Stephen Colbert chose the wrong department to pick on.
After being featured in an episode on the Colbert Report regarding the new 502 marijuana initiative in Washington State, Seattle Police Department (SPD) decided to return the message in an open letter posted yesterday to Colbert and the Colbert Nation.
According to SPD, Colbert’s report was “rife with errors,” and they wanted to set the story straight.
My first instinct on seeing the letter was to laugh, tisk and give a little shake of the head. Silly SPD, I thought. You should know better than to try to contradict Stephen Colbert. He makes jokes that aren’t always totally accurate. It’s just what he does.
This, in some sense, is true. Colbert’s comments are often offensive jabs and off-the-wall hyperbole, but they often have large elements of truth. If you go into watching the show with a thick skin expecting the satire, you’ll be fine. The humor has become acceptable because Colbert knows what he’s talking about, and he’s good at it.
So my initial reaction toward the letter was to smirk. It seemed pointless for SPD to actually take the time to respond to a show that is not built to be factual but rather constructed to help society pick up on some political and social irony.
But then I thought, is that always a good thing? While shows like the Colbert Report offer laughs and enlightenments, the jokes are always at the expense and often the reputation of victim.
So why shouldn’t SPD stand up for itself?
If Colbert can be snarky, so can we.
Though Colbert commented that SPD had given up in the war on drugs, the police department had something else to say.
“We’ll have you know, sir,” they wrote in their letter, “that our department continues to pursue marijuana-related infractions, such as the sale of marijuana-infused snacks without a license.”
The letter also speaks back to comments Colbert made about the branding of marijuana. “If it were up to us,” the letter said, “pot brands would have names like ‘Remember to Call Your Mother’ and ‘You Don’t Want to Grow Up to Be a Drummer, Do You?’”
As I finished reading the letter, I had switched my smirk into a smile. I would honestly like to see things like this more often.
People get poked fun of on late-night T.V. and the victim usually just goes with it.
But I say, bring on the sass, and fight back.
The SPD concludes the letter with a paragraph discussing the potential tax-revenue boost from the marijuana initiative. According to them, the new law is doing great things for pizza businesses.
In the end, the SPD brings the letter to a close with a statement of camaraderie, signing off with “your partner in anti-crime, The Seattle Police Department.” I find it refreshing to see someone respond to criticism and satire with class and sass.
You go, SPD.