Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ridiculing the Ridiculous: Pros and Cons

He looked at foreign affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe
-Sir Winston Churchill on Neville Chamberlain

Ridiculing our political representatives has a long and illustrious history, both here in the US and across the pond with our cousins in the UK. A well-placed, well-timed, and well-stated put-down can provide days of entertainment, where the Ridiculer can watch the Ridiculed and his supporters go apoplectic, and those on the sidelines sees the naked Republican or Democrat “Emperor” melting down and not looking so royal, any longer. There’s nothing like laughter to bring a self-styled demigod back down to earth. “Somebody pass out popcorn!”

Consider Winston Churchill’s description of Ramsay MacDonald:

“I remember when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as “The Boneless Wonder”. My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralizing and revolting for my youthful eye and I have waited fifty years, to see the Boneless Wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.”

This is tongue-fu at its highest art form. Rather than apologetically (re: faux humility) questioning Ramsey’s guiding principles or lack thereof, or merely calling him an invertebrate, Churchill’s use of Barnum’s “Boneless Wonder” creates a picture in the minds of his listeners of a spineless Ramsay that elicits mirth and the questioning of his moral fiber. Well played, WC.

Sure, there are some who think our national debate regarding, say, the merits of a free market v those of socialism, or the Constitutional parameters of the Federal government, should be engaged along the lines of a Rodney King Can’t We Just All Get Along conversation. Of course, that may be all fine and good when we are discussing zoning restrictions with our next door neighbors, but not so effective with ideological opponents who others believe are utterly committed to bankrupting the US and its citizens, as well as restricting their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If an individual believes someone has just smeared feces on what she holds as sacred, she is going to respond accordingly. Think about it: Who in her right mind is going to allow someone to walk into her house, verbally abuse her child, and expect her to say, “Come let us sip wine together and speak of butterflies and rainbows”? Thus …

The ridiculous deserves ridicule.

The fox in the hen house deserves (metaphorically!) buckshot in his ass.

A fool is to be treated according to his folly, saith Über Wise King Solomon.

However –

Here’s the rub for those who overuse “ridiculing the ridiculous.”

A lack of variety in communicating your principles will lead to monotony. In other words, you are boooooooring. Same ol’ same ol’, nothing to hear, here: move along. It’s like having a symphony at your disposal and only writing music for a single trumpet…screeching out the same note … over and over again.

After a while, if all people hear coming out of your mouth or laptop is ridicule—however warranted—you are placed in the category of Sally One Note – and that note is “mean.” Doesn’t matter if you think this is just, it simply is a reality, and one you must avoid if you are to be taken seriously. Of course being taken seriously also requires having historical, legal, principled, and logical arguments at your disposal, and not just invective.

Repeatedly calling your ideological opponents the equivalent of “pooh-pooh head” lacks imagination. At the very least go study Churchill or, changing venues, St Paul arguing with Judaizers who were saying Gentiles could not be “saved” unless they were circumcised: “Hey guys, if that’s true, if you really wanna be ‘holy,’ then go castrate yourselves.” Well played, St Paul

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015  

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