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When does satire become misinformation? (quod.us)
61 points by newman8r 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments

Remember when Tina Fey used to play Sarah Palin on SNL? I was not a McCain/Palin supporter, but often found myself in the uncomfortable position of defending her against those skits.

Probably a dozen people I knew or met thought that Sarah Palin actually believed she could "see Russia from her house", as the famous line went[1].

What Palin had actually said in an ABC interview was, "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."[2]

I would have been game to criticize her actual statement, a fairly empty argument that she somehow had foreign policy experience. But no --- good friends of mine actually believed this was a real statement. No amount of Googling could fix this problem, as I would then face the criticism that I was "getting information from the internet".

I want to like political satire, but every time I watch/read it I think back to the dozens of instances like this one where I have felt like an outsider simply for arguing that something on a comedy show was not actually real, and we should only debate things that were really said or happened.

[1] https://youtu.be/vSOLz1YBFG0?t=78

[2] http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/09/26/pa...

> as I would then face the criticism that I was "getting information from the internet"

People who dismiss anything from "the internet" in general, independently from the source website are just stuck in the stone age. If that's their argument, you might just as well dismiss anything from the original paper-versions of the newspaper websites.

What makes it satire is that it exaggerates the facts to shine a spotlight on their absurdity. The Tina Fey bit isn't literally true, but it does show the absurdity of Palin's statements pretty well.

And everytime Palin said something else absurd, Tina Fey's joke was the rim-shot. It stuck not because it was informative, but because the joke would _fit_ into the massive ironic _gap_ Palin's words made for anyone who wasn't her intended audience.

'It's just satire' is like the 'it's just a prank bro' defence.

If you spend your life deliberately misinterpreting things to get a cheap laugh, then at some point it's not really any different to just being genuinely ignorant.

When people like Stewart take little short cuts with the truth to get the laugh it's disappointing as well - why couldn't be find a smart joke or insightful comment that is actually based on the truth?

It's a bit of weird defence for misinformation though as satire doesn't become better when it represents a position inaccurately. In fact the opposite is the case, the closer you can remain to the truth while still being comical the better the satire.

You don't have to misinterpret things to do satire.

Satire is just entertainment, none of the comedians on air today would be brave enough to tell the truth, which is a 'revolutionary act' in Orwell's books.

Therefore satire is a distraction from truth, cheap shots about our great leaders and what is going wrong in the world, not anything that gets us nearer to understanding what is going on. It is just another way to disengage but be apparently engaged.

Incorrect. Oftentimes the satire is born from taking rhetoric specifically made to appeal to a particular audience and placing it but naked in the light of truth for everyone else.

There is a danger inherent to small subsets of the population acting as policymakers. It is much easier to craft rationalizations that can get past some of the people all time. The fact that policymaker's rationalizations often fall apart when challenged from someone outside the apparatus is what makes Satire both comedic and horrifying at the same time.

Very recently I heard Jon Stewart mentioned on NPR and it was in the context of his influence on American politics. It is indeed disingenuous for him to imply that his commentary during that time was just meaningless satire. I would wager that in 2004 Jon Stewart had much more control over the opinion of the voting bloc than Tucker Carlson, and I would secondly wager that he damn well knew it.

I don't understand this comment - the context of the 2004 quote was not "just meaningless satire", it was a response to:

* claims that Jon Stewart's show was a biased news source

* attacks from various groups, particularly Fox News an it's ilk, that he should stop telling political jokes because their feelings were hurt

* Tucker Carlson trying to tell Jon Stewart in that debate that he had a responsibility to be unbiased.

Jon Stewart's point was that satire on a comedy channel is not a real news source and doesn't seriously present itself as a primary news source, and is in fact a satirical political commentary show.

The point was not that satire is meaningless and should be disregarded.

He didn't say it was meaningless satire. He just said it was comedy where CNN wasn't.

I agree, but he also made his jokes so silly that no one could've mistaken them for reality. Most were accompanied by bad Photoshop thumbnails.

I don't think that's true.

For example he joked that Fox News viewers were "most consistently misinformed media viewers". This wasn't actually true (according to PolitiFact, if you believe them more than him) and I guess it was just a joke, but he just said it with a straight face in a serious interview so there was no indication it was any kind of joke.

In this case he was forced to accept that it simply wasn't true and apologised for misleading people with the joke, but usually his response is to just shrug his shoulders and basically say 'it was a prank bro'.


I think that's pretty fair. Certainly a lot of Stewart's fans took him as a modern take on the evening news anchors and I have no particular reason to think he tried to disabuse them of that impression. And my impression (as not a regular watcher) is he did see himself as a provider of information as well as a comedian. The issue I sometimes had (and this goes well beyond Stewart) is that you can be a comedian or you can be a journalist and when you mix the roles it's uncomfortable.

I've also been thinking about this. Media literacy is a form of privilege. Not everyone has had the luxury of growing up reading the satire sections of the newspaper.

We have to accept that lots of people simply won't get the joke. That's fine when it's an article in an obscure magazine, or by a known humorist - but social media strips away that context.

Perhaps the web needs a laugh-track.


Can you explain how reading a newspaper is a privilege?

Not everyone comes from places where being informed is a value. Some even come from families or communities where wanting to learn makes them a target.

>Not everyone comes from places where being informed is a value. Some even come from families or communities where wanting to learn makes them a target.

Take your statement and apply it to other values. As an example:

Not everyone comes from places where being honest is a value. Acting honestly is a privilege and the lack of it in a person should not be viewed negatively.

Not everyone comes from places where saving for a rainy day is a value. Not spending your whole paycheck on non-essentials is a privilege and the if a person spends all his money on things he likes we should sympathize with his predicament when he has an emergency.

At what level are we going to take the notion of privilege? Suggesting that people read a newspaper regularly is in no way being insensitive to the other person's situation. If they come from a place where it makes them a target, I would suggest they first focus on changing their environment. You don't make progress by being passive.

I just spoke from personal experience to answer scottybowl's question. (the answer: anyone can, but not everyone feels like it's meant for them)

Someone else can look at your thought experiments if they want and help you sort it out.

Perhaps I jumped the gun. I assumed you were implying that suggesting someone read a newspaper is asking too much because of the person's particular background. Unfortunately, I encounter too many folks who hold similar views.

It's 2018 for fucking sake!

My grandfather knew the importance of being informed, he was born in 1911, from a poor family in the country of south-central Italy

He went to school until he was 7 and then quit to go to work

And still he fucking knew!

How is that even possible that nowadays people can't tell satire from truth?

Is it a consequence of inbreeding?

Is it common in the US?

I'm pleased that you can afford a newspaper. And that you've been educated in how to critically study media.

It must be nice to have good eyesight. Or to be able to afford glasses.

I wish everyone had your good fortune.

What are you blabbering on about?

Education is privilege perhaps?

The uncomfortable truth is that a large proportion of the population that would formerly have been peripherally interested in current affairs, perhaps watching the news on TV once in a while, and rarely reading newspapers (which had a massive barrier to entry) are now being force-fed information. Many don’t have well-developed critical thinking skills, and rarely needed them before the current era.

The idea that the answer to bad speech online, is more speech, is BS, because a truly unfiltered medium would be overwhelmed with spam, as USENET was, so there have always been algorithms on social media curating and controlling what people saw. If these algorithms can’t distinguish satire from reality, neither will many who who consume their outputs.

So we’re at the mercy of ignoramuses, fed garbage by algorithms programmed by people with (ahem) limited people skills, and being gamed by sophisticated propagandists. God help us.

To be fair - the concept of 'news' as being 'impartial' is a rather modern concept.

Maybe as early as 100 years ago, newspapers were just businesses, often used by their owners as propaganda vehicles for their own business interests, and to go on personal slander vendettas.

Some of the old-timey insults are pretty funny in retrospect.

But yes, the internet poses a challenge, and there are basically no unbiased sources.

To clarify my point, even today, most newspapers have an agenda, in fact, that’s probably a major reason for people owning anything larger than a small local paper.

But. it was a pull mechanism, so the newspapers didn’t have a spigot to shove their information down the throats of everyone who walked past the news stand.

But there is a way with the Internet by way of links, to build reference chains of information. If people adopted good referencing - at least we'd have a chance at weeding some of the crap out.

Your argument against "'more speech" is asinine (unless you consider posts in favor of things you disagree with as "spam").

I meant actual spam..unsolicited advertising. An unfiltered feed will be overwhelmed with crap, so filtering becomes necessary immediately. As soon as that happens, decisions have to be made...(more clicks=“better” etc)...and that opens the door to people manipulating the algorithms.

Here’s a pretty literal example: https://variety.com/2017/biz/news/alec-baldwin-snl-photo-new...

*I don’t know this example is particularly harmful but nonetheless it illustrates things don’t always transfer perfectly

I must admit although I do do a little bit of satire here and there, which is usually used as a gateway to acknowledge that someone else has followed something vaguely topical. I'm not really that big a fan of it. And when it comes to politics and world atrocities, we do 30mins of laughing, move along, but the problems remain. Sometimes I think it can even devalue a subject - or knock the wind out of anger and repellent sails. Or even just normalise something to widespread defeatist acceptance.

In my most paranoid moments, I feel it's just another state outlet for news and general disinformation.

I'd rather just have some grown up debate about the issues. Politics gets a lot of news/air time, but escapes critical thinking. Where are the good political pundits that do more than just regurgitate a press release?

Regarding the article though: I think it's always best to add some inflection by way of an emoji, ellipsis, exclamation mark, or some other context to avoid misinterpretation. It may take some of the fun out of it, but hey.

I tend to get my IRL news from satirical quiz shows on the BBC - it is a useful round up of the weeks main headlines and is amusing at the same time. The economist and guardian podcasts used to do the same until they multiplied like rabbits.

However I follow some real-in-the weeds podcasts for Brexit (which i still claim is important and is going to hurt a lot more than most people seem to think) and of course follow tech news here. I like podcasts because if I need to dive into details I can just start googling.

It tends to mean i don't know about volcanos eruptions till hours after everyone else - but I usually get something like "did you know volcano/Bourdain has died" from a human within hours.

Ultimately I want to find a way to have important emails, whatsapp and texts appear in the HN front page so I will be able to deal with them whilst checking - this may be a good idea.

Edit: I seem to have dropped the traditional news media forever - a shift I am quite shocked by as its not something i would have consciously chosen. I do keep subscriptions to some worthwhile outlets (Guardian etc) but i doubt any business model they have in mind right now is going to work. we shall see.

> It tends to mean i don't know about volcanos eruptions till hours after everyone else - but I usually get something like "did you know volcano/Bourdain has died" from a human within hours.

A friend of mine was telling me how he doesn't actively consume any news media anymore and that it hasn't affected him because he always hears it from people within a reasonable time frame anyway - and has the ability to figure out what is fact and what is the sharer's individual bias/spin. Does it really matter if you're unaware of all those things that have no bearing on your life for a few more days/hours?

I haven't managed to cut it out completely but I definitely reduced my consumption after realising its very limited value.

It's far more useful to spend time consuming more abstract literature exploring the cyclical trends of human nature; equipping yourself to analyse the news of the day in the context of humanity and human history.

Just a note: if HN is the only tech news you follow you’ll be getting a VERY skewed & narrow view of tech.

Luckily I have a skewed and narrow mind.

More seriously, it's a jumping off point - things of interest that have happened. It's a way of getting a decent view on overall trends. Honestly though I don't think I can manage any more news aggregators - that's kind of why I have defaulted to weekly satire. I have actual work to do, and keeping uptodate is more and more a full time job with no valueable outputs.

There is a famous advice for graduates which is basically "talk to your colleagues, cos eventually they will steer your work into fruitful directions"

I need more human talking and less news.

That is a great general attitude I agree.

What do you recommend to round out opinions?

Almost anywhere else.

Meet ups can be one place (in person is good). Following a variety of tech people on twitter can help - from different backgrounds, genders, and so on.

HN skews to a VERY specific demographic and what is popular here is often niche or at least not as amplified outside of it.

Plus those different perspectives give you some learning material on how tech affects people, or the ethics behind certain things.

Slashdot used to have the 'witty' attribute that you could filter by. It's useful to be able to dump lame arsed attempts at facile humour. (The web seems to be riddled with it.)

Slashdot had the best moderation system ever. I used to dock "Funny" posts by 2 points, so I would see the top ones but drop the others. It also had a maximum of 5 plus points, and downvoting needed a reason, and "disagree" or "you're not in the groupthink" were not reasons.

Satire = joke + partial truth. It can become misinformation when people lack the sensibility to see or hear the actual joke and/or miss the partial truth .. nothing here to read, move along, move along.

Having the sensibility to consistently understand humor and satire is something a lot of HN readers probably take for granted. When I was 10 years old I probably only understood half the jokes on the simpsons - it makes re-watching those old episodes entertaining.

Some of it is about patting your own back just because you remembered something. Like when you laugh at a comedy routine when they resurface something they said ten minutes earlier.

If you are constantly missing the joke, sharpen your sense of humor. If you're constantly fooled by fake news, sharpen your critical thinking.

It's the right to free speech (which we already have) vs the right to be wrong, lazy, and biased (which we don't, and being an idiot should have negative consequences).

I learned about all this from Starship Troopers, with my friends and I noticing the satire immediately while watching it at the theatre.

It was basically Colbert Report before Colbert Report, literally making fun of its source material. The thing is, very few people got it, including professional reviewers. A reviewer from the Washington Post even mentioned how nothing made sense and seemed way more fascist than intended, noticing the similarities between Doogie Howser's uniform and a Nazi SS uniform.

It really was privilege to know satire, and we have to tread carefully when using satire to make a case, because very few people will actually get it.

And it's also a good example of how the lines delineating satire can be fuzzy. (Hence </s> tags and the like.)

After all, as you suggest, you don't have to approach Starship Troopers as satire. I think it's a better movie viewed through that lens. But you can absolutely watch it as a straight (and not very good) adaptation of Heinlein's novel.

> ... not very good adaptation of Heinlein's novel

Why? It's an excellent apology of fascism disguised into a cheap sci-fi blockbuster with a teenager comedy's aesthetics. It really makes you wonder on whom the joke really is.

I'm surprised you're being downvoted. I too had the same experience. It was obviously satire - it was way too ridiculous a movie not to be. Yet about half the people I know hated it because they did not see any satire and took it to be a serious movie. (None had read the novel).

Evil Dead: Now that's a movie that most people don't realize is satire.

It can be hard to be sure though. For example, IMO The Circle is unreadable unless you approach it as a satirical, deliberately over the top cautionary fable but I don't think that was its intent. (Haven't seen the movie given its reviews.)

You picked a good example, and IIRC Starship Troopers is not the only Verhoeven film that veers heavily into satire. (The book is an ode to fascism.)

But for me there is one satirical film above everything else: Full Metal Jacket.

BTW I did a Show HN for Quod a couple of days ago but it didn't get much attention - any feedback is appreciated.

I really like the concept, though I think the initial stage might benefit from surfacing content from "top" websites as opposed to just votes. It's much more important to catch misinformation in larger, well known media sources, than it is to catch it on a random forum, for example. That's just my opinion, though.

Yeah that's a good point, I hadn't even thought about sorting it that way. It would definitely be better to prioritize content from CNN or Washington Post over a reddit post.

I'll probably implement something like that very soon.

> It would definitely be better to prioritize content from CNN or Washington Post over a reddit post.

I would just like to point out that while totally unintentional, you just rattled off only left-wing sites. You absolutely need to make sure that, when listing off examples, you are being neutral in these examples. Even if you are a neutral third party, it may not look that way to people if you only list off certain news sources.

Being neutral is critical to being trusted in a situation a site with responsibility like this. I want to see you succeed -- not get labeled as "attacking" one or the other side.

You're absolutely right, we all have inherent biases and my goal with Quod is to create an environment where anyone can contribute regardless of political affiliation. Some of the problems with other fact checking sites is that they have small editorial panels, so bias can be an issue.

Ideally, if Quod succeeds, my personal politics would not impact the site in any way whatsoever. Most of the initial reports on Quod were my own (since nobody else is going to report them) and I did try to grab a fairly equal amount of posts from the left and right.

Anyway your feedback is appreciated and I agree that as an operator of the service I should try to act as a neutral party and I will keep that in mind going forward.

Is this going to be like a snopes? Congrats on getting it up and running.

Feedback: on my phone the header takes up a full third of the screen. I'm seeing this more often these days. The headline is at about 50% mark, and it would be less confusing IMO if the headline were within the top quarter of the screen. Galaxy s8

Yeah this is similar to snopes but will be mostly crowdsourced. Snopes has a small editorial panel but Quod allows anyone to submit misinformation.

Thanks for the info on the header, will definitely get that fixed. I haven't had much feedback yet so this kind of stuff is extremely helpful.

What time of day did you submit? Did you tell other members ahead of time when you would post so they could upvote? What headline did you use?

Surprisingly no, and this is a solo venture so I don't even have a business partner to upvote it. I would have preferred my actual Show HN get popular because then people would actually be signing up.

FWIW, it's fine to try submitting it again, as long as you don't do it over and over.

One thing you did "wrong" is submitting it as a text post, not a link: Those tend to get less interactions, and I believe are even penalized in the ranking algorithm (I could be wrong on that one though)

Next time I'll definitely submit the direct URL, thanks for the tip.

As a history buff, sometimes people ask me: what's the most accurate history movie? (It gets asked on the reddit History forum a lot also)

The answer: none of them. If you see it on a screen, it's been modified somehow for the medium of movies and to make movie audiences happy. That's not history, that's entertainment.

We saw the first "fake" documentaries pop up in the late 80s. They looked like documentaries, sure, but really they were advocacy pieces disguised as documentaries. They weren't documenting something. They had an agenda.

Eventually they also became entertainment. Now you can turn on the TV and see dozens of different documentaries about all sorts of topics. They churn them out like popcorn. It looks like a documentary, they say it's a documentary, but it's not.

Back in the 70s and 80s, satire was just that: satire. It was humor first and foremost. Comedians picked on anybody and everybody. Don Rickles would famously insult anybody in the crowd. Don loved people, but he was a comedian. Because he loved people, audiences let him practice his craft: insult comedy.

That changed, probably with the advent of political talk radio in the late 80s, although I'm not an expert. Humor became a way of solidifying whatever clan you were in. The art didn't come first any more, the clan did. This wasn't humor as fun, this was humor as a weapon, a social signal. The common use of satire now isn't to make fun of life, it's a form of ritualized mocking. It looks like humor, they say it's humor, but it's not. It's the same thing kids used to do when they made jokes and picked on disabled kids at school, only it's okay because it's somebody of the other political party. It's gotten so bad that many comedians don't do college appearances. Students are much more interested in belonging to a clan than simply enjoying art that joyfully makes fun of the world around us. You throw any kind of satire at them and they're much more interested in which side is this guy on, anyway? than whether it was funny or not. That's what they've been taught that satire is: signaling. That sucks.

My point is this: everything is misinformation. Life is complex. We use art and narrative to take that complexity and make something cartoonish out of it so we can make sense of it. You have to be extremely careful using satire online because so many people view it is simply more of the same; it fits into some simplified narrative they have in their heads. There's no sense of making-fun-of-yourself humor. Instead it's misrepresenting people in the "other group" in order to get a few laughs at how superior you are. When others use satire, you can quite easily view it as confirmation that you were right all along instead of just being fun.

1935's Triumph of the Will is a documentary. It documents the 1934 Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. It is also pro-Nazi Party propaganda. A film can be a documentary and advocate for a certain agenda. These dual-purpose films existed long before the late 1980s.

I believe that most documentaries do advocate something. Documentarians adhering to Wikipedia-like NPOV rules of presentation are rarer than other sorts.

Well heck, Birth of a Nation was probably considered as a documentary too when it was shot -- along with a lot of war movies.

My larger point was that to produce anything for the public, it must be simplified. That always requires bias. Satire has stopped being entertainment and instead is a way to simplify things. We tell a joke in lieu of explaining something. (As the old documentaries were supposed to do: explain something) Once satire takes on that role, it's always going to be misinformation to some degree or another.

Saw this bit from Bill Maher's show yesterday:

“I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point, and by the way, I’m hoping for it because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So please, bring on the recession. Sorry if that hurts people but it’s either root for a recession, or you lose your democracy.”

I understand it's supposed to be comedy, but this sounded way too serious and not at all well-meaning.

You mean this https://www.mediaite.com/tv/maher-says-hes-hoping-for-anothe... ?

Sounded dead serious to me, and it is coming from someone who will be 100% fine during any recession. "Would you rather have your job/home or......Democracy.......hahaha no I'll have my TV show and millions of dollars either way". It might have been comedy/satire if he acknowledge how pompous he sounds.

I did not watch the rest of the show, but this clip is not comedy, it's regular political commentary/bickering with the addition of a cheer track.

Sounds to me like something that falls into the half-joking category. It's of the form, hate to say it but $BAD_THING would be worth it if it would get rid of the president/congress/etc. where you can make $BAD_THING arbitrarily bad until it's pretty outrageous and is obviously not meant to be taken seriously.

Are you saying comedy has to be vapid? That satire and ridiculous thought experiments can't be used to illuminate the truth?

Hmm, this almost sounds like a person reporting the following joke to the #MeToo movement:

A woman walked into a bar and ordered a double entendre, so the bartender gave her one.

Blame Fox News for the necessity and utility of Jon Stewart at the moment the 2003 Iraq war transistioned from suspicion to fact.

So now we have the Alt Right as the counter point to this manner of discourse. It’s the bizarro Jon Stewart, so what next?

Most of this is simple Newtonian action/reaction. Insult, then retaliation. I’m not sure what guided adaptation will bring about, as we move through the next volley.

>Blame Fox News for the necessity and utility of Jon Stewart at the moment the 2003 Iraq war transistioned from suspicion to fact.

This is ridiculous. I was a news junkie around that time, and pretty much all the TV news outlets in the US were uncritical of the war, and dissenting voices were barely given any air time. Jon Stewart would have been as relevant had Fox News not existed at the time.

I'll probably get in trouble for mentioning it, as people seem to have strong opinions on the matter, but the Peter Arnett episode, in my mind, highlights how unwilling any major news outlet was in seriously questioning the war:


Also, MSNBC's canceling of Donahue due to Phil Donahue's opposition to the war.

I think it matters whether someone is joking.

Pogo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl5TUw7sUBs and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQuqeLBTetA etc) recently answered the question "Why is your Youtube name Fagottron?"


In a moment of somewhat poor judgement, he said, essentially, "I've always hated gay people." But he was joking.

The joke was that gay haters are often so over the top that they will sound completely ridiculous -- like, say, naming their Youtube channel Fagottron as a way to rub in the gay hate.

The original video has been removed, but here's a part: https://youtu.be/-8y553PV0Gg?t=52

The internet of course exploded at this, and soon the hornet's nest came out at him. The general mindset was apparently "I know you were joking, I don't care that you were joking, enjoy your ruined career."

Now, to be clear, if you watch the original video, there's probably no way for you to tell it was a joke. He sounded dead serious. But he was in fact joking, and I think that's an important distinction.

It's... getting unsettling unsettling that people can lose their careers over this sort of thing. Pogo will probably be ok, but it's strange that it was even an issue.

Part of the problem is the culture of outrage. Outrage = clicks, and media knows this. That's why it's so easy to write articles like these: https://i.imgur.com/oVvsN3q.png

Another name for this type of joke is trolling, and that would be a fair description this case. But to mark someone for life -- to discount their hard work and to try to ruin them over something that was satire, is strange to me.

I've no idea why anyone tries to communicate using satire or sarcasm today. It's absolutely begging to be misunderstood, and then it's impossible correct because yes that is literally what you wrote and it's there in black and white. It must be the least clear and most risky way to communicate possible.

It's really broader than that. A lot of comedy has always been about skirting close to the edge of appropriateness and good taste. (And maybe going over it a bit.)

As I was discussing with someone in the wake of some of the recent outrage outpourings, the cliff that comedy skirts has become very steep and very public. The joke that bombed in a small nightclub and gets quietly excised from the routine is now all over YouTube and Twitter, perhaps completely out of context.

Or a stupid dongle joke of the sort that I might have rolled my eyes at a coworker making and maybe told them to "give it a rest" years ago now gets people fired because of online outrage.

Satire and sarcasm are best used in the company of people who will understand it. It is not for use with the masses.

When someone is sarcastic or uses satire on you, you should take it as a complement, as it means they believe you have the intellectual capacity to grasp the joke, enough to take the risk in telling it to you.

When you respond with sarcasm or satire of your own, it confirms to them that you have found common ground, and that your satire/sarcasm can slowly lift into even higher levels of wit, almost trying to outdo each other.

When someone doesn’t get my satirical jokes, I write them off as a simpleton and use only small, safe jokes with them, if at all.

If you are going to make a sarcastic joke publicly, it is best to also make sure there is some sort of external approval in the form of laughing or upvotes to go along with it, otherwise it can easily be misinterpreted as your own serious opinion.

> When someone doesn’t get my satirical jokes, I write them off as a simpleton and use only small, safe jokes with them, if at all.

Maybe they go away thinking you're the simpleton for saying something which isn't true or doesn't make any sense? It seems like this is a whole system of snideness designed to judge people and justify being condescending to them. I think it's just unpleasant.

It seems to me that people with dry sarcasm can not live that out in the media. Putting things out of context or blowing single events out of proportion has become too common. Very unsettling.

> In a moment of somewhat poor judgement, he said, essentially, "I've always hated gay people." But he was joking.

I wouldn't say it was a joke, it was a form of humor.

> The joke was that gay haters are often so over the top that they will sound completely ridiculous

No this wasn't the humor as far as I can see.

He's rubbing his nose in the fact many people no longer get humor in its many forms and is using a type of humor that's not commonly done these days. Even things like the Daily Show have to "Explain the joke" these days.

FYI Australians (He's Australian) consider this an a lower class American trait, right or wrong it's a common meme in Australia, Americans audiences are so bad the joke has to be explained. (And notice I have to include the "Right or Wrong" when it wasn't needed, cause it's another form of infection were you can't report on things without saying your moral stance no matter how outrageous)

> Now, to be clear, if you watch the original video, there's probably no way for you to tell it was a joke.

This is simply not true, it's incredibly obvious.

And no he wasn't trolling, a best he was thumbing his nose at the outrage machine that kicks into action without regard to why, for them it's all about forming their mob whenever possible, they use mobs for adrenaline rather than humor.

Did he win a round for humor over the lynch mob, two mortal enemies. Hard to say.

Pogo wasn't joking though

If you have anything to back this up, that would be worth sharing. But I don't think it's fair to say that factually without some pretty strong evidence.

I don't know this Pogo, but the mere fact that his words did not contain anything funny hints towards the absence of a joke... false (or outrageous) statements by themselves do not make sarcasm, you also need humour!!! For example if he was also notoriously gay, that would have made a great joke. This is not the case.

Do you have anything to back up that he was joking besides the backtracking statements he made years after the original video and only after getting massive amounts of negative backlash about it?

If making a several-minute-long homophobic rant 'as a joke' (a joke so funny that he apparently didn't want the public to see it because the video was unlisted), in a way that is entirely indistinguishable from actually hating gay people, is somehow not 'strong evidence' of being homophobic then I have no idea what is.

the Directors by Mel Brooks would probably be an anti Semitic pro nazi film using that rationale

The Producers. I have wondered if that film might be a bit too edgy for mainstream audiences today. On the other hand, it had a good Broadway run long after the film, so people would probably be fine for the most part.

Have you actually watched the video in question? These are completely different things. The Producers was clearly satire, it was marketed as satire, everyone knew it was satire.

There is generally room for interpretation with satire, but I am finding it extremely difficult to give this particular person the benefit of the doubt.

If Mel Brooks filmed himself talking about how Nazis are great in an entirely serious tone, other than the bit where he laughed about how funny it was so many Jews died and calling it fantastic (Pogo did exactly this with the Pulse shooting), never releasing the footage, and then years later somebody found the footage and everyone was mad at him for liking Nazis, and then he said it was a joke and people shouldn't be mad at him, then it would be like this situation. But it isn't, it's completely different.

Do you also think the Nixon tapes weren't evidence of Nixon being anti-Semitic? If he had just said he really didn't mean it and he was sorry, it all would have been okay?


you'll note that this is from last year, before the current controversey

> “I don’t think feminists ever do what they preach. I think it’s always an ulterior motive. I think it’s a divisive cult that doesn’t achieve much more than a flock of self-entitled narcissists at the end of the day. I’ve never liked them. I’ve always thought that driving a wedge between the genders seems like a funny way to achieve equality.”

> “I think the left is bringing about the destruction of Western civilization, personally.”

> “I don’t want to make massive generalization or anything, but I think female accountability is a myth. I think under the banner of feminism, females will never be held accountable for anything. You should not critique a woman unless you are prepared for the consequences.”

What does that have to do with hating homosexuals? I know of many people who don't like feminists but don't have a problem with homosexuals.

That's entirely unrelated though. Just because someone dislikes the left doesn't automatically make them more or less likely to dislike gay people. That's an unfortunate association with the republican right, which tends to be more religious than not.

If you think this sort of thing is entirely unrelated you haven't been paying much attention. Those kinds of "unfortunate associations" are why you don't pillory your own career by espousing reprehensible views "as a joke" (the idea that it was a joke was only brought up after the controversy)

Is making jokes and enjoying the benefit of the doubt a privilege reserved for people with the correct political opinions?

Here’s the thing: you don’t get the benefit of the doubt when you hold opinions that have been demonstratably wrong for 40+ years.

It counts as evidence of your poor judgement and terrible moral compass. Especially when you espouse other opinions that are toxic trash and are highly correlated to the previous ones.

The benefit of doubt has been long used up on these topics. If you hold these opinions today as an adult you made a concious choice to be a bigot.

You're just confirming what the parent says: only people with enlightened, progressive ideas can say whatever they want.

Not at all. You appear to be trying to fit my words to your conclusion.

I’m saying demonstratably bad positions will be called out as such.

Doesn’t matter if they are or are from progressive people. So please stuff that strawman somewhere else.

In their company, sure. Try being a liberal at a Trump rally.

Things may have gotten worse, but there was never a time when you could freely say without consequences whatever you thought in whichever social group.

It may have felt like that if you were part of a privileged group and did not stray too far.

My question was normative, I suppose another way to rephrase it is "Do you want to live in a world where only people with the correct opinions can make jokes and enjoy the benefit of the doubt? If not, why are you enforcing social norms you don't endorse?"

The choice isn't automatic: abritinthebay apparently does endorse a hostile interpretation of any speech by people who "hold opinions that have been demonstratably wrong for 40+ years" and "made a concious choice to be a bigot", which I believe makes both comedy and nuance impossible, but at least they're honest about it.

Yes? In certain circles you could get off with saying just about anything about the current US administration however in poor taste it might be. In those same circles, I wouldn't recommend off-color criticism of many people on the other end of the political spectrum.

ADDED: For those who apparently disagree with me, does anyone seriously dispute that jokes of a certain slant are going to be acceptable in some circles and considered in very poor taste in others?

It was a normative question. The social norm exists, but I wish it didn't, so I won't enforce it and I'll encourage other people not to enforce it.

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