“Is satire acceptable?”; Or, is Critical Thinking Dead?

by anna on July 16, 2008

The following is taken from and interview of John McCain conducted by CBS Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez:

Rodriguez: I want to ask you a news of day question, if I may…
McCain: Sure
Rodriguez: Have you seen the cover of the New Yorker?
McCain: Yes
Rodriguez: Your feeling. Is satire acceptable?
McCain: I don’t think so. I’ll leave that judgment to the American people. I can only state my personal opinion… if it’s an attempt at satire, it’s wrong. It’s wrong and it’s offensive.
[Source story available here.]

Seriously? This is the question that you’re going to ask? Uh, Senator McCain, what about irony? Do you have a stance on pamphleteering? No? Well, what about onomotopaeia? Care to weigh in on iambic pentameter?

Do people go to journalism school anymore? Or is the population just getting stupider? When did it become cool to be dumb? Is that yet another legacy we can thank George W. Bush for, along with the failed banks, mortgage foreclosure crisis, and the super-inflation of gas prices? [I hope you hippy dippy Nader people are happy, by the way--but that is a rant for another day].
obama
This whole tempest in a teapot about The New Yorker cover is a great example of how hot stupidity has become. By the time the evening news comes out, everybody has heard about The New Yorker cover already, they’ve probably already seen a version of it, and they’ve heard what John McCain has to say about it. Which is nothing. It’s a scandal, you see, because the news has told us it’s a scandal. Not because anyone is really scandalized by it, of course, but because it’s important that we all look as though we are lest we appear insensitive or politically incorrect. Jake Tapper of abc news admonishes:

Intent factors into these matters, of course, but no Upper East Side liberal — no matter how superior they feel their intellect is — should assume that just because they’re mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won’t feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It’s a recruitment poster for the right-wing.

Seriously, Jake Tapper? You are going to take on these smarty pants upper east siders on your own, as the voice of the common man? Where did you go to school, Jake Tapper? Choate? Exeter?

At first Obama wasn’t saying much about it, and I had to admire that, because really, when he’s alone with Michelle, I’m sure he thought it was funny. He’s a smart guy. It’s clear that it’s a joke unless you are a total moron, and that’s the point–the joke is intended to be on the total morons. Even those crazy left winger New Yorkers don’t burn flags! Duh! Do you think a New Yorker, in particular, would seriously place a picture of Osama Bin Laden above a mantelpiece if it weren’t a piece of satire?

If anyone should be offended by this it should be the right-wing idiots that are happily blogging about it as we speak. The New Yorker is a smart magazine, with an even smarter readership, and–make no mistake–they know exactly what they are doing. Perhaps they too were mourning the death of critical thinking skills in mass media. The New Yorker is one of America’s oldest and most successful magazines, and it is built on a tradition of championing and promoting the influence of literature on culture. Perhaps they thought somebody needed to intervene in this national crisis of chic dumbatude.

By the way, I heard that Jonathan Swift is advising the Irish to eat their children! Is hyperbole acceptable?

{ 2 comments }

Minerva August 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Terrific post. I’ve been reading your blog for the last hour or so and this is the best post by far. I’ve been a New Yorker subscriber, since I don’t know–let’s just say Clinton was still in office at the time I sent in my first subscription card. When I got this issue I treated it like all the others–it went in the bin next to the toilet (best place for anything you intend to read). Because I’m a mom with a very demanding job, I tend to spend any free time I have doing anything BUT watching cable news. I don’t remember where I first heard about the controversy over this cover–must have been the News Hour, or maybe something on Comedy Central that was on in the background while I was cooking dinner. It’s a good thing I heard the story because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have known I was supposed to be offended.

I’ll be putting this issue aside in my daughter’s “memory box”–maybe it’ll be worth something some day–like a good laugh at how goofy people are.

anna August 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

I’m glad you enjoyed this post–I have noticed my stats take a nosedive when I talk about anything political. Perhaps the stereotype of women not being interested in politics has some footing . . . but I think popular culture has a lot to teach us. For example, there was a bit on ABC News the other night regarding a sexual assault in the Marines. The footage they use to fill up the spaces while they talk included a bit where a female marine is struggling (and failing) to do push-ups, while her male colleages around her are doing them without breaking a sweat. WTF?!

Now that I think about it, maybe I should write about that!

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