Over the last year or two, my most oft-considered theme on this blog may well be the vital necessity of humor to cope with the world around us. As the adage goes, sometimes there are no words — no literal words, that is. No direct response. There is first the intermediary of wit, whose words are oblique enough to make the matter minimally tolerable. Without this humorous buffer, my unfiltered response would be nothing but screams of rage and despair. That might be cathartic for me, but it would definitely not be constructive. To put it another way: if you ask me a ridiculous question, you’ll get a ridiculous answer.
For the last decade plus, the agenda and tone of the exchange in Washington (or as I call it, our national miscourse) has been set by the Republicans, largely via their hyper-successful media arm at FOX News.1 As the feckless Democrats stood by, the effective GOP creed has degenerated from Bush-era exclusionism (“We are the party of patriotism; we don’t work with Democrats for the same reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists”) to reactionary, teabagger-style xenophobia (“If it has Obama-cooties on it, KILL IT!”).
Yesterday, the trusty comedy filter The Onion produced what struck me as a perfectly timed all-purpose riposte, headlined “Republicans Vote to Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed for Earth.” Unfortunately, it turns out that even this wasn’t quite enough to address the day’s most egregious Obama-phobic extreme: the new GOP majority in the House, as part of their absurdly childish insistence on a do-over of the health care reform act, have declared it necessary to redefine the crime of rape.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I wondered. “Is this another satirical sendup of the ludicrous extremity of Republican obstructionism? Is rape the asteroid in this joke? …NO?!? Oh my God. Get me some comic cushioning, stat!”
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Rape Victim Abortion Funding|
A legitimate case is often made that there are certain things that cannot be joked about, and that rape is one of them, because rape is not funny. I agree — with the last clause. Rape, in and of itself, is no laughing matter. I respectfully disagree, however, with the statement as a whole. There are times when even things as terrible as rape must be joked about, lest we lose our humanity.
I didn’t even laugh at the above clip when I watched it, but I did find it funny. So funny, in fact, that it kept me from breaking down into unabated primal protest. Losing my shit, as it were. And that, I think, may be the very definition of “pretty goddamned funny.”
- The range and scope of FOX News’s success can hardly be overstated. They routinely flick through a maneuver previously considered impossible: simultaneously bragging about their ratings dominance and declaring that the mainstream news media has a liberal bias. Another of the great milestones of human endeavor is reached: we have walked on the moon, we have mapped the entire human genome, and now we have proven man’s capability to talk out of both sides of his ass. ↩