Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tonya Cohen--Some of the Best Political Satire of Recent Years

Instapundit linked to an outrageous article called "It’s Time To Bring The Hammer Down On Hate Speech In The U.S." by Tonya Cohen. This is some of the best political satire I've read in a long time. The basic premise of piece is a subtle attack on the "I agree with free speech, but...." crowd, and comes at an opportune moment following the failed ISIS attack in Garland, Texas. The thrust of the article is that with free speech comes great responsibility. What makes it satire is that the article takes the most outrageous proposition of liberals opposed to free speech and twists it up a notch, calling, in the end, for automatic prison terms and fines for anyone questioning anything that liberals support, coming up with Catch 22's such as that it is unlawful hate speech to criticize Islam, while in the same sentence indicating that anything supporting tyranny is also hate speech.

I'll be honest, with the craziness that comes out of the mouths of most liberals, it was initially difficult to determine whether this article was satire or serious. And there has been quite a bit of debate on whether or not the author should be taken seriously, especially since this is not her first hit job on free speech. Michael Walsh takes her articles seriously, as is made clear in his post from January 2014, entitled "Got Hate? Part Deux: The Return of Tanya Cohen." Amy Alkon (the Advice Goddess), thinks that Cohen is serious. As does the Libertarian Alliance Blog. Others are not so sure. The Ordinary Gentleman, after reading two of her articles, is not sure if it is a hoax of some sort. Dylan Kissane is convinced she is a fraud, after learning that Cohen never worked at the  Castan Centre for Human Rights Law as claimed in one of her articles.

Tech Dirt goes into the greatest details as to why Cohen's writing is satire, and very good satire at that.
 Yesterday morning I came across an article on a site called "ThoughtCatalog" (which I'll admit I'd never heard of) after I saw some people I know discussing it on Twitter. The title is Here Is Why It's Time To Get Tough On Hate Speech In America by someone named "Tanya Cohen." It was ridiculous from the very start -- a poorly thought out attack on free speech, and inside our internal "writer's room" chat, I asked around to see if anyone wanted to write about it, including a few key quotes. But the more I read, the more I realized that it's satire. It has to be satire. Not only that, but it's damn good satire, because it's just stupid enough at the beginning to drag you in and make you believe it, and then, slowly but surely, over the course of a very long writeup, it starts tossing out ever more ridiculous ideas -- drip... drip... drip -- that just, gently, turn up the outrage-o-meter, such that many people don't even realize that it's satire. In fact, we ended up having a long internal debate on it (and others are doing the same on Twitter), with Tim Cushing writing up a Techdirt post ripping it apart as if it were serious. However, I've spiked that version and am inserting my own (because I'm the boss and can do that sort of thing) -- because this absolutely is satire, and it does a brilliant job absolutely mocking those who are attacking free speech at every turn. 
Read Tech Dirt's piece after you've read the Cohen article I've linked to above.

After thinking on it, there are some other points which suggest that it is satire. First, I've read a fair share of pieces from Social Justice Warriors (SJWs). While Cohen's article is logically just as screwy, the grammar is not. Most SJW's lack the intellectual fortitude, or love of English, to learn good English. Cohen's articles, though, are good English. Second, there are many different elements that she incorporates that seem silly, but have actually been incorporated by nations and ideologies that SJW's love. For instance, as I noted above, the self-contradictory statement that both criticism of Islam and support for tyranny are both hate speech that should be punished, when Islam is a tyrannical governmental/social system. The discussion that hate speech should be punished by requiring the perpetrator to go before a government agency and prove their innocence of the crime, upending the traditional duty of the state to prove guilt--exactly as Canada's human rights tribunals have treated various critics is Islam. Finally, the mention that some nations consider hate speech to be akin to murder, which is an obvious reference to Islam's killing or imprisoning those that "mock" "the prophet."

True, satire is generally disguised in the form of a story--Candide, Gulliver's Travels, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--but that is not the only form. The essay form chosen by Cohen makes the satire short enough to be widely read and appreciated. I say, "Bravo!"

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