The deal with religious satire

Ok, I figured it’s about time I said something about religious satire on the net. There are a number of articles floating around TGA that may in fact be satire rather than the real thing, including this video and this article. My issue is with the fact that a) most of the people who watch read these articles or watch these videos have no idea it is in fact satire and are therefore convinced it’s real, and b) good satire (like the stuff Edward Current does) clues you in gradually to the fact that it is, in fact, parodying the very thing it purports to support. Here’s the dictionary definition of satire:

the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

Mike Adams’ article is entitled “An Immodest Proposal”, supposedly an homage to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” that hilariously suggested Irish babies be eaten to deal with the growing poverty problem in 18th century Britain . In the case of Swift, however, it was so blatantly obvious it was in fact satire that to compare the two articles is a grotesque overestimation of the writing prowess of Adams. Is there any irony in his article? If there is, it seems to be lost on some of his readers:

Yes we as Christians AND as Americans could learn something from the Taliban. They have a passion for their beliefs which too precious few of us have. I am not advocating killing people like the Taliban but they don’t tolerate abuses of their beliefs do they. They stand up for something.

Satire is meant to shame individuals using their own tone and style, but if most people aren’t able to tell the difference (Poe’s Law), then what is being accomplished? Perhaps all of these supposed satirists need to go back and actually read Swift and others like him to get a fucking clue as to how GOOD satire is done. I’ve devised my own rule here at TGA: if you can’t clearly tell it is satire, it may as well be the real thing, and I’ll treat it as such. Consider it punishment for bad comedy.

Comments (5)

  • avatar


    It’s tough because to me the best satire is that which perfectly rides that line where you don’t quite know if it’s satire or not, and the best satirists know how to reveal the real point, usually towards the end of whatever video/article/speech. If you know something is meant to be satirical from the get go it’s usually less powerful (i find).

    Obviously there are problems here that you mentioned. Satire is often mistaken for the thing it is satirizing or you’re left unsure. You also get people who don’t watch/listen to the whole thing and miss the reveal.

    The issue is if you make it blatantly sarcastic and are obviously ridiculing the topic you’re “satirizing” sure it might be clear that it’s satire, but then it holds no punch. Religious satire is just comedy for atheists, it’s funny to watch/read but it actually can be a powerful tool. For that to be the case, it has to be subtle enough to lure in those you want to satirize so they can actually see how ridiculous their view is. It isn’t going to work on fundies, but it can on more moderates, it can at least get them thinking if done right.

    Btw, Jake, it’s great to see you getting back into actually blogging and being more active on the site. I’ve changed from checking the site maybe weekly to daily because there is often something new to check out. Looking forward to a forum.

  • avatar


    Maybe it’s enough if you make yourself laugh, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shit on satire you don’t like though.

    In fairness, satire is really subjective – so long as the subtle satirist doesn’t expect everyone to be happy I don’t see a problem.

  • avatar

    the snide atheist

    The problem with good satire, is that most people are too dumb to get it. The problem with bad satire, is that most people are too dumb to get it.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    defending bad satire is like defending bad writing. The intention of the author is not my concern; only the result matters.

  • avatar


    “Satire is meant to shame individuals using their own tone and style, but if most people aren’t able to tell the difference (Poe’s Law), then what is being accomplished? ” -Jacob

    Could it be that the girl in the “Checkmate, Atheist” article is trying to fool us into thinking she’s a christian so that people can make fun of christians? This give more ammunition to atheist, correct? You fell for it and it helped your case against religion, at least for a little while.

    Not that these tamtampamela videos are needed to help your case, there are plenty of nutjob religious people to do that for her.

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