Recently there was a tragedy, occurrence, event, catastrophe, calamity–whatever you wish to call it or the politicians wish to name it with their rhetoric. Either way, there was an event in which people died; that we can all agree upon. Whatever you wish to call the shootings in Colorado Springs, it doesn’t change the outcome. People are dead, lives are forever changed, and like a pebble thrown into a placid mirrored pond, the ripples from that stone will affect the lives of so many within their communities, families, and circles of friends.
Only a day after the shootings on November 29th, The Onion, the online satirical news media website, openly satirized the shootings, well at least poked fun at a certain segment of the population that tend to act like ostriches, burying their heads deep within the sand. The writers of this online website did what they do best, satirize an event, while at the same time, making Americans scratch their heads, thinking, “is this supposed to be funny?” As a comedy website that has articles named “Realtor Was Not Expecting Such Hard-Hitting Questions About Water Pressure” or “New Study Finds Box Still World’s Most Popular Container,” it is hard to think of these writers taking such a serious stance on an issue such as gun violence in America, but that is exactly what they do after major incidents like this most recent killing spree .
#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings
In October NPR wrote an article titled, “#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings,” illustrating the prevalence of mass shootings in the United States. NPR highlighted something that confounded some; that even a website like The Onion,–one who satirizes moms drinking wine, or dads feeling failure from daughter not being as boyish as the boy he wanted– that they are one of the few media outlets who really tell it as it is, and give their opinion openly on these tragedies. And yet, they are comedy, they are Tosh.O, they are South Park, they are Steven Colbert, they are the sarcasm that some of us love, the sardonic wit of twisted individuals, with their dark humor. I wonder….I wonder if everyone who reads The Onion, really understands what they are reading. That in these moments, in these articles, they are reading something so powerful, something so important, something about an event that has affected so many lives, and will affect so many more in the future.
After shootings at military bases, colleges, schools…. and the list goes on, and on, and on. But seriously, after so many shootings at so many different locations, we have our most recent shooting, at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Again, The Onion was there to bolster us up, to remind us, that there is life after tragedy, but tragedy should not be part of life. Instead tragedies like this are part of insanity and extremism, and should be abnormal, not the normal. On November 30th, the article “Frustrated Gunman Can’t Believe How Far He Has To Drive To Find Nearest Planned Parenthood Clinic,” poked fun at lack of gun control coupled with religious zealotry. You know who they are mocking, it is there under the surface. Hell, they even chose Texas as the state of location; I wonder why? The irony isn’t missed on me either, that while in our nation, we are deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, but Christian warriors, who do God’s will, are not terrorists. Huh, interesting. Now you may think this is all too soon. But no, it isn’t. Instead you get a feeling, reading this article, there is a sense of helplessness, a feeling of frustration. However you feel about it being in poor taste, The Onion is creating open dialogue and conversation on this horrible event, while candidates running for president will not even make statements, acknowledging something horrible occurred.
Within 24 hours this satirical newspaper posted two articles, poking fun at the extreme groups that have a tendency to rally around religion, guns, and fear monger the most, and didn’t think twice about openly mocking one of the largest lobby groups in the nation, The NRA. In one line, The Onion highlighted how the lives of Americans are less important than their guns, and how you cannot feel sympathy for one, without alienating the other. Silence descends upon the Republican candidates all vying for position as the presidential front runner, as this tragedy confuses and befuddles their emotions. How can you feel empathy for the families of these people, who sold baby parts? How can you tell Americans this was a tragedy, while having no solution, because a solution would alienate your own political party? And thus comes the conundrum, what is more important, gun rights or people’s rights to live, to a safe society.
In the wake of this most recent tragedy, I read the articles posted by The Onion and I did not laugh, or feel anger toward their satirization of this event, instead, I was grateful that they have the conviction to highlight the extremist ideologies that are attached to such events. Hiding your head in the sand, or debating and argument with the answer, “its my right,” is not productive discussion, instead it is opinion and want; it is pure desire. So, I love The Onion because they make me laugh, they make me smile. Their sarcasm warms my heart like reading a David Sedaris book, but above else, they have the mettle to stand up for what they believe is right, when others fall silent.