January 13, 2004

Cho chose not to "take the high road"

I am conservative. I came to the realization long ago that this university was overwhelmingly liberal, and that really doesn't bother me. I also realize that Margaret Cho is liberal, and I fully accept her right to speak her opinions, even during a show that was billed as a "comedy act." But what I don't accept is her belittling of others that disagree with her left-wing views. And what I absolutely don't accept is that a large percentage of the University community raucously applauded her condescending, elitist, and inhumane treatment of one such political opponent during her performance at Mandel Hall Saturday evening.

To be frank, I was disappointed in Cho's show Saturday. I was aware of her political opinions, and expected to hear some pro-liberal and anti-conservative jokes, but I didn't expect her performance to mutate into a left-wing political rally, where students in the audience asked her opinion on the "fifty percent of Catholic priests who are pedophiles" and pleaded with her to join up on a mission to Burma. Cho gained fame in the 1990s for her outlandishly funny ethnic humor, and rode this fame to a television show, a popular book, and several movie appearances. But, in her Mandel Hall show, Cho turned her back on the Asian-American-themed humor that brought her comedic renown and instead relentlessly advocated a political agenda.

If Cho wants to push a political agenda, that is her own decision and her own business. While perhaps the University should have been more careful in billing her act as a comedy show, I fully support Cho's right to rant on any topics she considers worthy. She obviously feels strongly about her political views, and I applaud her for her charity and advocacy work. And if she wants to endanger her career by making her comedy acts into a political statement that is fine as well. What is not fine, however, is how she treated one student during the question and answer session that followed her performance.

Certainly the student's comment, "I thought I was going to a comedy show tonight," may have come off a bit rude and harsh, but in actuality it was simply an opposing viewpoint. Like me, this student was expecting some of Cho's signature ethnic comedy, not a lecture on how religions are intolerant, Bush steals votes, and Karl Rove can't get laid. He just chose to be more vocal about it, and this earned a stern, public reprimand from Cho and an equally disgusting reaction from the crowd. If Cho were truly concerned with the ability of citizens to be heard in a democracy, as she constantly preached during her act, then she would have shrugged off the student's question as an opposing view that should be respected. But, as Cho herself said during her routine, she doesn't believe in "being the better man" or "taking the high road." So, she belittled the student in front of 1,000 people, who in turn responded with mockery and laughter.

Conservatives often complain about how they are minorities on campuses across the country and how their voices are ignored. I avoid such grumblings myself. I understand that Cho's act was likely appealing to the overwhelmingly liberal student body of the University of Chicago, but I refuse to try to justify both Cho's and the crowd's response to one student's opposing viewpoint. Such a public mockery of this student and his view is directly opposed to all of the ideals that Cho advocated in her act. So then, I suppose that Margaret Cho, backed up by a Hollywood career, fame, and money, has the right to say what she wants, has the right to turn a comedy show into a political rally, has the right to completely intimidate a student, turn the crowd against him, and dismantle his viewpoint, while the only right the student has is to be mocked and humiliated? Is this what Margaret Cho thinks about those who disagree with her liberal agenda? In her performance Saturday, Cho showed her true colors: she is a hypocrite who cares only about herself and her own agenda.