Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Humor as a weapon of mass resistance

Humor As Weapon, Shield and Psychological Salve
By Nichole Force

Humor As Weapon, Shield and Psychological SalveHumor has long been recognized as more than mere fun and games. It presents an alternative means of expressing criticism about injustices, arrogance, pretentions or hypocrisies that can’t socially (or legally) be expressed otherwise.

Court jesters could say things to the royals “in jest” that others would have been beheaded for uttering. When King James I of England had trouble fattening up his horses, court jester Archibald Armstrong reportedly suggested that His Majesty make the horses bishops and they would fatten in no time.


An example of gallows humor can be seen in the Soviet-era joke in which two Russians debate who is greater, Joseph Stalin or Herbert Hoover. “Hoover taught the Americans not to drink,” says one. “Yes, but Stalin taught the Russians not to eat,” replies the other. Placing a comical spin on dire circumstances that are outside one’s control was an effective coping mechanism long before the Germans named the phenomenon, and continues to serve the oppressed, victimized and suffering today.

Gallows humor often is viewed as an expression of resilience and hope that has the power to soothe suffering. When the minority has few tools to combat an oppressive majority, gallows humor can be used as a sort of secret, subversive weapon. The danger that ridicule poses to those in power is captured by the Italian phrase Una risata vi seppellirà, which translates to “It will be a laugh that buries you.”

The fear of the weapon of humor was alive and well in Nazi Germany, and it was dangerous business. The legal code of the time reflected Joseph Goebbels’ interpretation of the political joke as “a remnant of liberalism” that threatened the Nazi state. Not only was joke-telling made illegal, but those who told jokes were labeled “asocial” – a segment of society frequently sent to concentration camps. Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Goering, referred to anti-Nazi humor as “an act against the will of the Fuehrer… and against the State and the Nazi Government,” and the crime was punishable by death. Article III, section 2 of the 1941 code (the Reichsgesetzblatt I) stated: “In cases where it is not specifically provided for, the death penalty will be imposed whenever the crime reveals an unusually low mentality or is especially serious for other reasons; in such cases the death penalty may also be imposed against juvenile criminals.” Since Nazi informants could be within earshot at any given moment, it was important to hold one’s tongue and suppress any witty desires. A Nazi prosecutor revealed that he determined the severity of punishment for a joke based on the following theory: “The better the joke, the more dangerous its effect, therefore, the greater punishment.”

~ more... ~

Tactics That Tickle: Laughing All the Way to the Win
“Because, after all, isn't laughing the best way to show teeth that bite?” – Philippe Duhamel

Ridiculing Politicians Is Always Good. Especially The Ones In Government
R.F. Wilson writes: Let’s face it, very few people have a high opinion of politicians. They view them as unreliable, deceiving, pompous and self-centred and believe that the vast mjority of them aren’t capable of doing anything. And it’s not a secret that most folks are of the opinion that the ‘servants of the people’ should be under constant watch by the public and the media and that they should be ridiculed by comedians the moment they sweep in to power.

Ridicule: An instrument in the war on terrorism - Public Diplomacy White Paper No. 7
Ridicule is an under-appreciated weapon not only against terrorists, but against weapons proliferators, despots, and international undesirables in general.

Laughter as a weapon
Jokes have power – but too often those who wield it, abuse it
"Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans, use it the least." ~ Twain, Mark

Arab comics find laughter the best weapon in war on prejudice
The comedian Maysoon Zayid introduces her act by declaring she is a Palestinian Muslim virgin with cerebral palsy, adding: "I just want you guys to know I am a virgin by choice … and that is my father's choice.
"My father has spent the majority of my life terrified that I will accidentally lose my virginity so there's a list of activities I am not allowed to do: there is to be no horseback riding, not even on a carousel."

About The Army
Roll up, roll up - ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and foes - welcome to the unparalleled, the unexpected, the perfectly paradoxical, the grotesquely beautiful, the new-fangled world of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA).

On the Death of a Politician - (2009) - Hilaire Belloc
Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
I wept : for I had longed to see him hanged.

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