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Thu Feb 20, 2014, 11:34 AM

 

Not the Onion



(Photo: Ken / Flickr)

Not the Onion
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Thursday 20 February 2014

It ain't getting any smarter out there, people.

- Frank Zappa


Reality is a funny thing these days, because it's pretty much bent. A guy named Nathan Poe, after a number of singular interactions on the website Christianforums.com, came up with an adage that has come to be known as Poe's Law: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

To wit: it has become pretty much impossible to distinguish between actual craziness and parodies of craziness, because the craziness has gotten so crazy that literally everything is on the it-could-be-real table.

I run a fairly well-populated Facebook page, and whenever I post a true story that is too demented to be believed, I am compelled to caption it with three words: "Not The Onion." The Onion, in case you somehow don't know already, is the gold standard for internet satire. My two favorite Onion headlines of all time are: 1. "ACLU Defends Nazi Skinhead's Right to Burn Down ACLU Headquarters," and 2. "Pat Buchanan to Gays: 'I Will Not Incinerate You.'"

Years ago, when The Onion made its bones, it was still pretty easy to spot satire online. In the last few years, however, that bright line has gotten blurred. Example: I saw a Facebook meme just the other day quoting Michele Bachmann saying that Native Americans aren't real Americans and should be happy with what they have. I actually Googled the quote to make sure it wasn't real - it was fake, as it turns out, made up by another satire site called DailyCurrant, but it got plastered into memes anyway because it was so gruesomely believable. Poe's Law wins again.

This entire country, of late, has been transformed into a proving ground for the larger point behind Poe's Law: We can no longer distinguish between crazy and fake crazy.

For example:

A guy in Kansas brought a concealed pistol into a bar on Saturday, got drunk, and accidentally shot himself and another patron when he reached into his gun pocket to grab some cash. The name of the bar was "Shot Time II."

On the very same day, a corrections officer in Ft. Lauderdale walked into a bar with a concealed pistol, got drunk, and injured nine people when he reached into his gun pocket for cash and accidentally discharged the weapon. Those nine were injured by the one bullet because the bullet fragmented upon impact with the table he was seated at. The name of the bar was "Shooter's Waterfront Café."

Eleven people in one day shot by two bullets fired in places named "Shot Time" and "Shooter's Café," because irony leaves deep footprints when it stalks the land nowadays.

Oh, and also, a man in California found a gun by his garbage barrels, picked it up, and immediately shot himself in the abdomen.

Not The Onion.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21984-william-rivers-pitt-not-the-onion

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Not the Onion (Original post)
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 OP
Auggie Feb 2014 #1
Sarah Ibarruri Feb 2014 #2
randr Feb 2014 #3
freebrew Feb 2014 #7
Jackpine Radical Feb 2014 #4
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 #5
erronis Feb 2014 #11
hootinholler Feb 2014 #6
Maedhros Feb 2014 #8
Jackpine Radical Feb 2014 #15
loudsue Feb 2014 #9
ffr Feb 2014 #12
watoos Feb 2014 #10
ffr Feb 2014 #13
Historic NY Feb 2014 #14
Mbrow Feb 2014 #16
SmittynMo Feb 2014 #17
passiveporcupine Feb 2014 #18
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 #19
Blue_Tires Feb 2014 #20
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 #22
Blue_Tires Feb 2014 #26
IveWornAHundredPants Feb 2014 #25
ReRe Feb 2014 #21
raven mad Feb 2014 #23
Zorra Feb 2014 #24
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 #28
L0oniX Feb 2014 #27
colsohlibgal Feb 2014 #29
WilliamPitt Feb 2014 #30

Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 11:48 AM

1. "Jesus will be packing an AR-15."



I suspect much of this real craziness was around way before the internet. We're just more aware of it now because it's so easily dispersible via websites and social media.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 11:53 AM

2. Thanks for this. My brother is a big fan of The Onion's satire...

I find The Onion much too close to home to be satire, because the right wing truth nowadays is actually stranger than what The Onion publishes. In fact, that's why it's necessary to say, "Not The Onion." It's sad that satire, which is a literary form which involves exaggeration among other things, is nowadays being outdone by reality, isn't it?

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 11:55 AM

3. Conservatives under Buckley used to keep the clown car in the garage

Lately it is their only form of transportation.

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Response to randr (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 01:16 PM

7. That's hilarious!

I may have to use that, w/permission, of course...

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 12:23 PM

4. Another case in point--

I posted the following comment to a discussion about the original little WV chemical spill problem, and was astonished when practically nobody managed to figure out where I was coming from. They all wanted to tar & feather me as a corporate apologist.

If only the State and Federal Governments had let the chemical companies do their business without insane over-regulation and making a big deal out of these spills, the companies could have continued profitably indefinitely. A proper PR campaign would have sufficed to convince everyone they weren't getting sick and dying, or, failing that, that some trivial industrial spillage of harmless chemicals had nothing to do with it. Surely any sane person should realize that corporate health is far more important than "public health" (a Commie Socialist concept if I ever heard one). Now, however, these meddlers will have probably forced the chemical companies into bankruptcy as the only way left for them to avoid a bunch of lawsuits that would no doubt force them to pay out millions to the whining "victims" of their little, innocuous spill.


http://disqus.com/Jackpine/

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 12:24 PM

5. "Irony is dead. Satire is doomed. Welcome to the future."

 

I read that somewhere, I think.




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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:07 PM

11. We don't always get it ---

Librals tend to have thin skins and while they/me appreciate parody, especially when they recognize it, they are quick to take offense at the more obtuse type. Sorry you had to 'splain yourself on this.

I've been told that no one knows when I'm telling a joke or not. Dead-pan delivery. Lots of big scientific words.

I respond that everything I say is meant to be taken as a joke. Just like I take everyone else's pronouncements.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 01:12 PM

6. One nit...

The Onion predates the internet, it started on paper.

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 01:49 PM

8. It was a University of Wisconsin thing, right? [n/t]

 

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Response to Maedhros (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:17 PM

15. Started in 1988 by 2 UW juniors; no official connection to the UW itself.

It was a locally distributed (Madison, Milw, some campuses in IL) hard-copy thing until it caught fire on the Internet.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 01:53 PM

9. Fox news went to the supreme court. It was the GOP supreme court that took crazy mainstream.

Now they've taken crazy elections mainstream w/ Citizens United. It all goes back to the supreme court that gave bush the election, and fox news permission to lie.

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Response to loudsue (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:08 PM

12. To be fair, I think some of those FN clowns say they're entertainers,

thus freeing them from the shackles of responsible reporting. So "lies" just means they embellish. Or it could be that, if they repeat it to themselves enough and THEY believe it to be true, then it is not a lie.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:04 PM

10. Yes, I have been thinking the same thing, thanks for putting it into words.

 

I have considered, since the U.S. seems to be leading the world in crazy, that maybe it's the fluoridated water, but no, that's a John Birch theory.
Related to this topic, for over a decade now, Republicans only do things for political purposes. Years ago when I noticed that everything they did was political, and nothing for the good of the nation, I assumed that this tactic wouldn't survive. Boy was I wrong. There is one connecting link that allows Repugs to be crazy and strictly political; the right wing M$M, which is pretty much all of the M$M. There are a few liberal voices on msnbc and they better be careful for straying from the narrative. Phil Donahue, Keith Olbermann, Dylan Ratigan, Cenk Uygur, Martin Brashear, strayed from the narrative. COMCAST is not liberal.

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Response to watoos (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:10 PM

13. +1

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:16 PM

14. Moral of the story...stay the f--k away from any bar with shoot, shooter, or shot ..

as a word, name or title.

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Response to Historic NY (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:35 PM

16. Or any food joint with the word "taco" in the name....

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Response to Mbrow (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 02:53 PM

17. OK, I''l bite,,,,

Is the keyword onion, or joint?

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:05 PM

18. Loved your article Will, but

I do have one small nit to pick.

The dinosaurs died off from a six-mile long asteroid striking the earth, not CO2 levels. So maybe not one of your better metaphores.

Otherwise, it was an excellent piece!

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Response to passiveporcupine (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:06 PM

19. They died en masse.

 

So they did not "do well."

Was my point.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:09 PM

20. The greatest Onion headlines are still:

1. Bush: "Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over"

and

2. Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Deptartment

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:13 PM

22. HOLY FUCKING SHIT: MAN LANDS ON FUCKING MOON

 

...and though it is both obnoxious and politically incorrect, "French Unveil 'Arc de Capitulation'" almost always makes me wet myself.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Reply #22)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:34 PM

26. lalz





















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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:28 PM

25. "Pier 1 Issues Formal Apology For Rattan Death March"

 

always makes me laugh for some reason.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:09 PM

21. Up is down. Down is up. In is out and out is in.

... Common sense don't make sense anymore. I've noticed this trend since Reagan's 2nd campaign. As each decade passed since then, truth has become stranger than fiction. I can't imagine how difficult it is to raise children these days, especially those who are old enough to notice how effed-up this society is and ask "Why?"

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:14 PM

23. A friend who is a photographer just had to emphasize that she does NOT use Photoshop.

I sent her your article, which is excellent and very, very close to the bone of truth. So much so, it hurts.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 03:23 PM

24. Before Newtown, I was still somewhat pro-gun rights, having grown up

in a rural area, where people pretty much just used guns for hunting.

After Newtown, I got over that nonsense forever. I realized once and for all (yeh, I know, it took me long enough to get it)that there are simply too many stupid and or deranged people in the world, and stupid and/or deranged people should not have access to firearms.

Anyway, that's my confession; I've seen the light, I have young grandchildren, with more on the way, and "it's not getting any smarter out there".

Thanks to everyone for hammering home for me the reality of gun violence and teh stupid.

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Response to Zorra (Reply #24)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 04:26 PM

28. (((hug)))

 

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 04:26 PM

27. It's against the law having a concealed weapon in a bar in Florida...

 

and apparently even a corrections officer does not follow the law ....not surprised.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 04:58 PM

29. The Far Right Has Made It Quite Hard

I've lost track of how many stories I thought had to be satire and were instead true. All bets are off these days.

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Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)

Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:54 PM

30. Up

 

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