Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Using humor against thuggery

Not so scary now, is he?
Want to stop an evil man cold? Don't fight him. Laugh at him.

Resistance gives evil people respectability and emboldens their followers, which in turn increases their respectability. Worse, you risk making a martyr of him to his followers. That's a problem, because everyone admires a  martyr. This is true even with the worst of leaders. People still talk about Adolf Hitler with a sort of ironic awe — he was the most evil man alive, he was a brilliant strategist, he was this and that — when the truth is the guy was freaking nuts and belonged in a room with padded walls.

No one follows or respects a walking punchline. It's possible to defang the cobra without taking a swing, if you know how and where to hit them. The cobra won't like being laughed at, and it may bite you, it's true -- but no one who heard the joke will ever fear the cobra the same way again.

Evil exists, and people have a shocking propensity for evil, but only in comic books do we find evil megalomaniacs with much frequency. In the real world evil men are pudgy, are terrible planners, boast about skills that they don't have and often are compensating for all sorts of inadequacies.

The governed often prop up the govern-ers and make their government possible. All that is needed for evil to fail and to fall is for their followers to stop following. Even men like Hitler, Hussein, Milosevic and Ronald Reagan* couldn't do their great evil without the willing partnership and service of people who generally would be considered good-natured, but for their appalling willingness to go along.

So mock evil leaders and evil people without mercy. Identify the weakness in their supposed strength, and make them seem as ridiculous as they really are.

We'll all have a good laugh, and these people will become the punchlines they deserve to be.

Copyright © 2008 by David Learn. Used with permission.

* That's a joke, son. A punchline. A laugh. You gotta stay with me, boy. I keep pitching them, and you keep dropping them. You gotta keep your eye on the ball. Eye, ball. Eyeball. That's another joke, son. I made another funny.

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