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,


  1. “The English language, after all, has one or two synonyms in its arsenal.”

    Surely, he exaggerates . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  2. Clay Potts says:

    Dear Mr. Kranck

    I share your concerns, so much so, I have invented a device capable of extracting the truth from the most severely sarcastic, exaggerated, and understated of internet ramblings. It works on the very sound principle, “if you wish to find the truth in a statement, read between the lines”.

    The devise is inexpensive and needs no tools to install. It’s “one size fits all” design fits all standard computer and laptop monitors. It is constructed of a durable transparent plastic overlay. It attaches with ease to the monitor screen by means of electro-static adhesion.

    The front of the plastic overlay has been coated with a black opaquing, excepting parallel horizontal lines of transparency spaced perfectly to correspond with the blank spaces of either single-spaced or double-spaced typing convention. Each package includes a sheet of single-spaced spaces and a sheet of double-spaced spaces for ease of navigation between single and double spaced internet documents.

    To install, simply align the horizontal transparent spaces of the plastic overlay with the blank spaces of the internet document, press the plastic overlay to the computer screen to create the electro-static bond, and voila, the printed words disappear, revealing only the truth to be read between the lines!

    You may be saying to yourself, “this sounds so simple, I could probably make one myself with a clear sheet of plastic and a black Sharpie marker. But, BEWARE, this is not recommended! The light of natural truths have a very high intensity of illuminance and the transparent lines of my overlays have been specially treated to filter out all but the most benign truth lightwaves suitable for the human eye. And, you will discover, but for a few good men, to peer into the empty spaces between the lines with the naked eye, unaided by my filtering solution, “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

    Order now at http://www.truthinspacesoverlays.com

  3. Captain DaFt says:

    Sarcasm? On the imternets? Yeah… right!

  4. Ben Embry says:

    “oh, that’s cute. lol” Bolihumor is painfully unfunny. Cuteness is the highest achievement it *might* attain to. “with much groaning you shall take cutesy laughter from Boli”- a term of Adam’s curse buried in the fine print. The puerile overuse of “ever” indicates Boli’s disregard for the reader, as does the “countless millions” comment. My 8 yr old uses the same trope, to the same effect, alas. (Is this diatribe getting boring by now? Boli take note.)

  5. Clay Potts says:

    The truth of some can be found dripping from the abscessed spaces between their ears…

  6. Captain DaFt says:

    Interestingly, the history of the American war against irony, and the subsequent embracing of it, can be found here: http://lileks.com/institute/history/history/index.html

  7. Dan Biezad says:

    If all the irony were taken from Mr. Kranck’s letter, it would have ended right after “Sir:”

  8. Ben Embry says:

    Captain DaFt, you have added with your link a worthy specimen to accompany the equally clever work of the original post. (and do understand, my earlier comments were not to be taken as written, but only as a comment “in kind” with the original post: pathetic writing pressed beyond endurance, so that the one who is mocked becomes the mocker, and every rebuttal of “face value” statements becomes a confirmation of an unshared comic event. Ho ho, are we having fun yet?)

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