Monday, August 2, 2010

The Subversive Nature of Laughter

Friday, May 11, 2007
By Patrick Grimm

Two Orthodox Jews were walking down the street and came upon a Christian church. In the front window of the church there was a sign promising $1000 to any individual who converted to Christianity. The two Jews talked for a bit and finally agreed that one of them would go into the church, pretend to convert and they would then split the thousand dollars between them. So one of the Orthodox Jews went inside the church and was gone for quite a while. When he finally came outside and approached his friend, his friend asked him "Well, did you get the $1000?" The other Jew replied with a disapproving glance "Is that all you people care about is money?"

Humor is subversive. It is subversive because it sometimes slaughters our sacred cows and pillories the shibboleths of our culture. That is one reason why many oppressive regimes, think Chinese Communism under Mao Tse-Tung, banned laughter and jokes. We see much the same thing happening on many of our college campuses, where "inappropriate laughter" and "politically incorrect jokes" are forbidden and sometimes punishable with suspension, expulsion or propaganda classes in "diversity training" and "multiculturalism." These little sessions are supposed to shock recalcitrant students back into the repressive quasi-Marxist postmodern mindset of the university intelligentsia, at least in the humanities departments of those "institutions of lower living."

But why is humor so subversive? It is so subversive because all good humor, mirth and jest, for it to work, must contain a grain of truth. A good joke can only elicit a laugh from an audience if that joke rings truthful and authentic. A joke about Jewish blue collar workers or Jewish farmers would not seem authentic or funny to the listener because there is little in the real world that would confirm its validity. Humor, especially racial or ethnic humor, uncovers the truth, and unapologetically shoves stereotypes to the fore. But as I often note, all stereotypes are at least partially accurate, or they wouldn't be stereotypes in the first place. Enough people over a long period of time have noticed certain traits and particular characteristics about this group or that group, and those traits and characteristics have been replicated by said group enough that they are engrained in the minds of the populace. How could it be otherwise?

The war against laughter is perhaps one of the saddest facets of the "politically correct" and the "realistically incorrect" battle being waged in our society. For Jews, blacks or any other ethnic or racial entity to attempt to ban or censure jokes which are simply a given amongst the majority of us, is to move this war against laughter and merriment far beyond "political correctness" and into the realm of pathological insanity. Look at this country and you can measure the amount of freedom you have by how free you are to joke about racial and ethnic mores and personality traits. A joyless and humorless and laughterless society is probably going to be a repressed society. Frowns and fear and grimaces typically accompany a police state. But a country with a hearty, light and insouciant sense of humor signifies health, stability and virility. Which way are we headed? If recent media events (Imus) and the intellectual climate on our college campuses are any indication, we are headed the way of the China of the 1940s.

Humor unshackles us, liberates us and frees us from the straightjacket of convention and mundane predictability. It allows us to chuckle at each other, at ourselves and at all the little things that make each of us unique. To ban or silence such banter will only impoverish our souls and create a world with no innocuous outlets of release. Is it any wonder that the leftists, the Zionists and the one-worlders are more than ready to control our words, silence our voices and condemn us to a universe without jokes?

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