So I’m innocently blogging along over on Facebook (http://facebook.com/captaindigital and http://facebook.com/captaindigitalspeaks) when I happen to post a funny story I heard from a fellow Conservative. Six or so friends of generally right-leaning viewpoints thought it was a howl. But one, ultra-left wing person of my acquaintance unloaded on me like a B-17 Flying Fortress over Dresden – with about as much tact. He resorted to the typical Liberal tactics (name-calling, Judas-goats, hyperbole, and other assorted nonsense) and ranted about how Conservatives are all wingnuts and idiots. (Somebody get this guy a mirror. Please.) But it occurred to me that there’s a fundamental inequality here – Conservatives can find the humor in a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert (most of the time), even when they poke fun at Conservatives. But Liberals seem uniformly incapable of reciprocity. Why is that?
Okay, here’s an example of a joke. Let’s see if you find this funny:
Three boys were out in the country, enjoying a Summer day at their favorite swimmin’ hole. Unbeknownst to them, the President was nearby, travelling from one stop to the next, on a re-election barnstorming tour. He gave his Secret Service detail the slip at a little country gas station, and took a walk, to clear his head. As he walked, he quickly became lost, then heard some boys playing just over a hill. It was then he came upon the swimming hole. He thought, “I haven’t been swimming in a pond like this for years! Looks like fun.” So he took off his suit, and jumped in. What he didn’t realize is that the swimming hole wasn’t that deep, and he knocked himself out as he jumped in. The boys swam down and grabbed him off the bottom of the hole and drug him to safety, where they applied the lifesaving resuscitation skills they learned in the Boy Scouts, and brought him back from death’s door.
“Boys, do you know who I am?” the President asked.
“Yessir, Mr. President!” they replied.
The President beamed at the three boys. “You’ve done your country a great service today. And as President, I can reward each of you for saving my life.” He looked at the first boy. “Son, what would you like?”
The boy thought hard. “Well, Mr. President, my pa wants me to go to West Point, but I don’t really have the grades.”
“Son,” the President said. “Don’t you worry about it. You have a guaranteed appointment to West Point. I’ll see to it.”
The second boy said, “Mr. President, I’ve always wanted to be a Captain in the Navy.”
“Well, moving up through the ranks will be up to you, but I can guarantee you an appointment to Annapolis, where you’ll graduate as a Lieutenant.”
The two boys had ear-to-ear grins. But not the third boy. “Son, what’s wrong? What can I get for you?” asked the President.
“Well, sir,” the boy stammered, “Could you make sure I get buried in Arlington National Cemetery?”
“Why certainly, son,” replied a surprised President. “But why that? Why don’t you ask for a government job, or to go to West Point or something?”
The boy looked morose, and answered, “Well, Mr. President, I’m only twelve, and I don’t expect I’ll make it to college.”
“Why’s that?” the President asked.
“Because when I get home and tell my Pop that I saved the President’s life, he’s gonna KILL me!”
Funny? I thought so. Of course, you’ll note that I didn’t NAME the President. This joke as been around at least as long as the Jimmy Carter era – maybe longer. It’s been told about EVERY President since. I don’t care who the President is – the idea of a kid who’s parent is gonna be mad enough to kill him for saving a President’s life, just because the dad disagrees with the President’s politics is over-the-top. And it got a laugh from me, the first time I heard it. Now take that joke and tell it to a Liberal, but use President Obama’s name. If you’re a Conservative, you’ll get called names like “racist,” “bigot,” and worse. Now find some other Liberals and tell it, but replace “Obama” with “George W. Bush.” You’ll get dirty laughs, snickers, and wise cracks, all in favor of the dad’s actions.
If you try the same joke with two groups of Conservatives, you’ll find that you get laughs with both versions of the joke.
That’s a highly unscientific method to test for humor tolerance, but it’s also highly instructive. Why would Conservatives find both versions funny, but Liberals can only laugh when you poke fun at a Conservative?
I don’t know the answer to that question. But I think the absence of an ability to laugh at yourself is a great big “tell” that there’s something seriously wrong with your personality. W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) said “there is humor in all things.” He was right. But if you can’t SEE the humor in something, it’s not the joke’s fault. It’s likely yours.
Liberal humor has become a lot more mean-spirited in recent years. Guys like Bill Mahr, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are held up as icons of political humor. But they rarely take on the foibles of Democrats and the Left. I can’t think of one “mainstream” comedian outside of Jay Leno, that regularly takes swipes at BOTH parties.
I’ll leave you with one more joke, hopefully one that everyone can appreciate, regardless of party affiliation. (Although, I’m not so sure, since Obama seems to have little regard for the principle espoused in the punchline.)
A Senator, a President, and a Justice walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says “Separate Checks?”