Humor can, does, and must, exist independent of socjus concerns.
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Writer’s block is a funny thing. Not due to the difficulty of inspiration: most writers have far more worthwhile ideas they’ll do nothing with in a year than their total number of ideas good or bad they’ll have actually used in a lifetime. The funny part comes when you’ve been desperate to come up with something to write about that hasn’t already been exhausted in the recent collective consciousness of whatever sphere you consider your own; and, after getting halfway through a piece that just barely touches your standard of acceptability, you open up some recent material from whatever news source is most technologically convenient to access in your era, and inspiration strikes you so perfectly you toss out whatever crap you’ve been working on and pump out something you actually feel happy about with no effort or struggle beyond that of your usual writing routine.
For me, that happened when I opened Slate this afternoon to see a lament that people were making jokes about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin having sexual intercourse because of America’s “weaponized bigotry.” In the words of the Slate editor who greenlit Andrew Kahn’s piece and clickbait-ified the title for publication, “our worst villains must be gay.”
Something happened to the World after the Mayan Apocalypse. In all previous years of history, the humor behind fat old men with terrible haircuts having sex with anyone never had to be qualified to check against bigotry. There are hundreds of millions of humans alive today, and billions from Mankind’s history, who were always comical creatures in sexual matters. There are examples for this across all sexes, races, and attractions that have existed or will exist; and to suggest merely because some among those number have been the victims of bigotry and persecution, these groups should be spared all jokes that could be interpreted as an attack on them personally is the kind of compassion only the deliberately stupid or sociopathically cynical could advocate.
This applies just as much to those belonging to oppressed groups in their lifetime as it does to people in the case of Trump and Putin who are merely being mocked via the suggestion that they’re among such folk. D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was caught on tape with a crack pipe and a crack whore. J. Edgar Hoover left his estate to Clyde Tolson, his “best friend” of nearly half a century, and the same man that draped the flag over the coffin at Hoover’s funeral. Michael Jackson, gay and black, launched a lifelong propaganda campaign to convince the world of his heterosexuality, culminating in 1994 when MTV broadcasted the least romantic kiss in the history of television at the Music Video Awards between Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, his wife at the time wife. I’m sure there were and are plenty of David Dukes who laughed uproariously at all three of those developments. That still doesn’t make these examples any less humorous, nor the quest to purge the mind of unacceptable comedic reactions any less tantamount to crimestop.
Lastly, the greater sin of Kahn’s article is not anything I’ve already mentioned, nor even the insult to his readers intelligence at the end of the piece when he offers them his quarter-assed I don’t think most people who make jokes about Trump being gay are personally homophobic apology — itself immediately followed by Kahn’s I do sense something peculiar qualifier, like he was trying for weasle-word bingo in writing this article. The real damage that can and will be done when crying before hurting becomes both socially acceptable and an effective method of problem solving is that the least scrupulous among us will find problems in all places of any, or no, validity and will use this public consciousness shift to abuse as many people they dislike as they possibly can. They will do so unceasingly, and do so regardless of whether the problem they complain about is even something they actually oppose. In fact, as those who remembered the recent kerfuffle Stephen Colbert had with the F.C.C. for homophobic remarks towards a public servant would know, that’s exactly what President Donald Trump and his acolytes have already done.
Nevermind. It’s already too late.
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O.R. Welles is a freelance writer of aspiring notoriety and financial compensation. He can be found nowhere particularly important, just the way he likes it.