Satire or just lazy and outrageous?

Without checking the numbers, I’d guess cycling overtook rock fishing as our most dangerous sport last year. On a mortality count, it’s certainly more dangerous than all the football codes – but we don’t let people play rugby on the road, generally. The bicycle is more dangerous than Australia’s most dangerous animal, the horse.

'Regulate bicycles off the road' by Michael Pascoe—The Age.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the difficulty of satire. There was a piece written in Medium, the online publishing platform, about replacing CSS with javaScript. It just read as ridiculous and ill-informed. Later I found out it was supposed to be satire but at the time I just thought the author didn't know what she was talking about.

Satire is tricky. It's so difficult to get right that even those who do it professionally get it wrong a lot of the time.

Context, however, has a lot to do with satire. If something is in the Onion, then we can be pretty sure it's not true but is in fact a satire, because satire is just lying for the sake of comedy.

If the context is right we are prepared for a lack of seriousness. Without that context we assume that the author is seriously approaching a subject for examination.

In the quote above, we assume that Michael Pascoe, a long-time respected economics commentator, has lost any semblance of plot he may have had.

"Without checking the numbers" reminds me of a line I once put in a presentation in Grade 3 about cartoons in which I estimated that 70% of the audience thought of Disney when I mentioned the word "cartoon".

While reading this piece, I did start to wonder if it was satire. How did such a piece of nonsense make it past an editor and into publication?

But the context implies that there is no satire here. Instead, there is just a man who has flipped his silly switch and is no longer securely seated on his rocker.