The PJ Tatler

The Onion's Positively Brilliant Post About the Paris Attacks

Bravo.

Following the fatal terrorist attack Wednesday at the offices of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, sources confirmed this afternoon that it is sadly not yet clear whether this very article will ultimately put human lives at risk.

According to totally and utterly depressing early reports, given the tragic deaths of 12 people, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that this 500-word article will not make those involved in its writing—and potentially even those not involved—the targets of brutal and unconscionable violence.

“The heartbreaking tragedy that unfolded in Paris today is the result of a perverted, hateful ideology that has no place in the civilized world,” is a quote that someone or some group of people might be reading at this very moment and, in what unfortunately serves to illustrate the horrifying state of modern society, interpreting as an unforgivable insult against their beliefs that must be met with the cold-blooded murder of innocent people. “It’s just so terrible and senseless. I mean, how can something like this even happen?”

“I’m at a loss for words, to be perfectly honest,” is a further quote that would hopefully not enrage anyone to the point of actually taking another human being’s life, but which, for the love of God, conceivably could.

This is an oddly subtle approach for The Onion, actually, but it does the trick. While it doesn’t mention Islam by name, it didn’t really need to. The entire piece is basically saying, “This is so insane we are having a difficult time processing it.” It also acknowledges that the nutjobs are still out there and could do this again.

As the preeminent satirical publication in the United States (the New York Times doesn’t count, it thinks it’s being truthful), it would have been weird for The Onion to not comment at all. Because they’re pros, they didn’t try to express themselves in a purely humorous fashion. There is an ill-defined waiting period before even dark humor is appropriate (I was on stage as a young comic the night the Challenger blew up and saw some horrible “too soon” joke attempts, all of which failed miserably). This had a near perfect tone.

Here is the conclusion:

At press time, although the consequences of this article are reportedly still unclear and actual human lives may hang in the balance, sources confirmed that the best thing to do—really the only thing to do—is to simply put it out there and just hope that it does some good.

It was something they almost had, but probably didn’t want, to write and it was done exceedingly well.

Also read: New York Times Frets About Backlash from Tomorrow’s Train Bombing