At all costs, be nice.
Your job is to make people feel good.
You’re a defender of the status quo.
You agree with Stalin:
everyone should be happy.
The first to stop smiling gets the axe.
The first to stop clapping, disappears.
What’s all this doom and gloom?
The Democrats are the party of good cheer.
The Republicans represent darkness.
Oscar Wilde – were he alive – would be
easy to place; he never had anything nice to say.
We know what he represented. We
don’t need to read his stories.
His books don’t deserve reprinting.
Take them out of circulation. I’ve got it:
let’s distribute the works of a dedicated progressive
instead: Obama’s memoirs along with the yellow pages.
We’ll make them mandatory reading, like
Slaughter-House Five for incoming freshmen.
We’ll not only not read Oscar Wilde, we’ll
arrest those who try to keep him in print.
We’ll listen in on their conversations. We’ll
have anyone who looks unhappy picked up,
anyone who’s not delighted, arrested. Progressives
are happy. We’ll make sadness against the law,
beginning with Mr. Wilde, who was a notorious complainer.
He demanded a dialogue when we know
happy people prefer to talk to themselves.
Saul Bellow said that: an unbroken record,
an incantation of jolly thoughts, a forced smile,
or even a perpetual dance fits democracy best.
Wilde dared to ask for open
discussion. He wanted the young
to think and debate; he spoke
like a Sophist; every student of Plato knows there’s
only one truth. Our professors know a thing or two,
beginning with the desire to see Wilde banned.
Let’s drive him off. Hell, we’ll
put him in prison, once we
deprive him of a living. The
editors at Simon & Schuster should
be picked up, too. At least they deserve
to be boycotted and picketed – driven out of business,
for daring to give freedom a greenlight, for
giving that faggot an open mic.
He says he’d be happier in prison anyway, so let’s do
him the favor. We’ll make dialogue against the law,
not just a forbidden custom, like masturbation. We’ll censor
discordant voices. We’ll start with that loudmouth from England.
We’ll get him off television and run reruns of Downton
Abbey for Anglophiles, something wholesome about
heterosexual families, not a vile-mouthed homo spouting trash,
like his hatred of conformity and political correctness.
Who the fuck does this guy think he is?
[David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. Also, he’s freakin’ awesome.]