Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beyond Satire

In light of the New Yorker cover kerfuffle, I thought it would be interesting to investigate the reaction of some seriously funny folks to our right-wing fellow-Americans. Thus we turn to this post yesterday at Sadly, No!, in which Brad, in the midst of attempting to make fun of some seriously stupid words and acts lets loose a "Dean Scream" and pronounces himself at the end of his rope:
* …I actually find it a very enlightening piece of commentary that exposes the Nazi Left’s tendency to coddle our enem…


OK, I can’t take it anymore. The layers of sheer insanity on display at all of these right-wing blogs is really getting me down, to the point where satirizing them becomes nothing more than a joyless, reflexive compulsion. It seems that every time I come up with some ridiculous new way to lampoon these crazy fools, they somehow manage to write something that make Hunter Thompson’s infamous mescaline-and-ether binges look positively tame. Life is horrible.

This is the problem with satire and humor. Insanity isn't funny. It's sad, and it's frightening, and that there are those who take insane people seriously isn't funny, but frightening. Whether it's Michelle Malkin or the folks at RedState or the usual suspects who get a coal-raking at Sadly,No!, there just comes a point where laughing at them makes no sense, because they honestly believe that the satirical things said about them are true.

There are people on the right who honestly believe that Barack Obama is a closet terrorist, who will invite more plane-flying terrorists to take down our buildings, institute shari'a, and abort all Christian fetuses in the 38th week. There are people on the right who honestly believe the Democratic Party hates the United States, despises our military, and would subsume our Constitution under the supranational authority of the United Nations. There are people on the right who actually believe that George Bush has never lied to the American people, that our current Iraqi adventure is a noble good that has accomplished so much, including recently discovering the true whereabouts of Sadam Hussein's WMD arsenal, thus legitimating the entire enterprise.

I could go on and on with the list of insane things people on the right believe - I recently asked an interlocutor what, exactly, is "the homosexual agenda" I keep hearing about - but I hope my point is clear. It is impossible to laugh at people who, when confronted with the fact that the things they proclaim are true are only worth mocking turn around and say, "But, but . . . it's all true!", we have reached a point where the relationship between what occurs in the real world and what occurs in the minds of those who want to be a part of our public discourse has been severed so completely that repairing the damage seems beyond hope.

There are those who see the New Yorker cover as depicting reality. That is why the Obama campaign is miffed. Yes, it was an attempt at humor. The problem is, for some, this is no joke, but a clear and present danger to our nation and the world; Obama has to fight this kind of crap coming from the right on a daily basis. Why should he have to deal with an attempted lampoon of the right that only reinforces this nonsense?

I find it interesting that so many on the right paint liberals as humorless. There was a time, I think, when earnest lefties and liberals drew some imaginary line and said, "Thou shalt not make light of [insert pet project/issue]", and that only made people see them as humorless. Thus, George Carlin, in an attempt to drive home the point, did an entire routine in which he tried to show that rape could be the subject of humor. Tasteless? Probably. Unlike John McCain's stupid joke unearthed yesterday, the difference is the Carlin was trying to make a point, whereas McCain was merely being an ass.

The major difference, as I see it, is this. In the past, these "humorless" liberals were young, idealistic folks who saw attempted humor at their expense as an attack upon their views. The right, currently, sees satirical takedowns as confirmation of the things they say and believe. They don't get the joke, because they don't realize they are the joke.

Virtual Tin Cup

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