Stephen Colbert's satire usually springs forth from his desk at Comedy Central. But he was on location for the RSA conference last week even though some of his fans had asked him to boycott. It seemed like the makings of some solid drama.
But Colbert defused the situation by using his right-wing persona to poke fun at cryptographers, the NSA, and RSA itself. Last year RSA was accused of being paid $10 million by the NSA to intentionally weaken one of its encryption algorithms. And Colbert brought it up. He said, “The elephant in the room is that I was asked not to come speak here. That came as something of a shock to me. Normally I'm asked not to be somewhere only after I've spoken.”
In the speech Colbert said that he decided not to boycott RSA Conference because of the money he had been promised in his contract for speaking. He said, “My conscience was clear, as long as the check clears. Well, it’s not actually a check. They gave me a bitcoin voucher from Mt. Gox and I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”
Colbert joked about an encrypted cloud service he had started called Cloud Fog and said that his company uses a 20-sided die as its random number generator. And then he returned to the controversy over his decision to attend the conference, saying, “A lot of people, maybe some in this room, were upset to learn that I'd be speaking here today. Many of you see me as a champion of privacy. Which I know because I read your emails ... As a freedom lover I do not engage in boycotts.”
Other than some ribbing, the speech stayed pretty safe in terms of actually making assertions about privacy expectations, or coming down against the NSA or RSA. Mainly Colbert just made it clear that something strange has been going on, and that everyone should feel uncomfortable about how undefined the topic of privacy rights is right now. And here and there Colbert gave some choice advice to audience members or anyone hearing his speech. “Remember the first rule of RSA conference: While you're quoting Fight Club someone is hacking you.”
TODAY IN SLATE
The Right Target
Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget
It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is
I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights
Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.
Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.
It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice
Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
- School District Wants to Censor American History Curriculum to Make It More Patriotic
- U.S. Federal Prison Population Drops for the First Time in Decades
- Conservative Star D’Souza Avoids Jail Time for Illegal Campaign Contributions
- Moderate Chinese Intellectual Sentenced to Life in Prison After Show Trial
In Defense of HR
Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.