I’d like to take a moment to talk with you about an insidious threat to our society. This is something that has recently come to my attention, as a result of a discussion I had with one of my very smart and earnest friends. We must raise awareness of this growing pernicious phenomenon before it undermines our way of life.
I am talking about Satire.
The OED defines satire as:
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
As with many other things, since the time of the editor-free wild west of the internet, there has been such a flood of unregulated irony, sarcasm, spoof, and parody that the pristine waters that once divided truth from fiction have been irreparably muddied. We now see that many people seem unable to differentiate fact from folly.
Here’s the quote from the argument . . . er discussion . . . that started this:
There are too many people who don’t have the sense to separate truth from satire. I prefer comedians who don’t exploit that ignorance to spread political misinformation. (Andy) Borowitz, like (Jon) Stewart, can be very funny. He can also be very dangerous.
She’s right, goddammit!
What can we do to protect our gullible, indiscriminate, short-attention-span, shallow selves against these diabolical masterminds? They pretend that they want us to question our assumptions about our world, to dig beneath the surface of our politicians’ rhetoric, to think for ourselves . . .
Oh, those clever bastards! That’s it! We must think for ourselves, which, in this day of instant polling, meme-generators, 6-second stories and 140 character ideas, has fallen out of our everyday routine.
Comedians are not dangerous. Some people who use comedians are dangerous.
Satire is not evil, if it’s enjoyed responsibly, so laugh heartily, but think hard.