I started this blog in 2005 as a way to make myself laugh. I read lots of other blogs by other people who were just trying to make themselves laugh. Let me tell you, it's easy to get nasty and step over the line. Today's sermon will consider what should and should not constitute humor. Basically, you've got to watch how you hate.
Take the new guy, for instance. Only recently did I become aware of this young fellow named Milo Yiannopoulous. I heard there were some heady protests out in Berkeley when the stripling planned to deliver an address that he promised was simply humorous, and quite within his First Amendment rights. Then I saw him myself on Bill Maher. What I heard from the two of them got my quills in an uproar.
This Milo person (or Bill Maher, I can't remember which one) said that no one ever got offended by Joan Rivers, and she insulted everyone, yes everyone, and no one was safe.
It happens that I saw Joan Rivers live in Vegas back in the 1980s, and yes indeed, she insulted a whole lot of people in a very short time. But there was a difference between her humor and the humor you hear from people like Milo and Bill Maher.
When did you ever hear Bill Maher poke fun at himself? Call himself stupid, or complain about his looks or sexual abilities? The first half hour of Joan Rivers' live show -- and it was the filthiest 30 minutes I've ever witnessed, short of a John Waters movie -- was completely and utterly self-deprecating. Once she had insulted herself to the ninth circle of Hell, she moved on to others. But it was from a place of shared foibles. Not from a perch.
Rule #1 for Hateful Humor: Hate Yourself Hardest, Longest, and First.
Myself, I am a firm believer in freedom of expression. If ugly white men want to wrap themselves up in robes and claim racial superiority, oh well, look at those three-eyed morons. At least they aren't trying to sell their worldview by making jokes about it.
Rule #2 for Hateful Humor: Don't Try to Win Converts by Making Them Laugh.
You know what? Even the most depraved and degenerate humorists -- now I really am thinking of John Waters -- have lines they won't cross. Anything that could harm a child isn't funny. Anything that mocks a disabled person isn't funny. Any humor that could make a listener feel shame is not funny.
Rule #3 for Hateful Humor: If Your Target Can't Retaliate in Kind, It's Not Funny.
I didn't hear much of Milo's "humor," but seeing that he resigned in disgrace due to comments about child sexual abuse did not surprise me. And I'm sorry I didn't post Annie's Rules for Hateful Humor in time to save him! But heck, I can't be everywhere and on top of everything. I'm a school teacher.
But it's not too late for Bill Maher.
Bill, I know you're reading this! Say what you want about politicians. They are fair game. But if you are going to make jokes about whole swaths of the American populace, take aim at yourself first. Hop off that perch and question your own perfection. That's what made Joan Rivers funny. That's what gave her carte blanche to ladle out the hater-aid.
Rule #4 for Hateful Humor: Politicians are Fair Game.
My Congressman, Donald Norcross, is so stupid that he has to put lipstick on his forehead to make up his mind. Honestly, the guy tried to kill a bird by throwing it off a cliff. But that's okay, because Donald has a brother who can do the thinking for both of them -- and does it early and often. Funniest thing of all? I voted for the asshole. Twice.