Three people were emotionally wounded and another is in critical condition after a sarcastic comment unexpectedly went off over the weekend. Jeff Kettlewerk was talking to some friends, when he made a seemingly innocuous sarcastic remark, unintentionally sending them to the hospital.
“When I said it, I never would have imagined this happening,” Kettlewerk told us. According to reports, the remark went way over their heads at which point the weight of the heavy irony collapsed right on top of them. Of the victims, whose names are being withheld for now, three were treated for minor injuries and released, but the fourth remains in critical condition.
“The patient suffered from third degree burns to his face,” the attending physician, Dr. Lorne Lorenzo, reported. “Coupled with the intense emotional trauma– let’s just say this guy is gonna be walking funny for a while.”
These kinds of incidents reignite the already fierce debate of sarcasm control.
“Oh, sure, blame the sarcastic people!” rants Charles Hasselek, president of the National Sarcasm Association, the often militant, sometimes controversial organization who believe sarcasm is protected under the First Amendment. “Real original,” he scoffs, eyes rolling.
Nancy Palu, an advocate for Sarcasm Control, sees it differently. “Sarcasm is very serious,” she says. “Well, it’s not, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. We have to take into account the plight of the irony-impaired.”
She, along with other control advocates feel that in today’s ultra-satirical, irony-rich Internet culture, it can be difficult to separate reality from satire. Lack of context often leads to confusion and the impersonal, text-oriented format of the most common mediums of communication lack the inflection necessary to convey the appropriate sentiment. “Sometimes a “jk lol!” or a winky emoji aren’t enough,” Palu explains. “Even these presumably universal social cues can be misinterpreted.”
Hasselek continues to detract. “They want to take sarcasm away from the responsible sarcastic because of some loonies who don’t know when to shut their yaps,” he says. When asked if he had ever unintentionally hurt the feelings of someone due to the irresponsible use of sarcasm, he couldn’t say no. Well, he did, but it was super-sarcastic.
“This country wasn’t built by a bunch of namby-pamby panty-waists who couldn’t take a joke. Thomas Jefferson will go down as one of the biggest wise-[guys] in history. The idea that sarcasm should be taken away from the American people is simply un-American.”
Whichever side of the debate one espouses, Jeff Kettlewerk has learned an important lesson about sarcasm safety. “You have to treat every comment like it’s loaded,” he says, his voice cracking. “Those were my friends, and I learned the hard way.”
Lighten up, Jeff.