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A sarcasm font is now the only thing that can save society from total ruin

Wink wink.

For as long as I can remember, I have had an intense fear of being Edmunded. If that doesn’t make sense, it shouldn’t – because I have made the word up.

To be “Edmunded” is to be like Lucy in C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s story The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe -  the victim of someone claiming you are lying for their own benefit.

Having discovered a world at the end of the wardrobe, Lucy tells her siblings about the adventure she shared with her older brother. But then she gets Edmunded:

And Edmund gave a very superior look as if he were far older than Lucy (there was really only a year's difference) and then a little snigger and said, “Oh, yes, Lucy and I have been playing -pretending that all her story about a country in the wardrobe is true. Just for fun, of course. There's nothing there really.”

Being misunderstood, misconstrued, and accused of lying are some of the worst sensations to me. The panic bubbles up inside and emerges as a laugh, making me look guiltier than ever. But on the internet, particularly on Twitter dot com, people seem to enjoy deliberately misconstruing one another in order to win Internet Points (£0). The greatest victim of this is the simultaneously lowest and grandest from of wit: sarcasm.

Take, for example, this smug screenshot whereby a man joking about mansplaining has been gleefully construed as an example of mansplaining itself:

To me, this man has been severely Edmunded. “This can't be real, right? No one is that clueless - right?” says one reply to the screenshot. “Bingo!” as someone playing bingo might say. The man is clearly joking (and if you really wanted to make sure, you’d just have to take a second to check his previous tweets). I feel as though people must know this (surely, they must know this?) but are wilfully misconstruing him in order to prove some kind of point. A total Edmund move.

Which leaves me asking: what is the aim? It is clearly not to teach the man the error of his alleged ways – as being screenshotted and widely mocked doesn’t tend to inspire “Yes you’re so right, I was so wrong, many thanks” sensations in people. The aim is simply to look superior, which is made all the more annoying by the inferiority inherent in not understanding the joke in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, the “just joking” brigade of hate-speech is abhorrent and doesn’t normally deserve the benefit of the doubt (“ironic” Nazism, as I’ve written in the past, can inspire genuine copycats). But when someone is using sarcasm or irony as the Sweet Baby Jesus intended – to point out the fallacies of this tragic lil world we live in – then it is beyond frustrating to watch it be misconstrued.

We now live in a time where people are being divided right down the middle on social media into camps called “Yes, Enlightened” and “No, Very Bad”. In the world of woke, one misunderstood joke runs the risk of ruining someone’s reputation. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I must suggest an immediate worldwide implementation of a sarcasm font.

Reddit uses “/s” sure, and your grandad might use a ;-). Neither of these are enough, however, for the widespread epidemic known as People, They Are Idiots.

I want everything sarcastic to henceforth be written in that one WordArt that is all wavey and blue and great for GCSE Geography projects on the Savanna. Any time a satirical article is written, the whole thing will be bright and blue so that no one need pop over to the Facebook comment section to wish the author would be forcibly taken from their bed at dawn and shot in the face.

The future of our fragmented society relies on this, more than anything else. No political policy or party can save us if we are not willing to save ourselves. There is no redemption for man, there is no salvation for our sins. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump wants to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency - can he?

"Epa, Epa, Eeeepaaaaa" – Grampa Simpson.


There have been countless jokes about US President Donald Trump’s aversion to academic work, with many comparing him to an infant. The Daily Show created a browser extension aptly named “Make Trump Tweets Eight Again” that converts the font of Potus’ tweets to crayon scrawlings. Indeed, it is absurd that – even without the childish font – one particular bill that was introduced within the first month of Trump taking office looked just as puerile. Proposed by Matt Gaetz, a Republican who had been in Congress for barely a month, “H.R. 861” was only one sentence long:

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018”.

If this seems like a stunt, that is because Gaetz is unlikely to actually achieve his stated aim. Drafting such a short bill without any co-sponsors – and leaving it to a novice Congressman to present – is hardly the best strategy to ensure a bill will pass. 

Still, Republicans' distrust for environmental protections is well-known - long-running cartoon show The Simpsons even did a send up of the Epa where the agency had its own private army. So what else makes H.R. 861 implausible?

Well, the 10-word-long statement neglects to address the fact that many federal environmental laws assume the existence of or defer to the Epa. In the event that the Epa was abolished, all of these laws – from the 1946 Atomic Energy Act to the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – would need to be amended. Preferably, a way of doing this would be included in the bill itself.

Additionally, for the bill to be accepted in the Senate there would have to be eight Democratic senators who agreed with its premise. This is an awkward demand when not even all Republicans back Trump. The man Trum appointed to the helm of the Epa, Scott Pruitt, is particularly divisive because of his long opposition to the agency. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said that she was hostile to the appointment of a man who was “so manifestly opposed to the mission of the agency” that he had sued the Epa 14 times. Polls from 2016 and 2017 suggests that most Americans would be also be opposed to the agency’s termination.

But if Trump is incapable of entirely eliminating the Epa, he has other ways of rendering it futile. In January, Potus banned the Epa and National Park Services from “providing updates on social media or to reporters”, and this Friday, Trump plans to “switch off” the government’s largest citizen-linked data site – the Epa’s Open Data Web Service. This is vital not just for storing and displaying information on climate change, but also as an accessible way of civilians viewing details of local environmental changes – such as chemical spills. Given the administration’s recent announcement of his intention to repeal existing safeguards, such as those to stabilise the climate and protect the environment, defunding this public data tool is possibly an attempt to decrease awareness of Trump’s forthcoming actions.

There was also a recent update to the webpage of the Epa's Office of Science and Technology, which saw all references to “science-based” work removed, in favour of an emphasis on “national economically and technologically achievable standards”. 

Trump’s reshuffle of the Epa's priorities puts the onus on economic activity at the expense of public health and environmental safety. Pruitt, who is also eager to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, spoke in an interview of his desire to “exit” the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He was led to this conclusion because of his belief that the agreement means “contracting our economy to serve and really satisfy Europe, and China, and India”.


Rather than outright closure of the Epa, its influence and funding are being leached away. H.R. 861 might be a subtle version of one of Potus’ Twitter taunts – empty and outrageous – but it is by no means the only way to drastically alter the Epa’s landscape. With Pruitt as Epa Administrator, the organisation may become a caricature of itself – as in The Simpsons Movie. Let us hope that the #resistance movements started by “Rogue” Epa and National Parks social media accounts are able to stave off the vultures until there is “Hope” once more.


Anjuli R. K. Shere is a 2016/17 Wellcome Scholar and science intern at the New Statesman

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