I am glad to see that the Countess Apraxina is back, her greatest hits restored. Her manners are excellent; even the most refined philanthropy bloggers can benefit from her good example. Maybe she can give Don Imus some fund-raising advice.
There was considerable resentment when I rode into town to clean up
Wealth Bondage. Masked hooligans thought that by banding together they
might successfully resist the Law. But the Electronic Frontier will be
civilized, whether you want it or not. The wide open plains are being
fenced in with barbed wire. Private property must be protected against
theft or defacement. The farmers don't want their children and
womenfolk molested. Little by little the desperadoes will be brought to
justice. with or without habeas corpus. As you talk among yourselves, I
just want you all to remember that I was proleptic. (With thanks to Dr. Chadwallah
whose word is Law when it comes to interpretation of signs and the
assignment of guilt.) You will all be unmasked, every last one of you.
I am going to get to the bottom of this whole sorry affair. I don't
care how many of you are maimed in the process. Without rules and
enforcement there can be no moral order. I get the least little
grumbling from any one of you and you will live to regret it. Do I make
Should blogs carry content warnings? BBC Poll here is about tied, after 26,000 votes, between Yes and No. If you don't certify your agreement to enforce civility, you are supposed to carry a sign saying, "Anything goes." Of course, there is plenty of stuff in between, like most of Augustan literature.
Mr. Matrullo lists what amounts to a half dozen "takes" on the role of the police in our cyber-Metropolis. Now that we have proven that we cannot police ourselves, where will come the authority to make us all behave? The Deputy Editor is available. Let us censor ourselves lest we be censored. One voice per person, please, with a valid email address. Every word has an owner. Own up to your words, that we might discipline and punish.
Frank Paynter notes The Happy Tutor's Tips for Satirists and cites Tom Matrullo's comment. As Adjunct in Charge of Hidden Meaning, I feel a bit remiss in not offering an interpretation of the Kathy Sierra contretemps, but I have had a chest cold.
Begin with lust and rage and mean-spiritedness if need be, but write yourself through to shared laughter, one the "victim" shares, unless you mean a death struggle.
If you write anonymously about anyone other than a public figure, and mean to wound, can't help wounding, consider making the victim a "type," not a person. Make up a name for your speaker, but also for your target: "Sir Richard Surly," or whatever.
If you need therapy, get therapy.
Remember that satire by definition has a moral point. Vindictiveness, flaming, making an example out of a minor figure, none of that is satire.
I believe that by definition real satire is directed at those who are, in ordinary life, in a position to not only retaliate, but are in a position to retaliate by inflicting real injury: the pillory, Guantanamo, an IRS audit, termination from a job. Unless the risk to yourself is heroic, don't call your cruelty satire.
Remember that satire is a gun that recoils upon the speaker, and the author too. Remember that it "takes one to know one." The Fool reviles the Knave, and the Knave reviles the Fool.
Often the strongest and best satire isolates in the "Other" the writer's own faults. We overcome ourselves by wounding our own sinful nature. But remember that the boil that most needs lancing is on your own laughing face.
To rejoice in the suffering of those weaker than yourself, or vulnerable people, is not satire but malice. (As Oscar Wilde would say, "That is a fault.")
To run with a mob and lynch even a person who deserves it is not satire, but a sin.
Satire wounds only to heal, inflicts pain only to instruct, and leaves the target either untouched (since only a type has been satirized), or laughing, if ruefully.
When the victim laughs at his own folly and the crowd laughs too, the satirist has prevailed.
When the victim extracts the satirist's blood, or sues and wins, the satirist has lost.
The satirist also loses when the victim, innocent or guilty, is broken upon the wheel, while the mob jeers. This is only excusable as a last resort when the victim is the Tyrant and the mob are those who were his minions, including the Officers of his Kangaroo Court, his Palace Guard, and his own Headsman.
Satire is a noble trade, but no easier than butchery to master. If you have never vivisected a dog, don't practice on a friend.