For example, one day at work we might hear a super-rich senior partner say, "You're welcome!" with no sense of irony in response to a subordinate telling him, "Hey, we finally completed all those weeks of excruciatingly dull work that resulted from your insistence on a fairly trivial change to an arcane part of our internal procedures... thanks so much for suggesting the change."
And then another day we might read in an otherwise pretty unremarkable New Yorker article that Chinese prisoners in Mao's reeducation camps were regularly beaten on the head with nailed planks and, twice a day, forced to sing "The Howling Song," which goes like this:
I am an ox-ghost and snake demon.
I am guilty, I am guilty.
I committed crimes against the people...
If I speak or act without permission,
May you beat me and smash me.
Beat me and smash me.