Writing Satire in an Age That Satyrizes Itself
The following is a satire.
A thirty-year-old college student, testifying before the United States Congress, has asked the government to force her Catholic university to provide her and her fellow students with free birth control pills. These poor women, she said, are not able to keep up with the cost of contraception. She sees their sad, oppressed faces every day, and is haunted by the injustice of it all. The only alternative would be to engage in sex less often, which is obviously unacceptable.
Oops! It isn’t satire, after all. It really happened. In fact, the “student” is actually a hardened, veteran activist for “reproductive justice,” which is feminist-speak for the prevention of reproduction at all costs. She only enrolled as a student at this college to make trouble for the Church. Be that as it may, this profoundly silly story turns out to be true. So, if I want to write it up as satire, I’ll have to try again. Thus:
A 46-year-old college student told Congress that the government ought to force the university to provide him and his fellow students with free beer. The cost of beer, he said, is getting to be too much for him. “I am haunted by the sad faces of my thirsty fellow students,” he said. The only alternative would be to drink less, which is obviously unacceptable.
Shoot! That doesn’t work, either. Readers still won’t be able to tell the spoof from the real thing. And another problem with this attempt at satire—it doesn’t touch on the religious angle. The true story involves a Catholic university: and the Catholic Church teaches that the use of contraceptives, to facilitate recreational sex outside of marriage, is… well… wrong. Therefore, in this case the Church is being pressured to aid and abet an activity which it finds morally repugnant.
Let’s try again:
A 61-year-old student at a Catholic college has asked Congress to force the school to provide her with free Viagra, “because,” she said, “a lot of my dates, these days, just aren’t up to it, if you know what I mean.” Moreover, she went on, the school also ought to be compelled to provide her with young male students’ phone numbers and email addresses, “because some of those young guys don’t know what they’re missing.” A feverishly active sex life, she added, “is every woman’s right, and the college has no right to withhold that.”
Now we’re getting somewhere, I think. Forcing the administrators at a Catholic university to be go-betweens (betcha thought I was gonna say “pimps,” but nothing doing—I saw what happened to Rush Limbaugh) for this woman’s sexual liaisons—no federal government would ever do that. Or would they? Maybe the satire needs to be pushed just a little farther. Let’s try this:
A 73-year-old college student who has been camping on the grounds of St. Dubricius’ Church—he prefers the word “occupying”—has demanded that Congress order the church to buy him “an erection pump machine,” order the pastor to drive him to the brothel of his choice, pay for his “dates” with prostitutes of both sexes, and make large cash donations to Planned Parenthood in his name.
“There’s no way I can pay for all of that myself,” the student told a Congressional committee chaired by Beelzebub (D-Hell). “I mean, it’s all I can do to just keep paying my tuition every year. And when I finally do get my degree in Gender Deconstruction Studies, I’ll have… let’s see… about $175 million in student loans to pay off. Like, I can’t even afford to live in the dorm anymore. But I’m occupying the church grounds to protest their unfair practice, over the centuries, of interfering with my sex life. It’s time the Catholic Church learned that it’s a hate crime to stand in the way of anybody’s pleasures. There can be no social justice until every man who needs one has an erection pump machine.”
“Reproductive freedom is for everybody,” Representative Beelzebub said, “and especially for college students. Nowadays, with 68% of America’s adult population still enrolled in college, we must take steps to ensure their reproductive rights.”
There! Now we’re cooking. Of course, it’s totally impossible that such a wild story as the one above could ever turn out to be true. We can all have a good, hearty laugh over it, knowing all the while that we are, and will always be, perfectly safe in the free exercise of our religion.
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