The Value in ‘The Onion’s’ Response to the Empire State Building Shooting

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You can read the full post here. (Before you react, I just want to point out that this was originally a post they had up yesterday. They had to react in some way or the post would’ve been seemed very distasteful.) After tragedy there’s always a question of when is too soon to make a joke. Most recently, there was an uproar when Dane Cook made a shitty Aurora shooting joke and much less of an uproar when Jeff Ross made a better Aurora shooting joke a couple weeks later. For some, these jokes are always too soon. Beyond it being a matter of one’s taste in comedy, it’s a matter of how one grieves. I spoke to psychologist (and father to me) Dr. Steven Fox about this: “For some, comedy is not where they go but for many [who grieve], it would provide the ability to drop one’s guard such that one could laugh again.” And sometimes more than even laughing, comedy can express our unspoken thoughts and anxieties.

Which brings me back to this post from The Onion. It is not hilarious or uproarious or laugh out loud funny but it’s trenchant, it’s heartbreaking. It expresses much of the nation’s collective feeling of helplessness and uncertainty. It’s not exploitive or glib. Maybe it isn’t funny but it shows that satire can make a much more powerful statement than just a straight report. A terrible thing happened this morning and this piece demands we don’t think about it casually, as just another mass shooting to add to the list. Hopefully, when you read “UPDATE: Never Mind,” you didn’t roll your eyes, you instead let them well up.