Saturday, October 6, 2012

The value of satire (in a world of huffies)

I've a column in the Canberra Times today, 'Satire the perfect way to test huffiness of today'.

Prompted by my recent satire of Cory Bernardi, I'm revealing the importance of good satire.

We need authors like Jonathan Swift (left), not only because they skewer ridiculous ideas or behaviour, but also because they identify poor readers: the righteous, the ideologically blinkered, the rushed. A sample:
The worst offenders are not genuinely interested in persuading others, let alone being persuaded themselves. They want a textual receptacle for their bile. Because of this, they fail the test: their lack of focus, analysis and charity is revealed. Importantly, this test is bipartisan. 
Neither the left nor the right has a monopoly on humourless cant and reflexes dressed up as ideals. Whether conservative or progressive, laughing at oneself is a common virtue. Huffies on both sides do not even listen for the joke - and, in this, become one themselves.
(Image: detail from Jervas' portrait of Swift, at the NPG)

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