Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Reblogged:Thoughts on a Poor Satire

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Over the weekend, I ran across a satirical column that I'll pair with the below picture of a pickup truck "rolling coal" to remind myself how not to write.

The author of the piece, like myself, opposes Ron DeSantis's abuse of government power to retaliate against Disney's opposition to "Don't Say Gay" -- which is the smear leftists use against the governor's new limits to when certain curriculum topics related to sexuality get introduced in government schools.

Unlike the author, I think DeSantis's limits on that type of material are still too generous, but should also be a non-issue in the long term:
Schools should be private, full stop. But until they are, the best we can hope for is a government to have a sex education curriculum (if it teaches that at all) that lies far from such travesties as puritanism or what DeSantis has justifiably likened to grooming.
And there are examples out there that I think even the author I am picking on might agree should be off-limits, such as Lawn Boy, a book parents in Texas are upset about:
If a stranger were to read this book to a fourth grader on the street, he might be arrested and prosecuted. Under the Parental Rights in Education bill, a fourth-grade teacher would have to provide a persuasive argument as to why this is age appropriate in order to read it. A third-grade teacher would be simply prohibited from leading a class discussion on 10-year-olds performing fellatio on each other.
Follow the link for quotations if you must. I was unaware of that particular piece of trash before I decided "Don't Say Gay" was reasonable or even on the weak side. I think sex is best left to parents to discuss with their children.

And, now that I know about it? Let me add: It is not necessary to drag children through pornography to teach them benevolence towards others, or to teach them that prejudice is a counterproductive way to deal with others.

And now, let's get a load of this guy's apparent "understanding" of and empathy for the kinds of people who are rightly upset about what their own children might be getting in school. These come in the form of sarcastic suggestions for editing a few Disney films to fit his idea of our tastes, as if we all march in lockstep to the same drummer:
Calling people you disagree with names is about as tempting and counterproductive as "rolling coal." (Image by Salvator Amone, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

We love the title. No need to change that. Snow White is hitting the core demographic. And it's so refreshing to see the word "dwarfs" rather than "little people" or whatever the inclusion mob calls them these days.

But the storyline needs a complete rewrite. The way it exists now, the plot leads to a celebration of Snow White becoming woke. Not on our watch.

Instead of her being asleep, Snow White needs to be rescued by the prince from her job as a union teacher at a traditional government school that makes hardcore, graphic pornography part of the kindergarten curriculum.
Beyond the mildly humorous pun on woke, there's a lot to unpack here. Among other things, this writer (1) all but outright calls the many of the concerned parents white supremacists; (2) marginalizes any concerned parents who aren't white; and (3) treats their concerns as ridiculous without engaging them.

I guess the last is because we just know that only a white bigot -- or, outside shot, a self-hating Person of Color -- could question the infinite wisdom of the bureaucrats -- government and union -- who lead those august educational institutions known, for reasons we will never comprehend, by such phrases as our failing (!) public schools.

(Read the rest for some other things the author imputes to parents sympathetic to "Don't Say Gay," if you haven't had enough already.)

Satire has a place. Sometimes, a point of view -- like racism -- is so benighted or wrong that satire can be used, properly, to shame some of its adherents into silence and to help others see how ridiculous it is.

That's not what I'm getting here. As someone from a conservative background, I'm getting a self-congratulatory caricature of the concerned parents as a bunch of bigoted hicks.

It is sloppy at best and unjust at worst to lump together a real sin, racism, with some unrelated view. Novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand gave an apt name to the sin: package-dealing:
[Package-dealing employs] the shabby old gimmick of equating opposites by substituting nonessentials for their essential characteristics, obliterating differences.
Racism and wanting some reasonable limit on what topics and when they are introduced to a child's education are not the same.

I got the same general vibe this piece exudes all the time growing up in the South, to the point that I ended up having to fight my own nascent prejudice against northerners as condescending busybodies.

Related, I recall a few decades ago explaining to someone why so many white southerners flew Confederate flags. Among the various reasons, I think at the time, was something like an exasperated go to hell, but from a healthier place than I usually see now. Being called a racist hick when one is neither gets old and will provoke a reaction from some.

Be that as it may, the urge to "melt snowflakes," as some conservatives put it -- which is what flying a confederate flag was to some -- or "rolling coal" is today is understandable, but counterproductive. It is a giving-in to anger at the cost of engaging in another point of view, be it to understand any merits, to uncover any flaws, or to at least to see why some might find it persuasive.

Doing those things is the least one can do if one is seriously interested in being correct and in acting to improve the world -- and that's before one even begins to think about reaching the persuadable or shaming the wicked.

It can be tempting to roll coal -- or to write a satire merely to entertain those who already agree with you -- but why? At best, you get a few laughs and upset a few evil or befuddled people. At worst, you alienate reasonable, persuadable people when you could be striking a blow for real progress.

-- CAV

Link to Original

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a puzzle about social media. The quoted Newsweek article says “If a stranger were to read this book to a fourth grader on the street, he might be arrested and prosecuted”, etc. If this is true, and if this is a consequence of the new law (noting that the following text starts “Under the Parental Rights in Education bill…”), then this is a horrifying consequence of the law (though it would be unconstitutional and would have already been struck down, had it been true). The Newsweek article does quote the related provision of the law, which is that it applies to school districts and not to the guy on the street. The puzzle is, why would the author invent such a bizarre statement in the first place? Is this supposed to be a quote from a purportedly rabid opponent of the law? The internet tells me that the Newsweek author made it up himself. I think the practice of telling lies about the lies is getting out of hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...