Ouch, That Hurts! Touché!
Thinking about why we so enjoy witty sarcasm and polemic. I’m sure much of the time it is because we happen to agree that the person or idea being satirized deserves mocking. But sometimes it is simply aesthetic pleasure—even if we sympathize with the target of the barb. You may even laugh when someone makes witty fun of your own foibles.
I can easily imagine that being the response of the unfortunate student who read my friend’s comment in the margin of her term paper on one of Shakespeare’s comedies. My colleague confessed to me, somewhat sheepishly, that he was unable to resist writing a less than formal, professorial remark on her paper. When this student, in writing about the amount of implied sex in the play, kept referring to “fornification”, he snapped and scribbled in the margin of her paper “The fucking word is fornication!”