Monday, August 3, 2009

I Deny the Allegations and Challenge the Alligators

ridicule--to hold a person, place, institution, or thing up to a contemptuous examination; to undermine the status of a person, institution, or social convention by causing that status to appear absurd or in a state of implosion; a tool used by humorists to disrupt the status of superiority resident in an individual or institution.

Ridicule is an effective way to attack the stature of an individual or institution, a lever by which to topple a target from occupancy on the moral high ground; it is frequently used in connection with exaggeration, which might produce results by causing the target to become defensive. Ridicule is at its most effective when the target cannot see itself as the target or when the target actually regards the ridicule as praise and affirmation. (See Steven Colbert as an effective employer of this approach.)

In most cases, the major target of ridicule is pomposity, but entitlement and snobbery are not far behind.

Hint: At some point during a prolonged ridicule, the agents of the attack should be seen on the edge of changing their mind--until a final step from the target brings the agents of the attack back to sanity with a final blow to the seeming dignity and rightness of the target.

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