Sir: I write to protest the increasing prevalence of irony, and even outright sarcasm, on the Internet. If people will not say what they mean, how are we to know whether they mean what they say? Indeed, I might almost go so far as to say that some of the statements on the World-Wide Web might be construed as exaggeration. Although I do not believe it myself, I have even heard some readers complain of understatement in some of the darker corners of the Web.
It must be the relative anonymity of Internet communication that encourages such dishonesty, since obviously no one would ever dream of being dishonest in real life. But is that dishonesty really necessary? Whatever idea you wish to express, there must be a million billion ways to say it. The English language, after all, has one or two synonyms in its arsenal.
I call for a National Board of Review, similar to the one that, in earlier and better times, reviewed movies for objectionable content, to review all comments, blog posts, and instant messages on the Internet. Such a board would be authorized specifically to root out sarcasm, exaggeration, and understatement; but I see no reason to limit the extent of its powers, since obviously no government body charged with prior censorship would ever abuse its authority. Countless millions of lives are at stake here, and surely the minimal effort of reading all the electronic communications in the world is a small price to pay for our security.
Xenophon M. Kranck,