Now, any regular readers will know I have a bit of a thing about proper language usage. And if you don't know that, go read my archives. Are you back? Good. As I was saying, I think proper grammar, word usage etc. is important. I even get a little worked up about it sometimes. Dare I say… angry. Not as angry as some people, like this chap who wrote this piece for McSweeneys.
I read that when it was published back in 2003 and I've never forgotten it. Way better grasp of the nuances of English than me. Funnier too. And angrier.
One of the many things that has the capacity to make me angry is misuse of the term "ironic". I don't get too worked up because I'm not too sure I always use it accurately. The simplest dictionary definition is "An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning." In other words, the literal meaning of your words is the opposite of what you intend to convey. But you also get into Socratic irony and dramatic irony and it really gets complicated. I actually did research for this piece (besides reading McSweeneys) and found a piece, via Wikipedia, that is both an excellent explanation of irony and a lot of fun to read. It's much better researched than anything I could do and also funnier.
Guardian Article: The Final Irony
Suffice to say, people are almost always wrong when they say "isn't that ironic?" More often it's simply a coincidence or bad luck. For instance, Alanis Morrisette's song "Ironic" doesn't contain a single example of true irony (is that ironic?)
Anyway, believe it or not, the whole reason that I started struggling with the proper use of irony was that I was thinking of George Bush. I am continually appalled at the shit he gets away with. Being a lefty, I start from a default position that a right-winger is going to piss me off but Bush even betrays traditional Republican values. Not that I'm a fan of many traditional Republican values but it freaks me out that he pisses all over their core tenets like fiscal responsibility and small government and all the while he has these rabid cheerleaders asserting he can do no wrong. Any pity the traditionalist who speaks up about this betrayal. The goon squad are all over them, branding them disloyal and unpatriotic.
You could be a dyed-in-the-wool lifelong Republican but if you question the glorious leader, his slavering minions will rip you limb from limb. And I get more than a little spaced at how quickly the baying mob can flip from championing a particular commentator to publicly eviscerating them because they dared to question Bush. Not matter how self-evident their observation is, like, ummmm… he's a fuckwit.
To be fair, I can't nominate a conservative who actually called Bush a fuckwit. I'm reading between the lines.
But there are signs Bush's most ardent supporters might ba about to turn on him. It isn't about lying, it isn't about screwing up Iraq, it isn't about encouraging torture. It's about immigration. Bush seems like he's actually about to do something halfway decent regarding the millions of (mainly Mexican) illegal immigrants in the US. In an acknowledgement that the economy is essentially dependent on these workers, he's trying to find a reasonable compromise. And his "base" are turning on him over it.
So that's the point of this whole screed: Bush spends his whole tenure committing a seemingly endless cavalcade of incompetent and illegal acts and gets a free pass. He attempts to do one halfway decent thing and his shrieking cheerleaders turn on him.
Is that ironic?