Humor cannot be bought

Ed Raymond

"The two Bushes told fart jokes, but their humor never went beyond the scatological level."

How Many things in this World do not have a Price Tag?      

During my years at the Harvard of the Midwest I took a course in Russian history which emphasized the contributions of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Tzar Nicholas and wife Alexandra, Lenin the Liar and Stalin the Slayer. I ended up with the thought the Russian people were like us.

That idea led me to Russian literature such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novels The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and   Punishment. He might have been addicted to writing about crime because at one time in his life, at the young age of 27, he was arrested for participating in a discussion that debated socialism and read banned literature. All members of the group were sentenced to die by firing squad. He got a last-minute reprieve from the Tsar but was sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, followed by a mandatory six years in the military.  

Later I read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich about daily life in a Siberian prison, and his epic story of Joseph Stalin’s prisons in The Gulag Archipelago. Then I studied Alexander Pushkin and Evgeny Evtushenko, two of Russia’s greatest poets.

Everyone should read “Babi Yar” by Evtushenko, which is about the murder of 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar by Nazis. English poet Dylan Thomas defined a poem: “A good poem is a contribution of reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”

I’m going to quote sections of Evtushenko’s poem “Humor” because there is so little of it among today’s politicians of every stripe.      

“Tsars, Kings, Emperors, sovereigns of all the earth,     

 Have commanded many a parade but they could not command humor.      

They tried to commission humor-but humor is not to be bought.      

They tried to murder humor, but humor thumbed his nose at them.      

It’s hard to fight humor. They executed him time and time again.      

His hacked-off head was stuck on the point of a pike,      

But as soon as the mummer’s pipes began their quipping tale,      

Humor defiantly cried “I’m back! I’m here!” And started to foot a dance.      

Humor was shoved into cells, but much good that did.       

Humor went straight through prison bars and walls of stone coughing like the lungs,       

like any man in the ranks. He marched singing a popular ditty.      

Rifle in hand against the Winter Palace. He’s accustomed to frowning looks,      

But they do him no harm, and humor at times with humor glances at himself.      

He’s ever-present. Nimble and quick. He’ll slip through everyone.      

So, glory be to humor. He is a valiant man.”  

We have Plenty of Anger and Radicalization in America—But not much Humor!    

A Danger to Democracy report called The Project on Security & Threats by the University of Chicago states 18 million Americans believe the use of force is justified to restore King Donald to the White House. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 6% of the population goes bonkers each year.

Do the math. At last count we had 336 million people. That’s very close to 18 million crazies. Sixty-eight percent of the crazies believe the 2020 election was stolen from the Orange Genius supported by the Southern Baptist Convention and other “Christians” like the Christian Identity members and “conservative” Roman Catholics.

Sixty-two percent of the crazies believe the four prosecutions of The Donald are intended to damage his chances for a repeat in 2024. Seven percent of Americans believe violence will be necessary to install him again to the Oval Office.

American adults also say Trump is a bigger threat to democracy than President Joe Biden by a difference of 55% to 33%.  

The Chicago study reported the following percent of American adults who would use violence to accomplish the following political action:

1. Protect the voting rights of Black Americans and other minorities—18.6%

2. Ensure members of Congress and other government officials do the right thing—17.3%

3. Restore the federal right to abortion—12.3%

4. Prevent Donald Trump from becoming president—11.6%

5. Prevent the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools—9.3%

6. Preserve the rights of Whites—8.5%

7. Prevent the prosecution of Trump—7%    

In other findings, 12%of Americans believe the government is run by Satan-worshipping pedophiles and that 90% of the most radical supporters of the “The Chosen One” believe the federal government is run by a “deep state” of very immoral people. One in five Americans still believe the 2020 election was stolen from King Donald.

The main problem is The Donald had a moral lobotomy at birth. Henry Kissinger once said 90% of the politicians give 10% a bad name. I wonder if he ever realized he was one of the 90%.  

Which Founder was Skeptical of Religion and Its Poisonous Effect on Society?      

The 1776 version of the Divided States of America was founded by people seeking a true religion or escaping from a country that had selected one religion. One of our founders beautifully described why in one long sentence: “On the dogmas of religion as distinguished from the beginning of the world to this day have been quarreling, fighting, burning, and torturing one another to abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”  

Thomas Jefferson was probably our most educated president. We have had some who have graduated from elite Ivy League universities but have learned nothing in the time spent. Think George W. Bush at Yale and Donald Trump at Fordham, Penn and Wharton. Harry Truman never went to college but was a reader. His cabinet members said he knew more history than most PHDs. A classmate of Trump said Donald never read a book.  

Jefferson, born of a rich family, was tutored when very young, went to expensive boarding schools, learned Latin and Greek, and read Greek and Latin scholars in the original for the rest of his life. He graduated from William & Mary, studied law for five years, and also studied philosophy, physics, metaphysics and mathematics.

He was fascinated by the religions of the world and the Bible. One of his comments about the Bible: “The Bible is a significant work of literature that is taken literally by millions. Thus, it is as good a book as any, and much better than most on which to hone one’s critical skills. The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they have enveloped and brought it to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others.”

Jefferson wrote a book about the Bible, often called the Jefferson Bible, and its leading character Jesus Christ. He used a razor to cut and paste his favorite verses together. His “Bible” doesn’t include any of the miracles of Jesus Christ and little mention of a god. He had a life that needed lots of thinking about. He lived a life of leisure enjoying the pleasures of urban and rural life while 600 slaves kept him in the mood and money during his lifetime. He had six children with two surviving birth with a White wife while having six children with four surviving with his Black slave Sally Hemings. Two families might cause a lot of soul and religious thinking—and study.  

What has Happened to Humor and Knowledge to our Politics Today?    

Watching Congressional hearings and Trumplican political rallies of “The Chosen One”  reveal an ugly pairing of anger and ignorance rather than a morphing of humor and knowledge. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican president to exhibit a reliable sense of humor.

The two Bushes told fart jokes, but their humor never went beyond the scatological level. Donald Trump, a psychopathic malignant narcissist, has never exhibited humor, doesn’t seem to recognize it, and has never told a simple joke which requires knowledge of something. His war crimes buddy Vladimir Putin is much the same. Donald’s forte is anger and ignorance (drinking bleach cures COVID?!!).

The dour-looking Abraham Lincoln was reputed to have a quick sense of humor in private negotiations and told interesting stories to make a point. Barack Obama has a wry sense of humor very effective in situational arguments. Pope Francis seems to have a convivial sense of humor and knows when to use it, but he is forced to work with too many conservative cardinals who seem pissed 24/7. And this gets me to the main battle in today’s politics, the Vatican’s ignorance about gender fluidity and the LBGTQIA community’s role in society.  

Where are the Seven Billion LBGTQIA+ Members Buried on Earth?    

As I have written before, population experts have determined that at least 100 billion Homo sapiens have lived and died on earth to this point. Gender science tells us that between 7% and 9% of the genus we belong to classify as homosexual. This fact means that more than seven billion LBGTQIA+ people are buried on most of the seven continents—and one billion of them were transgenders. The study of history in the Middle East has proven that gays existed thousands of years ago.

Our Indian tribes have recognized for thousands of years that transgenders made good shamans to share in the leadership of our 550 tribes. Gay Roman generals commanded Roman Legions who ruled the known world and gay Roman senators led the crowds at the Colosseum with thumbs up or down in the battles of slave gladiators--or the lions eating Christians.  

We have had hundreds of anti-gay and anti-transgender laws passed by the ignorant led by Vatican cardinals who proclaim: “gays are intrinsically disordered.” The problem is they are “intrinsically disordered” dumb. They have some power, so the majority of voting cardinals hang on to misinformation and lies.

When Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses on the Wittenberg church door, he started the Reformation that created hundreds of different “Christian” churches that profess everything from poisonous snakes around necks lead to salvation to eating the heads of live chickens which will morph you to the gold streets of Heaven.

The Vatican is on hospice. Pope Benedict’s home country Germany has many Catholic bishops ready to form their own ‘protestant” church, which means they are very accepting of members of the LBGTQIA+ community. Evidently, they read science books.  

Waylon Hedegaard, a writer who was raised in an evangelical-fundamentalist Christian environment, wrote the following in an “open letter” to MAGA Republicans who support the “one chosen by God” to lead them: “I see your wars against gay and trans folk and am so very ashamed of the part I played in my youth. Your hateful words dehumanize kind and loving people, pressing them into pedophiles or whatever shapes you can hate more easily. While demanding freedom for yourself, you sneer at a group of human beings whose only crime is not to accept the rigid shackles of who you demand they be.”    

And the question is: What century do they want to live in?