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Swift is spinning in his grave

Satire is dead.

Reality is so weird no one can take a joke.

I knew we were going get some angry letters when we published a satirical column by  Kevin Horrigan, deputy editor of the editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The headline we put on it set the tone of the irreverent piece: “The first 83 days: Yeswecanada, Fist Bumps of Allegiance.”

Horrigan, in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt’s First 100 Days, counted down the things Obama would do from inauguration to Easter. This includes enrolling his daughters in a madrassa, soaking the rich, mandatory sex education in utero, ban bowling, name new puppy Roe-ver Siswade and replace Samuel Alito with Hillary Clinton.

A disgusted writer e-mailed me this morning with her criticism of the piece. She did not send it to our letters to the editor e-mail address but directly to me.

“I am writing to express my disgust at an article in your paper today.  
‘The first 83 days: Yeswecanada, Fist Bumps of Allegiance’ is just the 
kind of article this city, state and country do not need at this 
time,” Mary wrote. “At first I thought this was intended to be humorous but it did 
not take long to realize the tenor of the article is in fact intended 
to undercut the seriousness of the transition for our new president.  
The racial/ethnic tone is extremely offensive. To allude that 
President-elect Obama is Muslim (and what if he was, so what?) by 
indicating the Inaugural Address would be delivered in Farsi, that the 
First Family would be fitted for turbans and burkhas smacks of the 
kind of disgusting lies that were being thrown around during the 
campaign.  I realize the R-J has a conservative tone and I respect 
that.  I DO NOT respect your choice of this particular article.”

Then over the cybertransom came this unveiled threat of bodily injury, "Printing Horrigan’s ugly mindless sewage puts the Review-Journal at a new low in the field of journalism.  Shame on you is not a strong enough admonition, thrashing is more in order."

Still another letter writer huffed, "I was very disturbed at  Horrigan’s negative article on our newly elected president’s first 83 days in office.  He creates further dissension among bigoted minds instead of creating unity and encouragment in giving our new President a chance to resolve our present national crisis.  All his comments including ‘Betray Israel’ and ‘Work on jump shot’ if meant to be amusing are not."

I checked out the Post-Dispatch Web site and scanned some of the comments beneath the column in question. Many were in a similar vein.

I suspect those readers skipped a sentence at the beginning of the column in which Horrigan wrote, “Based on in-depth research — via right-wing websites — here’s Obama’s agenda between Inauguration Day and Easter Sunday.”

Remembering the old adage that if you have to explain a joke it is not a joke, I still must explain Horrigan was making fun of right-wing Web sites, not the First Family or First Dog or race or religion. Right wingers are fair game, aren’t we?

One posting by someone named whatwhat summed it up, “Wow you people are defensive. It is a satirical slam on right wingers. Simma donnow.”

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