A spectre is haunting the internet—the spectre of Open Sarcasm.
Of late, the forces of Big Sarcasm have brought forth onto the internet the idea that sarcasmists everywhere must license and download their proprietary new “punctuation”—called the “SarcMark”®—in order to clarify sarcasm in their writing.
A growing chorus of voices has joined together to decry this idea. It is high time that Open Sarcasmists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Open Sarcasm with a manifesto of the punctuation itself.
To this end, Open Sarcasmists of various nationalities have assembled in Brooklyn and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish (coming soon), and Danish (coming soon) languages.
I. On Sarcasm as a Neglected Mode of Expression
Consider the following claim of Sarcasm, Inc.:
Stand Up For Sarcasm – It needs a punctuation mark. Let your voice and written word be heard across the country, the continent, and the world.
Don’t questions have one???
Exclamations have them!!!
Equal Rights for Sarcasm – Use the SarcMark®
The founders of Sarcasm, Inc., seem to be unaware a proper punctuation mark for sarcasm already exists in the Ethiopic writing system. From A Roadmap to the Extension of the Ethiopic Writing System Standard Under Unicode and ISO-10646 (PDF, via wikipedia), produced at the 15th International Unicode Conference in 1999:
Ethiopic Sarcasm Mark ¡ Temherte Slaqî
Graphically indistinguishable from U+00A1 (¡) Temherte Slaqî differs in semantic use in Ethiopia. Temherte Slaqî will come at the end of a sentence (vs at the beginning in Spanish use) and is used to indicate an unreal phrase, often sarcastical in editorial cartoons. Temherte Slaqî is also important in children’s literature and in poetic use.
Indeed, a certain Joshua Greenman encouraged us to adopt this very symbol to punctuate sarcasm back in 2004, though he seems to have not known of its Ethiopic origins and misguidedly thought that he could copyright the symbol:
And since I’m going to copyright this bugger, you’ll have to type¡© But don’t worry. You can take the copyright symbol ironically.
He later turned to the side of the revolution by refuting the idea of trademarking punctuation in a later article about the introduction of SarcMark:
First, trademarking a punctuation mark—trying to own the very stuff of thought—is like patenting a DNA strand. It’s messing with the very stuff of life. Get out of my head, evil corporate overlords.
Although we admire the fire with which Comrade Josh has adopted the revolutionary spirit, we wonder if he knows how frequently DNA is already patented.
To return again to the point of our manifesto: Despite the historic usage of ¡ to express sarcasm, the creators of the SarcMark® would encourage us to abandon this ancient punctuation for in favor of their creation. Section III will explore in further detail the impetus for this transition, while Section II will cover the merits of new “punctuation” developed by Big Sarcasm.
II. On Developers Creating New Forms of Punctuation Without Consulting Typography Experts
Yeah. They shouldn’t do that.
III. On Communicating Sarcasm in a Licensed, Proprietary Format
Sarcasm, Inc., claims that they are promoting “Equal Rights for Sarcasm,” writing:
In today’s world with increasing commentary, debate and rhetoric, what better time could there be than NOW, to ensure that no sarcastic message, comment or opinion is left behind.
However, by insisting that sarcasm be transmitted through their proprietary format, which is not compliant with the standards put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium and the Unicode Consortium, they are in fact segregating and discriminating against sarcasm. You can ask a question or make an exclamation for free, but for sarcasm, you will be charged!
Furthermore, true punctuation must be supported by unicode so it can be transmitted digitally in an industry standard format. A proprietary, licensed SarcMark® ensures that visually impaired readers will be unable to interpret sarcasm expressed through the SarcMark®, and restricts the use of sarcasm by impoverished authors who cannot afford to pay Sarcasm, Inc.’s outrageous licensing fee.
So to what end should sarcasmists abandon the ancient, standards-complaint ¡ for the hideous SarcMark ®? Only to line the pockets of Big Sarcasm.
[Big Sarcasm illustration courtesy I Can Has Cheezburger]
This state of affairs is deeply wrong and must be corrected with a return to ¡ as the free, open-source, standards-compliant punctuation for sarcasm.
In short, the Open Sarcasmists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing punctionational order of things.
The Open Sarcasmists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing punctuational conditions. Let the ruling “punctuations” tremble at an Openly Sarcastic revolution. The users of licensed “punctuation” have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to mock.