Stephen Colbert, possibly the greatest satirist ever (take THAT Voltaire), used Chicago as the punchline to a Syria joke on The Colbert Report last night. The joke was so hysterically, amazingly, gut-bustingly funny, it may have had you curled up in the corner and crying.
Speaking about Syria, Colbert said, “The United States has no choice but to attack Syria, because Dictator Bashar al-Assad is killing his own people with chemical weapons. Before he was just killing them with bullets. But if America cared about shooting people, we’d be invading Chicago.” (It’s at about the 3:30 mark, if you want to see it straight from the horse’s mouth.)
This comes after an extended Labor Day weekend that saw 8 people dead and 25 wounded from shootings across Chicago. The joke, while funny, stings, but maybe that’s the point.
As bad as Chicago’s gun violence is right now, it actually isn’t as bad as it has been in the past. The 506 homicides in 2012, for example, are still fewer than the number of murders that occurred every year between 1990 and 2003 — 1994 taking the cake with 931. It’s sad that Chicago has garnered a reputation for being a warzone, especially when there are many major cities that have higher homicide rates than we do. Yes, we have a violence problem, yes, we need to get it under control, but it’s not accurate to portray us as some sort of gunslinging apocalypse.
Colbert though, he’s one funny guy.