Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Can We Laugh at Ourselves?

Earlier today I posted an article from The Onion, a great source of postmodern satire. The article in question pretended to support using stereotypes to categorize people, thereby saving time in our daily lives. I liked it -- it seemed to poke at something many of us do without ever being aware of it.

A regular reader found the article offensive and not in keeping with the intent of this blog. S/he will no longer be reading these pages. That saddens me. S/he felt the post was "off message," as the political types might say.

This was my reply in the comments:
The post has everything to do with my message. We all know stereotypes are wrong, but we use them everyday. If you think that you don't, that you are above such things, then I suggest you spend one week, just seven days, painfully observing EVERY time you make a judgement about someone you have never met, classifying people based on how they look or how they dress, and so on.

The article was over the top -- that should have been a sign that it was satire. Maybe it hits too close to home, and feeling uncomfortable prevents us from being able to laugh at ourselves?

It was apparently okay to poke fun at George Bush, but poking fun at liberal sensibilities is off limits. This seems like an unfair double-standard.

When satire works, it makes us uncomfortable. When it targets things we do personally -- but block from our awareness -- it can be very unsettling. Being unsettled is a great way to enter new areas of awareness.

I have tended to avoid doing or saying anything that might unsettle or offend people, not just in this blog but in my entire life. I would never intentionally be mean or hurtful, but I am not above creating discomfort in myself and in my readers. If you are going to be offended by being made uncomfortable, I sincerely hope you will stay with the feelings and see where they lead.

I'm not about to go all Wyatt Earpy on you guys, but I might get a little Jay Andrew Allen on your arse. I hope that's okay.

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