Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Burdened Sourpusses of the Ruling Class

Irreverence is the champion of liberty, and its only sure defense -- Mark Twain.

It was the guffaw heard round the world. Code Pink protester Desiree Fairooz snorted in disbelief when she heard Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III lauded as a champion of racial justice at his Senate confirmation hearing on January 10th. She and her group were duly escorted out of the building for daring to poke fun at Sessions and his whole crowd of withered old racist reprobates.

Since the Department of Jiffy Jeffy Justice then insanely insisted on prosecuting Fairooz and two other protesters on disorderly conduct charges, and actually found a jury intimidated enough to convict them, it's the guffaw that will go right on echoing, ad infinitum. Sessions and his cronies will go down in history as one of the prickliest bunch of thin-skinned misanthropes who ever couldn't take a joke.

And this particular joke is totally on them. The video clip of Code Pink protesters mocking both him and his policies would have been lost in cyberspace were it not for the Trump government's paranoid overreaction to it.

The prosecuting attorney helpfully rebroadcast Code Pink's trenchant message, railing to the jury that “Her disruptive behavior included yelling that Senator Sessions’ ‘voting record was evil’ and waving a sign that read: ‘Support civil rights, stop [S]essions’.”

Stop Stop Stop Sessions Sessions Sessions Evil Evil Evil. Support civil rights! plead the enemies of civil rights, over and over and over again. 

Jocular Jeff To America: Don't Laugh At Me, Or Else!

Like any bully, Sessions can dish it out, but he can't take it. His own many stale attempts at humor, such as denying voting rights to black people, have had a history of falling flat whenever presented to the Supreme Court for its amusement. And then there was his recent crack about Hawaii being nothing but an "island in the Pacific" after a federal judge there ruled against Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban. Sessions apparently was unaware that not only is the state of Hawaii a whole series of islands, it was admitted to the union more than half a century ago. When you're an old racist reprobate like Jiffy Jeff, it must be very hard to escape from your imperialist, colonialist state of mind. Or should I say mindlessness.

The racism is hanging around his withered old neck like a rotting Confederate tombstone. Because in Jeff Sessions' America, they're still partying like it's 1860, or its twin, 1899. In Jeff Sessions' America, Rudyard Kipling still reigns at the top of the charts:
Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
Just as American imperialists have always cracked down on their fluttered subjects like little boys ripping the wings from butterflies, so too do the Trumpist authoritarians want to teach a lesson to anyone not kowtowing to them with all the requisite sullenness. These officials intimidate and flail so mindlessly, because they are so deathly afraid of being mocked.

"Authoritarianism and a sense of humor rarely go together," writes Amnesty International's Steve Crawshaw in the new book Street Spirit.  "That's where protesters can gain the upper hand - or at least find an excuse to laugh at their rulers or other powerful players (who, in turn, have little clue how to react.)"

"Laughtivists"  adds Crawhaw, "can help destroy the sense of invulnerability that unwanted rulers need in order to sustain themselves. The more they are persecuted by these rulers, the more afraid and vulnerable the rulers themselves are made to appear."

I never would have heard late night comic Stephen Colbert's tasteless joke about Donald Trump were it not for the news that Trump's Federal Communications Commission is investigating him for possible violations of obscenity laws. Thanks to the thin-skinned authoritarians currently in charge,  Colbert's previously moribund ratings are nearly high enough to even surpass Trump's in his reality show heyday.

Now, because of government overreaction, we'll never be able to get that hideous image of Trump in the act of pleasuring Putin out of our minds. If there's one thing that might keep the boring RussiaGate scandal alive in the minds of American consumers, it's making a dirty joke out of it.

Hillary Clinton must be grimly cackling all the way to her new SuperPac as she hilariously tries to refashion herself as the elite face of the Trump Resistance. Therefore, it is all the more vital that we resist her brand of Resistance -- Elitivism -- with all the persistence we can muster. Our continuing existence as the free laughtivists of the Counter-Resistance depends upon it.

In case you're feeling depleted and powerless in the face of all this daunting resistant elitism, take a break from mocking the withered racist corpus of Jeff Sessions, and remember another monumentally tasteless joke. It was back in 2011, at the beginning of the Arab Spring, that then-Madame Secretary Hillary quipped: "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable. I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."

As Crawshaw writes in his book, millions of ordinary Egyptians then began to laugh so heartily that they took to Tahrir Square in a fit of peaceful protest, and Mubarek soon shuffled his dour way out the door to several years in the slammer. But that was a dictatorship, and we Americans still enjoy a modicum of constitutional rights. If only Mubarek had installed a private server and pretended to be holding a free and fair electoral primary. If only he'd cracked a scripted joke or two. If only WikiLeaks had not become the face of public interest journalism, then the fortunes of the Mubareks and the Clintons might be very different today.

The joke was on the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party when WikiLeaks emails revealed that Citigroup had literally appointed Barack Obama's cabinet for him. The treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was able to deadpan his way through his own Senate confirmation hearing, insisting that his failure to pay his personal income taxes was just an oversight. He later cracked the sick joke that foreclosing on victimized homeowners would be stretched out so as to "foam the runway" for unprosecuted banksters. He and his cronies laughed all the way to the bank in one big fat big circle of fun.

In case you're still not getting the neoliberal, insiderish brand of dry elitivist counter-humor, try this, because Hillary Clinton had her audience absolutely shaking. How could any one political standup routine be so creatively zany?

So you see, laughtivists, it really is possible to both loathe Trump and to rejoice that Hillary Clinton lost the election.

The selective enforcement of the obscenity laws, meanwhile, is rendered all the more ironic given that Obama's FCC had given a cynical free pass to last fall's permanent feedback loop broadcasts of Donald Trump's infamous "pussy-grabbing" remarks. Who even knew that there were still obscenity laws on the books? The Democratic Party must have mistakenly believed that Americans are still shocked by obscenity. But rather than protecting people's ears, they preferred that people get shocked into voting for Hillary by the drumming up of maximum disgust at the more disgusting Donald Trump.

They preferred in vain.

The hypocrisy is just so damned funny, it's hard to even breathe sometimes.

Even so, the possibilities for hoi polloi mischief and guffaws get more endless with every passing day. Who gets the last laugh is yet to be determined.

 Sessions, Geithner, Clinton, & Unidentified Prankster Enjoy Moment of Mirth At Your Expense


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Jay–Ottawa said...

Look at the early links in Karen's report, take note of the stolid or blank faces of people around the protesters at these "hearings." The audience is mostly divided into people who put on an air of sourness or act as though they are deaf and blind.

The sourpuss faces are so annoyed by the rabble, I suppose because their paychecks depend on it. And then there are the dutiful capital security police––sigh––with their black uniforms, shoulder decals and latex gloves to protect them while they remove these noisy shits from the room.

Others at the hearing neither laugh nor look angry; they don't turn their heads in the direction of the action. They are paragons of denial even when sitting close to Fairooz and her fellow protesters. They stare ahead like zombies or busy themselves with clicking and unclicking ballpoints and tidying stacks of briefing papers in their laps.

In the later link where Fairooz is interviewed she mentions that a jury convicted her. Hers was not a bench trial, so don't blame a judge for the verdict. A jury, not cops or pols. The verdict of guilty of laughing in the wrong venue was handed down by Fairooz's own the peers. Sigh again.

America, America, when will you discover the power of solidarity?

How can we forget the political irony of Mark Twain, the humor in Vaclav Havel's plays mocking the regime, the little boy who mentioned out loud the emperor's invisible clothes, not to mention our own student days of making fun of certain teachers?

More of the same tactic with the link in paragraph 9, which takes you to a 28-minute interview of Steve Crawshaw on his book "Street Spirit: The Power of Protest and Mischief." Crawshaw is bubbling over with stories of commoners around the world who knew how to topple unjust governments through "activism that inspires laughter."

If you have time to check out but one link, let it be the Crawshaw interview. This human rights expert provides us with a history and a manual on how to disarm idiocy through mockery. You'll come away smiling and full of mischievous ideas to set things right. Laugh and make America great again.

Zee said...

The New York Times has run a piece by Frank Bruni titled "Hillary Clinton's Absolution." The article was so nauseating--and spent so much time reviewing yet again Hillary's excuse-making while at the same time contradictorily "accept[ing] full responsibility" for her 2016 loss--that I stopped reading after a couple of paragraphs.

But Karen, I thank you for offering me some measure of absolution in your latest post:

"So you see, laughtivists, it really is possible to both loathe Trump and to rejoice that Hillary Clinton lost the election. "