Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To the Editors of the Washington Post

Sent this off this morning...

Dear Sirs;

At first I was puzzled at Michael Gerson’s discourse on satire (“Vulgarian at the Gate,” Wednesday, June 18, 2008). Why, I wondered, does he use his forum at the Post to point out what a great many of us know already: namely, that Al Franken (now running for Senate) is a comedian who has occasionally used naughty words in speaking truth to power? Comedians are supposed to make people like Gerson uncomfortable — that’s what they do.

Then it hit me: Gerson’s column was itself satire! How else to explain a harangue on “civility” by a man who, in his role as White House speechwriter, was the leading advertising copywriter for the Iraq War, now in its fifth year, with more than 4,000 Americans killed, nearly 30,000 injured, and countless tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, and millions more displaced? The author of the “smoking gun/mushroom cloud” image, demanding more “civility” in political discourse! Hilarious!

Mr. Gerson can lecture us from his fainting couch all he likes. But as he does so, I encourage him also to consider the difference between that which is merely vulgar and that which is obscene.


Neddie Jingo

Edit: Just received an auto-email back that strongly suggests that since I posted this here, my letter won't be published. Ah, well.


Jeremy said...

I am minded of both Tom Lehrer's reasons for abandoning satire, and Tom Paxton's Ballad of Spiro Agnew.

Missing you, Ned.

Anonymous said...

I encourage him also to consider the difference between that which is merely vulgar and that which is obscene.

Unfortunately, I honestly think they can't perceive what they do *as* being obscene to begin with, and therein lies the problem. They simply have no comprehension of it, except in the most basic nudity / sex / language terms.

darwin524 said...

Good on ya mate.
Care to post the email in the comments? Didn't know this was a WP criteria...

Neddie said...

Thank you Jeremy. I'm missing all o' y'all too, and come mid-July, when all this is is over, I'll be back with a vengeance.

Simon: Their noses need rubbing in it. This afternoon, I heard an interview with a British lawyer who's just published a book on torture; his opinion was that Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al., will probably not be able to travel to Europe after January; they will face the same fate as Pinochet did when he traveled to Britain in the Nineties. We can take some small comfort in that.

Darwin524: It was just an AutoReply email, no big deal, but the relevant graf read,

2. The letter may not have been submitted to or published by any other media or Internet outlet. This includes comments or feedback posted to Web sites. If you have posted similar comments to a Web site, your letter will not be considered.

I take that to mean, "we have Bots that troll the Web looking for your Deathless Prose, and if we find it anywhere, you're fucked, mate."

At any rate, the phone hasn't rung, and I'm not holding my breath. I did, after all, point out that Post Editor Fred Hiatt (himself a loathsome creature) hired a Bushite apologist as a regular editorialist. Not exactly a way into his heart.

Anonymous said...

Their noses need rubbing in it.

They're incapable having their noses rubbed in anything because *they shape the nation's morality*. They tell the red staters what is currently right and what is wrong, and both are worryingly flexible in the minds of the people, it seems. I truly disbelieve they consider what they're doing is wrong, because, by shaping morality, they're also able to see themselves as being *above* it.

The basic black and white morality they claim to have, (such as being offended by language, as in this case), is just a costume they drape on themselves.

They start with the easy stuff *everyone* has issues with to establish commonality of thought, and trumpet their belief in these basic values to the skies. This gives the *surface appearance* of morality. The louder they scream over the basic issues, the more impassioned they seem on the subject, because these subjects are never debated in public discourse with enough depth to call their bluff.

Having gained that perceived moral foothold, then everything else they suggest seems to take on more weight, since it seems to come from the same place.

Are you familiar with the psychological concepts of cognitive dissonance and self-perception theory? Dumbed down as far as I can, it probably could be understood as this:

“It i think or say it, it must be true, even if it’s not evidenced by my behaviour.”

It's an immensely-complex process of attitudinal somersaults and self-deception, but most of us do it to some degree. However, it's easy to see how an deeply-immoral man can perceive himself as being the complete opposite by screaming loudly to all and sundry about how 'offended' he is by everything.

*Sigh*. Sometimes i envy American Politics. In the last election I had a choice between the two parties, both of whom were shouting 'family values', 'traditional morality' and 'jingoism'. Pure Morton's Fork stuff.

Australia is also a few months away from a National Internet Firewall, (much the same as the one we all condemned China for having around the time the Olympics were announced), so my access to sites like this one might soon vanish.

Am I the only one who feels like the majority of society is striding valiantly *backwards*?

BTW, is there a pre-order thing with your publisher?

Smashed said...

Australia behind an Internet firewall? Bloody hell. It's going around, though. Even Sweden's just passed an insane spying law ostensibly to protect its citizens from terra!. Now who in their right mind has a grudge against Sweden?

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