Re: Tragedy and Humor

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 26 Dec 1996 14:17:01 -0800 (PST)

EY> I see the Holocaust as a horrendous tragedy, and if someone
EY> smaller than me made a joke about it, I'd punch his lights out.

That attitude is far more likely to lead to violence and hatred
than a spoof like _Springtime for Hitler_. It is precisely such
unhealthy emotional attachment to certain ideas--"sacred cows"--
that closes otherwise functional minds to different ideas. Humor
is a valuable tool, because much of what is funny is funny because
it's unexpected, unorthodox, and therefore mind-expanding.

Humor can be used to break out of mental blocks caused by extreme
emotions--the way emergency room doctors use gallows humor, or the
way things like Challenger jokes and Chris Reeve jokes inevitably
follow such events to help get our minds back on track. Those who
find such things "tasteless" are deficient in two respects: they
are allowing an indefinable abstraction like "taste" cloud their
rational values, and they are willfully evading reality, because
they usually have to suppress their natural urge to laugh at things
that really are funny.

Also, humor can help soften the emotional impact of ideas that are
so far apart from the orthodoxy that they would otherwise be seen
and dismissed as absurd. After one gang of usenetters who take
themselves far too seriously created, a second
group created to make fun of them, but also to
expose the serious mistakes of many enviro-fundies. Serious
discussions did go on in both groups, but the humorus nature of
the latter made the discussions freer and less self-censored.

Dogmatism of any kind--especially when it appears benevolent and
peaceful--is dangerous, and humor is a valuable tool to fight it.
If you can't make fun of yourself, your mind will never grow.