Holding Satire Accountable

I genuinely hate arguing with people, especially on the internet. Debating is fun, witty repartee is excellent but once we hit the insult, argue just to argue territory, I am out. I am passionate about things which makes me terrible in battle and worse in the cleanup. So, when I post something, even slightly polarizing on the internet my life is ruined for at least a day until I can crawl out of my blanket fort, conveniently located in my anxiety prison. (Trust me, I know. I’m working on it.)

Obviously dogs, pitbulls specifically, are very important to me. I did shelter photography for two years and helped with a transport group. I’ve seen first hand what happens when you have overbreeding combined with miseducation. It’s not pretty and it leads to a lot of needless torture and death. I take it seriously because as a human it’s my responsibility to protect living things that can’t help themselves. Whatever our life experiences are we need to take a step back and try to wade through the misinformation to find the truth and find better ways to protect ourselves and each other. The biggest challenge (in any social issue) is misinformation.

Misinformation and a lack of education are the things keep undermining progress. We work hard to change minds gradually only to find ourselves undermined by inaccuracy posed in a more understandable light. “Their message is simpler. I get it now, don’t need to think anymore.” It’s soundbite culture at it’s finest. They hear something and move on. Trying to fight that is an uphill battle. Our headlines are so much less interesting. Happy things just aren’t entertaining enough. That’s when the humor comes in. After all, you can’t go wrong with humor, right?

It’s funny to me how farce is regarded right now. It’s a fine line to walk between parody and misinformation. The unfortunate downside to parody is the large amount of people who misinterpret it as fact. See a picture, read a headline, it must be truth! And then it becomes an endless game of telephone. That doesn’t mean that the humor should be banned or disregarded, just that the person making the jokes accept some responsibility for timing and clarity. Sure, things are funnier when they don’t need to be explained but when something is taken out of context in an international forum, even a joke, it can have long reaching impact.

It’s important to be cognizant of all of the people you may be undermining with an ill-timed joke. The best and worst thing about comedy is that it has it’s roots in truth. If you find something particularly hilarious you already have some form of connection to it. If you make a joke about a vicious pit bull you are perpetuating all of the misconceptions that people have niggling in the back of their brains. They don’t know when or where they heard it or saw it but they did and little by little the blocks start stacking back up. Your bit of fun stacked another couple of blocks in a few thousand brains and the dogs, shelters, volunteers, etc. are the ones who pay for it.

I love that the Onion wants us to realize how ridiculous and inaccurate that stereotype is. I just don’t think that the unfortunate negative ramifications of their platform and reach are worth it.

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