If you are like me, you:
- live in a so-called “First World” country
- are young(ish)
- are well-educated (at least in your own opinion)
- probably are also a fan of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, respectively.
You know who they are, and you don’t need me to tell you that the cathartic humor they specialize in can be invaluable to a progressive dealing with our stagnant, two-steps-forward-one-step-backwards political system. Despite their constant insistence that they are comedians rather than serious journalists, it is impossible to deny the influence that they have on the news consumption habits and political leanings of the young people.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not just clowns. They are leaders, for better or for worse.
And I want them to lead me. I love the video traps, I love the zingers, I love the interviews. I love that they cover it all: the ACA debacle, Citizens United, the VRA decision, and on and on. When Jon Stewart drops the Boom, I get all warm and tingly deep in the spot where my soul would be if I wasn’t a lefty heathen.
I also loved their coverage of the DOMA decision. Through the tone and target of their words, Stewart and Colbert have endeared themselves to many who care deeply about achieving equal rights for LGBT people.
I don’t like to think of myself as a naive, but I was recently forced to confront my naiveté. On Thursday’s (10/31/2013) Colbert Report The Word segment, Colbert make a deceptive transsexual joke. This blatant transphobic spew came moments after some more subtle man-in-a-dress
hate ”humor” regarding Matt Lauer’s appearance on the Today Show that morning. I found this a bit jarring, and did some research (i.e., I used Google). I discovered that this transphobia was not an aberration, it was the trend. Many blogs, including Your Momement of Hate and Bad Trans Jokes, have documented Stewart and Colbert’s pattern of transphobia over the years, stretching back to the early Aughts.
This is a bad thing, not a good thing. Stewart and Colbert’s past good deeds and friendliness to the LGB
T community should not afford them a free pass to disseminate transphobia.
But maybe not all is lost. Perhaps if they hear enough concern voiced by their (former?) fans, they will decide to commit themselves to rejecting transphobia and respecting gender identity.
Maybe send them a tweet?
Maybe send Comedy Central an email?
Maybe sign a petition?
This may not be the most important activism that you will ever engage in…but do it anyway!
Note: The petition has been taking off – check the change.org site for updates!