Thursday, November 13, 2003

In Defense of Ted Rall 
Now Ted Rall, a left-smelling columnist and cartoonist author of "To Afghanistan and Back, is being drawn and quartered by conservative bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and littlegreenfootballs.com for this essay. Sullivan describes his essay as "A rationalization for murder." LGF simply calls him "A loathsome creep."

Ok, Rall’s got a tin ear. Especially publishing something like that on Veteran’s Day. He’s a big boy. He’s got no right to complain.

But, folks, there’s also this thing called ‘irony.’ The classic, literary theory definition of ‘irony’ is not quite the same as the sense in which the word has come into common usage. The literary theory definition of irony is this: irony is a construction whereby the ostensible meaning of the text is the opposite of the point the author wishes to convey.

(See, I knew that useless degree in literature would come in handy someday.)

Now, in this case, it can’t be said that Rall wants to convey is the opposite of the meaning of the surface text. But the same is true of Jonathan Swift’s classic of literary irony, A Modest Proposal.

I don’t think Andrew Sullivan or any of the rest of the conservative pack of blogs currently chewing on Rall would suggest that Swift was a bowler-hat-wearing, crown-worshipping, Leprechaun-molesting, Ireland-hating Prod because he penned an essay proposing the killing and eating of Irish children.

So why is it necessary that Ted Rall must be a sniveling, terrorist-sympathizing America-hater because he pens his own essay encouraging the killing of American soldiers in Iraq?

Full disclosure: I’m not intimately familiar with the ouvre of Ted Rall; I’ve got other things to worry about right now. He might be all these things, and more, for other reasons. He might not. But confining my analysis to the text of this essay, I can’t say that he’s guilty of anything more than being a clumsier writer than Jonathan Swift.

Join the club, pal.

Meanwhile, let’s all take our irony supplements. Mmmkay? :-)

Splash, out,


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