Eyeroll of the Day

Eyeroll of the Day September 22, 2014

Hysterical conservatives feel some compulsion to send me things like this:

Francis is an instrument of the devil, pure and simple. There, I said it.

Dear Reader: Your argument is compelling and persuasive. Thanks to this reasoned case, cogently put forward with relentless and crushing logic, I have concluded that the only sober course of action is to set my hair on fire and run in circles. Thank you for enlightening me on this urgent matter.

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  • Guest

    Does that mean there will be croissants and foie gras in the hell?

  • ivan_the_mad

    No, I think rather that calumny and despair are instruments of the devil, pure and simple.

  • Tangent Alert:
    Is sarcasm a form of lying? Just thinking (not trying to be sarcastic).

    • ivan_the_mad

      It depends (but when doesn’t it?). Catholic Encyclopedia: “Jocose lies are told for the purpose of affording amusement. Of course what is said merely and obviously in joke cannot be a lie: in order to have any malice in it, what is said must be naturally capable of deceiving others and must be said with the intention of saying what is false.”

      Dr. Feser has an interesting piece on the subject.

      • Even if not lying, it still seems a bit problematic to me, basically using someone for our amusement because of their ignorance or misunderstanding. Now if said person also found it amusing, I see no problem, but that’s not usually the case.

        • orual’s kindred

          using someone for our amusement because of their ignorance or misunderstanding.

          I’m inclided to agree, even for other types of humor, or even when the person finds it amusing. I don’t know if using someone for our amusement is what sarcasm means per se, though. With this, post for instance, I would think the focus is on the statement (and the attitude informing it), not the person. I try to avoid sarcasm—especially in online discussions—because of how much humor in general is misread in Teh Interwebz. (I mean, it’s not too unlikely that someone will question my motives for misspelling ‘the Internet’!) Still, I don’t think the reader, whose identity is not disclosed, is the focus of sarcasm here. And I think there may be some instances where sarcasm in general might be a legitimate form of humor.

    • Linebyline

      Verbal irony is not lying, because it is an attempt to express something (e.g. “That plan is horrible”) by saying something that literally means the opposite (“Great plan!” or, with a tad more hyperbole, “I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it!”). It’s a figure of speech, and no more dishonest than saying that you caught someone’s eye, even though that person’s eyes are both clearly still in their sockets.

      On the other hand, it’s entirely possible to lie using sarcasm. For instance, you may give bad advice, which you and your friends will recognize as so obviously bad you can’t be serious, but deliberately delivered in such a way that the advice-seeker won’t pick up on the sarcasm, and will do himself some harm for your amusement. (In other words, exactly what you mentioned in your reply to ivan_the_mad.)

      Unless I’m mis-remembering the definition, to lie is to state a falsehood, knowingly and with intent to deceive. It seems clear to me that use of verbal irony with the intention that at least part of your audience, not recognize it as irony, will take it literally (in which sense it is the opposite of the truth) and believe it (i.e. be deceived), fits that definition.

      However, it’s my opinion that the sarcasm itself is incidental, and if you’d said the same thing with a perfectly straight face–a plain old lie–it would still be every bit as dishonest (perhaps even moreso, since your hapless advice-seeker at least had a chance to pick up on the sarcasm).

      That’s not to say that the sarcasm doesn’t add any immorality; only that I don’t think it makes the lie more of a lie. For that matter, you could be in the same situation and use sarcasm to sin without deceiving anyone at all. You might give advice using verbal irony that the advice-seeker will recognize, but also be hurt by due to the venomously sarcastic nature of your explanation. I know that there’s some disagreement on the extent to which being offensive is immoral, but I don’t think it’s controversial to say that, ceteris paribus, deliberately choosing your words in order to hurt someone’s feelings is morally wrong.

      That’s a bit of a ramble, but the bottom line is this: In principle, sarcasm/verbal irony doesn’t equate to lying, even though the two may very well overlap.

  • petey

    and there’s so much of that sort of thing around.

  • IRVCath

    But sir, your hair is already on fire…

  • Linebyline

    If you wanna get nitpicky, Francis is in some sense an instrument of Satan, but then so is pretty much every other human being who ever lived, with few enough exceptions that you could count them on your hands and have enough fingers left over to cheat at the home console port of Dance Dance Revolution by using a controller instead of the mat.

    I’m sorry, what was I saying? I got distracted by video games again.