February 29th, 2008

Andrei in the office

A few might see the motivation behind this

I find myself wondering this morning if there is 'bad speech'

In an absolutely free and liberated word... anyone should be able to say, truly anything.

I'm not saying we should agree with anything that is said. But I feel anyone should have the freedom to say it.

I suppose then, the question becomes... where is the safe line of consequences?

We often throw 'Flag Burning' onto this heap. In the United States there are some that feel that this goes to a point of taboo while others view it as representative of the freedoms the country stands for. So who is right? You can't really ask one extreme side or the other because they have the definitive answer that they are right and the other side is wrong. Fall to extreme-extremism and you get those that will kill to defend their views. And to be honest those anti-abortionists who support the death penalty and killing doctors still confuses me a lot.

My personal view is that everyone has the right to speak and act as they Will. (Yes, stolen entirely from Liber Oz) Now... Just because you have the right to say it and the right to be inappropriate doesn't mean that the 'masses' are going to be happy with you about it. It also doesn't mean that you aren't putting yourself on the road to self destruction... but that too is inevitably your decision.

I think the entire process is actually there to help us individually learn more about ourselves and the limitations or tolerations we have. I'm not condoning hate crime; but I definitely learn more about myself and the people I want to be around based on the degree of hate speech they use with intent.

Granted, at the same time... I find myself curious at my ability to ignore vicious speech in the name of humour. The film "The Aristocrats" is an exploration into the AndyKauffmanesque style of humour which is laughing at the action of intended humour; not the humour itself. This is actually a very difficult movie for most to watch because it is a mesmerising onslaught of humour based around the speaking of taboo.

So, some people find themselves laughing uproariously at the comedic irony over issues that individually they'd never laugh at. Issues that frankly disgust them. Such is the art of comedy. To push the horrors of unreality in our face in a manner that we laugh despite ourselves.

I've posted at least a few times on my journal that the deepest mystery of theatre is the symbol behind it. The comedy/tragedy masks. Symbolised by a frown and a smile. The mystery stands as to which mask represents which half of theatre.

So what really is the line of what is appropriate comedy? We can all have personal lines. An episode of "Family Guy" has Brian the dog transported to the past. A real ass gets in his face and challenges him to a fight.

Brian Griffin: No, no, I was just being friendly.
Man: I will kick your ass anytime, anywhere!
Brian Griffin: Uh, okay. How about top of the World Trade Center, morning of September 11th, 2001, 8:00 AM?
Man: I'll be there! You think I'll forget, but I won't! [he and the woman walk away]


It is of course obvious that this episode got a lot of angry mail from the public. The episode aired in May of 2007. A few episodes later the following was made. I like to think that it was a response to the public.

Brian: Oh, please, Peter, your excuses are lamer than FDR's legs.
Meg & Peter: *gasp*
Brian: Too soon?


Humour pushes the envelope. From the song, "Everyone's a little bit racist" to just about everything Mel Brooks did in film until Spaceballs.

Certainly, I will personally admit. There are topics that offend me. Certainly, there are topics that I do not deal with well. Especially far more since becoming a parent.

So I find myself thinking today... when someone crosses the line in the name of humour. Or of free speech. The context and intent. I'll make the occasional Jewish joke. And despite what people think, I consider myself both very much Jewish and very much NOT an anti-semite. Though I'm certain there are probably far more pious Jews that would disagree with me.

So, What is the line? Is there a line?