I wanted to run over and say, "O.J., is this a cool knife?" My wife . . . saw me reach into my pocket, and she said, "No, Robert."
Ted Pease, communication department head:
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, let's get started. Students, for those of you in [Robyn] Kratzer's 1300 class, there is a checkout sheet out there somewhere, and if you are in Media Smarts, same. That all the housekeeping. That's actually not all the housekeeping. At the conclusion of this session, it is my understanding that there is a pile of books outside, and Mr. Kirby will sign them . . . if you will give him actual cash money.
Good afternoon, and welcome to the fourth event in our 1999-2000 -- it is the apocalypse isn't it? -- Media and Society Lecture Series. It is with great pleasure and some fear that I introduce today's speaker. Some of you who were here a year ago know why. Someone just asked me in the audience if we were going to have a fire alarm. Last time Robert Kirby spoke at Utah State University, he set off all the fire alarms in the Taggart Student Center, and the building was evacuated. That's what you get if you invite an oxy-Mormon to Cache Valley. But the fire marshal is here, and I understand that all the crews are on alert, so we should be OK.
How to introduce Robert Kirby. I have no idea. Robert Kirby is the Oxy-Mormon. He is as far as we know, and we've done extensive research just this morning in about 12 minutes, we couldn't find a single other religion humor writer/columnist on the planet. I was just in China doing research on the same topic, and I couldn't find one there as well. So, he is oxy-many-things.
He is a former rat catcher, which is something I never quite understood; he is a former police officer, which makes more sense; he has much to answer for, including a column just last week in which he reiterated his point that only dogs go to heaven, except for Lassie, and cats go to hell. (Gasp). See, that's what I'm saying. I expect you to press this question.
Today's topic, and I have no idea what this means, so I expect you to ask him, is this. His title for his talk today is "Satire: The Ultimate Idiot Safari." It sounds good. Let's find out what the heck it means. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, Robert Kirby.
Robert Kirby: I was a little reluctant to come back after the first time I'd met Ted, but he and I actually have a lot in common: I'm a Mormon and he is a moron. I have this problem and it should understood at the very beginning. Just about everything that occurs to me comes right out my mouth. It is akin to Tourette's syndrome with the exception that it is a little bit cleaner.
I'll give you an example of this. I was speaking in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and Pat Bagley, who's the editorial cartoonist for the Tribune was there, my wife, and we were standing in the lobby of the airport Hilton, and I looked up, and O.J. Simpson walked right by us. And it was really weird, because it was like living in a parallel dimension. We were watching television, but there is no television. The first thing that occurred to me was that I wanted to run over and say, "O.J., is this a cool knife?" My wife, who was standing right there, saw me reach in to my pocket, and she said, "No, Robert." She tends to be the person that provides the restraint in my life. She's not here today. So, things might get a little bit interesting.
Communication, or how you communicate with people is a really interesting set of dynamics, because what you think quite often isn't manifested in the way you say it. Worse, the person hearing it doesn't understand even what you said. So there is a lot of stumbling points in how we communicate our ideas or our feelings to other people for 11 years in Utah. A good example of this -- I use a lot of stories for examples. My partner and I, and another police officer stopped this guy in a dark industrial section of the city, and we thought he was there to burglarize something, and so we stopped him, got him out, surrounded him, and we were talking to him to find out what he was doing down there in the middle of the night. During the course of the conversation, I shined my flashlight in the back of his car, and on the back seat was this wooden club that was covered with blood. "What's this club for?"
He said "Oh, oh that. I used that to beat a cop with." And as you can imagine, because we were all down there in the dark all by ourselves, we jumped on him, and just about the time his arms and legs started to come out, he realized what he'd done. And he goes, "No, I mean a cop -- like a fish that swims in the waddah." Turns out he was from Boston. We thought this was hysterical; he didn't because he wet his pants. But this is a good example of how different cultures sometimes don't really click very well.
While I was a police officer I learned more and more about this. I came home from an LDS mission and became a police officer, which is a real switch, and you gain a real appreciation for the Roman Centurions who garrisoned the streets of Jerusalem about the time of Christ, because they expected to ride herd on God's chosen people, and they were really weird. And even though I was one of them, I really didn't understand the dynamics at work in a group of people like that.
So, I kind of stumbled quite a bit, trying to figure out what kind of a policeman I wanted to be, and because I have this problem with things occurring to me, and coming right out my mouth at the same tine, I got in to a lot of trouble. I stopped this guy one day for speeding, and he handed me his drivers license, registration and his temple recommend. I thought, "Agh, that's really interesting." So I went back to the car, and I wrote him a ticket, and then on his temple recommend I wrote VOID. I don't know how many of you have temple recommends, but the people whose job it is to look at them when you go to the temple, have no sense of humor. If it says VOID they don't care who the hell wrote it, you ain't getting in. If you ever get a chance to do this, don't. I got two days off without pay for it, but it was worth it.
I have a . . . This is actually not my talk. It is a list of things I'm not supposed to say. It was drawn up by the editor, and my wife. There is a story going around the internet that the, for the Exxon Vladez disaster it cost $80,000 to rehabilitate a seal. So, $80,000 per seal to get them ready to reintroduce to the wild. Supposedly, as the story goes, there was this community up in the Pacific Northwest that got two of these seals, adopted them, brought them in, and spent the time to get them cleaned up. Over the weeks that followed, the community got rather attached to them, school groups would come down and visit them, and the news media would monitor their progress. Came the day that they were to be released, the town turned out, the news cameras were there, school kids were lining the shores to wave goodbye to Buffy and Chip, and they turned them loose in the harbor, and this killer whale ate both of them in a minute. And this is so cool. Because what it does, is it's life teaching people, no matter what your political or religious, or personal agendas are, life has its own set of rules, and you can not dictate your rules to life. People will try to do that, and from this, arises my playing field, which is irony. I'm really attached to irony because I see so much of people learning things that they don't realize they are learning, and they don't understand why things are going wrong for them, and they are not clueing in to the fact that life is happening to them. And what they believe or what they think doesn't really matter.
This is true particularly in religion, but it doesn't just have to do with religion. There are a lot of different ways that people do this. Let me read a column that I wrote, and then I'm going to read a letter to the editor, or to me actually, that I got in response to it. Researchers in Denmark, back in 1994, discovered that on average, men have 4 billion more brain cells than women. Shut up. They didn't say that men are smarter, it just said that we have these extra brain cells. The size of our heads are bigger, we've got to put something in there, but they didn't say what men use those brain cells for, and that's good, because frankly that's my job. So I wrote this column, and I'll read you just a portion of it.
For example, it took a man to think up professional wrestling. Women being totally absorbed as they have been in nurturing, rearing and other aesthetic nonsense could never have come up with something brilliant like how to break a guy's spine using just your forehead.
See what I mean? Sure, feminists will screech about equality but scientific fact simply refuses to be ignored. Who thought up impersonating Elvis? It was definitely a man that came up with the idea that a 280-pound accountant in a black wig and stretch pants could actually be mistaken for the king of rock and roll. That's the trouble with women today. They refuse to concede that the dominant male brain has produced most of the ideas that make history all the more interesting. Jealousy is definitely the sign of a small brain. History is solidly behind me on this. . . . When there was no television, who came up with the idea of charging people to watch lions eat Christians? Men, of course. Grain alcohol, men. Sacrificing people to stone idols, men again. Thermonuclear warfare, men. Monster truck racing, men.
You get the point. But here, this letter comes burning back to the Tribune the day after. "YOU PIG! Men are not better because they thought up wrestling. What good does that do anyone. Or grain alcohol, streaking, belching, beer. Since when does thermonuclear warfare not destroy the planet? What good is slam-dancing? Sacrificing people to idols is not only stupid and damaging, but it serves no purpose and didn't help the human race at all. And there are people who want to get rid of the Second Amendment. We need guns." There are people like this out there!
I got other letters for the same column. I had a really angry letter from some idiot who objected to some shady portrayal of professional wrestling. And my favorite letter of all time actually I have framed hanging above my computer, and it tells me that people like me have a place in the world, and that me in particular, have a purpose:
"Dear Mr. Kirby: I don't know why you are a Mormon. It is a stupid and controlling religion controlled by one man. It says that truth only comes through one man. It doesn't let women do anything. It is a huge and dangerous corporation that invades people's lives. Why don't you get out before it is too late? Signed, ex-Mormon-now-Catholic."
It's people like these, and there are more than a few of them out there, who give me this wonderful sense of job security. And these people are the ones that I'm talking about who don't appreciate irony. They don't understand what's going on around them. Is feminism a good thing? You bet. Women have been treated like second-class citizens since the inception of the country. We need something like that to move the cause of feminism forward, and to make sure the things they deserve they get under the constitution. But, is it possible to take it too far? Sure. Here is a classic example. If someone is focused so much on a political cause, it escapes them that they have become something of a joke. And they do their cause much more damage than they do it good. That's why I say, for people like this, the arms are down, and the lights are flashing, but there is no train coming. They are not getting it. I like being the person to tell them. I mean it is a lot of fun.
Archived Months:September 1998