tom hunter (2,313) Says:
September 15th, 2011 at 1:12 pm
I think another Steyn piece may be better because it avoids the whole Islamic thing that has the left reaching for their Godwin shields.
This one was published in National Review back in June of this year – Criminal Comedy. He starts off with this:
I read The Joke, Milan Kundera’s first novel, when I was a schoolboy. Bit above my level, but, even as a teenager, I liked the premise. Ludvik is a young man in post-war, newly Communist Czechoslovakia. He’s a smart, witty guy, a loyal Party member with a great future ahead of him. His girlfriend, though, is a bit serious. So when she writes to him from her two-week Party training course enthusing about the early-morning calisthenics and the “healthy atmosphere,” he scribbles off a droll postcard:
Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky! Ludvik.A few weeks later, he’s called before a committee of the District Party Secretariat. He tries to explain he was making a joke. Immediately they remove him from his position at the Students Union; then they expel him from the Party, and the university; and shortly thereafter he’s sent to work in the mines.
Funny in it’s absurdity no? Try today’s reality:
… immediately after my trial they ensnared a minor stand-up comic, Guy Earle, who had committed the crime of putting down two drunken hecklers. Alas for him, they were of the lesbian persuasion. Last month, he was convicted of putting down hecklers homophobically and fined $15,000.
Mr. Earle did not testify at his trial, nor attend it. He lives on the other side of the country, and could afford neither flight nor accommodation. Rather touchingly, he offered to pay for his trip by performing at various comedy clubs while in town, before he eventually realized that no Vancouver impresario was going to return his calls ever again.Steyn thinks that Ludvik would have recognised that last point also:
Comrade Zemanek, the chairman of the plenary meeting that decides his fate, participated with him in earlier jests with the same girl, but he makes a brilliant speech explaining why Ludvik has to be punished, and everyone else agrees:Steyn also refers to the US case of a doctor who made a subtle joke in Surgery News and got done over outside of any court system. But I find Guy Earle’s case far more chilling than either that or Steyn’s own. Earle, like many stand-up comedians and unlike Steyn, probably does not have two dimes to rub together and is an unknown: hence easily crucified. Perhaps he needed a lawyer deeply concerned with free speech – someone like Andrew Geddis, assuming Andrew would have been willing to represent him.
No one spoke on my behalf, and finally everyone present (and there were about a hundred of them, including my teachers and my closest friends), yes, every last one of them raised his hand to approve my expulsion.
And so it went for Guy Earle, hung out to dry by his comrades at the plenary session of the Canadian Collective of Edgy Transgressive Comedians.
Who would have thought all the old absurdist gags of Eastern Europe circa 1948 would transplant themselves to the heart of the West so effortlessly? Indeed, a latter-day Kundera would surely reject as far too obvious a scenario in which lesbians and feminists lean on eunuch males to destroy a man for disrespecting the vascularized vagina by suggesting that semen might have restorative properties.
“Give it to me straight, doc. I can take it”? Not anymore. Kundera’s Joke is now on us.