‘Liberal satire’ is an oxymoron | James Delingpole

2nd October 2009

In the latest issue of The Atlantic Christopher Hitchens brilliantly articulates something many of us have long suspected: that left-liberals – the modern variety, at any rate – are quite incapable of effective or indeed funny satire.

The Hitch’s immediate target is the libtard comic turned Democrat senator Al Franken:

“Franken very often refers to himself as a “satirist,” which is a piece of hubris that comes to him too glibly and naturally. One wants to say, on hearing or reading such a claim, “Actually, sunshine, we’ll be the judge of that.” Swift famously compared satire to a mirror in which people could see every face but their own: if Franken desires to be considered a connoisseur of the satirical, he might want to paste that line into his hat.”

He also has a go at the grinning, mugging and never knowingly undersmug Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

But his wider point is this: liberal satirists rarely do the job satirists are supposed to do because they invariably go for the lazy target. They’ll mock the “Christian right” or “the Moral Majority”, but never dangerous topics like political Islam, or, say, the wilder excesses of black American religious demagogues:

“What you will not find, in any of this output, is anything remotely “satirical” about the pulpit of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, or any straight-faced, eyebrow-raising (and studio-audience-thigh-slap-triggering) mention of, say, The New York Times’s routine practice of captioning Al Sharpton as “the civil rights activist.””

What’s more, argues the Hitch, these liberal satirists aren’t even funny. Their humour is aimed at “audiences who laugh not because they find something to be funny, but to confirm that they are—and who can doubt it?—cool enough to “get” the joke.”

Quite. And you could say exactly the same of their British equivalents: Mock The Week; Radio 4’s unfunny The Now Show; or that other veritable Prime Minister of Mirthlessness, The News Quiz, which appears to occupy a parallel universe in which Margaret Thatcher’s evil Conservatives are still in power and can only be defeated by the rapier put downs of Socialist comedian Jeremy Hardy.

Also, compare and contrast the (essentially) right-libertarian-leaning satirical website The Daily Mash with the rival website News Biscuit (or Soggy Biscuit, as some are terming it, after the popular schoolboy and Merchant Navy game) set up by left-liberal comedian John O’Farrell. One’s funny, one isn’t. Go figure.

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