- the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
- a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
- a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Satire is a device used to point out--by use of sarcasm, ridicule, derision, or other means--the shortcomings of individuals, groups, or governments. It is intended, often with anger added to humor, to reflect a point of view that is in opposition to what is actually portrayed. It is often uncomfortable, and frequently objected to when it hits too close to home. People often laugh at parody until the subject of that parody is something they have experienced, then they begin to object. Although satire is meant to make the viewer/reader laugh and be seen as funny, it is a reflection of the anger or disapproval felt by the creator of the piece. The key word here, is humor.
Given this short lesson in satire, let's review. Rahm Emmanuel referred to a non-specific "they" as "effing retards" behind closed doors. Sarah Palin immediately claimed that he was insensitive and should be fired. Along comes (Republican) Rush Limbaugh who said, over the public airwaves:
"Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards."When asked, repeatedly, why she did not object to Rush Limbaugh's use of the word retard, Sarah Palin states that his use is "political satire" and therefore okay. Satire? I guess some could try to stretch the above incident to fit within the definition of satire. Rush Limbaugh is definitely a very angry man,and enjoys holding up for ridicule anyone in the Democratic Party--as well as women and minorities. He frames his radio show around politics and politicians, so attacks against them could, I suppose, be considered political satire, but where's the humor? Okay, he is laughable, but he's not trying to be funny, and that's the key. He is deadly serious and his attacks are serious. Any humor that arises out of what he says is unintended. So, some may see political satire, but I see it differently.
I believe that Rush Limbaugh's use of the word retard was a slap at Sarah Palin, and his dig at our "politically correct society" was perhaps a reminder to her that she was overreacting (in this and other situations) and should dial it back if she wanted his support. She has shown over time that she takes offense easily and does not forgive, two qualities that will not serve her well if she pursues a career either in politics or the media. It is clear that her cheerleaders at Fox, and now Rush, are having second thoughts about her ability to learn from her missteps (or even acknowledge that she has made any). It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds over the next weeks and months.