“Long has the press groaned in bringing forth a hateful, but numerous brood of political pamphlets, malicious scribbles, and Billingsgate ribaldry. The rancour and bitterness it has unhappily infused into people’s minds, and to what a degree it has soured and leavened the tempers of persons formerly esteemed some of the most sweet and affable, is too well known here, to need any further proof or description of the problem.
No generous and impartial person then can blame the present undertaking, which is designed purely for the diversion and merriment of the reader. Pieces of pleasantry and mirth have a secret charm in them to allay the heats and tumors of our spirits, and to make a person forget his or her restless resentments. They have a strange power to tune the harsh disorders of the soul, and reduce us to a serene and placid state of mind.
The main design of this weekly paper will be to entertain the town with the most comical and diverting incidents of human life, which in so large a place as Boston, will not fail of a universal exemplification.”
So you see, my aim was to be a more lighthearted purveyor of comical and entertaining news and gossip, rather than the more serious reports that seemed to be partly responsible for my brother’s incarceration.
As I look around me today, in this future world of 2014, it appears that is no shortage of similarly serious news. And there are numerous reports of journalists in trouble with the law, because of their sins against the political establishment. I’m told, however, that there are also sources of merriment still to be found, either in printed form or on this thing you call the internet.
One of them, “The Onion,” which calls itself “America’s Finest News Source,” is a perfect example of journalism of the absurd. Consider some of the most recent headlines on their website:
- ‘Nation’s Lunatics Lament Rising Cost of Car Meat’
- ‘More Hollywood Celebrities Reproducing by Asexual Budding’
- ‘Amazon Plans to Ship Items Before You Buy Them’
- ‘Inclement Weather Prevents Liar From Getting To Work’
- ‘Heroic Broken Sewage Pipe Floods Congress With Human Waste’
These writers at The Onion, apparently, have taken the business of clever satire and outrageously odd reporting to new heights, far beyond what I myself ever indulged in. And so I applaud them, not only for their heroic efforts to stem the tide of solemn journalism, but also for their singular sense of humor, which I can very much appreciate – even with our great difference in generations (300-plus years, to be exact!)
Your humble servant,