s all just censorship in the name of tolerance, which may be the blackest joke modern society has ever played on itself.

      1. It’s not that hatred and intolerance are poorly defined. They are clearly defined. The issue is that nobody can have total freedom without infringing on other people’s freedom. There is no way to say to two groups who are diametrically opposed, “we can give you both all of what you want and none of what you don’t want.” So, in that case, arguments need to be made, and people as a whole then decide which side’s argument seems to make more sense. That is subjective, obviously. But don’t lecture me about caring about the rights of all people. Do I think that a Southern Baptist who owns a cake shop should be able to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding? Sure. But then we get into all kinds of tricky things, like, when blacks weren’t allowed in certain stores, sure someone could’ve opened a store where blacks and whites were allowed together, but without some kind of social consciousness, the store probably would’ve ended up catering solely to blacks, since whites would’ve simply chosen to go the the other store. Now, maybe, eventually, over a couple centuries, we would’ve harmoniously been brought together somehow. Or maybe we’d still be using separate bathrooms and not sitting next to each other on busses. There is no perfect argument or perfect way. I am absolutely going to take sides on certain issues. Do I think some rights are more important than others? Of course.

      2. For me, treating sexuality and ethnicity as analogous doesn’t wash. Genetic heritage has no moral component. Sexuality does. So I think “I’d rather not provide services for this particular wedding,” doesn’t equate to “You have to sit at this part of the bus.” And from what you say, I think you see that distinction, too.

        You’re right that there’s no perfect argument or perfect way. Which is why I hope that when the dust settles we let the gays be gay, and let the religious be religious, and neither gets to tell the other what they have to like or support. But given that the grubby little Stalinists at OKCupid are paying no price for scoring their scalp, I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

      3. The bottom line is that I think we both generally agree that freedom of beliefs and expression is good, but things get blurry at some point and it’s difficult to figure out where the line in the sand should be drawn.

        This civil discourse that we’ve been engaging in is, to me, is how Dems and Reps used to reason with each other. Now it’s just a bunch of monkeys flinging poop most of the time.


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