Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The unfunny uncle

Who won't shut up

Most families have one. It's the relative who just has to share his “latest” joke (although, unfortunately, it's more likely a “late” joke — as in dead). He is a reliable blight on family gatherings and there's always jockeying for position at dinner tables and picnic blankets so as not to be the one who has to sit next to him.

This week—God knows why—Bill Donohue decided he should demonstrate his comedic talents. I was immediately and powerfully reminded of my unfunny uncle. And—just to make the package complete—you can tell that Bill is powerfully proud of his cleverness. The preening just oozes from his prose:
Bill Donohue's Open Letter to Maureen Dowd

March 23, 2012

My Dearest Maureen,

In today’s New York Times, you write the following:

“The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be. The bishops and the Vatican care passionately about putting women in chastity belts.”

I have a confession to make. While some may think you sound like a delusional weepy woman, don’t listen to them. You see, I was in on those meetings with the bishops when we hatched plans to stick it to women and sabotage the Democrats.
This, you see, is side-splittingly funny because Donohue is pretending to be a sexist bastard. See how good he is at it?
We met over drinks. Plenty of them. Except for one bishop who said over time women could become our equal, all of us agreed that you gals need to be kept in your place. As you properly note, this means being subjugated to the lower caste, just the way we snookered Mother Teresa.
Now this part is funny because we've all heard that Mother Teresa eventually admitted that she lived a life of acute clinical depression. In case you've forgotten the details, here are her own words: “In my heart there is no faith—no love—no trust—there is so much pain—the pain of longing, the pain of not being wanted. I want God with all the powers of my soul—and yet there between us—there is terrible separation. I don’t pray any longer.” This is not, of course, the lesson we are supposed to learn. As Mother Teresa became more inured to her condition of dead faith, she prostrated herself before God's will: “I want it to be like this for as long as he wants it.” God didn't bother to answer back or ease her pain, but Teresa's reward is secure, since she's on the fast track to canonization by the Vatican. It's the perfect posthumous consolation prize after decades of misery.

Naturally, the heartwarming story of Mother Teresa's life makes her the perfect foil for Bill Donohue's winsome sense of humor.
You are only partly right about the Democrats. In fact, starting last year our goal was to rig the Republican primary so that Romney would win. Why? Because then we could pull his Mormon strings without being accused of running the government. So far, so good. Just don’t tell Mitt.
Not even Twain could have penned a more cleverly wry paragraph. Why, at times it almost sucks you into believing it and forgetting the writer's satirical purpose. Gasping for breath in the wake of uncontrollable laughter, we soldier on:
We are obsessed about sex. Indeed, when I meet with the bishops, it’s the only thing we talk about. Admittedly, it sometimes feels like I’m at a frat party, but boys will be boys. There is one difference: at frat parties, chastity belts for women are never discussed, but with the bishops, nothing is more important. The goal is to make a “one size fits all” belt, one that is not removable. Velcro works for all sizes, but it comes off. Not to worry, my dearest Maureen, we won’t give up. That’s because, quite unlike the stately New York Times, we’re obsessed about sex.
One wipes the tears from one's eyes while shaking the head in stunned admiration at the clever juxtaposition of bishops and chastity belts. The Velcro punch-line has all the impact of a sudden blow to the stomach.

I say without fear of contradiction that Bill Donohue's mastery of humor is all but unparalleled in the annals of political writing. We shall seldom—if ever—see its like again.

So give thanks.


William said...

If he's trying to suggest that Mother Theresa was not consigned to a lower status -- because she was famous? -- he is of course incorrect. Like all women, she was barred from the priesthood. Being a nun really is not the same; not even a high-ranking, famous nun.

If say "if" because it really is difficult to discern a point in any of what he wrote.

Kathie said...

My father lived long enough to read Christopher Hitchens' debunking of the Mother Teresa mystique, and how he relished it!