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God's Politics

Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Another Colbert Retort

That Stephen Colbert is dishing it out again… Because many of my friends know I’m a dumpster diver, or “freegan,” I heard from multiple sources that Colbert was making fun of my ilk on his show this week, saying, “I’m not going to stand by and let these human rats live off our waste.” Since I don’t have cable, I didn’t see the segment until I watched it online today over a tasty lunch that included smoked trout and chevre (goat cheese, that is—I had been eating lobster bisque all week and was kind of tired of it) all courtesy—you guessed it—of my nocturnal scavenings. And yes, the irony was also delicious.
But I haven’t been so outraged since Colbert mocked our presidential candidates forum. And by outraged, I mean gratified by the free satirical publicity—which is second only to imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.
Now, as a person who gets 95 percent of my groceries from dumpster diving, I’m used to misunderstandings about the safety and legality of this lifestyle, but Colbert cut right to the heart of the matter, citing a recent New York Times article and taking issue with those who are “living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet.” (Sorry, you can’t read the article for free online anymore—maybe you can find it in your neighbor’s recycling bin.)
Colbert may mock our efforts to “stick it to the man,” but maybe he’d be more sympathetic if he read my article in last year’s Sojourners special issue on food. In it, I cite Jesus’ teachings on simple living as one of the motivators behind my dumpster diet. Is Colbert going to argue with Jesus? Actually, I’d like to see that.
And Stephen, there’s still plenty of smoked trout in the freezer, and you’re always welcome to come over for dinner … if you dare.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Comments read comments(25)
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posted June 30, 2007 at 1:58 am

Here, here. You’ve tossed down a choice gourmet gauntlet in front of the Colbert Nation.

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Mimi Schaeffer

posted June 30, 2007 at 11:26 pm

I couldn’t really tell by reading your post whether you were being sarcastic ALA Mr. Cobert or not.

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Melissa Mitchell

posted July 1, 2007 at 12:35 am

It seems that you may be aware that the Colbert Report is a satire on Comedy Central. The Stephen Colbert that appears on the show is a character played by … Stephen Colbert. It doesn’t really work to try to argue rationally with the character. He is, after all, the one who coined the word “truthiness.”

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kevin s.

posted July 1, 2007 at 2:39 am

Comedy is difficult.

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posted July 1, 2007 at 4:28 am

definition of ‘irony’ from
“a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”
Life is so much fun, Ryan, when you’re aware of what’s going on…

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posted July 1, 2007 at 7:38 pm

To complain about Colbert?!
That’s a satirical show!
You should be flattered!

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Amazon Creek

posted July 2, 2007 at 1:24 am

Unfamiliar with the show. I don’t watch a lot of TV. And don’t have cable, so…alas…no Comedy Central.
But the fact that it’s on “Comedy Central” almost mandates that someone might be pulling your leg. LOL! I don’t know…”human rats living off our human waste.”….that is TOO MUCH, man… Sounds to me, like someone’s spoofing – and probably having a whale of a great time doing it!

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posted July 2, 2007 at 10:51 am

Are you aware the Colbert Report is satire? Colbert has established a character that is aimed to poke fun at some of the absurdities and inconsistencies in the stereotypical “religious right.”
You have much more in common with him than you seem to be aware of.

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Ryan Rodrick Beiler

posted July 2, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Thanks to all of your insightful commenter for correcting my mistaken impression of Stephen Colbert, especially Antisthenes, who said:
“That’s a satirical show!
You should be flattered!”

OOOOOhhhhhhh–NOW I get it!
(Oh wait, did you–or any of the other folks who felt compelled to point out that Colbert is satire–read all of the words in my post? Such as the part where I said:
“And by outraged, I mean gratified by the free satirical publicity—which is second only to imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.”)
I even used the same words you did! How ironic! Oops, I mean–how coincidental!
(That’s for you RadicalJohnny–maybe you can hook us all up with the definition of sarcasm. BTW, Webster’s definition of irony includes: “3 a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity.” As in, the incongruity between Colbert ragging on dumpster diving while I’m eating a lunch of dumpster food. Speaking of which, time for lunch…)

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posted July 2, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Posted by: kevin s. | July 1, 2007 2:39 AM
Comedy is difficult.
“Dying is early – Comedy is difficult”
Have a great day

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posted July 2, 2007 at 4:48 pm

come to think of it, maybe Peter and John did some dumpster diving before coming up with the 5 hot dog rools and the two sardines? Or did they find the smoked trout too?

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posted July 2, 2007 at 5:19 pm

I think you’re still missing the point of the Colbert Report as a piece of comedy. The opinions expressed by the “Stephen Colbert” character on the show are almost always the exact OPPOSITE of Colbert’s actual opinions, and are presented in that way in order to make fun of right-wing stereotypes.
In essence, he’s mocking you because he agrees with you.

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posted July 2, 2007 at 8:25 pm

Noah, he gets it. He has played along with the Colbert satire before and was equally misunderstood. It seemed obvious to me this time, but maybe that’s because I was moderately confused before. Perhaps eventually he wont need to explain himself, or he’ll need an unambiguous disclaimer, or plenty of us just will never get it, or he’ll give up and start a progressive religious version of The Onion.
Incidentally, I’m mostly ignorant of “freeganism”… I looked it up, but is there some useful information on the etymology of the word and the lifestyle?

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Susan Hauser

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Either you do not understand the comedic intention of The Colbert Report (tune in to the Daily Show first) or you are trying to be funny also! And perhaps failing?
Please let us know which your true intent.

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posted July 2, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Ah! How marvelously delicious it is to read the well-informed comments of those literati well versed in the turn of the satiric phrase, who, in their blissful ignorance fail to identify the greatest irony: the satirizing of the first satirist by a second, equally sublime. I doff my hat to you, Ryan. I would suggest we do lunch sometime, but well, you know….

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kevin s.

posted July 2, 2007 at 11:31 pm

What is interesting to me is that these shows now get information from PR folks (like myself). Colbert found out about the whole dumptser-diving dealio from a press release. That is certainly ironic.

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johnny B

posted July 3, 2007 at 2:23 am

Hey folks, i think he gets that Colbert is satire. Read his posting again. You are not going to believe how I found this site and I won’t start.

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posted July 3, 2007 at 3:37 am

Whatever Steve Colbert was doing, I’m glad to read that someone else doesn’t watch cable and it’s interesting to find out more about dumpster diving, something I’ve only heard once before about.
The food waste in our society is something to behold, spoken as someone who, years ago, witnessed how much roast beef gets put aside for the family dogs in the back kitchens of the best restaurants alone.
Dumpster diving is practiced in far more circles than people know.

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posted July 3, 2007 at 10:27 am

Enough already, move on!

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Ted Voth Jr

posted July 3, 2007 at 12:03 pm

D’uh!!! Have (we) Christians no snse of humor? If Colbert criticizes dumpster diving, then he’s probably in favor of it…

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posted July 3, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Hi Ryan,
are you trying to be funny with your silly comment?
Try again!
My sentence was inspired in what you wrote!
It wasn’t a coincidence!
It was on purpose!
“And by outraged, I mean gratified by the free satirical publicity—which is second only to imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.”
“To complain about Colbert?!
That’s a satirical show!
You should be flattered!”
And you answered to what I wrote with:
“I even used the same words you did! How ironic! Oops, I mean–how coincidental!”
Are you getting the real irony?
You wrote a funny satirical article.
But your silly comment simply ruined everything!

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posted July 4, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Antisthenes, playing along with Ryan’s playing along. I like it! But don’t you guys know this is satire?

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Ryan Rodrick Beiler

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:13 am

Then again, I was too dumb to get that Antisthenes was playing along (sorry). So I’ve become the very thing I sought to bemoan. Aaaargh.
…OR, maybe my comment was also satire that was playing along with Antisthenes’ satire of my satire of Colbert’s satire. Satire, satire, satire, satire. Sigh.
Comedy is difficult. From now on, I’ll try to be more obviously sarcastic in my posts, and less so in my comments.

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Josh Safran

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:26 pm

bob mologna

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Oh the irony…..

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