On the 15th of February, 2023, the satirical news source The Onion published an article on the train derailment in Ohio. The article serves to criticize corporate lobbying, money in politics, as well as the materialism in American culture. To do this, The Onion uses parody and understatement.
The article addresses both the concerns people have about the crash, such as product delivery times before the health of East Palestine residents, as well as the lack of consequences for Norfolk Southern in addition to the poor government response. One of the questions asked is “What is butyl acetate?” with the answer “A sweet-smelling, colorless liquid that shouldn’t be inhaled, ingested, or federally acknowledged.” This is a criticism of the idea of harmful substances not being classified as harmful due to poor regulations, as strong regulations could harm profits. Another question asked was “This won’t delay my shipments of cheap consumer goods, will it?” which was answered with “God no, this is America!” The question and the answer both serve to criticize materialism, with the question making a statement about how the main concern of the person was their order, instead of the lives that may have been affected, and the answer serves to criticize America as a whole, being a statement about how the disaster won’t cause any changes to the system that could affect delivery times.
Overall, the article criticizes both the factors that led to the disaster in addition to the poor response to the disaster, making it a very effective satire because it is pointing out the consequences of modern society and how people don’t care, instead of simply mocking the railroad workers, the company, or the government.