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  • Writer's pictureJohn Stackhouse

The Boomerangs of Sarcasm and Self-Righteousness

I’ve been struck in the exchanges some of us have been having about American politics (see the previous entry and comments) about the curiously reflexive nature of both sarcasm and self-righteousness—of both of which rhetorics I am, alas, an experienced practitioner!

Regarding sarcasm, I notice how often those who object to it resort to it in return. “Oh, and I suppose that’s not sarcastic!” would be a very mild version of such a retort.

Likewise with self-righteousness: “I hope my esteemed colleague won’t continue to presume to judge other people from his presumed position of moral superiority,” says one—with flatly self-contradictory self-righteousness.

Oh, dear, dear, dear. To “speak the truth in love” continues to be the standard, and how often I fall short. Alas, I make it worse by falling short particularly on matters of genuine substance and sensitivity, when accuracy and charity are all the more important if one has any hope of being truly and fairly heard by others who might disagree.

So in this political season in both Canada and the United States, I shall try harder to speak only “a word in season” (Isaiah 50:4), one that, as the apostle says, “gives grace”–literally, gives a gift–to those that hear (Ephesians 4:29). And you, too?


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