It has been a very long time since I have read anything in a newspaper as deeply offensive as Mr. Gottfried’s “Watch Me Salvage the DSU Rebranding Survey” comments in your January issue. When used skillfully, sarcasm can be a valuable literary technique. In unskilled hands, it can become a publicity stunt, the voice of an intellect still on training wheels that attempts to draw attention to itself, as in deliberately and loudly passing gas in public. Mr. Gottfried certainly got our attention, but anything meaningful in his message was lost in the offensive delivery. And it could have been different. With the right use of sarcasm, aided by a touch of humor, minus the religious cheap shots and the crude sexual references, it could have been an enjoyable read that would have made his point effectively and powerfully.
If Mr. Gottfried chooses to look at bearded men in chaps and cowboy hats and wonder if their buttocks are still warm from recent sexual experiences, I do not. Nor do I think most other people do. But I would undoubtedly be included with those whom he sneeringly described as having an “insatiable fetish for ancestor worship.” Please pardon me for feeling that this is infinitely preferable to the apparent sexual fetish we see in his Broke Back Mountain/cold butt cheeks/dog humping references.
Mr. Gottfried has mastered the freedom of expression with a vengeance. It is unfortunate that he has not mastered the wisdom that should accompany it. The mistake is costly. Playing to those with a high school locker room mentality limits one’s audience and potential influence.
What was the point of the crudeness? What was the point of offending spiritual sensitivities? Simply because he had the freedom to do so? I was taught that one of the hallmarks of maturity was the ability to tell the difference between what one CAN do, and what one SHOULD do. Maturity is as maturity does.
In sum, would Mr. Gottfried be classed among those judged by Shakespeare as being “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”?
Only one question remains in my mind: Was this material actually read and approved by an editor who felt it was appropriate for a wide audience?