Re "The trouble with satire," Postscript, Jan. 5
I was one of those taken in by Daniel Akst's satirical piece — sort of. I recognized that the Dec. 28 article, which Op-Ed editor Sue Horton clarified was satire, was completely wacko, but I also know that The Times publishes opinions that are opposed to its editorial position, we presume, to open a window on "what's out there."
What makes Akst's position possibly serious is that it's really not that far removed from reality. We are living a national insanity at the altar of guns.
Our culture emasculates our men. Since the Marlboro Man was exposed, men can no longer be pacified by big wheels and cigarettes; they now need guns to assert their masculinity. The National Rifle Assn.'s response to the school shooting was halfway to Akst's solution.
The best satire for most people is like Goldilocks' porridge: Neither too smart nor too dumb, it has to be just right. When satire tries to be too clever it will float over many heads. If not clever enough, it will be a lead balloon that never overcomes its own ballast.
The bulk of The Times satire has seemed to err on the side of cleverness, which, while entertaining, can result in some rather strained explanations later. I'm not bothered by the explanations, but if you don't want to have to issue them, the answer is in the content rather than a condescending tipoff.
La Habra Heights
The only satire that is not recognized as such by good readers is satire responding to the absurd. When one considers how the English were treating the Irish in the first place, the suggestion by Jonathan Swift to raise and eat their children makes some kind of morbid sense.
One could write a similar piece having the Transportation Security Administration disrobing passengers as the center of attention, or a piece about video chips installed in our children or pets. So only could an absurd, ridiculous suggestion such as the one from the NRA produce satire that makes someone angry. After all, the purpose of serious satire is to ridicule in order to change.
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