I read a few American political humour blogs and have been doing so for some time. Many of these blogs spend a lot of time often quite hilariously and skillfully deconstructing the American right. They are often, yes, Standard American Liberals, although some of them are occasionally able to point out the structural deficits of American politics. However, with anything that involves the ridicule of an opposing movement, it necessarily involves the ridicule of people in that opposing political movement, if for nothing other than what they say.
You can imagine that it bears some risks. It can be a fine line and easy to trip up and cause collateral damage. I have occasionally seen a joke that to which I myself am collateral damage, but I have a thick skin and am willing to overlook a lot. I am also willing to forgive easily and laugh along with it, if it were clear that the individual making the joke is somewhat sensitive to the damage it caused.
Lately, there's was a dustup in the American blogosphere when Sadly, No!, a low humour favorite of mine, mocked a conservative for his fat. A lot of American liberals, due to the social geography of the US, for some reason take fat to be a sign of moral and political turpitude in the way that others take poverty, and many of the Sadly, No! commenters and some of its contributors could not bring themselves to grasp the nature of the objection, and thence ensured a flamewar there and at Feministe (continued here and here, the comments on all these threads are very long).
In my previous post, I too might have fallen prey to this problem. A lot of ridicule is based on disgust, and the things that are most evocative of disgust are physical things. So it's easy to overlook or rationalize the collateral damage. At the same time, I still find blogs like Sadly, No! and World O'Crap funny, even when there's collateral damage, because it's so hard to avoid it. I have even encountered some very---for example---radical feminist blogs who occasionally fall into the trap or, perhaps, cross their own line that way. It's also possible to avoid being a stubborn fool about it. And ridicule is too useful a tool to set aside.
The point of this post? I'm still not sure how far to rationalize away the collateral damage some ridicule can cause. I'm not willing to give it up entirely, but that too may be a...lame? rationalization.