'The Onion' Founder Lampoons Elon Musk: "I Just Sell the Death Rays"

"It’s a good time to be in the death ray business."

To Scott Dikkers, founding editor at The Onion, Elon Musk represents a lot of qualities that make someone an easy target: he’s undeniably powerful, a multibillionaire, driven and ambitious, and sometimes, oblivious.

“I love characters like Elon Musk who are larger than life, hyperbolic, cartoonish,” Dikkers, founder of The Onion, tells Inverse. “How can we satirize or lampoon that when it’s already so absurd?”

The author of Trump’s America: Buy This Book and Mexico Will Pay for It is back with his satirical bullseye on another larger-than-life billionaire. This time, Musk is the subject. With Welcome to the Future Which Is Mine, by Not Elon Musk and Dikkers (out October 2), the CEO is skewered in passages like the one below.

Dikkers tells Inverse that he originally wanted to attribute the book to Musk himself. Unfortunately, the prospect of getting sued did not sit well with publishers. (“Getting sued would be great!” said Dikkers. “What great publicity that would be.”)

“Until Elon replaces our healthcare system with an artificially intelligent, euthanasia-dispensing phalanx of robo-doctors, laughter will still be the best medicine,” Dikkers says in his own recommendation of his latest.

The excerpt below — “Only in the Wrong Hands Could My Death Ray Hurt Someone” — is about death rays, but it could just as easily be about Musk’s Boring Company Not-a-Flamethrower flamethrowers, which he sold to raise money to develop his tunnel-digging business under the moniker the Boring Company.

It’s a good time to be in the death ray business. The Musk Co. Death Ray sold over twenty thousand units last quarter. People love ’em! Selling death rays is a great way for me to make some extra cash by fulfilling a market need—and a basic human need—to hold something in your hands that could, if you were a bad person, kill another person with the power of the sun. But I hasten to point out that only in the hands of someone truly terrible could my death ray be used to spray fire at others.

I just sell the death rays. It’s not up to me how they’re used. Tens of thousands of people enjoy using their death ray every day to do all kinds of things besides instantaneously reducing their enemies to a puddle of green slime. Once they leave the doors of the Death Ray Gigafactory, it’s up to the individual death ray consumer how to use (or not use) them. I suspect many buyers simply want a “showpiece” to display in their home, office, classroom, or cell.

It’s important to keep in mind that I manufacture the world’s safest death ray. Not only is it the safest death ray, in fact, it is safer than any death beam or death wave currently on the market. Also, it’s the deadliest.

Is it possible that some bad people could have gotten their hands on one of my death rays? Sure. Is it possible the statistics detailing such incidents have been wiped from all public records and the data permanently erased from all the world’s computer databases? Maybe. But who would have the expertise to do that besides me? I don’t know. Actually, maybe I do, but that’s no one’s business in an autocracy.

I had a friend named Turge when I was in college. He was arrested for nautical trespassing, and he absolutely hated mission-style furniture. So I know crime.

I am a billionaire.

I hope I’m making my point.

Some people are saying that I don’t have any kind of system in place to to track or control who’s buying my death ray. But that simply isn’t true. Everyone who wants to buy a death ray has to enter both a credit card number and a zip code before they can hit the “buy” button.

Please note: additional customs fees may apply for international orders because of laws. Also, apparently, some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a “Death Ray.” To solve this, we’re renaming it “Not A Death Ray.” Or maybe “Human Alive Status-Adjustment Device.” These are intelligent market-based solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist, but that’s capitalism.

There have perhaps been a few deaths caused as a result of the Musk Co. Death Ray. However, these metrics are statistically insignificant. Any consumer good, be it a ballpoint pen, a jar of Vaseline, or a super-powered instant-kill death ray, will likely cause anywhere between zero and ten thousand deaths—that’s simply the statistical reality. Everyone knows that the Eskimos have one hundred words for snow, but what you don’t know is that they have fifteen for “death ray.”

If and when the alien invasion happens, you’ll be glad you bought a death ray. It works against hordes of aliens or your money back! But you must provide evidence of any aliens you were unable to kill along with your receipt.

A death ray can only hurt someone if the person using it wants to hurt someone. Just like a banana, a grand piano, or any other object. Even if someone did consciously choose to use the Musk Co. Death Ray to kill someone, the good news is we’re developing software for the death ray that will detect when it’s pointed at another human, and it’ll prevent you from firing. As is, we’re struggling with a bug in the software right now that makes the death ray automatically fire when it’s pointed at another human. But as I said, we’re working on it.

Excerpted from WELCOME TO THE FUTURE WHICH IS MINE. Copyright © 2018 by Blaffo Industries, LLC. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

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