Ostensibly, The Onion’s tweet points out the toxicity of the language our media, politics and culture use toward women by directing that same sort of gendered contempt toward a female that most people would agree doesn’t “deserve” it: a child. (The corollary being: Why do we think adult women “deserve” it?) That’s what often makes art and comedy useful, after all — their ability to point out the absurdities in the things we never question, in new ways that make us see them differently or feel differently about them.
The problem – as The Onion quickly realized, deleting the tweet within an hour – is that in the process of trying to satirize the media’s cruelty toward women, they actually ended up accidentally perpetuating it. Worse, they did it at the expense of a child, violating one of the cardinal rules of good comedy (and good humanity): Don’t punch down.
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