Gadfly by Mort Malkin
Dear Secret Service,
I read in the newspapers that you are having difficulty in identifying satire, a potential source of subversive thought, among the zillions of pages of material collected by the NSA (National Security Agency) from Internet news magazines and the social media. You doubtless have all types of computer nerds who can make the cyber gods dance to the beat of their bongo drums. They can create artificial intelligence that can play chess and correct grammatical errors. But, they’re not much better at creating life, let alone humor, than the Supreme Court is by declaring corporations, “people.”
Gadfly suggests you start recruiting from students of Swift and Dryden or at least Mark Twain and James Thurber and Russell Baker. You might also try poets familiar with the work of Donne and Yeats and Carroll and Cummings.
But first, the Secret Service must change its name. The Secret Service is anything but secret — they all wear the same uniform: suit, white shirt, blue tie, and sunglasses. You can tell an SS man from 100 yards away. Moreover, the initials SS have a bad reputation going back to the Nazi era. Something Like Presidential Protective Service (PS) would be better, and it would not sound like they have something to hide.
Then, establish a data base of creative types: stand up (and sit down) comics, painters & sculptors, satirists, and poets. If an applicant grew up in Brooklyn or played the Borscht Circuit, so much the better.
Next, you mustn’t worry about some rogue satirist being a likely suspect as a suicide bomber. We’re all rogues, you know. My colleagues would not at all mind sending you their material, if you’d promise to read it. They’d welcome an audience wherever they can find one. But, if you think any of them are likely to blow up a federal building or bring a semi-automatic with a 35 round clip into a school building, you’ve got the wrong cat in the wrong tree. The place to look for serious psychopaths is not in satire. Yes, comics are a bit looney, but they’re not a serious bunch except as parody is serious. The only danger that they pose is when their material is greeted by deadly silence. Then, they are dangerous only to themselves in terms of depression. Any mania, as a result of audience laughter, results in joy, not anger.
Last, the Gadfly Revelry & Research team, thinking outside the box, came up with an idea hiding in plain sight: give the Protective Service a preventive mission. We would create many fewer jihadists if we stopped bombing villages, wedding parties, and assemblies of elders. Let us engage adversaries with diplomacy and, if need be, by conciliation. We might even gain fame by bringing on an era of peace on earth and good will towards all people.