Saturday, January 24, 2015

False Perspective

After the Charlie Hebdo murders two weeks ago the dialogue has morphed slightly from support of free speech to blame.  Even Pope Francis, who has been more in touch than other Popes, seemed to point blame at the cartoonists themselves.  After condemning the violence and murder he said that if someone insulted his mother they should expect to be punched.  That statement by the Pope seems to imply "they had it coming." 
Insults, slander and liable are not covered by freedom of speech. Hate speech and essays that insight violence can in no way be considered a freedom or a right.  But were the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo insults? Were they slander? Or were they humorous satire and parody? Knowing the difference may be what separates us from animals. 
Humor is a uniquely human trait. No other species has developed the concept of humor.  That sound that a hyena makes is not laughter, although to humans it sounds like it, that sound is a call of violence. It signals either danger or dominance, not fun and games. 
Many species as well as humans play when they are young and while playing is similar to humor and  comedy it is not the same. When a pack of cubs begin to play it is not a frivolous game, it is rehearsal in a safe environment for actions they will need to survive later.  They learn working together, hunting, dominance and the social interactions of the pack. They play in preparation for actions they will need in dangerous situations later.

Human children learn from play. In a safe situation they learn that their actions have consequences.  They stretch their conceptual powers and logic through play. They learn where the boundaries are and how to interact with their peers and parents.  Play comes naturally but humor and comedy are very complicated and highly developed traits of communication restricted to humans.  It is one of the last things a developing human being learns and it totally immersed in specific language. 

When two chimps meet in the jungle and feel threatened they show their teeth and make loud noises. If one is not immediately submissive they fight, sometimes to the death. Humans have risen above this ritual because we have humor, comedy, parody and satire.  Unless the threat is physical we use humor to deal with our differences. We show our teeth but perceive it as a smile and make noises which we accept as laughter. 
Sigmund Freud did a cursory look at humor and found every joke had an element of hostility embedded in it.  Comedy writers will tell you that if you can not think of something funny, think of something that is irritating or makes you mad... then turn that into humor.  
Humor, satire and parody help us look at a divisive situation in third person.  We objectify the issue or problem in an absurd way and laugh at it.  In that way we  deal with it on an impersonal level. In a perfect human world we defuse hostility by laughing at the issue rather than fighting to the death as chimps do in the jungle.  

So back to Charlie Hebdo and their capitol crimes against Islam. If seen through the eyes of rationality it might be observed that  Charlie was not insulting the religion of Islam. They were not berating the beliefs of the religion, they were pointing out the absurdity of dogma. Dogma is the foe of any religion.  Dogma is someone in power telling you "What" to think rather than "how" to think; dogma is a suppression of  the chance to think for yourself.   Charlie Hebdo cartoonists pointed out with humor, satire and parody the absurdity of certain dogmas that even Muslims agree are not part of the religion or the Koran.  They have done the same with Christianity, and Judaism.  And not just religion, they were the court jesters of government, politics and any other repression of freedom that is forced on a group of people.    

So by killing the cartoonist the extremist prove they are more animal than human.  Jihadists are soldiers of Dogma and Jihadist exist in every religion.  I offer the Westboro Baptist Church, the bombing of abortion clinics, the killing of abortion doctors, the Klu Klux Klan, the Inquisition and the Crusades as proof.  I'm sure I have missed a few examples. 
I regret that I am not talented enough to make this post humorous.  There will be those who take offense either way, but if I could have made you laugh about this situation even once, it would be perceived in the way I intended.  
I was unfriended by several people when I posted "Je Suis Charlie" a week ago.  That is fine with me. If Facebook friends do not know who I am and what I stand for,  how could they think they were my friend.  

"AmGod" spelled backwards is "Dogma". Going backwards is the death of all philosophy and is the devil in religion. 
As you were,

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Perhaps, this post didn't bring laughter but it brought serious thought and I have pulled a couple of lines to quote and share (with citation to this blog, of course). Thank you for some reasonable clarity of thought.