Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another nail in the coffin of satire

I was going to include this expression in a press release sent out yesterday, but no-one in the office understood what it meant.

If you have to explain a joke then it isn't very funny. But here goes.

There is a famous (?) observation by the American musical satirist Tom Lehrer. When Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's Secretary of State during the Vietnam War, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, Lehrer said: "It was at that moment that satire died."

If satire is pushing the real towards the absurd to make a point, he felt "There was nothing more to say after that."

So what put another nail in the coffin of satire?

The Chairman of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, is (possibly) to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of Alberta for "the preservation, distribution and management of one of humanity’s most vital resources: water."

Nestlé makes much of reducing its water usage in its Public Relations reports. What it is less forthcoming about - and what the award committee either disregarded or were ignorant of - is Nestlé and Mr. Brabeck are rather better known in human rights and environmental circles for their harmful impact on water.

See our press release for further information and an email campaign asking the University of Alberta not to make itself look foolish by giving a degree to Mr. Brabeck:

You could tell them it puts another nail in the coffin of satire, but I guess they might not understand.

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