Truth or Parody?

By JD Rhoades
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Lord, it’s hot out there. It’s hot enough to make a bishop cuss. Birds are pulling worms out of the ground using potholders. I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.

So, since it’s too hot to go outside, let’s stay inside and play a game. How about one of my favorite games: “Truth or Parody”? I’ll tell you an occurrence and you tell me if it actually happened, or if it’s satire.
Ready? Here we go:
1. A Republican congressman from Florida created a series of awkward moments during a congressional hearing when he warmly welcomed a pair of witnesses with brown skin and East Asian names by talking about how he wanted closer relations with their country and how fond he was of “Bollywood” movies (a genre of musical cinema made in India). Unfortunately, the witnesses were both Americans who are senior officials in the U.S. government.
2. Ex-Alaska Gov. and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin recently unveiled an online subscription video service where her fans can pay $9.95 a month to watch messages from Palin and hear her commentaries on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, the launch of the service was spoiled by a glitch in which all of the videos quit halfway through playback.
3. Outgoing Minnesota Rep. and potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann recently proposed solving the problem of unaccompanied immigrant children by creating labor camps, or as she called them, “Americanization facilities.” She said, “We’d get private-sector business leaders to locate to those facilities and give these children low-risk jobs to do. And they’d learn about the American way of life, earn their keep, and everyone wins in the end.”
4. An Arizona state legislator spoke out against national Common Core standards by claiming he’d heard they used “fuzzy math” that “substitutes letters for numbers at some points” — a description of algebra.
And now, the answers:
1. True. Last Thursday, freshman Rep. Curt Clawson, despite having a list of witnesses to a congressional hearing before him, mistook Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar as representatives of the Indian government.
According to an article in Foreign Policy Magazine, “Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about ‘your country’ and ‘your government,’ in reference to the state of India.”
Clawson (the tea party candidate, naturally) later used a basketball metaphor, describing the incident as “throwing an air ball” on his part. I’d say it’s more like he came on the court and tackled one of his assistant coaches after unsuccessfully trying to throw him out at third.
2. Half true. Sarah Palin’s new Internet subscription website is designed, in her words, to “go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.” And, one suspects, avoid those pesky confrontations with reality that even the formerly fawning Fox News has been forcing on her.
But the part about the videos cutting off halfway through was my little joke. Given half-term governor Palin’s track record in regard to sticking with things, however, I wouldn’t spring for the long-term subscription.
3. Parody. One that caught quite a few people, because when it comes to Congresswoman Crazy Eyes, no pronouncement seems too bizarre. This is, after all, the woman who recently said that the unaccompanied children flooding the U.S. Southern border came from “Yemen, Iran, Iraq and other terrorist nations,” and that they might be carrying “Ebola and other diseases like that,” even though there is not a shred of evidence for either claim.
4. True. State Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, told a Senate education committee that he was suspicious of Common Core standards because they’d been “hijacked by Washington.” Asked by another legislator if he’d actually seen the standards, Melvin said he’d been “exposed to them” and that there was “fuzzy math that substitutes letters for numbers.” For God’s sake, let’s not expose the poor man to calculus. Those Greek letters will blow his little mind.
A maxim developed on the Internet, known as Poe’s Law, states that “without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism” (definition via Wikipedia).
Or, as I put it, “The hard part about satire is staying ahead of reality.” This difficulty is particularly pronounced when you’re dealing with the party of proud ignorance, manic xenophobia, and general craziness.

Enjoy your August!

Via: J.D. Rhoades


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