Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Write Satire: My Response to Marty Beckerman

I generally don't get involved in silly things like this. There are plenty of ignorant people in the world - some by choice and some through no fault of their own. I don't read comments on news stories let alone contribute to the vast wasteland of misspelled, grammatically incorrect and illogical comments.

"Trial by Peanut?"
I have to admit I've never heard of Marty Beckerman. After having read his articles "Your Peanut-Allergic Kid is a Little Goddamn Pussy" (missing a much needed comma) and its slightly less vitriolic follow-up "How to Defeat Your Bully: The Art of War for Peanut-Allergic Kids", I can easily say I will go back to my ignorance of his existence. Not because I hate Mr. Beckerman. I don't know him. Not even because he said a bunch of fairly horrible things about children either. After all, Jonathan Swift made a pretty great case for eating babies.

However, unlike Jonathan Swift, Beckerman is a pretty inept, self-titled "satirist". Satire is more than just saying offensive things and throwing in a lot of profanities. If that's all it took, the poor, homeless mentally ill gentleman who makes the rounds in my downtown city would certainly qualify.

Satire exists to make a point. Satire is brilliant because it points out the ridiculous and makes one think about the core truths without the author being so boring as to list them. Satire is witty, interesting and challenging. Beckerman's posts are just rambling profanities with pictures.

If I look really hard, Beckerman is probably trying to tell parents that they should teach their children how to deal with allergies. However, what Beckerman missed is that children are children. They can't always take care of every problem they have, no matter how stellar their parents are. Otherwise, they'd move out of the house at 10 and get their own jobs.

"Get a real job!"
Satire is a subtle creature. For instance, I could certainly get upset with people who honestly think food allergies are a way to weed out the weakest parts of the population. Or, I could agree. After all, they may have a point. Allergies are a harmful genetic mutation. They serve no good in the gene pool. In fact, neither do cancer, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis or macular degeneration. Come to think of it, those whose bodies aren't capable of fighting off influenza, tuberculosis or polio are genetic weak links. Plus, if we could eliminate the need for medications like insulin, vaccines, inhalers and anti-histamines, we would be saving quite a bit of money. There would be some job losses, but no one likes pharmaceutical companies anyway. Scientists could be put to better use, like finding out how to reverse climate change. And for those who end up dying, well, that's a bonus for their families, too. Sure, the family members have to foot the bill for a funeral, but that's got to cost far less than a lifetime of medicine and doctor visits. Frankly, I think if you put this case to every allergic child, they'd agree that it's best that they just stay home and don't receive treatment. It's for the good of the entire world really.

That is satire. It's possibly not well-written, but still satire. So, instead of being really upset with Mr. Beckerman because he demonstrates just how ridiculous a lot of people really are, I think it's better to work towards educating people. All that energy can be put to some really great causes, like making sure every school in Canada and other countries have access to epinephrine and training on how to use it. Chances are anyone who reads poorly written things like his posts regularly can't be approached with logic anyway.

NOTE: I have not linked to Mr. Beckerman's posts. If you haven't read them, they're easy to find if you wish to do so. I will, however, link to A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.

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