Satirist Lenny Bruce said it best. “Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it.”
Bruce meant that satire after the fact is pointless, since its role is to change behavior and point out the foibles and even corrupt habits of its target. It is meant to be offensive and vulgar.
“Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society by using humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary. “A writer may point a satire toward a person, a country, or even the entire world. Usually, a satire is a comical piece of writing which makes fun of an individual or a society to expose its stupidity and shortcomings. In addition, he hopes that those he criticizes will improve their characters by overcoming their weaknesses.”
Satire can be vicious. It is a personal attack, designed to show important people as vulgar and their habits like those of an animal. It has its roots going back to before the ancient Greeks, when armies would employ people to shout insults at the opposing armies in order to humiliate them.
Most prominent satirists are hated in their own time, and often subject to legal and sometimes physical attack.
So in some ways, the case heard against two Hoboken political bloggers showed just how powerful satire remains as a political weapon.
Seen originally as a test case for the limits of free speech on the internet, the suit filed by Lane and Kim Bajardi claimed that the bloggers went too far in holding them up to ridicule. But the case also exposed the inner workings of political theater in and outside of Hoboken.
Hudson County Superior Court became a political fashion show of Hoboken dignitaries, each of whom came to testify in the defamation trial against the Hoboken bloggers.
Filed in 2012, the case was based on a series of blog postings mostly done on sites known as Grafix Avenger and Hoboken Horse, whose postings lambasted the Bajardis for their alleged connection to Councilwoman Beth Mason.
The two bloggers and other anonymous people who posted comments on their websites and elsewhere on the internet raised issues about behind-the-scenes political operations, and the case became very much like classical warfare with anonymous people on both sides flinging insults at each other.
The bloggers being sued for the most part support Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. These bloggers – Nancy Pincus and Roman Brice – routinely portrayed the Bajardis as being “political operatives” for Zimmer’s arch rival Beth Mason and possibly other anti-Zimmer figures.
Whittled down from its original complaint filed in 2012, the suit eventually became the Bajardis challenging the bloggers for attacks that went beyond what free speech allows.
Pincus’ posts were frequently couched in humorous (if also degrading) images that mocked Bajardi in what appeared to be an escalating conflict on various on-line forums.
While Bajardi claimed not to be responsible for casting on-line barbs at Pincus, written depositions given by one-time Mason ally Tom Bertoli disputed this, with Bertoli charging that Bajardi had been involved in the back-and-forth with Pincus.
The most serious issues raised by Pincus’ posts is that she tried to allege that Bajardi was involved with a federal investigation. Pincus posted a graphically modified image of Bajardi in a prison suit.
Did this rise to the level of defamation? The court ruled it did not, but the matter will likely be appealed, leaving the question to be settled by a higher court.
The discovery phase of the case released a massive number of documents that may well reveal the behind-the-scenes manipulation that has made Hoboken such a political sewer over the years, including more than 60,000 email exchanges between so-called political operatives.
The release of this material could be even more damaging than anything previously posted on the internet, since it shows relationships between the various players just in time for the mid-term elections.
Sacco slate gets a Hispanic face Julio Marenco, president of the North Bergen Board of Education, has been selected to replace Commissioner Theresa Ferraro on a ticket that will be headed by state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco in May.
The move will help bolster the administration’s Hispanic presence, something that has been lacking in the past. Ferraro announced last week that she would not seek reelection.
This comes at a time when Sacco may be facing a challenge from longtime critic Larry Wainstein.
According to one source in North Bergen, the Sacco camp is quite concerned with the uncertainty of who Wainstein’s ticket contenders are, and that Sacco is seeking to gain the confidence of Hispanic voters.
“His social media talks only of helping the Hispanic community from immigration assistance to English classes,” one critic said. “Guess us non-Hispanics who supported him over 30 years are no longer worth anything to him.”
Reports suggest that Sacco may try to derail a possible union of Wainstein and Henry Marrero, by offering Marrero the commissioner seat previously occupied by Frank Gargiulo.
Marrero worked as Sacco security for more than 10 years, and knows a lot of the inside machinery. As powerful as Sacco is, he might not be able to stop opponents from snagging one of the commissioner seats.
Political flyer aimed at Daniel Rivera
Jersey City Councilman Daniel Rivera has come under attack from an anonymously-posted flyer that claimed Rivera said too many black kids were being hired by the city’s recreation department.
This comes after some employees in the Recreation Department complained to the City Council at a public session last month that blacks were being favored over other races for hiring and prime positions. Rivera said he believed the comments were orchestrated, but that the people who spoke at the meeting meant well.
While city officials said they would look into the matter, the conflict went viral when the flyer appeared in various stores in the community and included a photo of Rivera.
While Rivera does have issues with some recreation policies, he said the attack is unfair and untrue.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.