Snide + Remark =”Snark”
As a contemporary tag for sarcasm, ‘snarkniness’ is one of mankind’s most valued attributes. You can’t keep up a conversation for long without just a drop of a scoff, dig or some honey-coated mockery. Try it sometime. Without that dash of cutting insight, life can be dull as a cement razor. Layers of lukewarm “nice” just put people to sleep. Even whining is almost entertaining when it’s wrapped in a witty little package and a wisecracking bow.
But “snark” is in grave danger of being extinguished.
Not the daily dose of ridicule in the playground with its bullying and meanness, unfortunately. Girls dishing dirt over lunch will definitely continue till Kingdom Come, perhaps beyond. It’s just the way most of us think. Perhaps it’s a token of our dark, decadent nature.
But the powers of this world have always considered sarcasm, satire and mockery fearful weapons – especially when it is turned on them. They go to extraordinary lengths to avoid standing in the critical public gaze too long. Emperors self-evolved to “gods” for just this reason – to avoid the peoples’ evil eye and potty mouth. Who dare criticize divinity? Comedians, artists and writers did, and many paid the price for it.
Some things never change and fear of humiliation is one of them – especially with politicians.
This is exponentially magnified when they rule nations or would like to control major portions of the globe. Seems there are so many in that camp now. Camp Megalomania, Home for Troubled Sociopaths, and Narcissists’ Elite Day Spa.
Outright tyrants such as Kim Jong-Un, the Saudi Royals or the Castro brothers don’t fret much over sarcasm openly directed at them, because it doesn’t officially exist (or get very far). Even the pretense of free expression died there long ago.
It’s the rest of the world that struggles with “offensive” speech, writing and art. How to run a reputed “democracy” and still shut people the heck up? That is, selectively shut up the ones you don’t like.
Leftists in the West devised speech controls by camouflaging them as “anti-hate” laws and that’s working pretty well for them. Constitutions and elections pose little problem as long as everyone is watching their mouth, via their governments. Citizens in elected democracies are free to say anything we like until sued, denied publication, fired, arrested or harassed.
But when leaders get a little heavy-handed like that frisky Putin, the whole world suddenly turns on the alarms. Gay militants, terrorists, threats to the Orthodox Church and child pornographers are Putin’s reputed targets. He is using a shotgun approach, however: blasting at anything perceived as future political opposition. Putin has curtailed many basic rights that affect all Russians. This includes the right to be bitingly funny (Сомневающаяся) about political things.
When the world is this mad, it’s almost impossible to speak about politics without sarcasm, hysteria or tears. Since hysteria is suspiciously close to rioting, that leaves weeping as the last accepted form of political protest. It’s a hard act for most comedians.
Reviling politicians is and was dangerous in most places, most of the time. A handful of democratic nations over a few hundred years have been the only real respite. We seem to be losing it through elected officials and choreographed, mass sycophancy. Too bad for us if we’ve gotten accustomed to the luxury of free expression.
America and the allied bunch attempted to ban snarky remarks on race, sexual orientation, religions that are not Christian and actual terrorists. We are free to mock virtually anyone else – Jews, Christians, conservatives, men, women, pro-lifers and heterosexuals are still available for material.
Proof of the West’s reluctance to extend draconian “hate speech” laws against people who actually “hate” is currently playing out in France. In the wake of Islamic massacres there, a “comedian” known as Dieudonne was arrested for posting congratulatory remarks to the killers. France’s prime minister Manuel Valls, finally coming out of a coma or something, actually vowed a crackdown on “speech that kills.” They could have done that a long time ago instead of harassing Catholics and pro-lifers.
But there’s a different issue and solution for this. Obviously many Moslems think terrorism, murder, rape and racism are absolutely hilarious. Otherwise Dieudonne wouldn’t be called a “comedian” and they’re certainly yukking it up in the ISIS snuff videos. However France and the rest of the free world would have to change their attitudes.
Conservatives who don’t fancy Dieudonne’s hatefest should be allowed to say so without any apologies or legal fees. Perhaps killers and their supporters should be soundly mocked, ridiculed and socially ostracized until they stop – as it was in free France.
Russia’s weapon against religious violence was yet another ban: do not “insult religion.” Since the majority of religious insults come from mosques, that was probably the best they could conjure. At least the ban applies equally to all religions.
Obama and the UN repeatedly tried to impose the same thing here. Obama’s motivation is demonstrably not to stop all religious hate speech or criticism. Sarcastic allusions (or snarks) comes from his own mouth more than once when speaking about Christianity, especially when compared to Islam. If he can’t stop his personal hate-speech tirade against the Church, how will he sell the rest of us on it?
Ironically (are we still allowed to use irony?), the Putin and Obama administration are attempting nearly same thing, only with different targets. They both attack political opponents using extra-legal means. Putin is in a position to openly shut down any voice against him – and does. The state has devoured and digested the press with few exceptions there.
Russian artists, writers and perfomers are confused about laws prohibiting “swear words” since classic plays and novels sometimes have them. More sinsiter is a law requiring Russian bloggers to register their home address with the state. You know how dangerously snarky bloggers can be. We may not be far behind if the leftists running most federal offices stick to their ways.
The press that savaged G.W. Bush was greatly aided by the combined humor forces of America, at least those comedians who were allowed coverage on MSM or the Google fiefdoms. This has no absolutely no connection with political favors or regular gigs at the White House, of course.
Comparing entries on Bush and Obama in a ‘political humor’ website was hilarious, but not so much for the humor. Thousands of Bush-bash videos, roasts, insults and jokes appeared, which is expected, considering the name of the site.
Mosey on down to Obama’s page. Nothing but the POTUS waving regally with a dazzling smile and insipid Pravda-style titles: “Obama Shines as Comedian in Chief at White House Correspondents’ Dinner” and “Obama Endorses Conan’s Tonight Show,” and ad nauseum. Perhaps Conan slept better knowing he was an officially-approved state apparatchik. Do they share writers with Pyongyang?
Our bizarre liplock between the U.S. administration and comedians is puzzling. Why did most of America’s funny people voluntarily throw themselves into a frenzied swoon before Obama’s feet? When this happened before, the outcome wasn’t good. People (let’s say brilliant comic writers) once freely spoke to power. Elected officials were all fair game for satire, nasty put downs and general snarkiness. This was the American way.
Bob Hope was probably our best example of fair political satire. He stuck to the point; and if he lobbed a few ad hominem attacks, they were so hilarious his “victims” enjoyed it too. Exceptions were people like Hitler and Hirohito, whom he felt no obligation to stomach. Hope’s criticisms diffused, while much contemporary humor is bitterly divisive. This is boring and not very funny.
Much less funny is the state’s efforts to control speech through reward and punishment. Apparently we haven’t evolved much since Diolcletian crippled the Roman Senate and had a Christian deacon’s tongue cut out. If Diolcletian rose from the dead today and ran on the Zombie Presidential ticket, would he feel right at home?