#CancelColbert and ‘Radical Choices’ Re: Rhetoric

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, #CancelColbert

This:

The #CancelColbert supporters have a very valid point in arguing that radical action and racial outrage should not require that people of colour temper our actions and reactions to appear more acceptable to the mainstream, particularly when this is in conjunction with needing to silence valid expressions of racial anger and pain. Race activists should not need to be “well-behaved” to be taken seriously; and we should not be dismissed when we are not. Tone policing is not okay, particularly if it is used to marginalize oppressed voices.

However, what also struck me clearest in watching tonight’s Colbert Report was the disservice that the radical choices made by #CancelColbert had on the very conversation it hoped to start. I tend to be an action-oriented “activist” (in so much as I am an activist): I am focused on  what goals that can be achieved and what changes that can be made; every activist action is, for me, purposeful — and usually with the purpose of educating and convincing others. Consequently I am always viewing campaigns through the lens of how each action will affect the likelihood of achieving certain tangible goals; this is just my starting point, one no more or less valid than any other.

But applied here: if the purpose of radical action in this instance was to initiate a dialogue on an instance of racism for the purpose of either a) expressing a point-of-view and convincing someone who might not a priori understand or agree, or b) agitate for some sort of apology from Colbert Report, I have to wonder whether that conversation was challenged or facilitated by making actual (or unintended) demands to “cancel” Colbert? Such demands could only be expected to inflame defensiveness from the show’s rabid fans, and alienate those who might otherwise agree in principle.

Speaking for myself alone, I cannot fathom structuring a campaign around a political demand that I did not actually want to have happen (or around a hashtag that could reasonably be mistaken as being the actual goal of the campaign). Or, I cannot fathom launching a campaign where the goal of my campaign was not immediately clear to movement members or the casual observer.

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Obligatory ZOMG CONCERNED!!1 #CancelColbert Post

Stephen Colbert Colbert Report #CancelColbert Suey Park Deadspin

Jamilah King breaks down #CancelColbert:

What’s important to understand here is that Park’s aim wasn’t necessarily to get The Colbert Show kicked off the air. Instead, it was to, as point out that satire isn’t always the best activism. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” Park told the Jay Caspian Kang at the New Yorker. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

While I think Suey Park is entirely in the right (even if I share some of the middle ground staked out by Melissa Fong), part of me wishes that she had chosen a less alliterative and more immediately representative hash to define her campaign. “Cancel” erroneously projects a censorious sentiment that doesn’t reflect the actual end being sought. None of this excuses the subsequent rank, reflexive racism and misogyny in response to Park’s efforts (as if anyone could have cancelled Colbert over this, even if they wanted to). Nor do I believe that a less inflammatory hash would have made much difference when it comes to vicious, dickhead Colbert Nation fanbois and their vicious, dickhead fanboi-ism (oh, and Deadspin/Gawker can go piss up a flaming rope). But I do think that it was ill-chosen, counterproductive rhetoric.

Of course, since, as noted, Park (and pretty much any WOC who dares to do a digital end-around structural impediments to social justice — perhaps this will help) is damned if she does or doesn’t mind her P’s and Q’s, what’s the point in nominal allies (eg, yr’s truly ^^) honing in on such messenger-killing minutia anyway?

Aaron Bady:

I am left…with Park’s own statement that “There’s no reason for me to act reasonable because I won’t be taken seriously anyway.” For one thing, this is obviously true. When we are told that Suey Park “does not make any claim to objectivity or fairness,” we are seeing a sharp limit to how much a journalist in a fact-checked journalism publication can fully see from her perspective, or allow himself to, without bringing his own narrative frame into peril. Sympathizing with an activist makes it hard to make claims to objectivity or fairness; it makes people wonder if you might be an activist too, and therefore untrustworthy. Quick, better make her unsympathetic!

An activist is, in the end, a living medium; thanks to overwhelming dudebro aversion to empathy, the ultimate message of #CancelColbert has been completely distorted, not amplified, by the superficial meta of indifference (and in many instances outright hostility) couched in dehumanizing demands for impossible perfection.

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Freedom and Responsibility (Phil Robertson Edition)

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Via Bob Mann:

Gay people, more often than not, throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to religion. But we have a good reason. We’ve been scarred. Religion has damaged us. And I try to share with them the light I have seen in the Episcopal Church. But every time I get close to a breakthrough, something happens that brings out the worst in people.

One year it was Chick-fil-a. This year it’s Phil Robertson.

Thanks to Phil, I now know where everyone in my family stands on the issue of whether or not I’m a human being.

I even saw a “friend” of mine post something about how gay people can’t be Christians. Wow. Not only will they keep us from having equal rights, but they’ll keep us from equal salvation. We can’t just be second-class citizens. We have second-class souls.

Josh Barro:

The worst of my problems from being openly gay is that I get some nasty email. That means I have it really easy. In a country where gay teenagers are being bullied at school and thrown out of their homes by their parents and told by their clergy that they’re going to Hell, we should not count my inbox as a hardship.

Rather than hurting me, these emails are a reminder that I have not just an opportunity but an obligation to be out of the closet — an obligation of which other people in my position should be mindful.

[...]

The only reason these emailers make me angry is that I think about how their insults affect other people. I’m too arrogant for self-loathing, but that’s not true of everyone. A lot of gay people still live in communities where these hateful attitudes are dominant. A lot of gay children and teenagers are at the mercy of parents, teachers and clergy who hold bigoted views.

Being open and unashamed about being gay is just one small thing I can do to change the culture and make life easier for people who haven’t had my luck.

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Monday Metal: Satan – Life Sentence

Satan Life Sentence

Despite a precocious childhood obsession with all things heavy in the 80s, I somehow missed the original incarnation of NWOBHM OG’s Satan the first time ’round (though vaguely recall Pariah). Their ripping 2013 comeback LP Life Sentence (featuring the classic Court in the Act line-up) totally cold-cocked me with its timeless, taut intensity, nimble dual guitar heroics, and soaring clean vocals. No rust to be found anywhere as these veteran metal warriors bring it full throttle from start to finish with unrelenting, unexpectedly inspired drive.

Check out the full album stream below, courtesy Listenable Records: Continue reading

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Cinerama – ‘I Wake Up Screaming’ (AUDIO)

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Check out ‘I Wake Up Screaming’ by Cinerama, the first single in ten years (!) from David Gedge and co.: Continue reading

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Fucking Up Young (Aging Hipster Rewind)

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While your’s truly managed to make it out for The Dirty Nil at Fanshawe College last night (an effervescent performance, bee tee dubya), I neglected to take any pics. Which is a shame, considering all the half-ironic cock-rock posing that went down (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Oh, and I also drank PBR draught for the first time in several years.

ewwwwwwAt a certain point irony and masochism become entirely indistinguishable (a rhetorical juncture located somewhere in the small intestine from the sound of things).

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Around the Internets: Monday Jump-Off

Must-reading to keep you occupied while US legislators play Hot Potato with an extremely fragile global economy (because Teabaggers won’t be dissed by the Negro-in-Chief, natch):

Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy (h/t Diane Ravitch)

Warning bells: Is US shutdown a brewing African-American revolt? (h/t)

Do Racial Issues Still Push Some Over the Edge?

A U.S. Default Seen as Catastrophe Dwarfing Lehman’s Fall (h/t)

Canadian spies targeted Brazil’s mines ministry: report

U.S. Military Operations Against al-Shabaab/al-Qaeda—and Who Exactly is Ikrima?

Hillary Clinton: It’s Not Her Turn

From Zulu to the ‘White Widow’, why do all African stories need a white face? (h/t blacklooks)

Still Insufficient: Child Care in Canada

Why the rebirth of manufacturing is bypassing Canada

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