“Too soon”? Perhaps. Did “we” have it coming? Also yes.
By “we,” I mean the Navy, as I am a Navy Surface Warfare veteran.
By now, you probably know of the recent respective collision incidents involving USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, and you almost certainly know of the damage in south Texas from Hurricane Harvey. The two ship collisions cost the lives of 17 U.S. Sailors. The overall death toll from the hurricane is yet to be known until flood waters recede.
Now add satire news. Notwithstanding the far too common problem of people believing satirical news articles to be true, this came in the other day from Duffel Blog, a military-themed satire news site.
As with any joke making light of recent death (or not-so-recent death), opinions on social media differ as to whether this was acceptable. You have the right to find this offensive or inoffensive.
Allow me as a Surface Warfare veteran and former destroyer navigator who even spent time as a liaison to Fitzgerald to admit something: I actually laughed at the article, perhaps with some guilty conscience. Sometimes, dark humor helps to get us through things like this. I’ll hold my fire.
But I am going to fire some rocks. Elsewhere on the Internet, useless speculations ruled the day. Various commentators suddenly became maritime navigation experts and declared with absolute (false) certainty which ships had erred. Others ran up speculations of terrorism and/or cyber attack. This was simply a matter of people pretending to be experts after two minutes of Internet research. But it got worse.
As we proceed with screenshots here, you’ll notice that I’ve limited the mentions to verified accounts, not just common Twitter fray. These are the “established people.”
Various leftists used the tragedies as a convenient means of attacking the President.
Brandon Friedman, who helps run a public relations firm focused on military affairs, could let facts get in the way of a good jab. The President had already nominated an Ambassador to Japan, and there was an acting Secretary of the Navy. These words were repeated countless times on Twitter.
Newsweek editor Matthew Cooper, among others, couldn’t be bothered to research for whom USS John S. McCain is named. (Hint: They’re not living.)
This failed attempt at political satire came in way too soon from Weekly Standard editor John Podhoretz.
Duffel Blog overall has a clear intention of poking fun at military life, all the while often having cogent points, and there was even a point to the aforementioned article. Even without a point, however, it’s satire that helps service members and veterans get through things. The Babylon Bee may be defended in the same way on occasion.
These collisions hurt this veteran deeply. And there are far worse things than news satire, even news satire that might be too soon.