Letter: The day satire ceased to be an effective tool
To the Editor:
Last week, a Ridgefield resident published a letter to the editor that started a firestorm among readers. The topic? Voter fraud. His satirical assertion that fraud absolutely occurred because “my president told me so” would probably have been hilarious if read out loud by Melissa McCarthy or Steven Colbert. But in print, for most of us, it fell hard and flat. And that’s not to say that now that I know his stance it couldn’t be made to sound funny. In fact, I appreciate not only his attempt, but even the creative means used to support his alternative facts. Perhaps an extra 20 words could have made the author’s intent crystal clear. So why did it rub so many the wrong way? When did satire cease to be an effective way to grab a reader’s attention and make a point?
I’d say it was when the actual words of the 45th president were being confused with headlines from The Onion. I’d say it was when the dangerous lies that come out of this president’s mouth — every time he opens it — started being repeated in right-wing publications without being sourced or fact-checked. I’d say it was when fakenews became a real thing that too many Americans started to believe, because their president told them it was so.
The truth is, political satire is my favorite form of humor. And as soon as mainstream America shows that it can differentiate between real and fake, I’ll start laughing about this again. But until the real president can no longer be confused with photos of Alec Baldwin in international publications, and what is real and what is comedy can be easily distinguished, unless the joke is evident in the first few lines, it’s time to get serious.