Satire Does Not Rhyme With Fire

Somehow the Dutch – never a country with a great sense of humour to begin with – have lost their idea of what is funny and what is not. This week saw the unfolding of a scandal around leftwing MP Wijnand Duyvendak who, in the eighties, had been part of tough actions against nuclear energy; the house of a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Economics has apparently been firebombed after a young Duyvendak published the address in a protest pamphlet.

In reaction to his party’s defense of Duyvendak’s past actions, blogger and columnist Rikus Spithorst wrote (under a pseudonym) that he “…would appreciate it highly if someone would […] find out the home address of [Party leader] Femke Halsema and then […] torch the place. The bitch doesn’t deserve any better.

I won’t get into further details – Dutch readers can find more here. What concerns me most is that Spithorst had the nerve to call his column ‘satire’. But satire – in Dutch as well as in English – works through wit and is it very witty to point your finger and say “They should do the same thing to her”? I guess it’s not. I would call that rage rather than satire, especially if you add that the bitch doesn’t deserve any better.

Somewhere in the last ten years the humour got lost. Intelligent, witty stuff is almost nowhere to be found and the greatest successes can be booked when you dare make the boldest remarks. Spithorst, a fiftysomething guy writing for a decidedly more juvenile audience, is just one of the sorry crop of unhumourous guys – he is a spokesperson for a club of disgruntled public transport users, how unhumourous can you get! – riding that wave on the internet. But when charges are pressed for inciting violence, these characters crawl out from under their rock and claim satire.

You know what, Rikus? Get an education. Get a dictionary. Better still – get a life. Preferably off-line.



  1. Well, I thought it was witty, but then again I’m know to have a sick sense of humor. At least the part in which Spithorst throws back her own words in her face. Femke is the one who tags Duyvendak, (who’s under suspicion of stirring up arson) with the integrity label. What Spithorst does is just spitting back her own words into her face. Not in the most elegant way I agree and you have to look a little harder to find traces of wittyness, or maybe it’s just my sick mind, but in my humble opinion Femke Halsema tries to gain some political profit out of this matter by manoeuvring herself into the role of a victimized woman. Her strategy also diverts the public attention very conveniently from Mr. Duyvendak away.

  2. Of course seh tries to gain political profit. That’s her job. My point is that this old, disgruntled train commuter can’t claim satire. Ever. He hasn’t the slightest idea what that is.

  3. To me the whole column was not witty at all.
    I took the liberty to read more columns from him and the things he wrote at some writerssite, and my first impression was for me the right impression.
    In my opiniom Spithorst is a pityful sour non-writer.
    But he doesn’t deserve to get fired.

    PS Cant you change the charsize? Even with my glasses I keep seeing a little greyish field.

  4. OK, RvK, you’re right about that, it’s not the sophisticated ‘tongue in cheek’ kinda pun he uses but the ‘right in yer face’ method. One can argue about his skills and I’m far from convinced that he’s a newborn Menippus, heck he can’t even kiss the ground Nico Dijkshoorn walks on, but what he does is more akin to satire than a Heinz Konsalik story. And besides that, he expresses his Freedom of Speech and I doubt if Femke Halsema can convince a judge to punish him for that. However, he should receive a penalty for his butterfingered writing, let’s say 20 whiplashes over the bare back.

    @Mumke, I happen to know that the lenses of this thing come available:

    maybe they fit in your goggles?

    PS, CTRL + also dies a great job

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