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Satire on Flint Water Crisis

In: Social Issues

Submitted By cborrelli
Words 1117
Pages 5
A satire as defined by Google is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” The Onion, a satirical news company, is famous for making a mockery out of political issues that arise is all levels of news. The article titled EPA Urges Flint Residents To Stop Dumping Tap Water Down Drain, was published to The Onion on April 28, 2016 to mock the heavily publicized water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The Onion criticizes the governmental lack of concern for their people by creating a “government on the losing end” situation.
In some satires, it may be said that over exaggerations are made in an attempt to point out major flaws within the situation, but this is not the case within this article. First is point about the health and safety risks for the infrastructure and ecosystem, and it is directly related to public health and safety. Having water coming from the river was detrimental to both humans and the piping in Flint, as the high levels of chlorine and lime created a chemical reaction within the lead pipes. This goes hand in hand with the disposal of the tap water, where the article states that “the waste treatment facilities are not capable of purifying the corrosive liquid..” The same was true in Flint, as the waste treatment plants were only putting lime into the water in an attempt to make it softer, which could have possibly made the lead situation worse. Second is the press release statement to alert everyone in Flint of the issue. It took a very long time for anyone in Flint to become aware of the situation, and public officials continued to brush off the problem until a doctor stepped up. Point three is the advice to store water away from children and pets. This is the golden comparison in this article, as the situation in Flint caused extreme harm to everyone, especially children and pets. There are close to 9,000 children under 6 who are now considered lead-exposed, and The World Health Organization says the "neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible." This point also goes along with the comparison of free testing kits in The Onion’s article, to the free water filters, water test kits, and water bottles issued by the White House. Of course these kits were offered many months after the city of Flint had been consuming the lead contaminated water (Dickinson, T. 2016.). The biggest point that is made is the relation of poor tap water citizens are dumping, compared to the poor tap water that Flint was pumping from the river, to houses, and then taking back in again. No where within the article do the officials take into account where the citizens are getting their water supply from. This is directly relatable to the situation as it seems that no one wanted to step up and take the blame for what had happened, especially when it was historically known that the Flint River contained very poor water (CNN. 2016.) The unexaggerated examples also have reliability and fact behind them. All the points in the article were taken directly from the ongoing situation in Flint. The publisher did not make up false accusations in an attempt to buff up the article, they merely took facts and spun them in an amusing way.
This article is extremely straight forward, with unbiased language that has an authority and technical feel to it. The article includes many scientific sounding statements and words, which makes it feel like a real press release. The authors choice to write the article in this fashion relays the fact that the public officials stayed very formal through this entire crisis. Everything said to the public about the issue was formal, and scientific sounding information was provided (while many may not have understood it.) What the writer was most likely trying to convey was the lack of human behavior demonstrated, and the lack of empathy that all those keeping this large secret had for the people of Flint. The article reads very one sided, solely concerned about the environment and pipes, and not about the humans continuing to drink it. They do not go in depth about how it could harm those drinking the water, or what is really in the water. This is another play by the writers demonstrating the lack of concern the city officials had for the human beings at the ends of the water lines. The last line which reads “The statement then reminded residents that should they happen to consume the fluid, toxicity testing kits were available free of charge to determine whether their urine is safe to flush down the toilet”, gives readers a bit of obvious humor within an article full of satirical facts. The writers are able to get their points across well with this style of writing, as readers should be able to pin point exact examples from the crisis inside this article. In the article are a few words which hold significant weight, specifically words like severe, damage, and corrosive. These three words are almost always related to negative consequences and outcomes and in this context bring to mind words like harmful, unrepairable, and deadly. They are scary, and using them in this paper brings the realness of the situation to life. The actual situation in Flint involved all of these terms, and all the consequences that came with them, and in using them the writer instills the feeling of trouble, which was the real life situation of all those living in Flint.
In conclusion, the piece written for The Onion is a well done article that shines light on the horrible crisis in Flint, in a humorous and factual way. The writers used unbiased, unexaggerated examples to form a piece that shows how awful the situation was and how poorly the government reacted to the events. The formal wording gives the air of unhuman like behavior, withdrawn of any empathy or concern for the health and safety of the citizens of Flint.

References
CNN. May 2016. Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/flint-water-crisis-fast-facts/ Dickinson, T. January 2016. WTF Is Happening in the Flint Water Crisis, Explained. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/wtf-is-happening-in-the-flint-water-crisis-explained-20160122
The Onion. April 2016. EPA Urges Flint Residents To Stop Dumping Tap Water Down Drain.
Retrieved from http://www.theonion.com/article/epa-urges-flint-residents-stop-dumping-tap-water-d-52830

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