It has been a disheartening week for Freedom of Speech. With the ouster of the Talibush many had hoped for a reversal in the trend of rights being eroded. That erosion is actually getting worse.
We saw the raging controversy ignited by the political cartoon of a chimp being shot by the police for coming up with a bad economic bail out package. This could have been interpreted in the light of the monkeys being a long standing symbol of ineptness, the chimp attack on a Connecticut woman that occurred in the same time frame or the Infinite Monkey Theorem regarding the delay in getting the bill written. But no, chimpanzees have suddenly become a (for christ’s sake) “powerful symbol in the history of racism in this country.” Giving J. Fred Muggs all those cigarettes was a racist jab at black people who smoked. Shame on you NBC!
Comedy has long been a tool for pointing out the foibles in our society. What we call “nursery rhymes” were comedic attacks on the ruling classes in Europe. Political cartoons have been very effective weapons of political change since newspapers started being published. Look what they did to the powerful Tammany Hall political machine.
In today’s society the sights are leveled comedians doing stand up or on the radio shows. While Oprah can have a show on “Slutty 13 Year Olds Who Act Like Whores,” Opie and Anthony could loose their jobs just for saying “slut.” It seems any issue is fair game unless and until someone makes fun of it. The reason for this is clear.
Comedians, especially those practicing cringe humor, are society’s mirror and slayers of is sacred cows. Making people laugh can give someone great power of hearts and minds. How do you think a guy like me gets laid?
For example, is there any perceivable public anger over a fruitless war that has destroyed our economy and resulted in the deaths of thousands of young men? No.
What do IUD’s and IED’s have in common? They both improve the job market. Let a famous comic say something like that during the Academy Awards and you will not be able to swing a dead Oscar without hitting someone who is outraged.
It’s funny (no pun intended) that people will laugh at anything except the things they value. Moreover they don’t want other people laughing at them either. Laughing at something might cause them to reevaluate their stance, give the issue some thought and, god’s forbid, maybe change their mind.
This is not just something The Powers That Be ™ are guilty of. It’s systemic; something inside each person. Those most prone to it are referred to as “having no sense of humor.”
I participate in a relatively open micro blogging venue called Twitter. Now on Twitter you simply write what comes into your mind. It’s not like a message board or a mailing list. Only those who choose to are able read your remarks.
As an avid fan of cringe many of my posts are direct assaults on the realm of the PC. Recently I posted a link to a video which actually makes fun of Christians by showing their intolerance of other religions, specifically Wicca. However Wiccans (a group that is a great source of humor yet keeps none for itself) were upset by it (they are very delicate, you see). Now one would suppose that offended subscribers to what I write would simply mutter something about my being a total ass and stop reading. Much like one would change the channel if one was not enjoying a TV show.
But this is not the way things work. Instead of “changing the channel” people want others to be equally as angry about what “offends” them. This is called “censorship” which is more properly defined as “not wanting others to hear or consider ideas you don’t agree with.”
In the case of my post, the hue and the cry went up. “I am blocking you! I am going to stop following you! What do the rest of you say? LET’S IGNORE HIM!!”
How transparent. Yet it is a microcosm of how things work in human society.
Were the little Wiccans really afraid that my tweets were going to reignite the Inquisition? No, they just don’t want other people thinking anything the least bit negative about them (their egos are very fragile). So they attempt to make those who may have laughed at the video turn that laughter into anger.
Squelching anger with its antithesis, anger fueled by guilt, was also used in the case of the chimp. Is Al Sharpton really offended by a stupid cartoon? No, if so, he (and others who seem so egregiously hurt by it) simply would not look at it. What he is worried about is people accepting criticism of the president and beginning to look at him as just the president, as opposed to the Historic First African American Leader of Our Country ®. This might lead to us finally realizing there is no real racism in this country. This realization would mean no money, publicity or free fried chicken for Rev Al.
It would also mean the administration would have to face the same scrutiny and deal with the same criticisms as its predecessors. The deafening silence coming from the Whitehouse as to its assessment of the cartoon is easily seen as tacit approval of the murder of Freedom of Speech.
As I said, it’s been a bad week.