Over the Line

We are a nation addicted.

More than we have a chemical dependency on caffeine or sugar, America is addicted to the synaptic comfort of lies. There is a documented pathology that defines one’s psychological inclination to speak purposeful misrepresentations –whether it be to appear more grandiose, or victimized– resulting in the narcotic high of attention. Yet slightly lesser known, and certainly less publicized, is our collective addiction to believing the lies we want to hear. Among other negative net effects of this cultural obsession with perfidy, is that the very language we speak has become compromised.

For the past few weeks, we have been covering stories on UnLearn TV that involve allegedly “offensive” comments made by comedians which have caused public “outrage”. But as it is with all of the lies we chose to align ourselves with, proclamations of sanctimonious indignation have little to do with what the claim actually is, and more about garnering attention for one’s self. There are a lot of things that many people don’t find funny. No one who is rational seeks to impose their version of what is, and is not funny on the rest of the world, based solely on their own socio/political sensibilities.

If humor truly offended someone, then why wouldn’t they simply leave, or change the channel? What else, other than their need for attention would motivate them to endure something they despised, and then call attention to it? Moreover, why would they feel compelled to impose their piousness on others? Without going into great detail, I will state now, and for the record, that anyone who gets offended by a joke when there is real pain and suffering going on every day is not only detestably, and delusionally self important… they are lying when they make such claims. 

And in the spirit of lying about the true reasons people enact a deceptive animus over satire… there is a randomly moving line where it applies to what can, and cannot be made fun of based solely on who is saying what, and who the humor is aimed at. The determination of whether one is “crossing the line” is usually dependent on their celebrity status, and socio/political affiliation. It is like a politically correct nepotism, whereby some people are permitted certain accordance’s, while others are not.

However, the difference between political perception and reality is prone to how things are spun. Lies are then protected, and exposed thusly. There is, in my mind, a false perception of influence within the zeitgeist where it applies to free speech. It begins with who is asserting the lie that they are offended, and how they’re regarded. Then –depending on their credibility– those who make such assertions can easily coerce a group of like minded people to feign being transgressed upon themselves, as if their vapid opinions matter at all. From there, the (in my opinion, unwarranted) fear of negative perception causes networks, media outlets, and sponsors to react in a manner that they would not have otherwise, and censor protected free speech at the behest of people who use political correctness as a tool to acquire socio/political leverage.

That is where the first amendment becomes compromised. 

But where it applies to comedy, it is an art form which is dependent on the first amendment. While our Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, it says nothing about anyone’s rights to not be offended. Yet pundits continually lie about their motivation for pretending to be offended, and often do so while hiding behind the very same first amendment they are assailing. Then that lie is compounded by those who want to believe it. Yet the real lies are the ones we tell ourselves when we adhere to such blatantly duplicitous humbug. As it is with all forms of political correctness, it comes at the expense of the truth.

We know –all of us– that becoming aggrieved over humor –whether it is funny or not– is actually about expressing our anxiety about a myriad of other things, and that we are scapegoating a joke teller, or someone whose lack of eloquence allows for conveniently addled interpretations. So if you are truly offended by jokes… or if you feel that satire should have a time limit… then might I suggest you get the hell over it, and stop lying to yourself. If you don’t think something is in good taste, then don’t listen to it. It’s not that difficult.

Funny is subjective, and freedom of speech comes at a price. Sometimes, the price is having to endure some things that do not coincide with our personal sensibilities. But the cost of protected free speech is definitely worth it. Comedy is perhaps the last venue that can speak truth to power. Maybe that is why it is constantly under attack from those who use political correctness to lie about their agenda.

So if you ever wonder whether a joke you’re hearing is crossing the line, perhaps you might want to consider, that there is no line.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on August 18, 2012, in Recent Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Bravo, Rich!

    • “It made sense…here, decisions are made qluitey, and can be made out of the sight of the masses”“They didn’t even have time to develop a middle class for this new society to crush.” Brilliant, as usual!

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