No Sarcasm Meant
by Flynn Washburne, October 27, 2016
On the increasingly frequent occasions when Donald Trump allows his mouth to race out ahead of his brain—understandable, given the latter's velocital limitations and the virtually constant workout regimen of the former—and ventures beyond the merely uninformed, imprudent, or unintelligible into the offensive, hateful, and criminal, he dismisses criticism with the claim of being “sarcastic.” Don't you get sarcasm? he asks. My opponent doesn't understand sarcasm, he says. The media have no sense of humor. My people love it when I'm sarcastic.
He has said this, or a variation thereof, a number of times, making me wonder, and wonder why Ms. Clinton and/or the media don't ask: is sarcasm a trait we really want in a president? It is an expected and understandable affliction of the surly teenager, who can't be expected to take seriously all the obvious and idiotic questions and observations of their parents, teachers, and the adult world at large. It is the primary weapon at their disposal and the easiest way for them to convey the fact of their comprehensive knowledge of everything without actually divulging any information.
I myself employed it nearly exclusively during my adolescence and often, frustrated into the nonverbal by the consummate stupidity of the entire world, expressed my disdain with nothing more than a sharp exhalation of breath or a weary “tchah” followed by a rueful head-shake. It is and has been the way from time immemorial and we accept it knowing (hoping) that they'll grow out of it, realize that being a sneering, uncommunicative jackass is neither attractive nor desirable, and decide to rejoin the human race. Most do; but in some development stops and they go through life as nasty, mocking, derisive bullies, their truculence unleavened by even the barest traces of sincerity, empathy, or respect. Viz: Donald Trump.
Although the offenses he's attempted to dismiss as sarcasm are, in fact, not—they are simply Trump being Trump and realizing later that he'd gone too far—he does employ the tactic frequently, savagely and childishly. Calling it humor is further indication of his immaturity and ignorance. Sarcasm is humor like bowling is a sport, i.e., only to the person doing it. Nobody wants to watch anyone bowl, and no one wants to hear sarcasm. It is unattractive, mean, puerile, and the exclusive province of those who devoutly wish for something clever to say but are chronically unable to do so, and so resort to childish mocking.
There is a telling and hilarious moment on The Simpsons in which two glum teenagers are responding to Homer's appearance on stage as a cannonball-catching sideshow act.
Teenager 1: There's that cannonball guy. He's cool.
Teenager 2: Are you being sarcastic?
Teenager 1: I don't even know anymore.
Who knows? Maybe Trump, in his massively insecure need to feel superior to everyone and everything he comes into contact with, has simply dialed in sarcasm as a default setting and presumes to be able to explain any regrettable remark with that claim.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like a president who is sincere, direct, and honest (and I'm still waiting patiently for one). A sense of humor is an excellent thing in a candidate, or indeed anyone. Not only that, I think it's a necessary thing and people without them are deficient and broken, but using it to criticize and belittle is a perversion of the concept.
Etymologically, “sarcasm” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning, “to gnash the teeth (in anger), literally, to strip off the flesh.” So sarcasm is, by definition, mean-spirited. I'm no bluenose who thinks humor should be regulated or rigidly defined, but I do insist it be funny. It's perfectly acceptable to make fun of people, as long as it is actually funny and not simply an attack for its own sake.
I would like to take this opportunity to address a personal message to the candidate Trump, one of utmost sincerity and absolute earnestness; a genuine and heartfelt dispatch from the very deepest recesses of my heart, past the cockles, way down in the sub-basement where I keep the really very sincere stuff, where there's a tasteful brass plaque at the entrance stating No Irony, Sarcasm, Facetiousness or Satirical Hankus-Pankus Will Be Tolerated Here.
Very rarely do I mine this region, due to the cost to my psyche; it's far simpler to cloak myself in irony and leave it to others to puzzle out where my heart actually lies, but for The Donald I will strip away all pretense, masks, and filters and tell him how I really feel. Okay. Here we go (deep breath).
Donald— may I call you Donald? I feel like I already know you, and more importantly, like I want to know you. It's your warmth and charisma that draws me to you, this irresistible magnetism you have that never, ever makes me want to forcibly void my guts and disinfect myself. It's no wonder that leaders and statespersons the world over respect you so much and never poke fun at you or manipulate you with mocking praise. You are the standard to which they all aspire, a beacon of intelligent, thoughtful, forward-thinking leadership. It's hard to believe you're not a career politician, given your mastery of diplomacy, your tact, and your ability to compromise. You never make stupid gaffes or regrettable remarks because of the way you carefully consider everything you say before you actually say it, the mark of a conscientious, thoughtful person.
I love how you never make stupid grammatical or syntactical errors that make you sound like an illiterate clod, such as pluralizing the wrong word in an adverbial phrase, like "day offs." Your subjects and verbs always agree and you always complete a thought before going on to the next one. Your command of the language is so complete that you need never resort to the use of meaningless intensifiers and superlatives to get your point across, and that is just a really, totally huge and luxurious feature of your personality.
If I may, and I don't mean to embarrass you—I know how modest and unused to public praise you are — but I would like to make a few comments about your personal appearance, and I'll try not to tax your Buddha-like humility. Your hair, which looks absolutely nothing like a spray-painted bird's nest, is a lush and luxuriant crown befitting the head of a king, a suitable awning for a face that bears no resemblance whatever to a big ugly bullfrog or Benito Mussolini.
Your candidacy is in no way a joke, your desire to be President, your platform, and your campaign all completely logical, fully within the bounds of plausibility and not in the least bit insane. I think it is 100% certain that you will earn a mandate from the people and go on to be the best-loved, most effective and popular leader since FDR. We may even have to repeal presidential term limits to accommodate your popularity!
Who better to accompany you on your historic undertaking than your beautiful and intelligent family? Your wife, about whom there is nothing of the opportunistic Eurotrash courtesan, will surely be an ornament to the White House. Everyone knows the fashion industry is where you find the most accomplished, refined, and cultured women; you need only observe our own American supermodels rubbing hamburgers all over themselves in Carl's Jr. commercials to determine that.
Your daughter is totally not a vapid plastic Barbie, and your sons don't remind me at all of fascistic brownshirt automatons. Why would they, with all the wholly original thoughts spilling out every time they open their mouths?
If, sometime in the months following your ascension to the country's highest office, Americans are reduced to cannibalism as they roam what's left of our cities in savage, feral packs, it'll be because the zombie virus those geniuses in Hollywood have been predicting for years has finally incubated and taken hold, not because your insane policies have caused the infrastructure to collapse and the world to wash their hands of us. And, if by some strange mischance the planet is reduced to glowing cinders as four billion years of terrestrial evolution comes to an abrupt, screeching halt and our composite atoms are redistributed throughout the universe, how could you possibly be blamed? Those atomic weapons are not decorative and you were no doubt provoked beyond the point any rational man could be expected to restrain himself. It would just be pure bad luck that the world got destroyed. Mistakes get made and shit happens; that's why there's a backspace key. If there's no more Earth or humanity, you simply move on to a new career as space dust, and surely the biggest, most luxurious and classy particles in the entire universe. Just the hugest particles you ever saw.
You see, Mr. Trump, how refreshing it is to be forthright, direct, and honest. To “say what you mean and mean what you say,” to quote Dr. Seuss's Who-hearing elephant Horton. You can bet he was never sarcastic, and neither am I.
I am one million percent—who says there can only be one hundred percent? That's for small-thinking pikers. Let's say a billion, better yet. I am one billion percent sure that your election will be the very best thing that could happen for women, minorities, the working class, animals, elves, dragons, and Whos. Unfortunately, I cannot cast a vote given my current restrictive living circumstances, but if just one person reads my totally honest, heartfelt, sincere earnest encomium to the magic that is Trump and goes forth to do his duty to the nation and the world by voting for him. I feel my efforts will not have been in vain.