Inevitably, in an age when social media can channel instant outrage, a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #FireColbert has arisen in the wake of “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert’s homophobic rant against Donald Trump. According to Fox News, the campaign is actually the second of its type, the first being when Colbert uttered an anti-Asian slur when he was still on the Comedy Channel.

Of course, this kind of article cannot proceed far without bringing up the question of what if Colbert had been a conservative talking about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

The sad answer is that the miscreant would have been taken off the air immediately and the network suits would have been crawling over each other to apologize and to reassure one and all how “this is not who we are.”

The sad fact of the matter is that the rules are different for the left. Bill O’Reilly went from the top of the ratings at Fox News to a former TV personality because of stories about how he had allegedly abused the female help and guests. Colbert’s predecessor at “The Late Show”, David Letterman, actually did abuse his female staff and was allowed to retire on his own terms.

The desires of the #FireColbert hash taggers will only be realized if two things happen.

First, the ratings for “The Late Show” have to take a sharp nosedive.

So far Colbert has been on a roll ever since he started mocking President Trump after being in the ratings doldrums when he first took over “The Late Show.”

Next, the advertisers need to start bailing. That phenomenon was what did O’Reilly in. His ratings had shot up when the stories about payoffs to women started circulating.

The lack of willing advertisers pretty much sealed O’Reilly’s doom. That and the fact that the Murdoch sons were resolved to clean house at FNC in the wake of the Roger Ailes fiasco.

Most people who believe in free speech are uncomfortable with campaigns to get people fired for things they say in public. Free speech means having to defend offensive speech as well as the sort that we find to be agreeable.

So Colbert should not fired for being a jerk on the air. But that does not mean that anyone is obliged to watch him either. If the audience finally abandons the unfunny alleged comedian, the same outcome will have occurred, but for the traditional reasons people get canned from TV, for not making the numbers.

Besides, if Colbert is banished to the stand-up comedy club circuit, the opportunity opens up to entice Craig Ferguson back to late night.