Satire versus bullying

I hadn’t heard of Terry Pratchett until I saw this quote at The Standard:

There could be some truth in that.

Another Pratchett quote on bullying (from Hogfather):

“A bully, thought Susan. A very small, weak, very dull bully, who doesn’t manage any real bullying because there’s hardly anyone smaller and weaker than him, so he just makes everyone’s lives just that little bit more difficult…”

He has a satirical record:  Terry Pratchett and the Art of Satire:

Under his hand, the entire concept of fantasy changed, and satire was put to better use than ever before; but just how did Pratchett combine both into such a phenomenally successful formula?

Pratchett also uses the medium of his Discworld novels to examine more serious issues concerning our society today: bribery and corruption are a major feature of his Discworld, especially amongst the ruling elite.

Human behaviour is examined in all of his novels – even his children’s books, such as The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, where the society of intelligent rats are made the heroes rather that of the townspeople who are trying to kill them. Comparing the two- with the implication that is it the rat that are the truly educated ones rather than the humans- allows Pratchett to make intellectual points in both a funny and parodic way that might not be possible in another setting.

Here, satire is not only a comedic device but also a way in which to examine our society.

Through his juxtaposition of the modern and the fantastic we can laugh, not only at the society he creates but also, obliquely, at ourselves. In Pratchett’s hands, the art of satire is a way in which we can examine ourselves more clearly.

Satire is a useful way of examining and exposing those in power, politicians.

But it can also be misused as a means of attacking politicians – and political supporters.

From Oxford:

satire
The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

bully
A person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.

Politicians (and political supporters) sometimes deserve ridicule, and satire is a fair and reasonable means of doing that.

But politicians are also vulnerable to being coerced, intimidated or harmed by unfair and untrue attack and ridicule.

‘Satire’ is sometimes used as an excuse for dirty politics.

24 Comments

  1. More of Terry Pratchett: 50 best quotes

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 16, 2018

      His ‘The Wee Free Men’ is hllarious. So are some of his others, like the one whose name I forget and can’t be bothered to go to that bookcase and look, the one about the cat and the rats-but I found that the Discworld ones tended to repeat themselves and go a little flat at the end.

    • Patu

       /  January 16, 2018

      That is entertaining reading Pete. I particularly like #27…

      It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it

  2. Corky

     /  January 16, 2018

    This chap reads like a socialist who has been cursed with an imagination. He makes some good points. In fact, he’s describing the modus operandi of intelligent trolls. That may sound like I’m stating the obvious…but i’m not.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 16, 2018

      His books are brilliant satires especially of academics and bureaucrats.

  3. Blazer

     /  January 16, 2018

    ‘‘Satire’ is sometimes used as an excuse for dirty politics.’..can you provide some examples?

  4. Of interest was his struggle with Alzheimers and advocacy for assisted dying.

    ” In 2010 Terry delivered the annual Dimbleby Lecture on BBC1, with the help of his friend Tony Robinson, who read his speech for him, speaking candidly about his struggle with Alzheimer’s and his campaign to reform the law on assisted dying in a piece entitled Shaking Hands With Death. The lecture attracted a record TV audience, the highest there had ever been for a Dimbleby Lecture.”

    https://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/sir-terry/

  5. Pickled Possum

     /  January 16, 2018

    “I hadn’t heard of Terry Pratchett until I saw this quote at The Standard:”
    Now that little shared gem pete; truly astounded me!!!!!

  6. PartisanZ

     /  January 16, 2018

    In politics and on political blogs, satire is sometimes used as an avoidance technique …

    Satire has its place …

    • It’s first and foremost in my books…..

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 16, 2018

        Many people confuse satire and sarcasm, of course (not you, Traveller) Sarcasm and satire are quite different.

        • Corky

           /  January 16, 2018

          Sarcasm is a Lefty with an empty stomach waiting by the ATM at 9 o’clock at night.. Satire is a Lefty after a feed of KFC and a fag.

          • Patu

             /  January 16, 2018

            In fact, he’s describing the modus operandi of intelligent trolls.

            I could state the obvious…but I won’t 😉

            • Corky

               /  January 16, 2018

              So was it sarcasm or satire? In fact it was the truth and parody. 9pm is when the benefit money comes in. Then it’s off to KFC. Fags and a cone or bullet for afterwards. And all of a sudden that hard edge of nasty sarcasm goes, to be replaced by a parody of the stereotypical beanie.

              .

            • Patu

               /  January 16, 2018

              Yes Corky, I got it the first time. I even gave you an uptick for being witty. Just thought I’d add my two cents, before some ‘loony lefty’ took the bait. Read my comment again. Slowly 😉

            • Corky

               /  January 17, 2018

              You got it the first time? Doesn’t look like it. However, you weren’t to know I wasn’t trying for a set up. No, my creative juices have been fired up by this Pratchett dude. I want to emulate his success with a series of books I will be calling ”Blogworld’.

              Blogworld only exists in and on a single fibre optic cable connected between Dunedin, Christchurch and Northland. The fibre cable is continually being assailed by unwanted intruders who must be stopped from spreading their heathen propaganda.

              These intruders are called Wirlhers, Stranders and Kurwee Blobs.

              The boss of blogworld is called Pete The Scot. He has a number of minions working under him, along with private contractors like me.

              Damn, I can see dollar signs already.

            • Griff

               /  January 17, 2018

              “If there was anything that depressed him more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn’t as cynical as real life.”

              ― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

            • Corky

               /  January 17, 2018

              What does that mean. Griff? Can I use it in my books?

            • Gezza

               /  January 17, 2018

              Have you got a publish date for your book on Lurch yet Corks?
              Hangin out for that one buddy. 👍🏼

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 17, 2018

            What arrant nonsense. Look the words up in a dictionary.

  7. It’s so gratifying to watch a movie, doco, tv or read a book where the writer/director has a light hand and controls you subtely. Rather than explaining things through too much foreshadowing, you discover themes yourself. Satire is most certainly not this. I reserve its use for primary relationships and politics.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 17, 2018

      Satire should not be heavy handed, The great satirists aren’t.