This post was inspired by the comments to this blog entry of CC‘s: The ChaliceBlog: Another argument I had with theCSO yesterday
There are many kinds of laughter. There is the spontaneous laughter of joy, when you’re just so happy it bubbles naturally from within, no excuse needed. There is the easy laughter of people having fun, where the slightest lame joke or weak witticism has coffee shooting out of one’s nose. Laughter of this sort is the sound of souls bonding, of spirits lifting.
There is the laughter produced by jokes, a deliberate attempt to rally spirits when they have been deadened by the rat race, the kind of laughter you might hear at a comedy club. Closely related is stress humor, designed to deflect spirit killers... is the Mercury Capsule claustrophobically cramped? Mount a plaque inside that says “No Handball Allowed” This sort of laughter strengthens the spirit, clearing the mind and the heart at the same time.
Laughter is so important to the survival of the species that a sense of humor is seen by both sexes as one of the most attractive features a potential mate can have. The lack of a sense of humor is very nearly, in this modern world of situational ethics and moral relativism, the only thing of which a person is truly ashamed.
Some people learn at a early age that laughter can be more than a survival mechanism, or a bonding moment... it is the armor that deflects all criticism, that turns their nasty personality flaws into an asset. If a dull fellow always lets people pay for him, he’s a cheapskate; if he can make it a joke about how they got scored on, he’s a wit. Truly awful acts of cowardice, vanity, or betrayal- if they can be told with good timing and lots of mugging- make one more popular, not less. Those hearing the stories know they shouldn’t laugh, and indeed may not even want to at first- but they quickly realize that to fail to laugh marks them as “uncool”, “judgmental”, “puritanical”, or (heaven forefend) “intolerant”. It deadens the spirit; it’s operational conditioning against sensitivity.
But then there are those who realize that laughter can be wielded as a weapon. Just as cheapness or infidelity can be forgiven in the example above, they quickly learn that astonishingly vicious acts of hatred can be excused as “practical jokes”, or “parody”. It quickly becomes their favorite, as they learn that it is the easiest sort of thing to do of all. One must actually be clever to make a joke; but anyone can talk as if virtue, or decency, or a particular class of people were funny. If their feelings get hurt, you just say “F&*K em if they can’t take a joke” and suddenly the aggressor becomes the victim, and the victim “intolerant”. This kind of laughter deadens the intellect, blinds the eyes to the pain of their fellow man. Even when it results in the shootings at Columbine, the mocker never gets it- it wasn’t his daily assaults on the inherent worth and dignity of his fellow man that caused the tragedy; it was his victim’s lack of a sense of humor.
How much has the hate filled, empty headed belittler cost mankind over the years? How many tears, how much violence? How many decent people have failed to speak up over social injustice not for fear of the guns of government, but for fear of public ridicule? I don’t know... but personally, I rank the mean-spirited mocker with the mosquito; irritating vermin who may not “intend” harm, but cause thousands of deaths just by existing.