Edward O. Wilson Satirical Essay
Wilson addresses both sides of a controversial issue by generalizing the perspective of each group concerning conservation of the environment. Wilson's satirical language, juxtaposition, paradox, and irony convey the opposing attitudes about environmentalism. He does this to demonstrate that both arguments are unproductive and ultimately lead nowhere.
At first Wilson portrays the “People-First” critic's view on “Environmentalists.” Speaking from the place of a “People First” critic, he refers to the environmentalists as “wackos.” Wilson reveals that the “wackos” have a “mostly hidden agenda that comes from the left, usually far left.” The refers to the left movement which was especially seen in the Vietnam war when the youth started demanding sweeping, liberal changes in society. By emphasizing “far left,” Wilson is demonstrating that environmentalist go over-the-top, just as people did in the” New Left” movement during Vietnam. Wilson describes a hypothetical situation in which a college student will find and “endangered red spider on your property” and the “Endangered Species Act will shut you down.” This hyperbole immensely stretches the scene to emphasize the lengths to which environmentalist may go. The scene is also ironic because while most people think to kill a red spider, an environmentalist would endure any adversity to save it. Wilson describes environmentalists as potent and “conservation should be kept in perspective.” He then creates a paradox by saying property owners “are the real grass roots in this country.” This statement is paradoxical because the environmentalists are fighting against property owners to save land, when in reality, the property owners “know what's best for their land.”
Wilson then establishes the “Environmentalist” view on “People-First” critics. Speaking from this perspective he refers to the people-first critics as “anti-environmentalist,” “brown lashers,” and “sagebrush rebels.” Wilson creates a paradoxical statement saying “these people are the worst bunch of hypocrites you'll ever not want to know.” The strong opposition present in this statement reveals that it isn't worth the time to even know this group. He notes that “People-First” critic's
of conservation is stocking trout streams and planting trees around golf courses.” This is ironic because these are also some of the goals of environmentalists. Although these actions may be limited, it is still practicing the general concept of conservation of the environment. The “People First” critics potentially put land development “über alles” (above all else). This satirical language portrays the environmentalists as the victims and their stories are never heard. This was most likely intended to poke fun at both groups to prove the unproductive nature of the issue. The argument ends with a rhetorical question, “What exactly are they trying to conserve? Their own selfish interests...” This statement, once again, is ironic because the “People-First” critics could say the same thing about them.
Both perspectives state many of the same problems concerning the issue. Ironically, they cannot see eye-to-eye because each perspective thinks that they are right. When compared, both groups discuss “power”, and “hidden agendas.” Environmentalists are depicted to “expand the government,” while People-First” critics have too much power because they are “tied so closely to the corporate power structure.” Both perspectives describe hidden agendas concerning important issues each side views has significant in society. Each view also describes the “left” and the “right” wing, emphasizing that both are too extreme either way. This juxtaposition identifies that both perspectives are more alike than they are willing to admit. There is no common middle ground despite the similarities. It is seen daily in the issue of exterminating prairie dogs or to keep them alive, to save the Poudre River, or to focus on other things.
Wilson closely identifies and establishes satirical, ironic, an juxtapositional aspects of the controversial topic of conservatism. He reveals these perspectives in a new light when contrast to each other in order to show that the issue is literally going nowhere. The opposing attitudes show the humor and satire presented in the issues and problems in society.