Onion tweets itself into trouble, but consider the source

These days the source of information almost always defines its perspective. Still, sarcasm doesn't work for everyone. The satirical publication caused an uproar on Twitter yesterday when it suggested there was gunfire in the Capitol.

Humor is only skin deep. No, wait. That's beauty. Humor is deep beneath the skin and merely masquerades as beautifully superficial.

The Onion has mined the true depths of humor for quite a while now. However, yesterday it seems to have peeled its way into something of a misstep.

You see, unless you were unreasonably detained by your Congressman yesterday, you'll know that the Onion tweeted this: "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building."

There wasn't so much as a link with this little tweet, which might (or might not) be the reason why, according to The New York Times, the United States Capitol Police decided to investigate.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Many might feel that the tweet wasn't quite up to the Onion's usual standards of humor. Others would, no doubt, like to point out that this tweet was followed, just 10 minutes later, by "BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostage."

Which does seem to put more of a truth-heavy, fact-light perspective on things.

Still others, though, would offer: "But this is the Onion, people. The Onion does the anti-news. The Onion does the news that is so not news, but really kind of is in a truth-telling, but not fact-telling way."

The Capitol Police, however, didn't seem to agree. They issued a statement saying: "Twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol. Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal. There is no credibility to these stories or the Twitter feeds."

Sadly, sarcasm doesn't work for everyone. Some people read the words, take them literally, and fulminate before cogitating. It's odd, though, given that these days the source of information almost always defines its perspective.

You know where Moveon.org stands, just as you know who sits next to Fox News' right hand. Yet because many news organizations have become less trusted, younger, more desperate (understandably so) generations turn to the likes of Jon Stewart for not merely information but sarcastic perspective. The search for a desperate truth, rather than a twisted truthiness.

For its part, the Onion explained that its Twitter feed had not been hacked. The tweets were related to an amuse-brain on its site headlined: "Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage-- 'We Need $12 Trillion Or All These Kids Die'."

This, many would find funny.

But the sarcasm in the original tweet might actually be so hidden as to be lost. Especially in the week in which Massachusetts police arrested a man in connection with, well, an alleged plot to bomb the Capitol.

The Onion's Twitter followers seem largely less than tickled with the one, poorly conceived tweet. "@TheOnion I feel like I am missing the punch line...not funny," offered HappyJoy3 from Austin, Tx.

The hostage tweets are all still up there on the Onion's feed. However, the last tweet about the hostage situation was some 19 hours ago and read: "UPDATE: Hostage Negotiation Talks Stall In Congress #CongressHostage http://onion.com/ozHsmU."

I am worried for the children.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
 

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