Religion Should Encourage Satire

Satire is not insult, satire is not hate.

Satire is comedy; satire is making a serious point through humour.

For as long as I can remember, the best serious points have been made by comedians with a microphone and cartoonists with a pen.

Every weekend people in public houses drink beer and make light of serious situations, just because one tells a joke and another laughs it doesn’t mean the dark situation that is the source of the joke isn’t taken seriously.

The ability to laugh at yourself is arguably one of the most important and attractive characteristics any human being can posses.

The murders in Paris this week are tragic on many levels. One of them is that once again extremist Muslims have shown that Islam has difficulty with self reflection, criticism and humour. For too many members of this religion, often called a religion of peace, offence is a default position for anything that they do not understand. Might is right and to hell with everyone else, sometimes literally.

Now of course not all Muslims carry guns and shoot everyone that upsets them and of course the majority don’t wish that. However, many of those non aggressive Muslims still get offended by fair criticism and comedy. This default to insult attitude is not unique to Islam either, Christians do it too. I have seen it on internet forums and social media, not just in the past week but after the September 11 attacks and even before that. This is not a new thing and it’s not going to go away quickly.

Religion has a problem with not being the dominant voice and it can’t cope with anything being wrong. Religion must be authoritative and always the master. Watching the religious try to answer criticism in the form of humour is like a parent not coping with a brattish child in a supermarket. They flail and threat and call foul in effort to remain on their self made throne of authority. Some will resort to the worst form of violence; the worst of these is the Muslim extremist but they are tacitly supported by the passive majority who can’t take a joke.

What the religious need to do is actively encourage satire. They should learn to laugh at themselves and see the funny side of their own quirks and foibles.

Comedy is the great uniter and it is a big loss to religion to not take advantage of this.

Today there are people who are sickly pointing the finger at the victims saying it’s their fault for disrespecting religion. Bullshit! The problem is squarely on religion for not having the backbone to stand and face criticism, for not having the ability to laugh at itself. For realising that it is losing ground continuously and is now violently oppressing dissenting views is an effort to keep control of dwindling adherents.

Islam is by no means the only one at fault here. Christianity has its own share of agitated humourless defenders who make a career out of being offended at everything.

The saddening irony here is that by simply learning to laugh, the religious will hurt less they face satire and they will in return become much more relevant.

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3 thoughts on “Religion Should Encourage Satire

  1. I agree with you, limey, about the role satire and humor should play in human life (do you mind if I spell it “humor”? 😉 ) — but I don’t think a lack of a sense of humor is a foible that is exclusively (or even predominantly) religious. I think people in general tend to take themselves entirely too seriously, and this is probably due primarily to the fact that some people think that being serious about your beliefs is somehow incompatible with having a sense of humor about them. Sometimes, having strong beliefs is an uphill battle already as it is, and by joking about it I think some people feel like, in doing so, they are “giving up ground,” or leaving their philosophy open to further rebuke and criticism. I’m with you, though, in that these people are mistaken — I usually have more respect, not less, for someone’s views of they can appreciate the humorous side of their own philosophy.

    I guess I’m saying: This may be a shortfall that belongs at the feet of mankind as a whole, rather than religion in general.

    • Thank you Seth,

      I identify with you on the too serious to laugh difficulty. I’ve been in churches where leaders were criticised for daring to make a joke.

      One point o would like to pick up is I don’t class satire as joking. Jokes can be disrespectful and mean. Satire has a serious purpose and that is to draw attention to and scrutinise specific aspects of the subject. While there is undoubted humour, it also has the serious intent lacking in most jokes.

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