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Jon Stewart's Own Sanity Graph

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, October 15 2010

When Jon Stewart does a political rally, he does things a bit, well, differently than normal folks do. There's a certain school of thought on the art of political protests that holds, a la Goldwater, that extremism in political theater is no vice. But when the whole point of your rally is to actively encourage your fellow Americans to, per Stewart, take it down a notch, your interests might run closer to turning out folks that are chanting and wearing and holding signs that affirm a certain sort of moderation. But how to get there? In the lead up to his October 30th Rally to Restore Sanity, Stewart and company have launched SaneOrNot.com:

Along with jazz, baseball, and civil wars, rally signs are one of America’s greatest inventions. But this proud tradition has become lost in a fog of Nazi comparisons, racial slurs, and embarrassingly basic misspellings. Clearly the first step in restoring sanity to our nation is restoring sanity to our nation’s rally signs. And here’s your chance to help! After setting your personal philosophy to posterboard upload a photo so that we, as one people, can democratically vote on whether we, as one people, declare your sign SANE or NOT.

Stewart's effort in collaborative vetting has already produced an entertaining collection of the 25 Least Reasonable Signs.

This whole Rally to Restore Sanity thing, and its evil-Jon counterpart in Stephen Colbert's counterrally, is so meta that it can be hard to find firm footing on it. But who knows, maybe this could be big. Facebook started in a similar fashion with FaceMash, Mark Zuckerberg's rudimentary comparison tool for rating college girls' photos on their attractiveness. So maybe this is only the beginning of Stewart's online empire. Jon Stewart's sanity graph, perhaps. Facebook wants to be the platform on which the web runs, but why not Jon Stewart? Just think of it -- "sane or not" tools blended into blogs, chat rooms, YouTube comments, leading to an Internet that's a triumph of sanity...