Keeping Satire Ahead of Reality is Hard
As you have probably noticed by now I sometimes enjoy the Babylon Bee. However, I’m concerned that it’s fighting a losing battle with reality. Consider their dilemma. They must somehow stay ahead of the ever accelerating lunacy that is occurring in reality in order to deliver satire. That’s hard and getting harder.
Take the PCUSA as a test case. Back in 2017 the Bee published a satirical piece about the PCUSA’s position on inclusiveness.
“As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us on any single issue,” Rev. Craig Barnes said on behalf of the group, speaking to church leaders gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary. “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off.”
The above excerpt’s quotes are, of course, made up and extreme for effect. That’s simply a key aspect of satire.
However, a PCUSA minister recently created a public spectacle that in reality surpassed anything that the Bee could have imagined. Specifically, the Babylon Bee made up the quote by a made up PCUSA leader that “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off” while an actual PCUSA pastor screamed in public that “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!” to the President of the United States and by obvious extension to those who support (or even don’t aggressively resist) him.
As if to perfectly demonstrate in reality the entire satirical Bee imagined quote, the Pittsburgh Presbytery chose to only condemn those who objected to this behavior and tried to make the aggressor into a victim.
In an open letter titled “A Season of Travail” and published online Thursday, the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge, the Presbytery’s general minister, expressed dismay at what he termed a “rush of anger unleashed on Facebook” at Rev. Rothenberg.
In an interview Thursday, Rev. Sorge said he was concerned by the level of animosity that has permeated emails, Facebook posts and phone messages that have flooded not only the Pittsburgh Presbytery but the church’s national office and presbytery offices elsewhere in the U.S.
The following paragraph in the same article is essential to drawing an informed conclusion about the Rev. Sorge’s response (emphasis added).
Calls have come in for Rev. Rothenberg, who currently works at a church consulting agency, to be dismissed or defrocked. And while Rev. Sorge said he is unaware of any threats of violence made, he said callers have resorted to denouncing Rev. Rothenberg in spiritual terms, telling her she can go to hell.
Yes, we can agree that a few responders saying “go to hell” is not an acceptable position. However, if that’s the worst extreme in commentary by thousands of upset people then we can be confident that the vast majority of critical responses varied from thoughtful to angry, but were generally civil (see the end of this post for selected comments included in another article).
So, the Rev. Sorge backed his fellow cleric 100% and condemned all who voiced displeasure with her. Is this stance any different than the Bee’s pretend statement that “As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us”?
Of course it’s not just the PCUSA who are making satire challenging. So much so that the Instapundit site has created a tagline for those all too regular examples of reality challenging satirical imagination.
It’s the Babylon Bee, so it’s satire – or is it?
IT’S SATIRE, BUT IS IT REALLY? On Gender, Left Steps Up Effort Against Notorious Hate Group: Reality.
My theory is that this is a devious, brilliant conspiracy by the Progressive Left to destroy the Bee by making it impossible for satire to stay ahead of reality.
TheBlaze published an article on Rev. Rothenberg’s public outburst that includes a selection of comments found on Facebook. While most are critical, not one crosses the line of civility.
The clip of Rothenberg yelling at Trump attracted over 29,000 comments on WTAE’s Facebook page since Tuesday evening. Most seemed decidedly against her yelling at the president:
- “I guess she missed the entire point of the last few days. Hate is not welcomed or supported in Pittsburgh. She is fueling the very hate she says she’s against!”
- “Wow are you kidding me? Leave your differences aside and stop being a disrespectful child in a time of mourning.”
- “This is not the Pittsburgh I grew up in, nor is it the Presbyterian Church I grew up in. The man wasn’t here to be with political people, but came with his family to honor the deceased and first responders, and visit those who were wounded. He did not affect you or the families of the deceased. Spewing hatred is the problem. I’m ashamed for these actions.”
- “This lady just wanted attention. Notice her smile and cover her face than say sorry when she saw she was being recorded and getting the attention she wanted. She doesn’t care that her neighbors are trying to grieve for loved ones if she truly did she wouldn’t add to the chaos.”
But not every comment was negative:
- “I feel her frustration. My heart aches for the family and love ones of those who were taken by hatred.”
Wow, pretty mild stuff. But how dare the unwashed multitude criticize in any way the public behavior of a PCUSA minister!