Monday, July 13, 2009

Funny man

By Capt. Fogg

One of the apparent characteristics of autism is the inability to pick up on social cues or to be able to judge other people's reactions. I know I'm not being very scientific here, but it seems to me there's another form of this inability that's far more common and perhaps more complex. It's the complete lack of perspective that allows one to tell if a joke is appropriate or funny or insulting or outrageous, coupled with the inability to except any humor whatever at one's own expense.

I think I see it in people who were willing to tear David Letterman's throat out but are unable to see anything wrong with
calling President Obama's 11-year-old daughter a whore. I think I see it at its worse in people like Ann Coulter advocating giving a federal judge rat poison, saying people that don't think such things are funny have no sense of humor while accusing all sorts of people of persecuting and stalking her. We saw it when Rush called Chelsea Clinton the "White House dog" and was defended by the "Democrats can't take a joke" crowd. (Although Fox denies it ever happened, I saw it.)

Did we just see it again with former Nixon aide and improbable pundit Pat Buchanan?

Well, first, with regard to Levi, I think First Dude up there in Alaska, Todd Palin, ought to take Levi down to the creek and hold his head underwater until the thrashing stops.

Context means a lot with humor, and this wasn't a bit of late night stand-up, but rather presented in the worst context possible, on national television. Yes, it's a coarser, more sophomoric, and nastier national television culture than once it was. I can't imagine Walter Kronkite for instance giggling on the air with such a "joke." But, once again, I suspect that there's some pathology involved in thinking such mean spirited, aggressive and inflammatory humor would be appropriate for news network programming -- even if it's common in such lowbrow offerings as "Morning Joe." I won't go so far as to call this an exclusively Republican disease. Lord knows we have Jesse "hymie town" Jackson to look to, but in these times I think it almost defines the party.

It used to be easier to dismiss the man as a fringe element kook, but in our new Republican party where yesterday's sludge is today's creme de la creme, Buchanan, the man whose record of anti-Semitism, opposition to every piece of civil rights legislation marks him like Cain and who advocated that Nixon commit felony obstruction of justice, still seems more respectable than his younger brethren in bombast.

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