Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Difficulty of Satire

difficile est saturam non scribere
Juvenal said, "It is difficult not to write satire."  The Romans were a tolerant bunch, and even though they viewed their Emperors as divine, a clever satirist could poke fun, remind them that they were not fully divine until after they died, and (depending on which emperor he chose to poke fun at) most likely live to a ripe old age.  But I'm finding it difficult, this Political Tuesday.  There is a depression that sets in when you are facing the decline and fall of your civilization that blunts the satirical edge.

The jury is deliberating in the Kermit Gosnell murder trial.  Some of the original charges have been thrown out.  Maybe there wasn't enough evidence that the babies he killed were born alive.  If they were dead when born, then Gosnell was just doing what abortionists do, what is perfectly legal, severed heads, baby feet in jars, and all.  The outrage, as far as the media can tell anyway, is that he was not a very good abortionist.  He killed a woman, after all, and let unqualified people practice medicine and administer drugs.  His clinic was filthy, the emergency exit was blocked, and he preyed on the poor and disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, the uptown celebrity abortionists at Planned Parenthood got a visit from their biggest booster: President Obama, marking another dubious first for the chief executive.  Obama praised the largest abortion provider in the world, told them "God bless you," and criticized abortion opponents for wanting to return to the 1950's.  He made no mention of the Gosnell trial; that just isn't done at the country club.

I remember, back in the 1970's and 80's, evangelical churches used to do slide show presentations to educate their congregations about the abortion debate.  Before The Silent Scream, long before the internet, parents would turn to their children and say, "Cover your eyes now.  Don't look at this part."  I wonder, well-intentioned as our instinct to protect children is, whether it is also the explanation for our society's unwillingness to confront evil things head-on.  To call them evil and demand justice.

In other news, The Wall Street Journal has come out with an analysis of the costs of Obamacare to the average individual, and Washington Post reporter Dana Millbank wrote a piece depicting the President as not on top of the real business of governance, despite his well-delivered comedy routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  The Boston Marathon bombers and their family knew how to get the most bang out of their welfare buck -- I wonder if you can use food stamps to buy pressure cookers?  15-year-olds will shortly be able to purchase morning-after abortion pills over the counter.  Oh yes, and forgive me, I have only a very hazy awareness of sports news, so I do not quite understand why Tim Tebow is somehow in disgrace and his career is over, while an athlete who came out as gay is somehow so heroic for doing so that President Obama made special mention of how proud he is of him.

As the Roman Empire slid slowly from moral decline into full-on financial and social collapse, and the barbarians came on, the presence of satirists declined, although nobody was looking for them at the time.  People were too busy trying to survive.

Commodus, Roman Emperor in 190 A.D., portraying himself as Hercules.  This portrait was perhaps the 2nd century equivalent of the White House Correspondents' dinner.  So... what happens when the Emperor sides with the barbarians?

No comments: