When it comes to the issue of freedom of speech, especially as it relates to satire and irony in comedy, there will always be controversy. The one factor that will always defend comedy from the ever present controversy is the notion that the comedy comes first (i.e. we wanted to go for the laugh) over anything (i.e. political discourse, shock, etc.).
After The Onion’s lightning rod tweet during the Oscars telecast by plainly, and we’re not going out of context here, calling 9 year old actress, Oscar nominee, and star of Beasts of The Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis, “a cunt”, (the tweet has since been removed), this apology was issued by Onion CEO Steve Hannah without any irony whatsoever, a rarity from the offices The Onion.
This is a perfect example of how shock took precedence over comedy. Yes, it’s still satire, but it’s almost entirely satire with very little left to laugh at.