Alternative Facts Meet Alternative Humor…by Tom Sumner

Alternative Facts Meet Alternative Humor…by Tom Sumner

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Sunday, 14 May 2017
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I want to write something funny and topical. It should be easy. But I’m stumped.

It used to be easy for me to find the funny in a wide range of topical events. These days most of what’s topical surfs back and forth between fleeting trends and alternating facts.

For example, here are some recent paraphrased national headlines.

  • FBI investigates Russian hacks in 2016 US Presidential Election
  • Trump campaign officials met with Russian spies
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from FBI probe into Russian election hacks
  • President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey on advice from Sessions

I would include a headline about the reason for Comey’s termination. But, The White House is still experimenting with reasons until they land on one that will make reporters stop asking.

The President has said that he was always going to fire Comey. It has been suggested that it was because of Hillary and Comey’s letter about re-opening the investigation of her e-mails. Some have even suggested that Comey was getting too much press.

The President insists that Comey told him (three times) that he was not being investigated. Apparently that means that Comey wasn’t fired for investigating Trump.

It should be easy to make fun of the obvious obfuscation and improvisational planning. And it is. That’s the problem.

Making fun of something on social media in America has replaced baseball as the national pastime. Sometimes it’s clever. But mostly, it’s mean spirited sarcasm directed at others. It was easier to find the funny when public figures were good humored, self-deprecating and accepted responsibility for their mistakes. We may never see that again in The White House.

Meanwhile, in my home town of Flint, Michigan…

It has been more than 3 years since the switch to the Flint River as the primary source of water which began the domino-effect that resulted in what is now known as the “The Flint Water Crisis.” Mayor Weaver’s “fast start” pipe-replacement program is just getting started and has already experienced set-backs.

One minor set-back happened this last week. Vandals burned a truck and smashed windows of vehicles set to replace water service lines in Flint’s North end. Mayor Weaver told M-LIVE/The Flint Journal, “I don’t know what a motive could be. When they are caught, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

I tried to find the funny. Imagining lead-exposed mutant zombies damaging everything in their path while shambling city-wide in a futile search for brains didn’t work. So I tried to think of a motive.

Perhaps it was a gang initiation. Or maybe it was “extreme pranking.”

I remember pulling some pretty stupid pranks in my younger days. (Hey, who wouldn’t want to hot wire a back hoe and drive it around a little bit?) But I don’t remember intentionally doing the kind of damage we see every day now.

House fires, shootings, and wanton destruction are the norm. Let’s blame the media for leading their pages and broadcasts with stories like this. Or maybe kids today are meaner than they used to be.

Maybe it’s a new kind of bullying. Is it cool to trip someone on crutches – or to slow down repairs for a city that’s trying to rebuild a collapsed infrastructure?

No. It’s not cool and it’s not funny. It’s also not fake news. But these are very different times.

When the President of the United States doesn’t like the way he or his actions are being portrayed by the media, he and his surrogates call it “fake news.” Surrogate, Kelly Anne Conway, coined the phrase “alternative facts.”

President Trump has said “when we get hit, we hit back.” Apparently, this is justification for his regular attacks on the media. But I don’t think it’s a good example for the nation’s young people.

So now that we have alternative facts, maybe torching a construction vehicle for fun is alternative humor.

On the upside…in a world of alternative facts and alternative humor, even a bully can grow up to be President.

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