Thursday, November 08, 2007

Commonweal Doesn't Get the Joke

Diogenes recently dolloped more cynicism upon the Jesuits' magazine America:

America Magazine is editorially enraptured by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Brown seems guided by a moral vision that sees it as the government's duty to help the less fortunate.

Translation: he's pro-abortion.

A writer at the Commonweal blog sniffs: "You'll notice that none of the editorial's 253 words endorses Brown's views on abortion." That rather misses the joke. The elevated language conceals a significant lapse in Mr. Brown's duties towards the less fortunate. The praise given to such public figures is as uniform as it is ubiquitous, which makes the "translation" all the more biting.

Commonweal blogger Grant Gallicho seems obtuse to this shade, preferring to blast Diogenes as a bitter tendentious commentator. But this little joke can function in all sorts of other contexts where diplomatic happy talk overshadows the real crimes in which prominent men are complicit. Just imagine the potential for a quote praising to the heavens some Republican, followed by the line

"Translation: he's pro-torture."

This satire blindness seems uncharacteristic of Commonweal. They like Stephen Colbert, don't they?

More discouraging is their attempts to unmask the pseudonym. They claim the CWNews scribe is Paul Mankowski, SJ. While the pseudonym can mask all sorts of unmerited asperities, of which Diogenes has sometimes been guilty, how else other than pseudonymously could a cleric talk frankly without soiling the dignity of his office and his ministry?

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