Where does satire end and racism begin? If you ask the proponents of the hashtag #cancelcolbert (which has been spreading like wildfire across both Twitter and Facebook since late last night), the answer is an "offensive" tweet posted by the account @ColbertReport yesterday. The tweet in question has since been deleted, but nothing ever really leaves the Internet, so here's a screenshot:
On the surface, that does seem pretty racially charged, and also seems very random. That is until one stops to perform even the most cursory of background research, which it seems most Twitter users who quickly jumped on the #cancelcolbert campaign didn't bother to do.
The quote (taken from Wednesday's episode of 'The Colbert Report') was a jab aimed at Dan Snyder, team owner of the NFL's Washington Redskins. Snyder has been receiving much public pressure for awhile now to change his team's name, a racial epithet which even the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries define as being a dated, offensive term for Native Americans.
However, instead of changing the name, Snyder recently announced the formation of a new charity called "The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation," apparently assuming taking that action would end the controversy.
In context, Colbert's above remark is clearly a jab at the ridiculousness of trying to make nice with those offended by the Redskins name by creating a charity with that name in the title. Unfortunately, @ColbertReport chose to post the quote without context, ultimately leading to the current kerfuffle.
That said, shouldn't Colbert be held responsible for what's posted on his Twitter account? Sure, except that @ColbertReport is not Colbert's personal Twitter account. That would be @stephenathome. As Comedy Central pointed out early this morning, @ColbertReport is a promotional account maintained by the network itself, and neither Stephen Colbert or the writers/producers of the 'Report' post on it, or exercise any editorial control over it.
To sum up, the entire #cancelcolbert campaign appears to be based on misinformation and lack of context. The only person who seems to be at fault here is the Comedy Central employee who elected to tweet a racially charged joke sans the context in which it was made.
Does 'The Colbert Report' deserve to be canceled? Well, that's a matter of opinion. Should Stephen Colbert be the target of an online witch hunt over a tweet he didn't even post? The logical answer to that question is no.