Why Sarcasm is Dangerous…

I am banning news from my computer. If something happens in the world, I’m hoping one of my good friends will clue me in. Only of course, after the facts have been checked through various credible sources, like, “The Daily Show”.  (Insert eye roll here) Why have I finally thrown in the towel? Keep reading, please.

This is a screen shot from my local news station’s website:

(You can click to embiggen)

unbelievable

Do you see on the lower half of the main content where is says, “Talk of the Town”. Yeah, now read that.  Just in case you can’t — here is the quoted text.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt; Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee; Britney Spears and Kevin Federline — they’re just some of the celebrity couples who have gone from wedding bliss to calling it quits. Now there’s talk of banning all divorces i…n the state of California. One man has set up a Web site dubbed California Marriage Protection Act 2010. What do you think?

The website they are pointing to  is this one: Rescue Marriage

Anyone with half a brain and who spends five seconds on the site, quickly comes to the realization that this is what intelligent people might just call sarcasm. Its purpose is to criticize the ban on gay marriage in California. If the front page didn’t give you a clue, the site is full of hysterical stuff.

This is a great example of creatively countering an ongoing argument. I think it’s brilliant.

The problem is that not everyone visiting the site (including news organizations) have the brains to comprehend satire. If they were able to discern, the question then becomes: Why is this “news” organization intentionally misleading it’s readers?

Is this really a platform for discussion? Would it have been better served to phrase the question differently? I don’t know, something like — “Opponents to the Californian ban on gay marriage have come up with creative ways to illustrate their points. What do you think? Is it effective?”

By leaving out both the link and misrepresenting the content, people immediately follow the logic that credible news site= credible web site on banning divorce. This “news” organization has crossed a rather interesting line that continues to grey. Day by day, the public (part of which contains a growing population that subscribes to the ideas of government conspiracy and messages of hate) is encouraged to open up debate on hot topics which center around real people. When a great majority of the populace is not above an eighth grade reading level,  it’s hard enough to have balanced conversation. Add what was once a reputable news agency blurring the lines of truth and sarcasm becomes dangerous.

It’s a numbers game and so far, the intelligent who can decipher the difference in cases like this are losing.

Update: I sit here wondering how many donations that the site has received (to ultimately help overturn Prop8) have been from people who truly believe in the cause of banning divorce. Tricking stupid people out of their money is both brilliant and sad at the same time.

One thought on “Why Sarcasm is Dangerous…

  1. Maybe the sarcasm shouldn’t be. There are times that I think the Right has actually made a convincing case for the state to stay out of all marriages (and, by extension, all divorces). Why should the state ratify people’s roommate status, straight or gay? Why should people ever be allowed to file for taxes jointly? Why not simply make it the law that if one member of a couple dies without exercising the foresight to draft a proper will, property reverts to the state? As for child custody: if adults can’t act like adults, why should they be allowed to tie up public resources (judges, clerks, courtrooms) with their juvenile grandstanding when we have Social Services in place to swoop in when adults fail to responsibly take care of their own kids?

    Thing is, I’m not entirely tongue-in-cheek here. Maybe the answer to the gay marriage issue isn’t to legalize same-sex marriage, but to delegalize marriage entirely. Leave it as a religious ceremony for those interested in exercising such rites, conferring no more legal recognition or benefits than that given to answering an ad on Craigslist for a roommate to split the rent with; and, it follows from that, divorce is the same, left to churches to sever if a couple insists on having their disunion recognized.

    No, I’m not sure how serious I am. But I’m not being entirely facetious or sarcastic, either.

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