The Evolution of Satire: Where the Daily Show Is Taking America

Topics: Satire, Morality, Jon Stewart Pages: 8 (2752 words) Published: November 15, 2006
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." -1st Amendment of U.S. Constitution. Fortunately for Americans, they have the permission by law to speak their minds under almost any circumstance about almost anyone or anything. Particularly, humorists and comedians have challenged the 1st Amendment freedom of speech and pushed beyond the boundaries of what is appropriate or inappropriate. Satire, a particular form of humor, is a technique that has been used for centuries in order to express ridicule on government and society. However, the satirist of the past and those of today have different motives and purposes to their use of satire. What is being experienced today is a negative and inappropriate use of it. The question must be asked - under which circumstances and where is the line drawn that constitutes what is inappropriate? By moral standards, there will be disagreement between people in America, but as U.S. citizens, they have an obligation to respect and honor the leaders of their country. The political satire used in humor today is a disgrace to the concept of patriotism in society, and honor and morality musts be restored to the government and the American people.

Amendments were created in order to protect citizens and their freedom of speech, but

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there are circumstances where a line should be drawn about what can and cannot be said in public. In fact, a line has been drawn in the situation where it is illegal to yell fire in a room full of people (when there is not actually a fire). This is because of the seriousness of the issue, and the danger it can create if panic breaks out. The Supreme court has ruled (Near v. Minnesota, 1931) that government officials should punish the abuse of a right and not place prior restraints on the exercise of the right. It is known that yelling fire in a building is punishable, so isn't this in actuality a restraint if there is no way around it? In order to also protect citizens from other dangers, it is too a restraint and is necessary and valuable as well because of what is prevents. Just as in the case where airport security has tightened up its process following 9/11, that questioned the right to privacy, creating certain limitation on liberties is for the benefit of everyone as a whole, regardless of the inconvenience on the individual level.

Humor in any of its forms, from jokes to parodies, has tiptoed the line of what is and is not appropriate from the beginning of its use. However, comedians like Lenny Bruce in the 50s, George Carlin in the 60s, and Richard Pryor in the 70s had actually stepped over that line. Carlin is well known for his stand up act "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" that deliberately uses those words that were known to get him in trouble. Although Carlin may have thought he was just trying to exercise his freedom of speech, he was actually pushing the lines of saying things that were dangerous to some who heard him. Children first off should not be exposed to that material, and not everyone curses and uses the type of language he used. In the US Supreme Court case FCC v. Pacifica Foundation in 1973, it was ruled that Carlin's act was "indecent but not obscene." The difference between the two really is hard to tell. As the years go on, the line is pushed further and further away from what was once considered indecent, and

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what was once obscene is not inappropriate. Unless a clear line is drawn, how far will comedy go before it become a problem in society? Comedy, and specific forms such as satire, were not intended to break boundaries for the sake of breaking them, but rather, there is specific intentions behind early satire.

Satire was initially...

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Bozell, L. Brent. "The Indecency Argument is Over." Bozell 's Entertainment Column. 2 Dec. 2005. Media Research Center. 9 Dec. 2005 .
Brewer, Paul. "Analyzing The Daily Show." Public Brewery (2005): 1-2. 10 Dec. 2005 .
Dobson, Dr. James. "The Daily Show." Rev. of The Daily Show. Focus on the Family Plugged In: 1-2.
Johnston, Ian. "AN Brief Introduction to Restoration and Eighteenth Century Satire." English 200. Malaspina University-College, Canada. Nov. 1998. 8 Dec. 2005 .
Pollard, Arthur. Satire: The Critical Idiom. London: Methuen & Co Ltd, 1970.
Schroth, Raymond A. "The Fall of Dan Rather and Jon Stewart 's Rising Star." National Catholic Reporter 41 (2005): 19. Proquest. American University Library. 11 Dec. 2005 .
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