Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Even Handed Attack Machine

Incensed at the adversarial tone of PM Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff told the CBC radio that Stephen Harper should be remembered, foremost, by his attack ads.

So let us take that advise and consider the Torie's Fake Ignatieff website:
The title page says: "I, Michael Ignatieff, am all about me".

It is only satire because the site speaks in the first person as Ignatieff. It is and the framing of an otherwise unremarkable political pamphlet.

At this point, the satirical element is a gimmicky way to get people to read an otherwise unremarkable political pamphlet.

But I want to focus today on
What the fine print says:
"Authorized by the Registered Agent for the Conservative Party of Canada"
I find this interesting because
There are many partisan satires,
but those that admit it are few.
A politically embroiled media may desensitize us to guise of equipoise and impartiality these our satirists assume. "objective" thinking involves as much(or more) political custom.

It is something of an empirical intuition, and often useful custom for broadcasters. It can help overcome difficulties of negotiating meetings with sundry conflicting parties and not becoming implicated. As well it may establish professional reputation - that is reputation of the profession - for a certain reliability of conduct.

The tendency to allocate time equitably. To give all guests a chance to speak. To offer a challenging suggestion to each of the guests. To not use any terms of derision or praise. These are is easily recognized in television news media.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) apparently wishes to avoid offending viewers (or even mollifying them!) with insultingly perfunctory observances of balance. I admire when I see them triangulate the middle ground honorably. Bless 'em - with evident reluctance and distaste.

Lets see them come forth clearly as a participant and partisan.

Tangled Web: Can we distinguish between stereotypes and the person?

Why isn't satire more widely used by formal party apparatuses? First, Satire's tangled barbs can easily create confusion about a party's message. It does not lend weight to claims of reliability and moral seriousness.

Satire with a large scale agenda is more likely to backfire because it confessedly stands for something. The honest satirists work behind no veil.

By honest Satire, I do not mean good. There is subversive: making out the reasonable, the honest and the good as ridiculously corrupt, dangerous fools.

Can Satire Change minds?

Yes. It doesn't fare badly by comparison to other methods:

"As the pen is mightier than the sword, forgetting is mightier than the pen. The forgetfulness of man are a tool by which vast changes can be made: The use of timely distractions, topic changes, disinformation, evolving tastes, EMPs and dry erasers can drift the citizens away from unsuitable ideas.

The rhetorical weapon of mass destruction is the reliable expiry of highly complex thoughts and information. Whether it takes a generation or a few minutes, if you can guide the citizenry away from dangerous ideas."

Satirical concepts, one planted, can be recalled easily because they are amusing and elaborated coherently. Those who are confounded and perplexed by memory manipulation can still avail themselves of the satirists' memorable interpretation.

"What of the inexorable laws of structure and logic? Couldn't one refute satirical distortions?"

Satire can be refuted, but not easily countered by logical argumentation. If you insist on trying, my unworldly professor...

Songs More Partial

There was a halcyon day when honesty was prized amongst the satirists, but it was an era more corrupt than our own. I speak of the satirist Juvenal, who had choice words for hypocrites.

"High-flown moral discourse from that clique in Rome who affect
Ancestral virgues as a front for their lechery...

... Far worse is he who attacks such practices with hairy
Masculine fervor, and after much talk of virtue
Proceeds to cock his dish like a perfect lady.
'What,respect you?" screams the common-or-garden queen,
'When you're in the trade yourself? There's nothing to choose
Between us. It takes a hale man to mock a cripple
and you can't bait niggers if you're tarred with the same
brush.' "

They'll be burning your books next you old slave, lest we recognize our own hypocrisy in the murky stream of old times:

[Note: The title of this was changed from 'Liberals attack the fact that Conservative Ads are Attacks'. The reasons are 4.]