|Charles Krauthammer Is a Great American, and That’s a True Fact|
By CFIF Staff
Monday, April 12 2010
Boy, did we step in it last week. In our Commentary piece -- “Here Come the VAT” -- we wrote, "No longer is it just those hysterical rumor-mongers like columnist Charles Krauthammer speculating on the next national tax to be imposed by the Obama administration..."
Our first intent was to correctly credit the iconic conservative columnist with being one of the first to identify the emergence of a VAT as the next huge tax-and-spend scheme of the administration. Our second was to attempt to poke a sharp verbal stick in the eyes of liberal gladiators who like nothing better than to attack their betters, including Mr. Krauthammer, with hyperbole as silly as we used.
Charles Krauthammer is demonstrably never "hysterical." Charles Krauthammer is demonstrably not a rumor-monger. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, if he says something, you can bet a big burger lunch that he’s right. We were thus attempting one of the principal forms of irony – using words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
That’s not the way some readers read it. Perhaps reading in haste or at mid-boil over the excessive opprobrium heaped on conservatives daily, not pausing to consider the source, they read the lines literally and heaped some of their own rather literally on us. Further down in the piece we straightforwardly referred to the “growing number of warnings from seers like Krauthammer,” but that was too late. We just hope we don’t get blamed for people spilling hot coffee on themselves.
Writing humor – whether satire, parody, irony, ridicule, hyperbole or even just plain old wisecracking – is difficult...and as many examples demonstrate, from the history of those who have been great at it and from our own feeble attempts...dangerous.
In a Freedom Line blog posted the same day, we made up fictitious legislation called “the kick your constituents’ dog” bill. It seemed like an appropriate humorous symbol for describing the penchant of our current Congress to treat constituents contemptuously. We referred to Stimulus XXIII, there being no such bill. It just feels like it. We got no complaints for those, nor for a ridiculous rendering of a global warming story, which was just too priceless for grown-up comment.
Perhaps a serious conservative advocacy organization like the Center for Individual Freedom should stick to straight “just the facts, ma'am” writing. But given the serious, existential challenges this Republic faces, from enemies foreign and domestic, the relief provided by humor keeps us (and we hope most of you) from being committed to a rubber room now overseen by Mistress Sibelius. (See, we just can’t help ourselves, and the image of the HHS Secretary in black latex wielding a cat-of-nine-tails is, to us at least, as scary as the reality of her in charge of our health care.)
Humor can be and should be a powerful weapon against entrenched power. The cartoons of the brilliant Michael Ramirez at www.cfif.org are daily testament to that. But they are cartoons, the purpose immediately understood, just as the straight-razor wit of Rush Limbaugh is understood (by those who don’t wish to distort it for their own ends) by his set-ups and inflections and long history of just raising verbal hell and having fun doing it.
Although stand-up comics at open mike night might beg to differ, written humor is much tougher to pull off, because all the writer has is words strung together. With written humor, to telegraph it, to label it, to prepare the reader for it is to weaken it. It doesn’t work if you say, “here come the joke.”
If we could wake up every morning and offend every liberal, lefty, psycho on the planet, that would make our every day. (Now we’re going to get complaints from psychos that they are merely mentally challenged and shouldn’t be lumped in with those evil liberals.) Likewise with faux conservatives and other hypocrites whose only reality is themselves, for what they can get from their masquerades.
Offending regular, devoted readers who share our values, if not always our way of expressing those values, is unintentional, but, frankly, a risk we knowingly take, in the pursuit of being more interesting than oatmeal.
Our website is something of a hybrid, and we’re going to keep changing it until we get it right. If we ever get tagged with some line like “as predictable as the mainstream media,” it’s time to shred our thesaurus.
We strive to be current, accurate, insightful and, yes, occasionally edgy. When we go over that edge, our readers are the rocks below, banging our heads. To intentionally mix metaphors, those who can’t take a beating should stay out of the ring. Is it Round Two yet?
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