A comment by Lady Mondegreen aka Stacy, originally a comment on a Facebook discussion and posted here with permish.
Ironic racism/sexism can be harmful even if the intent is good.
I think it can be–sometimes. And sometimes it can be harmful and also good.
I suspect that a young African American child reading Huckleberry Finn could suffer emotional pain reading all that raw racism. I would never dismiss that pain. Neither would I ever, ever stand with the people who think Huckleberry Finn shouldn’t be taught, should be taken off the library shelves, or should be bowlderized.
I would hope people hurt by Twain’s ironic racism (for example) would, if they don’t get the context, have it explained to them. Having it explained wouldn’t take away all the pain. But the true cause of that pain is not in the irony. It is not in the representation of the problem.The cause is in the bigotry itself, its effects on society.
I’m starting to suspect there’s some shoot-the-messenger going on here. It’s like looking in a mirror, seeing a dangerous troll is standing behind you, and getting mad at the mirror. Maybe it’s a form of displacement. I feel pretty powerless to do much about all the hatred and bigotry in the world, but if I can displace my indignation onto a smaller target, I can feel like I’ve done something (and I’ve signalled that I stand against bigotry.)
Satire is a mirror. It reflects terrible things, sometimes.