stephen colbert the late show

Stephen Colbert Calls out the Ridiculous and Horrific “Crisis Actor” Conspiracies

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“It’s hard not to be inspired by these kids, but some people have managed to do it.”

In the wake of the Parkland high school massacre that saw 17 students and adults mercilessly hunted and slaughtered on campus, student activists from Parkland have boldly shaken up the stagnant American gun debate.

These brave young adults are using their grief, outrage, and considerable social media savvy to force politicians into confronting their NRA blood money, as well as working to inspire protests for sensible gun laws around the country. Sounds fair, right?

But you know what the fringe right wing always starts winking about when people get fired up about a good cause … they must be faking it! Because bad people and liars always assume that everyone else is a bad person and a liar, too.

So in the fringe’s estimation, these passionate students—who had to suffer immense trauma and lose their classmates and members of their school community at a time when they should get to plan for spring dances, not marches on the capitol for their lives—these students can’t possibly be real and genuine. They’re either “fake,” or else being organized by the Elders of Zion, according to our protocols.

As actual former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston implies in the Colbert clip above, if the kids are real—not so-called “crisis actors” that the conspiracists imply magically turn up at America’s frequent massacre sites with a mandate to … I don’t know? Be sad about death?—if these kids are real, then they must be being galvanized by insidious shadowy forces like billionaire George Soros.

To be clear here: everyone knows that when these assholes say “George Soros,” what they mean is “the Jews,” right? And frankly, we, the Jews, think that this particular dogwhistle is a just a little bit old. I mean, can’t they come up with something more original than “the Jews”? Hasn’t this one been played out somewhat?

But for some reason, people like Jack Kingston are allowed to go onto television news and spew their paranoid, hateful “theories.” Yeah, I’m not sure why we’re giving them that much room to speak when they should be laughed out of every building. They shouldn’t be argued with—trolls like this live for argumentation—they should be laughed at all day, every day, for their preposterous, vile bullshit.

No one knows the power of mocking laughter more than Stephen Colbert. That’s why he used his late night pulpit to poke fun at this putrid crisis actor nonsense, so that, I assume, he doesn’t spend all day screaming about the state of America the way that I have been screaming.

On “crisis actors”:

“That’s right, we’re all being taken in by the dazzling performances of high school actors. We’ve been duped before … I guess you could say this truly is Our Town.”

“[The crisis actor conspiracy] is wrong on a lot of levels. Not just because it diminishes the tragedy of what these kids experienced, but it also—it also gives theater majors the false hope that some day they’ll get jobs. I speak from experience here. Improv is where the big money is.”

Don’t forget that this stuff isn’t just the provenance of tinfoil hat wearers dumping their garbage on Twitter. This toxic stew is infecting every level of American society, even those with the ear of the President. Especially those people.

“They were joined by Trump son and man telling the bouncer to check the list again, Donald Trump Jr., who “Liked” tweets attacking a Florida massacre survivor. Well, you know what they say: the douche doesn’t fall far from the bag.”

As I type this, the vocal students who were traumatized so badly in Parkland but are still working towards a better world are receiving death threats, insults, and implications that their identities are fake from “grown-ups” who have proven themselves to be so scummy that actual scum is like, “Ew, no, we have nothing to do with them.”

So thank you, Stephen, for making jokes about the outrageous, disgusting behavior of so-called adults who are propagating such monstrous theories and attacks. These people should be ashamed of themselves, but they’ve shown that they are utterly without shame, again and again, and again, through each subsequent mass shooting that keeps happening here.

So the only thing left to do is laugh in their faces. Derisive laughter these folks might at least understand, seeing as how love and compassion are incomprehensible to them.

(via The Late Show, image: screengrab)

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Author
Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.