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Image: Chicago Tribune

“If I cant be mean what the heck good am I.” (Mike Royko)

Columnist Mike Royko died 25 years ago today. Royko was a chronicler of Chicago; its people, especially the proverbial little guy/gal/it/them/whoever- we must be inclusive today. With all the problems in Chicago and the total silliness in Washington, one could wonder, What Would Royko Do?

Mike Royko would turn his satirical poison pen, dripping with sarcasm, on them all. Unfortunately, Mike Royko would not last in today’s environment. There would be calls for his firing or resignation. Advertisers would be threatened with boycotts, along with accusations of racism, hate speech, antisemitism, and whatever ism or phobia people could make up out of thin air. Most of the allegations would come from his colleagues and peers in the news media. They love to be the story and get their names out front.

Humor and satire are dying in America. Everyone is offended, and they demand action. The offense police are a lynch mob. Mike Royko would not survive in this toxic environment. No humorist or satirist would.

In the Chicago news media, humor, satire, and pointed criticism are dead. Editorials are oh so veddy polite, nice, and sanitary. Poison pens were swapped with delicate bone china teacups. Pinky fingers are properly stuck out in the proper positions.

Since Royko met the Great Comedian, news entities and the public searched for a successor, the new Royko. There will never be a new Royko. There will never be another Art Buchwald, William Safire, Pete Hamil, Studs Terkel, or any other notable columnist or author.

They are one-offs. They made their mark on the world, left a treasure trove of material, then passed on. They could not pass a torch because their individuality made them unique.

Royko was a son of Chicago. Many thought he was a son-of-a-something- else. He was a neighborhood guy, a street guy, and, as we say, an “etnic” guy. He was one of us. Mike Royko was an astute observer of Chicago, from the ethnic and racial neighborhoods to the shenanigans in City Hall, the County Building, and beyond.

If Royko came back today, he would be appalled at what Chicago’s news media turned into. Chicago used to have courageous and fearless reporters and columnists. Now, the snowflakes, cowards, weenies, and wussies “report,” write columns, and run the newsrooms. They spy on each other like Soviet children used to spy on their families. If they even perceive a whiff of “offense,” off to the gulag you go.

Reporters are no longer objective, courageous, and fearless. There is no objectivity. They are social justice warriors. The reportage is slanted. They would turn on their own if they detected perceived offense- whatever offense means these days.

The news media are the spokes weasels for City Hall, the County Building, and Springfield. In essence, they are part and parcel of the corrupt Chicago Way. They sold their souls and shed their courage and fearlessness, in exchange for access.

Reporters used to be trusted by the public. No longer. The news media do not care about the people. They are no longer guardians or watchdogs. They are cute, panting, pink-tongued lap dogs waiting for a treat from their masters.

Humor and satire are considered offensive and risky by corporate media. The executives fear any backlash, especially from their own newsrooms. It is easier to silence voices than ignore the lynch mob.

The grievance industry and their fellow travelers must be heard and satisfied. That is why there will never be another Royko in Chicago. The weasels, cowards, activists, and powers that be would never allow it. There will never be another Pete Hamill, Art Buchwald, Jimmy Breslin, Charles Krauthammer, or others. They would be publicly tarred, feathered, and fired.

Humor, satire, and poking the powers that be are dead in Chicago. John Stewart recently demanded to make humor funny again. That will be a near impossibility in this fragile, humorless society. People break, shatter and fall to pieces if you use the “wrong” pronoun, let alone criticize some cherished person.

No one is safe from the offense lynch mobs and their fairy tale grievances, no matter their political persuasion. We are turning into a society of brittle souls looking for anything to be offended by. There is a need to destroy people.

No one speaks for the neighborhoods, the little guy/gal/them, or points out the follies in local government. No one pokes fun at the inanity and absurdities in this city. Soon, even laughter will be verboten. Joy and laughter are quickly being sucked out of the news media and public discourse. Even the comic strips are longer comical.

Hell, columns will soon resemble Valentine’s Day cards with XXXs and OOOs, SWAK.
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