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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Councillor Bill Karsten objects to council live-blogging

Once again, we must explain things to the satirically impaired.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Dartmouth councillor Bill Karsten condemns "twisted lies and shit" in The Coast's satirical live-blogging of council meetings.
  • Dartmouth councillor Bill Karsten condemns "twisted lies and shit" in The Coast's satirical live-blogging of council meetings.

Yesterday, mayor Peter Kelly had other commitments, so deputy mayor Bill Karsten took over duties of presiding over the weekly council meeting. As usual, I was there and live-blogged the meeting via Twitter.

Today, I received the following email from Karsten:

Tim, I saw your crap on twitter last night, and I have had about enough of your twisted lies and shit! I'm asking you right now to stop it. I don't care what umbrella use use to cover your ass....Stop it! Any Councillor who was even slightly prepared and read their report knew it was a good deal for all parties and was a no brainor [sic] to approve!
Barkhouse: "we're talking about people's livelihood" Karsten: Yea, so what?
Respectfully,

Bill

Sigh.

Well, Karsten may not care, but the umbrella I use to cover my ass is the ancient form of political commentary known as satire, employed by everyone from Aristophanes to Swift to The Onion. Elsewhere on Twitter, there's Andy Borowitz, among many, many others.

Look, I don't claim to be a particularly good satirist—I'm doing it on the fly at council, and I'm the first to admit that sometimes my barbs fall flat—but Hey Zues Fucking H Christo—who is it that follows my Twitter feed and thinks councillors are actually throwing cats and shoes at each other, or comparing bottled water to Hitler, or passing a bong back and forth between questions or reading the entrails of a goat as an ancient religious tradition performed at the beginning of each council meeting?

The whole routine is self-evidently a farce, and it boggles the mind to think even a preschooler avoiding nap time with the teacher's aid's iPhone could take it seriously, much less so someone elected to represent the good, hard-working folks of outer Dartmouth.

Sadly, however, this society is so tone-deaf that I have to spell it out, so most weeks, including this week, I tweet that "Exact quotes are in quotation marks. Everything else is my interpretation."

In this case Karsten objects to, councillor Jackie Barkhouse had the heartfelt belief that the issue under consideration—a proposed labour settlement with unionized city employees—should cause councillors to pause and deeply consider the impacts to people's lives, and so said as much. That statement, however, was passed over, in the real world without comment—it was simply ignored. And so I made the small joke that Karsten said "so what?" Clearly, he didn't, because as I've explained a thousand times, it wasn't in quotation marks.

But let me ask you this: given that Barkhouse was ignored, would it be better if Karsten had actually said "so what?" or is it better that he didn't?

That question, friends, is at the heart of my satirical comment.

Last year I devoted an entire blog post to explaining my Twitter live-blogging, and then drowned myself in a thousand beers afterwards, lamenting the day I had to explain satire. And now I feel just as icky.

I don't want to live in a world without satire.

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