[…] It’s important for progressives to have in-group conversations about how we talk about our political enemies and the people who hurt us. It matters (and it’s telling) when men jump straight to misogynist tropes when criticising rightwing commentator Ann Coulter, or when thin people use fatphobic slurs to decry New Jersey governor Chris Christie. It’s also important to keep a grip on nuance in those conversations, taking into account a person’s track record (Colbert was a staunch advocate of marriage equality) and intent and willingness to listen and change. And criticism within the arts is a living dialogue, not a hard-and-fast binary.
But as the Colbert situation mushroomed over the next few days, I realised that there was another potential reading of the man’s question. The far right, smelling an opportunity to manipulate the left into eating their own powerful and popular satirist, had pounced on Colbert. Oh, the homophobia, they wailed! Wasn’t it terrible? #FireColbert took hold on Twitter – strangely, not on the feeds of those oppressed by homophobia, but on the feeds of homophobes. That same week, Trump signed his executive order on religious liberty, which turned out to be a toothless dud, but was a symbolic nod to religious homophobes all the same. Colbert is now being investigated by the Federal Communications Commission, a relatively routine procedure, but alarming in the context of Trump’s obsession with punishing unfriendly media outlets and flirtation with amending the first amendment.