On Saturday, Patton Oswalt pulled off a truly masterful Twitter prank. Not only did he spark the ire and fury of conservatives on the social networking site, he proved an important point about context in comedy, and in argument in general.
He's long been a champion of free speech in comedy -- sometimes controversially -- and that reached a boiling point earlier this summer when he tangled with Salon over an article criticizing one of his tweets. But this time, conservatives on Twitter were the target of his experiment.
The comedian and writer rattled off a series of tweets that started innocuous...
When it comes to doing laundry, I firmly believe in using environment-friendly detergent and I ALSO believe
...and then followed with a second part that, as an isolated tweet, meant something horribly different. Cue the outraged RTs.
whites and "darks" should be kept separate. Sorry if that sounds too "tree-huggy" to my conservative followers.
He sent out a number of tweets following this format throughout the afternoon.
Oh, you think repealing voting laws in the south is justified, you racist asshole? I suppose you ALSO believe that
Hitler was absolutely right about the Jews. And I don't care how many "white power" redneck followers I lose by Tweeting that.
These idiots who deny that clumsy change is real, and a pressing threat are no different from misogynists who claim that
Women enjoy rape. Grow the fuck up, all of you.
For you simpletons who see everything in "black" and "white": if racism, misogyny, hatred and fear are BLACK, then
My grandchildren had better be WHITE. And I mean PURE WHITE, or we're not going to have a country anymore. #tolerance
And I'm sorry, but I fucking HATE FOX NEWS. Bunch of race-baiting corporate shills. All of their medieval, fact-free clapt
Rap is performed by monkeys in expensive clothes. Sorry if I offended you, white conservatives, but it's the truth.
While the #tcot crowd was predictably tone deaf about his jokes (and thus proving his point entirely), he received wide praise from his peers.
.@pattonoswalt just brought twitter to a thrilling and exquisite conclusion. We should all get off now.
-- that was a dazzling run. Comedy isn't tragedy + time, it's rage + structure. #mancrush
The moral of the story? The default position of "outrage" is a sign of the willfully ignorant. Thanks, Patton Oswalt, for actually doing something useful with Twitter.