Paranoia as a permanent state of being – –

April 16, 2009 | By | 16 Replies More

This post about a panicked cautionary note was sent to me today, obviously well after the tea-party fact, but I thought it was quite amusing.  The ultimate effect being, of course, that their efforts at keeping any sort of grassroots movement going was shot squarely in the foot, as they effectively censored themselves out of communicating with each other.   Some of the responses to the post are hilarious.  Seems of late I’ve been reading too many rightwing kneejerk responses, barely literate and rarely logical, to eloquent liberal articles and posts, and I was beginning to feel an unease that “they” are going to take over again.  I was reminded, reading these responses, that the left side of the general public is still out there, making merry and feeling confident.  Whew.

Now, is it just me, or does anyone else find that the further to the right one lands on the political spectrum, the less functional one’s sense of humor seems to become?  Not only can they not poke fun at themselves, which all of my friends (read: left-leaning people with brains) do pretty well, but they can’t put words together to CREATE humor, either.  Just fear, volume and paranoia.  And ranting.  Lots and lots of ranting.

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Category: American Culture, Censorship, Communication, Cultural Evolution, Current Events, Humor, hypocrisy, ignorance, Networking, Politics

About the Author ()

I am a writer and communication professional in St. Louis, Missouri, a crafter of jewelry, a disorganized optimist and most importantly, the adoptive mom of two China-born daughters.

Comments (16)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Small world. Here's a related post discussing why conservatives aren't funny. http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/04/25/conse

  2. Mindy Carney says:

    Thanks for that, Erich – my sieve of a brain had forgotten that post – it's a classic!!!

    My uncle, with whom I argued regularly, pre-election, is a true conservative, by the definition given. He can even be funny. Which is why "right-wing" and "conservative" really aren't the same thing at all.

  3. Danny says:

    Mindy, I agree about the corollary of more to the right equals less sense of humor. Though, to be fair I've noticed a similar phenomenon moving to the left end of the spectrum. I listen to a fair amount of Air America radio some of the more extreme hosts and callers seem to have no sense of humor. I also listen to some conservative talk radio and have found the same thing (Limbaugh does not joke well).

    Maybe the rule is, the more people base their lives on ideology the less comfortable they are with opposing ideas. Once you figure out that you as a person are not ideas, then it's okay to be wrong or have your ideas challenged?

    • Tony Coyle says:

      I agree with you, Danny, and think you said it well.

      Ideologues hold firm to their ideas because it is what defines them. Attacking the idea is attacking the person.

      I hold loosely to my ideas because it is the discussion and creation and evolution of ideas that defines me. Attacking the idea is something I desire and try to initiate myself! (sometimes my internal dialog is not so much schizophrenic as crowded and noisy)

  4. Karl says:

    Liberals have more of "sense of humor" because they apparently have the uncanny ability to decide what is "funny" versus what is "hate speech."

    When minorities (including libeals) joke about themselves its not called hate speech. When the majority gets knocked down a peg or two however that is a step in the right direction, so media is only carrying on affirmative action when they can laugh at the majority.

    When others not liked by minorities (often a majority or moderates or conservatives) joke about themselves its pointless because they probably deserve it.

    When those who are not in a minority joke, or sometimes even just try to talk rationally in public, about a minority that they are not a part of, these activities are commonly labeled with categorization of hate speech and all manner of motive is ascribed to the activity.

    Darned if this isn't the case, but people sure have learned that the first ammendment can be used to defend or attack a majority depending on how vocal you are and which public media will let you discuss your point of view.

    Conservatives have a sense of humor, but it gets labelled as something non-intended by liberals, just ask Don Imus.

    He jokes about himself and his wife and nobody cares. He jokes about the "wrong" people at the inopportune time and he gets held out to dry by the vocal members of a minority who see an opportunity to stiffle his first ammendments rights, or better yet, to maybe silence his point of view forever.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      You almost got it, there, Karl.

      When anyone jokes about themselves or their own group – that's fine. It may not be funny to anyone outside that group, but that's fine too.

      When someone in a majority, or position of privilege or power jokes denigratingly about someone in a minority or position of less privilege or power – that is not humor.

      An example: Chris Rock may use 'nigger' in a joke – as he often does directed at himself. That's funny, and I can appreciate that – as can most African Americans whom I know (and I assume others, because he is fairly popular). Jay Leno could not. He couldn't use the same material, or the same word, because coming from someone 'white and wealthy' the word connotes a completely different attitude and perspective. He might be able to use it successfully in a parody or pastiche, such as 'wall street bankers attempting to be street smart'. It would need to be really clever to avoid being offensive.

      In a lesser sense, there are many comedians who joke about rednecks – they can do so with relative impunity, since they are part of the same group. If I started making redneck jokes, on the other hand, it would be from the position of an educated European, and could easily be considered as hateful or derogatory.

      Your example of Don Imus is apposite to the discussion.

      "Nappy Head" is not a phrase I'm aware of being used in anything other than a pejorative sense. I don't care that he jokes about himself, his wife, or anyone else in his white privileged wealthy in-group. He abused his privileged position and made a pejorative joke about a minority, funny only to himself and his in-group.

      I can joke with friends about almost anything. And so long as I am 'equal opportunity' I can also joke about minorities (ever seen British TV comedy?). I abjure jolkes about minorities who are not present and unable to respond in kind. (Ever watch Carlos Mencia?)

      What is not appropriate is retaining the most pejorative 'jokes' solely for minorities or those without power.

      So – while conservatives 'may' have a sense of humor, they demonstrably do not have a sense of propriety.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Tony: I'm getting a bit embarrassed that I agree with you too much about too many things. Could you, once in a while, write something with which I disagree?

  5. Karl says:

    So now that we have a minority as POTUS what has SNL been up to? Seems only the teleprompter and the Saudi bowing incident have had approval of the editors so far.

    Now Joe Biden, and the leadership of the Congress are a different matter, the editors still have some satire left for these folks, because they are more white than Obama is.

    By your reasoning, Only this POTUS can laugh at himself because not too many people match the educational, social, political, economic, and religous amalgamation that he possesses. All others poking fun at any of his characterizations will be accused of dissing a minority group because he's all of them rolled somehow rolled into one.

    This is basically how the MSM was convinced he was their candidate. Nobody knew what they were able to say about the man or his policies and be not be accused of being somekind of a biased media mogul.

    Better to not speak unfavorably about any minority figure, especially if you have precious little from his past to actually research into, including what their politics or ideology actually might be.

    I'm sure in the next POTUS election, the politically correct thing to do will be to not speak against or investigate either of the candidates, because they are liable to both be from more than one minority again. They too will carefully hide every shred of insight into what they really believe and will trust the American Citizens to make the best choice based upon what the teleprompter tells them next.

    If this was an attempt at satire or humor I'm sure it failed miserably.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      Which part of POTUS is a figure of AUTHORITY don't you get?

      You truly are an ass!

    • Mindy Carney says:

      If SNL makes fun of Obama's ethnicity, I think they cross the line, unless, of course, the black members of the cast are doing it. Then it is allowed, as self-deprecation is an exception. If they make fun of his politics, his debate style, his decisions – attributes which have nothing to do with his minority status – well, he's fair game as POTUS. And they do that. So does Jon Stewart. Haven't watched much else.

      As for not digging into his past, what the heck are you talking about? That's utterly ridiculous, Karl – his past was thoroughly dug through. Just because no one found anything evil or stupid doesn't mean they didn't look. You're kidding yourself; I find it sad that you believe no investigation took place simply because no ugly dirt was found and strewn about.

      One can most certainly speak unfavorably about a minority group member or poke fun at the minority group member, as long as the criticism or the joke is not about the the minority quality itself – race, orientation, disability. You can't belittle someone for something over which they have no control, like skin color, and expect that to fly as good humor. Well, you can, but it will only be appreciated by those who share your same bigotry. If you joke about him being a black president so of course the WH will now serve fried chicken and collard greens, that's racist and not funny.

      If you joke about some aspect of his liberal politics with which you don't agree, that's fair game and acceptable. If the joke is good, run with it. Those are the jokes I never hear. My uncle, the conservative one, has made me laugh against my will because he made a truly funny comment, even though I didn't agree with the politics behind it. But the gist of the humor was the idea, the speech, the proposed legislation, whatever – NOT the fact that Obama is not white. Surely even you, Karl, can see the difference.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      One of my favorite 'images' related to humor is the early bar scene in 'Roxanne' where Steve Martin as the schnozly-endowed fire chief humiliates a barfly who makes a derogatory comment about the size of his nose: he proceeds to enumerate dozens of 'nose' jokes each of which is wittier, funnier, and more intelligent than the 'big nose' comment made by the barfly.

      Maybe Karl should watch Roxanne. That particular scene demonstrates the huge difference between ignorant 'humor' (which is simply denigratory) and self-deprecation, which can be hilarious.

      Try it – I'm sure your local video store has a copy. I'm sure you can even find a torrent somewhere online. The scene is a classic, it may even be on you-tube.

  6. Mindy Carney says:

    Karl, I'd jump in here, but Tony explained it well. The majority group, holding the power in a culture, cannot joke pejoratively about any minority without risking it constituting offensive hate speech. Can't be done, not here, not anywhere. Self-deprecating humor is great, but conservatives don't engage in it. At least not commonly, or openly. I can't think of an example of it.

    And Danny, you were spot on. It is the idealogues who seem unable to find humor in much of anything, and yes, you are probably right about those too far to the left end of the spectrum as well. I like Tony's example of WANTING the ideas challenged, because by doing so, by being asked to rethink, re-examine, and re-explain one's own ideas, one grows and learns.

    Dang. There's that learning theme again . . .

    • Tony Coyle says:

      I promise to be more disagreeable to Erich

      I promise to be more disagreeable to Erich

      I promise to be more disagreeable to Erich

      I promise to be more disagreeable to Erich

      I promise to be more disagreeable to Erich

      how about a lawyer joke? :-

  7. Mindy Carney says:

    Karl, I was warned, but silly me, I didn't listen. I engaged. What was I thinking?!

    Barack Obama was in Indonesia as a small child. Were I to enroll a stepchild in school in a patriarchal country, I imagine I'd enroll him/her under the stepfather-citizen's name, too. That doesn't mean his name was changed. That doesn't mean he had citizenship. He was A LITTLE BOY!!! To imply that somehow the name his parents used to enroll him in school has anything at all to do with who he became is ludicrous. His name was not legally changed, he most likely had nothing to do with his enrollment using the stepfather's name and religion, and therefore cannot be held responsible for it. And I would say the same thing about McCain or Palin or Gingrich or anyone else. Even the Indonesian government listed him as born in Hawaii!

    Where is this "all his records are sealed" stuff coming from? We know where he lived, where he went to college, what he studied, what his activities were in school at all levels, where he's worked, for whom and what he's done, who he married, where she worked and what she did, where his kids have gone to school, who raised him, where he traveled – what the hell else do you want? What did you want to see that you didn't get to see? Why would he freely admit traveling to Pakistan if there was some nefarious underpinning to the trip?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mindy: we've already been through lots of this with Karl. He has not come up with any evidence at all. He's already been challenged on grounds you raise and fallen flat on his face. If you want to know more about Karl's position, check out the photos of the signs held by conservative protesters attending some of the recent tea parties.

    • Mindy Carney says:

      Got it, Erich. I always try to give one "benefit of the doubt" round with someone who disagrees vehemently with me, but, like most folks here, substantive evidence would help an awfully lot in convincing me.

      And I can't seem to find any coming from Karl. Surprise!

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