The USA has a Clever Plan to Combat Online Extremism: Tots and Pears.

So, the US couldn’t spare anyone to attend the Christchurch Call conference in Paris. Quelle horreur – the very thought of signing up for something that might actually be progressive! “Good idea,” they said diplomatically, “but just not our cuppa tea (sub-text: not really a good idea – it might take us forwards instead of backwards, and our man doesn’t like that). “However, our tots and pears are with you.”

Admittedly, the Christchurch Call probably won’t achieve much in real terms right now, but when was whining about how hard something is, ever a good reason not to make a start on it?

Read on for some brilliant satire, by Andrew Gunn:

Rolling out the heavy artillery against the online onslaught

The United States has announced that it will deploy thoughts and prayers in the battle against online extremism.

The move follows the United States’ refusal to join 17 nations, the European Commission and eight top tech companies in signing the Christchurch Call To Action which commits them to fight the spread of terrorist and extremist content online.

A White House spokesman confirmed that the US had no intention now or in the future of signing up to the accord, adding that though there was an American diplomatic representative in the French capital at the time of the high level meeting he or she did not attend because they were “washing their hair or sorting their sock drawer, or some such”.

“Or maybe there was a sale on at Galeries Lafayette. Or it was just a beautiful day to stroll down the Champs-Elysees. Ah, Paree! So many choices!”

Responding to journalists’ questions, the White House spokesman denied that the US was simply washing its hands of the issue. Nor was it sitting on its hands, adopting a hands-off approach, keeping at arm’s length or giving the whole issue the finger.

Instead, he insisted, the US will commit to adopting the same strategy in the fight against online extremism that has achieved year-on-year consistent outcomes in the fight against gun crime.

“Whenever there has been a domestic mass shooting the United States Government has responded swiftly and decisively by deploying thoughts and prayers to those affected. The results speak for themselves.

“In the same way whenever hateful, extremist violence-inciting content appears on social media the United States will activate a rapid response task force of nimble-fingered tweeters and Facebook-posters. This crack team will immediately saturate the internet with mindful contemplations and solemn entreaties to God.

“Frankly if that doesn’t solve the problem we have no idea what will. We’re calling it Operation Rolling Sympathy, and we honestly think it’s the best way of taking action. Apart from actually taking action, obviously.”

The spokesman went on to rebuff the possibility of adopting a comprehensive joint approach of earnest thoughts, invocations to a higher being and, you know, actually doing something practical as well.

“Yes no, well: free speech, gun rights. Amending those would involve amending the US Constitution, and whoever’s heard of such a thing, am I right? No, just as the best defence against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, the best way to defeat hate speech is with productive speech. Ooh, that’s catchy!’

“And let’s just keep some perspective, people, and remember that when dealing with online Nazis and white supremacists, as our President said, there are good people on both sides.”

Asked if the United States will adopt a thoughts-and-prayers-only approach to achieving such other key policy goals as combating cheap Chinese imports, bombing Iran and outlawing abortion, the spokesman was adamant it would not.

“Oh goodness no – those are areas in which we actually want to get on and get things done.”


Andrew Gunn is a finalist in the “Opinion writing – humour/satire” category at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards.

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