Photo by Brian Addison. Above: a voting day party in Long Beach during the November primaries in 2016.
Editor’s note: following the publishing of this article, the Gazettes altered the title of their YouTube video with a parenthetical saying, “I’m joking.”
Oh, Harry Saltzgaver.
Harry, Harry, Harry… Here we go again.
Before I even begin this, let’s just clear the air between you and I, Harry: I respect you but satire or not, some of your videos just aren’t hitting the mark and, with this latest one, they are outright dangerous. I’m not writing this to attack you; I am writing this because I feel obligated to.
I already took you to task over a previous video where you called for a contest amongst homeless folks to vie over each other for “Best Homeless Mobile Home” and the prize would be a free month’s rent.
You, in return, claimed you were “raked across the coals” by the “tyranny of tolerance” for simply “trying to do something satirical.” It was, according to your own reasoning, your best attempt at contemporary Modest Propos-ing—and that assertion I can, maybe, give a slight amount of credence to.
Let’s just say it was a misunderstood attempt at satire. I, as a writer, have been there myself, Harry.
However, in your latest Rant of the Week for April 9, 2017, you don’t seem to have a single lick of satire in your sentiment, expression, or words as you call for all the “uninformed” folks to stay home for tomorrow’s election because you are “sick and tired of people goin’ out and making decisions that impact my life when they don’t know what they’re talkin’ about.
“It’s something called the ‘uninformed voter’—and we have it all over the place,” Saltzgaver continues.
Call it satirical or otherwise—you’re in an uphill battle on that one no matter how you frame it—your message becomes even more dangerous when you call for a “change to the system” which requires citizens to pass a test to vote. Satire would have had you also call for something like a Citizenship Test too, because all them illegals are takin’ our joooobs…
But you actually specifically state you’re not for that.
“I’m not talkin’ about a Citizenship Test or anything like that. I am talkin’ about a I-Know-What-I’m-Talkin’-About-Test. Do you know the names of the people who are running? Do you have any clue what they’re running for? Most of the time, you don’t… I voted because I know. And I would like you to leave the rest of it alone so the decisions I made actually have something to do with the way my life runs.”
I can see how that last part could be said to maybe be satirical. But here’s the thing: there are political forces actually trying to achieve precisely what you are calling for today. That’s why it doesn’t read as satire, if it is. You’re not mocking the powers that are actually trying to suppress voters nor are you mocking people who are genuinely irked that the future is changing their comfort of living.
In fact, you mock nothing and potentially fuel the idea that democracy needs to be a bit more Draconian.
Surely, you’re intelligent to know that this type of voter suppression, reaching back to the birth of this country, through Jim Crow, and up to today, is a real thing. Surely, you’re intelligent to know that, as a news editor, things should be clearly labeled satire if, indeed, what you are doing is satirical (or opinion-driven).
Surely, Harry, you are better than this.