If no one gets your joke, is it still funny?

On April 15, conservatives, libertarians and lots of other folks who claim they are sick of high taxes and government out of control decided to hold a modern-era “tea party.”

In Lansing, Michigan, there were an estimated 5,000 people packed shoulder to shoulder on the Capitol lawn, as shown in this photo taken from one of the Capitol balconies: capitol-tea-party

I’ve often said that CNN and FOX were doing themselves a disservice by mixing commentary with news and deciding it’s OK to be classified as the “liberal” or “conservative” news outlets.

This piece from CNN covering the Chicago tea party shows some of the more blatant lack of journalistic standards of that network, and listening to just a few minutes of FOX “news” on any given morning will give you a taste of that network’s rightward lean.

But now much of the coverage of the tea party events across the country has been taking a beating because of the incessant use of the term “teabagging” to describe the activities of the day and the protesters’ plans for additional actions against President Barack Obama’s economic plans.

For those of you who don’t know, “teabagging” is a term used to describe the sexual act of a man placing his testicles into someone’s mouth.

Is it really a left-wing conspiracy to make a joke of the protesters’ activities by using that term? And, even if it is, what do the right-wing faithful intent on calling out CNN and other news outlets for their handling of the coverage think they are going to accomplish?

Let’s say, for sake of argument, that CNN’s leaders and others decided they’d make a joke about the tea parties. How many folks really knew what teabagging was before people started complaining about the use of the term? If no one gets your joke, is it still funny?

By protesting the media coverage of their protests, the protesters are only hurting themselves. They have decided that the coverage of the events is more important, thereby making the coverage of their protests of the coverage more likely to get news coverage. In the meantime, the coverage of the original tea party protests is falling by the wayside. In addition, they are now letting millions of people in on the joke allegedly being perpetrated against them.

Are people talking about tea party protests, the need to get taxes in this country under control or the groundswell of citizens wanting to become the government again? No — instead, people are spending their time on Google researching sexual references. The organizers of the tea parties have lost their message, they’ve lost their way and they’ve lost their effectiveness on this issue. Hey, when I put it that way, it sounds like they have indeed become the government!

(Photo courtesy of Jessi Wortley)