Irony Deficiency

Although we have yet to pick our copy up from the post office, I just read about the cover of the new issue of the New Yorker and the ensuing controversy over it. It's amazing that anybody smart enough to read the New Yorker would not get the joke, and speaks to an old problem that an old friend of mine and I used to joke about and call the "Irony Deficiency" of our nation.

This particular instance of this condition made me realize a possible fundamental cause - the fact that our society is so diverse, so factionalized, and so polarized and full of hate and adversarial relations, that irony is almost impossible on a mass scale - why do I say that? because when you have a population in which some people truly believe what others consider are outlandish jokes, those jokes start to backfire if they spread into the realm of the believers.

Those who would normally laugh at such a joke are on such hair-triggers to defend against the attacks of the believers that they no longer have a sense of humor. The fact is that there are some people who are so naive, hateful, deluded, and/or stupid that they really think that Michelle Obama is a violent radical militant and Barrack is a muslim terrorist. That's just how wide, how separated by chasms of clashing belief and values, the spectrum of "political" dialogue, spectrum of opinion about what is real and true, has become in this country.

And who should be surprised, when there are some people that watch 6 hours of television a night, including FOX News, and others that never watch TV at all and spend those hours reading Noam Chomsky, Harpers, or the New Yorker (and/or the latest Crimethinc publication)? When there are some that listen to Merle Haggard and pump their fists earnestly when he sings "and I'd surely stand up, next to you" or whatever, in that stupid-ass song about the first Gulf War, and yet there are others, like me, who bike around town with songs like this stuck in our heads, a Cop Shoot Cop track from that same era:

It's okay to kill in the name of democracy
And dictators are swell if they like the smell of American money
It's making me sick, I want no part of it
Stop waving that flag
All you idiots bought right into it
And who's left holding the bag?
Surprise, surprise. Surprise, surprise.
The government lies.

Which, by the way, if you didn't get it, contains irony in the first 2 lines...