Some advice for Mr. Green about using humor
February 24, 2017
I could not agree more with the sentiment behind James C. Green's recent letter ("Equal Pay bill has a serious downside," The Park Record, Feb. 15, 2017) and want to applaud him for taking the approach that he did to such a sensitive topic — equal rights. But as a writer, I also wanted to coach him on how to make future arguments like this "work." I'm concerned that people didn't catch the sarcasm that was obviously influencing his essay. While his writing reminded me of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," I'm sure some people took Mr. Green's essay at face value rather than tapping into its deeper motivation: to rally the opposition and remind people why equal rights are more important than ever.
Tips Mr. Green should consider in the future:
Make sarcasm more blatant. Remember Swift? He recommended Ireland's poor sell their babies as food for the rich so the children wouldn't burden their cash-strapped parents. Mr. Green could ramp up his fake arguments against equal rights by suggesting more ludicrous solutions. For example, maybe employers could drop men's salaries to the wages of women's. Or, truly innovative businesses might want to foot the bill for gender reassignment so the playing field is naturally leveled.
Ensure arguments are relevant to today's audience, not someone living 40 years in the past. When you delve into the world of Archie Bunker, you risk being written off as an obsolete dinosaur who doesn't deserve the energy it takes to type a rebuttal. In fact, that was my initial reaction to Mr. Green's piece — why waste my time on a narrow-minded relic whose glory days preceded the now obsolete fax machine when I could be performing tasks for which I'm fit, like beating laundry with rocks down by the river? Arguments that start "As more women enter the workforce" and "men will have an even harder time supporting their families" are OLDER than me — and I remember watching "All in the Family" in primetime. Want to rock the boat? Try something fresh that we haven't already heard and mocked thousands of times before.
Focus future essays on tenets of equal rights. According to the DOL, 47 percent of the U.S. labor force is female. It's no doubt that our economy would collapse without the skills and contributions of women. And, while equal pay is a great intro to the topic (especially in the state with the highest gender wage gap), Mr. Green should ensure his future arguments also touch on fair treatment for all people regardless of gender identification, race, religion, age, or level of ignorance.
Even when using sarcasm, base arguments in fact. Today more than ever, audiences need truth. Prove that you've done your research and aren't just pulling thoughts from your rump. Back up assertions with fact from unbiased sources. Yes, those still exist and you can find them in journals, academia and often the mainstream media. Check the Wasatch County Library — the people who work there (a number of whom are women and would probably love to meet you) can help.
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One more note, I want to commend the Wasatch County Republican Party for promoting innovative thinking like Mr. Green's to leadership positions, and to fine institutions like UVU for keeping Mr. Green employed as an instructor (according to his LinkedIn profile that's where he earns his not-competitive-with-a-woman's-salary paycheck). Now when I hear catchy phrases like "Grand Old Party" and "Make America Great Again," I'll think of Mr. Green.
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