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Parody Is Dead

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So I haven’t posted in a quite a while, sue me. I’ve been waiting for something to ridicule, but it’s almost impossible to make fun of a world where people seem to work full time making fun of themselves–albeit unintentionally.

Now the Catholic Church is going after anyone who even supports gay culture–straight people who aren’t offended by gay people can’t be priests. Taken to the extreme, if you and your spouse (I’m assuming no one reading this would dare have sex out of marriage) do anything but, as Shakespeare said, “make the beast with two backs,” i.e. have any kind of sex except for the purpose of procreation, you’re sinners, evil in the eyes of the Lord–or at least the Pope’s populace and an amazing number of weird Protestant & Jews.

Mutual masturbation–oops…sorry, go directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Use birth control–sorry, not allowed even for non-Catholics. Play some games that result in all his Mr. Wigglies wandering around outside the womb, wham, marked with the sign of Lucifer.

How can I turn that into parody? They’ve already done it!

And it turns out that millions of dollars people donated to hurricane relief went to the good people of Jacksonville, MI — whose major problem was that they lost electricity for a while. Terrifying winds of up to 35 mph rampaged through that poor community. Some people got a few thousand dollars for their problems. You gotta love America. We are sooooo generous.

According to James Fallows in this month’s Atlantic (I will post on that shortly), the Bush administration, especially Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney and his royal nibs–are bored with Iraq. Bored!?! I, alas, am speechless.

Dopey Democrats are can’t even figure out how to criticize the administration. Immediate pull out? Omigosh–the invasion played right into Osama Bin Laden’s hands because he knew Americans didn’t have the balls to do it right, stick it out (sorry, sexual metaphor there–I’m now damned for eternity), and would do a cut and run. Whatever idiocy caused us to invade in the first place, the problem is not and has not been left/right, liberal/conservative/, Republican/Democrat…it’s been unbelievable, unfathomable incompetence.

Medicare drug benefits? How can you make fun of something so confusing, Ph.Ds can’t figure it out? And it shouldn’t be a surprise. When the stupid plan was announced, people said it was complicated to the point of absurdity. Samuel Beckett couldn’t have written a play more absurd than what the administration is putting seniors through. Kafka’s The Castle was some mild dislocation compared to the bureaucratic maze grannie and grandpa are negotiating.

Sigh. I wish people would stop taking whatever pills are making them crazy so I could go back to making fun of them.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Why shouldn’t life be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL

    Sweet material.

    I thought it was Tom Clancy that said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense?

    Anywho. Very nice article

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Twain actually said “reality” rather than “life” which is why I said I paraphrased it. Clancy either got it from Twain or great minds think alike.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Bennett

    Great job Mark. So, I guess we’ll be hangin’ in hell? With my wife of course, as she likes some of the sins that I like.

    Papal law sucks.

  • Baronius

    Mark, excuse me if I take this personally, because you and I were talking about Catholic morality a few articles ago.

    I never expected to persuade you that my beliefs are correct, only consistent. You want a basis for disapproving of homosexual activity that’s not based on homophobia? There it is. Sexual activity for fun and potential procreation.

    The basis of parody is the reductio ad absurdum. Take something to its extreme and reveal its error. Maybe the reason you can’t parody Catholic sexual morality is because it’s consistent. It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s easy, or commonly accepted.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Throw Leo Rosten in as well: “Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense.”

    There are no original ideas.

    And that’s the thing, the Catholic position on gays *is* extreme (and un-Christian too, IMO). As the author posits, it is ludicrous and absurd enough on its own. It does not require parody.

  • Bliffle

    I figured out that Bush was bored with Iraq months ago. I think he’s easily bored. Probably a short attention span. I imagine he keeps asking himself “why are people still talking about Iraq? I managed to snake us in there, why keep arguing the point?”

    I guess, according to Baronius, that my wife and I are Great Sinners since we got married at 50 intending to (continue) having sex with no thought of having children.

  • Baronius

    Bliffle, the only problem is if you do anything to prevent pregnancy. Sex while infertile, or already pregnant, is fine. Agree or not, it’s consistent. That’s my only point.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Baronius, I’m sorry you took my comments personally. They weren’t intended to be that cutting. And note that I also threw in two other religions as well, so I wasn’t just picking on Catholics…it’s just that my mini-tirade was based on the new Papal edict that supporting homosexual life styles–even if you’re straight–is reason to deny someone entrance into the mystic realm of priesthood.

    You want a basis for disapproving of homosexual activity that’s not based on homophobia? There it is. Sexual activity for fun and potential procreation….Maybe the reason you can’t parody Catholic sexual morality is because it’s consistent.

    When I was but a young lad with faint visions of becoming a curmudgeon, my Catholic friends told me repeatedly that the priests said that any sex not intended for procreation was a sin. Your comment about “fun and potential procreation.” seems to be in conflict with that (hey, now you’re debating 12 year old Catholics from the ’50s. Do I fight fair or what?)

    But I do know that the Church used to–and may still forbid the use of any contraceptive, which sure suggests to me that those kids back then were right…so “sex for fun” seems to me unacceptable. Finally, your use of the word “potential” gives you so much wiggle room that consistency is impossible.

    That’s the problem with your comment to Biffle. There’s a difference between consistency and logically consistent. Yes, the Church seems to be consistent, but it’s an illogical consistency.

    After menapause, procreation is impossible. Menapause is nature’s way of providing women with a safe, albeit uncomfortable, form of birth control. Impotence is nature’s way of telling a guy…I’m not sure what ol’ mother nature’s saying…but if an impotent male and a female have sex, procreation is impossible but the sex, by your standards, isn’t sinful.

    So if it’s a man-made contraceptive, it’s bad, but if it’s an internal change or problem, it’s o.k.? Sorry, the Church is trying to thread a needle with a rope…it’s consistent, but logically absurd.

    I think you’re going to have to keep looking for an anti-homosexual position for the Church that doesn’t suggest homophobia or condemn virtually every member of the Church to hellfire and damnation.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • http://worldofpete.blogspot.com Pete

    The world these days makes our job that much harder.

    Nice article, Mark.

    But do you know what’s worse? When you write a fine piece of satire and then… it actually comes true. Or maybe that’s better?

    In any case…

  • Bliffle

    “Bliffle, the only problem is if you do anything to prevent pregnancy. Sex while infertile, or already pregnant, is fine. Agree or not, it’s consistent. That’s my only point.”

    Then why is homosexuality ‘immoral’?

  • Bliffle

    For mad parody it’s hard to beat the Medicare drug prescription plan. First of all, it was designed to victimize patients: the Insurance Companies can change their coverage anytime, but the patient can only change policies once a year, thus setting up a bait-and-switch: if I enroll in Plan X because they cover Lipitor they can stop providing Lipitor anytime but I am stuck with the defunct plan. I guess it’s because of the misconception they have: that the plan is an ‘insurance’ plan, whereas it is really a buying club, like CostCo. I already know what meds I need before I pay a ‘premium’, which is really a club membership fee.

    The worst is the mad mad mad SS website that’s supposed to help you decide on a plan. It hasn’t worked right since day one. And it really doesn’t have to do much: looks to me like any Java or Perl programmer with a modicum of SQL knowledge could put it together in an afternoon. But after all these months it still doesn’t work. The GUI is stupidly designed (why does it need YOUR SS plan B number, not even the ordinary SSN, before it looks up the Company plan?), it used to die with a program error, now it simply returns with no info. And that’s after putting in ‘Lipitor’! What will happen with more exotic drugs? As an experienced computer user I tried different drugs (like ‘aspirin’) to get it rambling and finally got it to report out ‘Lipitor, but even then it wouldn’t provide any info on ‘colestid’, for example. Totally incompetent programming.

  • Baronius

    The traditional teaching, still in place, is that sex is a unitive and procreative act. As “unitive” means that the couple enjoys each other, I shorthanded it as “fun”. And since not every sex act results in procreation, I was calling it “potentially” procreative. But it’s the same teaching as always.

    Mark actually highlighted some good points. Any act which interferes with nature (in a sexual context) is wrong. Spanking the monkey, condoms, oral sex, homosexual acts, abortion, et cetera. Getting your tubes tied is an interference with nature. Running out of eggs is not. Having sex with a condom on prevents pregnancy. Timing sex to reduce the chance of pregnancy is fair game (although it too can become immoral if the mindset is to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy).

    Homosexuality is not immoral. It is an instinct toward a behaviour which cannot be acted upon morally. Anyone who encourages an immoral activity shouldn’t be a priest. Seminarians who’ve never given an abortion, but nevertheless support the act, shouldn’t be priests either.

    But why can’t gay men become celibate priests? Because priesthood has to be a decision, not a fallback. No one should become a priest because they can’t marry, or have no interest in marriage. It’s got to be a positive choice. Castratos, by the way, cannot marry either.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Pete, glad you enjoyed the piece. Personally, I’d prefer my satire not come true–it’s always too grim, LOL.

    Baronius, spanking the monkey is bad? Oral sex is bad? Whew! You set some high standards and, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. You really think God’s going to be pissed off if I masturbate? (That’s why I hope there is a God–just one of a million questions I’ve got for Him/Her/It.)

    But why can’t gay men become celibate priests? Because priesthood has to be a decision, not a fallback. No one should become a priest because they can’t marry, or have no interest in marriage. It’s got to be a positive choice.

    You’re not going to buy this, but your argument leaves a gaping hole for gays to become priests: Someone who gets the calling, is willing to be celebate, loves God, Jesus, Mary, and whomever else is required, and is willing to make the sacrifices required for Catholic priesthood.

    According to you, these folks ought to be welcomed with open arms.

    Bliffle: Thanks. You made my point about parody being dead wonderfully. Who could parody such an absurd, illogical, idiotic system? Yuk!

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Baronius

    Mark, I’m actually with you on this one. There may well be good potential priests who are excluded. This is not out of inconsistency, but out of prudence. I’ve known too many people who considered the religious life because they thought they weren’t going to get married. (Many of them have gone on to happy marriages.)

    And, the Church doesn’t claim infallibility in matters of discipline, but it does in matters of faith and morals. Decisions on the ordination of homosexuals may be incorrect. Statements on the morality of sexual activity are correct. So feel free to question the wisdom of the latest document. There are a few regulations that I think were bad moves, too.

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Sam Jack

    You may have a point, Mark. Some things are hard to satirize or parody because they are already practically parodies. This failed attempt from me is a good example of the problem. I satirize the right and then catch all kinds of flack because people don’t pick up that it’s satire. And then after I explain that it’s satire, I catch some more flack because it’s bad satire.

    So it goes.

    -Sam

  • Ploy Division

    Right on sisters! no authority figure tells ME what to do, I am a freebird. (Cue song Freebird) Nobody and nothing tells me what to do, not the IRS, not the government, traffic lights, the weather, nuthin’. Anybody who does listen to people tellin’em stuff to do is a rube! A RUBE I tells’ ya!

  • Bliffle

    Baronius says: ” Any act which interferes with nature (in a sexual context) is wrong. ”

    Uh oh. Then on those occasions where, armed with my mighty moral conscience and (undoubtedly superior) intellectual prowess I suppress the act of sex by successfully battling my involuntary pressing urge for sex, I am commiting sin? Must I run for my consort and ensure that gods intention is not frustrated?

  • Baronius

    Bliffle – No sin there, probably. But if you entered into marriage with the spouse expecting children, and you frustrate her by refusing sex, then yes, you’re being manipulative. I think most marriage counselors and family planners would agree with that.

    If I may anticipate the next few questions:

    No, Viagra isn’t mandatory.
    No, there is no sin in thinking about baseball to delay orgasm.
    No, I can’t think of any other reason God would create baseball, either.

  • Bliffle

    “No sin there, probably.”

    Probably? Is my chance for admission to Paradise hanging by the slender thread of chance?

  • Baronius

    Blif, fortunately, your salvation isn’t my call. I said “probably” because I don’t know your thinking.

    It always amazes me how a married couple can insult each other while an outsider hears chit-chat or even compliments. A look or an inflection can turn “thank you” into a reference to something that happened years ago that’s still a sore spot. (And marriages are straightforward compared to mother-daughter subtleties.) So my “probably” is due to my uncertainty, not the uncertainty of a particular act.

    Can I imagine a case where withholding sex from a spouse is a sin? Sure. A wife could mercilessly arouse her man, then turn him down out of malice. A husband could deny his wife the chance of having children. Just as pressuring a spouse for too much sex, or too many children, is a sin. The only universal truth about marriage comes from Dennis Miller: never re-wallpaper a bathroom with your spouse, or you’ll be divorced within 6 months.

    Back to your original question (and it’s my fault we went off on a tangent). All other things being equal, is it sinful to fight off sexual urges? No.

  • Bliffle

    *Sigh* Confronted with folk who see fit to project themselves into judgement of my bedroom activities I expect to gain Moral Certitude, but instead find prolix debates.

    It’s a hard life.