The difference between satire and offensiveness

Let’s get a few things straight, right at the top of this blog post.  When I saw Brianna Snyder’s On The Edge blog post yesterday about the mug shot of the person who robbed a store in Clifton Park and whose accomplice held the cashier up at gunpoint – and how Brianna joked about how good-looking the robber was – I was revolted at her post and its subject matter.

At the time, I didn’t really know how to react.  I understand that blog posts are not considered “news articles” per se, but the whole idea of writing a post about how a perceptively attractive criminal might have his mug shot go viral just made no sense.  Neither did statements like the following:

“… so what if he “threatened an employee with a loaded shotgun.” What do all those words even mean when you’re faced with brows as sculpted as “Damien Sierra-Rodriquez”‘s. So what if Sierra-Rodriguez and his less-hot accomplice knocked over a few shelves. Someone’ll pick it up! He hardly did anything wrong here at all … accidentally held a loaded shotgun to an innocent person. But look how handsome he is! They should probably let him go.”

Later on, the blog post was modified with an addendum to alert people that the post was a work of satire.  No.  This isn’t some ersatz Stephen Colbert Republican “Sam the Eagle” put-on that people automatically undertstand is just a character portrayal.

This was offensive.  Pure and simple.  And I have no idea if anybody knew it was going to be published.  I messaged Mike Huber at the TU, he had no idea the post had even been written or published until it hit the fan.  So don’t hold him to blame for this.

And realistically, if this had been a story along the lines of “He killed his father with an axe and gravely injured his mother with the same weapon, but look at that mugshot he’s so hot…” or “She smothered that five-year-old boy, but damn that mugshot makes her look smokin’ hot…”  That’s offensive, too.

If the goal was to try to generate clickthroughs and pageviews, I’m certain that was successful.  Because the Times Union’s Facebook page just blew up with responses and vitriol and #UNFOLLOWTU and #firebrianna hashtags.  And here’s that old adage, “if you’re clicking, you’re reading, and if you’re reading, we’re making money.”

But in the end, the blogpost was offensive.

We live in a world where the most unexpected things will go “viral.”  Whether it’s a person who figures out that Diet Coke + Mentos = fountain o’ fun, or some person crying under a blanket to tell everyone to “Leave Britney Spears Alone,” things can spread throughout the internet.  And if it does, then so be it.

But other things can spread over the Internet.  Bad things.  Bad decisions.  Bad choices.  Bad people.  And lost in the image of a perpetrator’s Shemar Moore-like mugshot is the fact that he and his buddy robbed a convenience store and held the clerk up at gunpoint.

Read that again.  They held the clerk up at gunpoint.

And for anybody to trivialize what that poor, scared cashier went through just completely blows my mind.