The First Amendment Protects Satire Even When Reckless, Stupid, Or Ideology-Addled People Fall For It

Law, Politics & Current Events

Someone once said — and I wish I could figure out who it was — that all satire is a shared joke between the writer and the reader at the expense of a hypothetical third person — the dupe — who takes the text at face value.

Of course, sometimes the dupe is not hypothetical.

Earlier today I wrote about the D.C. Circuit's decision affirming that Esquire Magazine did not defame Joseph Farah of World Net Daily and birther-author Jerome Corsi when Esquire wrote a satirical post suggesting that Farah had decided to withdraw and pulp Corsi's Obama's-birth-certificate-is-fake book because it was bullshit. The court made two key points: (1) it's not unusual for some people to take satire at face value, and that doesn't stop it from being satire protected by the First Amendment, and (2) the test for whether something is satire protected by the First Amendment, rather than a false assertion of fact that may be defamatory, is whether a reasonable person would take it as an assertion of fact given the entire context.

There's another good example from the last few days — the case of Professor Noel Ignatiev.

Professor Ignatiev is a silly academician prone to saying trollish things that nobody outside the academy will ever take seriously. Take this, for instance:

RACE TRAITOR aims to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race. It will encourage dissent from the conformity that maintains it and popularize examples of defection from its ranks, analyze the forces that hold it together and those which promise to tear it apart. Part of its task will be to promote debate among abolitionists. When possible, it will support practical measures, guided by the principle, Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity. Dissolve the club

.. and so on, like that, ad nauseam.

So. Along comes a site called Diversity Chronicle. Diversity Chronicle satirizes the sort of language about race, gender, and sexuality that comes from the academic Left. It has, at the top of every page, a link labeled "Disclaimer" to a page that says "The original content on this blog is largely satirical." And so it is. A quick review of the blog's posts reveals clearly satirical posts, like this one about the racism and sexism of Nintendo:

RC: Are there other examples of Nintendo’s sexism Dr. Frederickson and you could elaborate on?

NF: Indeed there are. This is not an isolated pattern by any means. The Zelda series of games another popular Nintendo franchise is equally sexist. In this case, Link the young hero rescues princess Zelda who in various incarnations of the game is always kidnapped by the dark skinned Ganon or Ganondorf. It’s also interesting to note that Mario’s chief nemesis King Koopa or Bowser has brown skin. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so. Nintendo is teaching children to associate dark skin with violence, terror, or kidnappings.

Zelda and Link are depicted as Nordic Aryans, albeit with dwarf like ears, reminiscent of something out of old Nordic Viking mythology. If Richard Wagner, that old Anti-Semitic Nordic supremacist had been alive today he would probably be creating video games like Zelda. In fact the latest Zelda game features music recorded from an actual orchestra. How many people of colour do you think there are in a typical orchestra? The conductors are invariably old white men, it never fails! Haven’t we had enough of this tired old white man music? Why can’t Nintendo adopt vibrant African or Rastafarian music? Maybe some Bob Marley?

Diversity Chronicles takes academic arguments about race, gender, and sexuality and makes them somewhat more silly to much more silly, depending on the particular article. Generally, there are tells:

Apparently just one girlfriend isn’t enough for the insatiable and sexist Mario. All of these women are white and attractive, affluent and at last two are aristocratic. Would it kill Mario to date or help a woman of colour or just a normal poor or middle class woman? Not only is Mario racist and sexist but he is also classist.

This week lots of people fell for a Diversity Chronicles post about Professor Noel Ignatiev. That post took the truth of Ignatiev's silliness and self-seriousness and punched it up, resulting in a post about him telling white male students to kill themselves:

“If you are a white male, you don’t deserve to live. You are a cancer, you’re a disease, white males have never contributed anything positive to the world! They only murder, exploit and oppress non-whites! At least a white woman can have sex with a black man and make a brown baby but what can a white male do? He’s good for nothing. Slavery, genocides against aboriginal peoples and massive land confiscation, the inquisition, the holocaust, white males are all to blame! You maintain your white male privilege only by oppressing, discriminating against and enslaving others!” Professor Noel Ignatiev, a tenured professor at Massachusetts College loudly proclaimed to his class last Monday, his final teaching day before retirement.

The post is on Diversity Chronicles, which has a clear disclaimer link on every page leading to its satire disclaimer, and is filled with clearly satirical posts. Moreover the post itself was filled with tells:

The good Professor’s sound and reasonable words resonate with every enlightened and progressive mind. They are indisputable and no one can debate them. They should not be controversial in the slightest, yet remarkably a few far-right extremists object to Prof. Ignatiev’s advice.

Ivan Fernando: I understand that a few people objected to your advice to your white male students on your last day of teaching. Why do you think that is?

Prof. Ignatiev: I chalk it all up to white supremacist attitudes. The goal of destroying the white race is simply so desirable, it boggles the mind trying to understand how anyone could possibly object to it.

Prof. Ignatiev: The idea of celebrating the birth of a middle eastern Semite, yet portraying him as a Nordic white person in visual art is not only racist, but obscene and Anti-Semitic! Of course there is Santa Claus as well. Who is he? A bearded old white man! He lives at the North Pole, it doesn’t get whiter than that! Who works for Santa? Of course elves, diminutive, perhaps slightly brown people, with pointed ears who have been enslaved by a privileged white male. Christmas and white culture disgust me. I hate this time of year so much. I hate going outside and seeing Christmas trees or Christmas lights. They should be banned! A Christmas tree is just one notch above a burning cross in my opinion!

Nevertheless, a series of conservative web sites — including The Examiner and Gateway Pundit and NewsBusters — reported it as truth. Even now, commenters on their sites are reacting with anger and disbelief to the suggestion that the original article was satire. People angry about politics are like that. The result? Hate mail, anti-Semitism, and threats to the professor.

As the D.C. Circuit explained in the Farah and Corsi case, that dupes were dupes doesn't stop the Diversity Chronicles article from being satire protected by the First Amendment. A reasonable person knowledgeable about the context of the post — that is, a person who bothered to click the "disclaimer" link at the top of the page, or a person who read the article carefully or read some other articles on the site, or a person who wasn't generally sloppy, stupid, or addled by ideology — would not take the post as a statement of fact. Therefore it's not defamatory. It's satire, protected by the First Amendment. The posts by the dupes — who recklessly posted the satire as "news" while stripping it of the features that alerted readers that it was satire — present a somewhat more complicated First Amendment question. I suspect they'd win a defamation case, but not nearly as easily as the satirical site. What likely saves these writers is that they linked their source, the Diversity Chronicle post, where their more reasonable readers could figure it out for themselves.

I have, on occasion, fallen for a satirical tweet and retweeted it or attacked it. That's the danger of Twitter — it's quick and encourages hasty action. So maybe I shouldn't throw the first stone. But I don't think I've ever been as reckless as this: writing an entire post as news denouncing a professor for telling his students to commit suicide without examining the source at all carefully and without engaging in anything approaching critical thinking. That's just embarrassing.

In today's decision the D.C. Circuit pointed out that satire often works because it has a kernel of truth. The story about Professor Ignatiev had such a kernel, in the form of his silly and disgusting rhetoric. That's not much of an excuse for such gullibility.

Hat Tip To Jack Marshall

Last 5 posts by Ken White

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Jack Marshall  •  Nov 26, 2013 @10:24 pm

    Ken—I think that's the right take, and thanks for the HT.

    I am a bit puzzled that you say "The post is on Diversity Chronicles, which has a clear satire disclaimer on every page,' however. It has a link that says "Disclaimer" along with other links at the top of every page, but that's not the same as having an actual satire disclaimer clearly noting that what is there is satire, and I think that matters—not to the content's status as protected speech, but as responsible web communication. There is the same "disclaimer" link on many websites, and almost none of them lead to a page saying that the stories are jokes. It's not a "clear satire disclaimer" until you click it, and most people won't.

  2. ysth  •  Nov 26, 2013 @10:33 pm

    So the blog in question is mostly devoted to satire? Does that mean that the target audience is considered to be return readers of the blog who would certainly be aware of this? Or does being on the web make the target audience whoever is likely to read that one post, for instance via googling the professor's name? Seems like an important question.

  3. Steve  •  Nov 26, 2013 @10:41 pm

    I have meet people that I have stop trying to explain that not everything in print is truth. For some reason they believe there is something that controls what is printed – ".. they wouldn't have let them print that unless it was correct …". Critical thinking is becoming an lost art.

  4. Ken White  •  Nov 26, 2013 @10:46 pm

    @Jack: I think the meaning was clear because I spelled it out the first time I referred to it, but I clarified.

    @ysth: As the D.C. Circuit case makes clear, the reasonable person test is premised on a person knowledgeable of the entire context.

  5. Zack  •  Nov 26, 2013 @10:51 pm

    I think it's fair to say the original source here did enough to clear it of fault… the 'disclaimer' link may not be overly obvious, but then there's only so big a Satire-bat you can reasonably expect the satirist to hit people with and still have room for content. I do wonder about the other sites that were reporting it as news, however.

    I'm not even close to being a lawyer, so I'll go with your opinion as to the likely outcomes of any defamation cases there – and ok, when you consider that as long as they cited the source they're technically only reporting as fact that this other site SAID that the guy said stuff, it makes sense that they probably can't be said to have defamed anyone. I'm inclined to wonder though, is that right?

    The man identified in the piece has been the subject of a not inconsiderable outcry, presumably including some volume of hate mail and other harassing contact, and I wouldn't be surprised if these have included actual threats. It's very possible that the "quotes" attributed could have a negative impact on his career, etc… professors have been suspended or fired for far less than this (its own problem, but that's a different story…). While it's likely that he'd eventually be able to explain, some detrimental effects would no doubt linger… when applying for his next job, his potential employer does a quick google search and finds these quotes, not in satire but in NEWS? Retractions for these things, when they eventually come, are often buried as deeply as the outlets feel they can get away with, so the mistake might not be at all obvious.

    I'm certainly very wary of anything that encroaches on the right to free speech, and I absolutely agree that the original satirist cannot be held responsible for a dupe failing the "reasonable person" test, but I'm not sure where I come down on the lack of accountability when it comes to those dupes who reported it as news.

  6. AlphaCentauri  •  Nov 26, 2013 @11:08 pm

    It's easier to identify satire if it's actually funny ,,,

  7. Lizard  •  Nov 26, 2013 @11:10 pm

    People angry about politics are like that.

    :%s/People angry about politics/Morons/g

  8. ppnl  •  Nov 26, 2013 @11:14 pm

    I think this is just an example of the universality of Poe's law. It seems to be impossible to say something about anything at all that is so stupid that someone somewhere will not take it seriously.

    But there is something far more troubling than the inability to spot a Poe. Look at all the things that by all the rules of logic and sanity should be Poe's but aren't.

  9. Lizard  •  Nov 26, 2013 @11:16 pm

    but I'm not sure where I come down on the lack of accountability when it comes to those dupes who reported it as news.

    In a sane society, the punishment would be the audience's loss of faith in them as reliable reporters, and the subsequent loss of income and status. However, we do not live in a sane society. We live in a society, ironically due originally to leftist ideas, where belief is more important than reality and ignorance and knowledge must be given equal time, lest one engage in cultural imperialism by insisting that facts are facts and reality is not a social construct. Thus, we have people who, confronted with bad reporting, insist the fault is somehow due to the satirist, and not the dupe who fell for it, and maybe it IS true but they're somehow covering up, and, no matter WHAT, it's not our fault we don't do proper research and we react without thinking.

    (As confession: I've fallen for a few good hoaxes, or misinterpreted information, and went off on tears about things I shouldn't have. I probably will again. When I find out about this, though, I put full blame ON MYSELF, update my pattern recognition algorithms to catch things better in the future, and accept that I've had a Valuable Learning Experience. If I don't do the work, if I don't check the math, if I don't ask myself if something is too good to be true… it's MY FAULT. As Heinlein said, "You live and learn, or you don't live long.")

  10. Jacob H  •  Nov 26, 2013 @11:43 pm

    The Daily Currant is another good example of a satire site that doesn't make their disclaimer super-obvious. Sure enough, their stories are frequently reported as fact. If you are going to write articles, or even blog posts, it's a good idea to check primary sources!

    *EDIT I just noticed that the byline on the Google hyperlink when you search for The Daily Currant does indeed call it the "Global Satirical Newspaper of Record," however, on the actual website, the same masthead is not displayed, and if there's a disclaimer, it wasn't immediately obvious to me. Someone could easily clink to the site from some link, not from a Google search, and miss any disclaimer

  11. Rick H.  •  Nov 27, 2013 @1:37 am

    A good excuse to enjoy the social observations of Literally Unbelievable. http://literallyunbelievable.org

  12. Azathoh  •  Nov 27, 2013 @2:01 am

    Am I the only one who initially thought this post was about professor Ignatiev's site?

  13. ElSuerte  •  Nov 27, 2013 @2:09 am

    The problem with the material on the Diversity Chronicals website is that it's too on the nose. So much so that it's more pastiche then satire.

    Take the quotes you selected from the story about Mario. It's virtually identical, mutatis mutandi, to articles and discussion on mainstream and progressive media sites and blogs in the wake of the announcements that next two doctors were going to be white British males. They earnestly lamented the lack of GBLT/female/brown/POC/non-colonial Doctors and companions.

    It seems like the only saving context for this material under the reasonable person/context case is the satire disclaimer placed behind a non-discript disclaimer link.

  14. ElSuerte  •  Nov 27, 2013 @2:22 am

    Just a couple more things. It appears that at least Newsbusters based their report on the Diversity Chronical's About page which doesn't mention satire at all.

    "Diversity Chronicle is a News web site focusing on news events relating to diversity of all kinds. Our veteran hard hitting journalists are not afraid to tackle any subject from a rational, objective and balanced point of view." http://diversitychronicle.wordpress.com/about/

    Secondly, after examining Prof. Ignatiev's curious and oddly quaint racial views and things he's actually said, calling for genocide or self extermination would only be a small step for him. After all, this is a man who titled his seminal cri de coeur "Abolish the White Race – By Any Means Necessary" (emphasis mine).

  15. Cat G  •  Nov 27, 2013 @2:53 am

    ElSuerte – I would not base any assessment of a website or news organization on the self-description provided by that source.

    For example – "Fox News: Fair and Balanced"

    Satire can be deceptive, and it harms the deception to place giant disclaimers shouting that you're about to read a lie. As an example, The Onion, America's Finest News Source, does not include any indication on it's main page that it is primarily satire. And it also regularly gets republished (often without attribution) as "fact", although a cursory look should reveal that the content is intended to be satire. (Or parody.)

  16. BannableLecturer  •  Nov 27, 2013 @3:03 am

    "the reasonable person test is premised on a person knowledgeable of the entire context."

    - In America? Ha!

  17. Anony Mouse  •  Nov 27, 2013 @3:11 am

    @Jacob

    It's right there on the top of the browser window.

  18. Not the IT Dept.  •  Nov 27, 2013 @5:18 am

    AlphaCentauri nails it:

    "It's easier to identify satire if it's actually funny"

    Satire is tough and hard to write; it's very easy for it to come off as just overwrought. It's also best in small doses – The Onion doesn't run very many long pieces for a reason since it's hard to sustain the tone for very long. (Looks at Clark; looks away again).

    It's easier to take long articles or interviews as real because the tone evaporates under the weight of all the text. And it's hard to be funny for a sustained period on a single subject.

  19. DES  •  Nov 27, 2013 @6:00 am

    Wait, Ignatiev is for real? I thought that Race Traitor nonsense of his was satire. Poe's Law in reverse!

  20. Wick Deer  •  Nov 27, 2013 @6:22 am

    I had a good deal of fun on Michael Z. Williamson's facebook page when he linked to the Newsbusters article. Once informed of the satire, he revised his post to state, " APPARENTLY AT LEAST PARTIALLY HOAX." Facepalm.

  21. sharp as a marble  •  Nov 27, 2013 @7:16 am

    I think part of the problem is the sheer ammount of rediculous news that sounds like satire but isnt. sometimes its hard to tell. just look through the news stories posted to the reddit sub "nottheonion" for examples.

  22. hanmeng  •  Nov 27, 2013 @8:04 am

    I just realized that Popehat is a satirical site. These guys don't actually mean what they say about free speech etc. It all makes sense now! I mean, "Ken White"!! "Ken" is obviously Barbie's "Ken", and "White" is a clear signal that they're poking fun at the lily-white establishment.

  23. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Nov 27, 2013 @8:55 am

    The problem, to my mind, with the whole BIRTHER myth is that, while it does fall apart, it is completely in character for the person involved. Like most of the political elite, R OR D, Obama doesn't really believe that the law applies to him, and (again, like the rest of the elite) he tends to lie for reasons of momentary expedience, and count on short memories, partisan action, or Divine Providence to rescue him from the consequences of the lie. The BIRTHER narrative is not, unlike the TRUTHER narrative, in violation of the laws of nature. At first I was prepared to believe that Obama was, by some narrow interpretation of law, ineligible for the Presidency. I was not, ever, ready to believe that it mattered.

    I was never ready to believe that Bush ordered the towers bombed. Not only did the scenario rapidly grow to violate basic physical laws ("Jet fuel won't melt steel"? really?) but it violated laws of common sense, and ran against the usual behavior patterns of the political class. They don't generally, (Hollywood to the contrary) order complicated schemes that would require to cooperation of James Bond and McGyver to pull off. Those are usually dreamed up by the cowboys in the CIA, and the CIA couldn't have knocked down the towers without winding up on the front page of the New York Times.

  24. Shane  •  Nov 27, 2013 @9:02 am

    @Steve

    ".. they

    The infamous "they". Who they? :)

  25. steve  •  Nov 27, 2013 @11:13 am

    @ Shane

    People in general because if I started pointing them out, "they" might not be talking to me tomorrow.

  26. En Passant  •  Nov 27, 2013 @12:05 pm

    In today's decision the D.C. Circuit pointed out that satire often works because it has a kernel of truth. The story about Professor Ignatiev had such a kernel, in the form of his silly and disgusting rhetoric. That's not much of an excuse for such gullibility.

    True. Less than well wrought satire is still satire.

    As a literary, not legal, critique of its effect and effectiveness I would rate this interview a C: fake interview of known nutty professor stirs up gullible opposition to nutty professor's views. Yawn.

    Better: fake interview with fictitious professor whose "real name is withheld at his request", substituted by a thinly disguised reference to known nutty professor. This could also stir up the nutty professor to sue (and look even nuttier), as well as stir up "knowledgeable" commentary from his ideological opposition.

    Something along the lines of "Professor Yule Igniteus, whose real name is withheld at his request, is tenured professor at a well known Massachusetts secretarial school. He loudly proclaimed to his class last Monday, his final teaching day before retirement…"

    If it fizzles, it goes the way of unnoticed curiosities. If it works, it makes an even bigger stupidity explosion.

  27. Shelby  •  Nov 27, 2013 @12:07 pm

    After Ward Churchill's "Little Eichmanns" incident, I'm not sure anything attributed to a professor can be termed "clearly satirical".

  28. Lizard  •  Nov 27, 2013 @12:11 pm

    The problem, to my mind, with the whole BIRTHER myth is that, while it does fall apart, it is completely in character for the person involved.

    But letting him get away with it is out of character for his fellow politicians. Do you think Hilary would *not* have used any excuse to knock Obama from the running in 2008, if there was a snowball's chance in hell it would stand up in court? Or, for that matter, that the Republicans, if they had any meaningful proof, would not have waited until Obama was the nominee, then unleashed it, casting the Democrats into disarray and searching for a new candidate? Hell, if there was anything to it, Joe Biden could use it to become President.

    This is what makes conspiracy theorists grow progressively more insane. For there to be a cover-up of Obama's eligibility, you'd need someone pulling the strings on dozens, if not hundreds, of seemingly opposed politicians. You'd need them to be doing so for decades, or centuries. And you'd need to explain how, with all this power, they can't silence the World Net Daily (but they can "assassinate" hundreds of powerful, prominent, people every year).

    The more the inconsistencies and impossibilities are pointed out, the more the conspiracists double down on the derp, and you inevitable end up with supernatural/alien connections, because you need to create literally unearthly powers and motivations. The same people who believe in 9/11 and Birth Certificate theories generally also believe in HAARP, chemtrails, space lizards running the world (no relation), and so on. Not all of them, but the overlap is great, and people tend to drift deeper into whackiness the *more* evidence mounts against them.

  29. Earle  •  Nov 27, 2013 @12:56 pm

    @ Lizard,

    Point of information: one should believe in HAARP, as the antenna array exists today in Alaska.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program

    As to its capabilities, that's a horse of a different color.

  30. Lizard  •  Nov 27, 2013 @1:05 pm

    @Earle: That is pedantic nitpicking. As an expert practitioner of same, I say unto you, bravo! Good call!

    More specifically, I should have said, "believe that HAARP is a government weather control machine responsible for virtually any natural phenomenon that makes the news".

  31. Tony  •  Nov 27, 2013 @1:08 pm

    Coming from the rural south, this will probably take a couple of days to hit the militia blogs.

  32. Earle  •  Nov 27, 2013 @2:29 pm

    @Lizard,

    I should have been a little more clear in my comment that I recognized your shorthand for HAARP as representing the more specific statement.

    By the way, I have read your short fiction works and enjoyed them immensely. Your writing, both fiction and blog commentary, is clear and concise. So take my comments as advice akin to how da Vinci could have improved the Mona Lisa.

  33. Ancel De Lambert  •  Nov 27, 2013 @3:10 pm

    It seems that if Vox Populi were real, the good professor would be a member. He probably masturbates to the scene where Daisy tries to kill the little boy. Or maybe not, what with the hate crime of killing Daisy with a pair of scissors immediately afterwards. They were silver scissors, and silver is mined! Oppression!

  34. Chris  •  Nov 27, 2013 @7:01 pm

    Satire is tough and hard to write; it's very easy for it to come off as just overwrought.

    Given the nature of the internet and Sturgeon's Law, most satire found online is not going to be very good.

  35. Jon  •  Nov 27, 2013 @7:17 pm

    I find it sad that there needs to be a "this is satire" disclaimer at all. If your satire is extra dry and you have no body of work to give context, maybe then, but "[t]hey are indisputable and no one can debate them. They should not be controversial in the slightest, yet remarkably a few far-right extremists object…"? It is your own damn fault if you get Andy Kaufman-ed.

    I say the newscasters should give back any ad money they collected reporting satire as news because they were too lazy to, you know, do their jobs.

    Harumph!

  36. Matthew Cline  •  Nov 27, 2013 @8:55 pm

    The problem is that Diversity Chronicle didn't go over-the-top enough. They should have had Professor Ignatiev telling the white male students to invent a time machine and use it to murder Columbus.

    @Lizard:

    and you inevitable end up with supernatural/alien connections, because you need to create literally unearthly powers and motivations.

    Aliens also explains away the seeming contradiction of the conspirators being simultaneously hyper-competent yet massively stupid. It's not that they're stupid, just that their minds work in a radically different way than humans.

  37. J  •  Nov 27, 2013 @9:03 pm

    Ken:

    Yes, you're right. A reasonable mind will classify this as satire. Yet the subject of this satire is a completely different issue.

    "Professor Ignatiev is a silly academician prone to saying trollish things that nobody outside the academy will ever take seriously. Take this, for instance:

    RACE TRAITOR aims to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race. It will encourage dissent from the conformity that maintains it and popularize examples of defection from its ranks, analyze the forces that hold it together and those which promise to tear it apart. Part of its task will be to promote debate among abolitionists. When possible, it will support practical measures, guided by the principle, Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity. Dissolve the club"

    First of all, I have no idea who this person is and I will choose to keep it that way for now. Secondly, not knowing who he is, this in no way seems "trollish" to anyone who doesn't know any more than this about Professor Ignatiev, but has heard about the concept of privilege regarding equality. Knowing that concept, I do not take this at face value, but as a metaphor. I'm not going to say that it is meant to be read that way, since I purposefully haven't researched Ignatiev. I'm still going to bet on you not having researched the concept of privilege and therefor having a similar lacking context as I.

    I wouldn't event start down this alley, if this was the only time equality ideals have been trad on. But this same post offers more.

    "A quick review of the blog's posts reveals clearly satirical posts, like this one about the racism and sexism of Nintendo:

    RC: Are there other examples of Nintendo’s sexism Dr. Frederickson and you could elaborate on?

    NF: Indeed there are. This is not an isolated pattern by any means. The Zelda series of games another popular Nintendo franchise is equally sexist. In this case, Link the young hero rescues princess Zelda who in various incarnations of the game is always kidnapped by the dark skinned Ganon or Ganondorf. It’s also interesting to note that Mario’s chief nemesis King Koopa or Bowser has brown skin. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so. Nintendo is teaching children to associate dark skin with violence, terror, or kidnappings.

    Zelda and Link are depicted as Nordic Aryans, albeit with dwarf like ears, reminiscent of something out of old Nordic Viking mythology. If Richard Wagner, that old Anti-Semitic Nordic supremacist had been alive today he would probably be creating video games like Zelda. In fact the latest Zelda game features music recorded from an actual orchestra. How many people of colour do you think there are in a typical orchestra? The conductors are invariably old white men, it never fails! Haven’t we had enough of this tired old white man music? Why can’t Nintendo adopt vibrant African or Rastafarian music? Maybe some Bob Marley?"

    While some parts are truly clearly satirical, differentiation becomes all important here: by not pointing out the true controversies touched here and simply labeling the whole thing as clearly satirical, you pose the question of whether you include these controversies Nintendo is notorious for in what you consider "satire". The Legend of Zelda's and Super Mario's overuse of the "damsel in distress" trope alone are a completely valid reason to accuse Myamato's era of games of sexism, one TVTropes search will confirm this.

    Of course one could assume you are impartial, but then there is this:

    "Diversity Chronicle satirizes the sort of language about race, gender, and sexuality that comes from the academic Left."

    So, what language comes with the academic "Left"? There surely are many nutjobs there, but Diversity Chronicle's satire of the "language the academic left uses" to criticize Nintendo is not the type of language you yourself should criticize if you take what you have previously said about the problems of female's problems with blogging to heart. This is basically the same phenomenon applied to gaming. But this only seems like an inclination on your part, not an opinion on the matter. Let's dig deeper:

    "Diversity Chronicles takes academic arguments about race, gender, and sexuality and makes them somewhat more silly to much more silly, depending on the particular article."

    Should I read this as "academic circles complaining about issues of race/gender/sexuality are silly"? I'm sure it's not what you actually think about issues of race, gender or sexuality. Most of your thoughts I have read here indicate the contrary. Still, maybe you aren't fully aware of the scope these issues have in social situations for a younger generation. I'm only in my twenties and don't doubt you have far more life experience than I do. But I've been educated by a generation already deeply aware of these issues, just as the driving force behind the "academic left" has. Especially in regards to equality between genders and sexuality, this is not the position of the younger "left", but the center. Social justice is an issue of the left, sexuality and gender is an issue for the majority of my generation, with only exceptions on the far right. This becomes fairly evident when asking those using the "language of the left" regarding issues of sexuality or gender about their opinion of a concept like feminism: pretty much about half will have predominant negative connotations, driven by those "activists" (I really don't know what to call them…) that want to cut off dicks.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that not everyone you put into the left corner self identifies as left. About half of them are part of the center rather than the left. What your generation considers as politics of the center isn't what my generation considers as politics of the center. These generational shifts are ultimately responsible for shifts in what is considered general opinion. One specific issue where this can easily be observed today is gay marriage: one factor is voters changing their opinion, the other is the substitution of the electorate. Approval of gay marriage is higher the younger the generation and every year a new generation becomes part of the electorate, while mostly members of older generations die.

    This got far longer than I planned and is in no way representative of the way I feel about your work here. I deeply enjoy reading almost everything all of you put out, even if I don't always agree with what has been written here. I just felt like this is not a parody of the left, but either a parody of an extremist nutjob or the parody of human dignity. Either way, since I don't equate those that teach creationism or student groups that conduct "catch an illegal immigrant" events to "the academic right", I'd appreciate not equating the left to their respective nutjobs, should this be the true nature of Ignatiev.

    TL;DR: The academic left should be identified by their stance on economics and government action, since issues of equality has been adopted by the grand majority of the academic center and even some parts of the right.

    P.S: In all fairness, I'll officially out myself as a proponent of the European socialdemocratic politics.

  38. Jo  •  Nov 28, 2013 @10:59 am

    Ken, is it possible that the author whose name you're reaching for regarding the description of satire is Freud? He wasn't talking specifically about satire, but this seems close:

    a joke involves an arrangement of people – a joketeller, an audience/listener, and a butt, often involving two (the jokester and the listener) against one, who is often a scapegoat.

    Note that that's not a quote from Freud, but a summary from this review of the book Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I wasn't able to find an electronic copy of the original text in English and my German isn't good enough to track down the line.