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No Offense

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Can we maybe stop complaining (Mailbox, July 21) about the naughty words that Jennifer Fumiko Cahill used in her column on the desperate need for gun control ("It Might Be Time to Get Totally Motherfucking Unhinged," June 2)? She was writing satire, which makes use of exaggeration and irony. 

Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal for preventing the Children of Poor People from being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick" proposed that the poor people of England sell their children to the rich for food. Readers understood that, "A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or ragout" is satire, not an endorsement of cannibalism. 

In the end, only the aristocracy and the humorless, Swift's carefully selected targets, were offended. The English oppression of Ireland, the savage class system and finally the British Empire itself became an embarrassment. 

Gordon Inkeles, Bayside


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