Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OPINION -

“When hu­mor goes, there goes civ­i­liza­tion.”

— Erma Bombeck

Comedic ac­tor Jack Lem­mon pop­u­lar­ized the say­ing, “Dy­ing is easy, com­edy is hard.” He’d have no idea how hard com­edy would get in the 2017 Or­wellian world of PC po­lice and mil­len­ni­als who have been taught to be per­pet­u­ally of­fended. The left dom­i­nates hu­mor. Their “jokes” have de­volved to be con­de­scend­ing, self-right­eous and not funny. They make them­selves the he­roes in their own jokes, as with the Sec­ond Amend­ment right af­ter the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing. Daily Show host Trevor Noah sim­plis­ti­cally sniffed, “I’m sorry that we live in a world where there are peo­ple who will put a gun be­fore your lives.” The self-im­por­tant com­ments about gun con­trol, which would not have stopped the Ve­gas mad­man, were on dis­play from late-night comics. Ac­cord­ing to their the­ory, they would have saved 59 peo­ple from death; but by you not be­ing to­tally on board with them, you caused the deaths.

My re­sponse to Ve­gas last week was some (maybe too soon) hu­mor on a ra­dio show. The host asked, “What was your thought when you first heard about Stephen Pad­dock shoot­ing 59 peo­ple?” I said that I thought Stephen was an odd name for a Mus­lim.

Back in the Rat Pack days, we could say more. Once ar­rested for car­ry­ing a gun, Dean Martin was asked a lead­ing PC ques­tion by a re­porter: “Do you think peo­ple should have guns?” Martin said, “Well, in a per­fect world no — just me.” Un­fet­tered hu­mor makes you both laugh and think about an is­sue. We can’t lose that.

The few of us who write po­lit­i­cal satire from the lib­er­tar­ian, right-of-cen­ter side get our jokes called “mean” if the left dis­agrees. We are called “racist” if we joke about Obama, the NFL or crime stats, and “sex­ist” if we do not to­tally agree with Hil­lary Clin­ton. The left uses iden­tity pol­i­tics to fan the fires of racial di­vi­sion. Af­ter eight years, it back­fired on them when Trump turned that anger into his im­prob­a­ble elec­tion.

Hu­mor can be hard to de­fine. One man’s hu­mor is another’s in­sult. In her book “What Hap­pened,” Hil­lary Clin­ton blamed sex­ism, racism, and pretty much ev­ery “ism” — and oth­ers — for her elec­tion loss. Book­stores don’t know which fic­tion sec­tion to put her book in: hor­ror or hu­mor.

Point­ing out irony where there is truth makes for hu­mor. Say­ing you feel sorry for Hil­lary that Pres­i­dents’ Day and Valen­tine’s Day often fall on the same day is an ex­am­ple. Un­like slap­stick prat­fall com­edy, po­lit­i­cal hu­mor makes you think and laugh and is a pow­er­ful medium feared by the elites. It’s also the rea­son the left­ist me­dia make sure all late-night show hosts are com­mit­ted to their agenda and use their plat­form to ad­vance it.

Mel Brooks joined the re­cent cho­rus of co­me­di­ans who say that the PC cul­ture has gone too far in sti­fling com­edy. He says his clas­sic movie “Blaz­ing Sad­dles” would not be made to­day, and he blames the “stupidly po­lit­i­cally cor­rect.” Other co­me­di­ans such as Jerry Se­in­feld, Larry the Ca­ble Guy, Den­nis Miller, John Cleese and Chris Rock agree. Many say they will not play col­lege gigs any­more be­cause of the rigid PC push­back.

Since Aris­to­tle, evolved and free so­ci­eties have used po­lit­i­cal satire to make so­ci­ety bet­ter. It keeps com­mu­nity lead­ers in check and paves the way for progress. In the world of the left, so­cial­ists would not al­low any­thing to be funny un­less gov­ern­ment de­clared it so. Think North Korea. We don’t want to be­come that.

I have found, con­trary to the left’s nar­ra­tive, the right to be far more tol­er­ant of hu­mor than the left. Twelve years ago, the only ma­jor push­back on my col­umn from the right was dis­plea­sure at the ti­tle of a col­umn about the hypocrisy of sev­eral tel­e­van­ge­lists, like the Revs. Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swag­gart, caught with their pants down. Its ti­tle was “Min­is­ters Should Do More Than Lay Peo­ple.” More re­li­gious-right-type news­pa­pers wouldn’t run it. It was one of the rare push­backs from the right. Most med­dling with my col­umn comes from left.

Fran­cis Ba­con said, “Imag­i­na­tion was given to man to com­pen­sate him for what he’s not; a sense of hu­mor to con­sole him for what he is.” I think God gave us a sense of hu­mor in or­der to cope, and he clearly has one him­self. The lat­est ex­am­ple: Hugh Hefner’s death. “Hef” died on a Wed­nes­day, Hump Day.

Con­tact Ron Hart, an op-ed hu­morist, au­thor and TV/ ra­dio com­men­ta­tor, at Ron@Ron­aldHart.com or Twit­ter @ Ron­aldHart.

Ron Hart

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