Taking the S out of Slaughter

Monday, October 30, 2006

Take the S out of slaughter, and what are you left with?

Laughter!

Laury Silvers, founder of progressiveislam.org has a wonderful sense of humor which, I am sure, she inherited from her father, Phil Silvers, who was a very successful comedian on stage, screen and television.

Someone at her website complained that people there have “way too much time on their hands” to engage in such levity.

Here is my reply:

I feel that the humor here, and the ability to laugh at oneself, can have a very positive effect on Islam in particular, and world peace and tolerance in general.

Those who are extremist fundamentalists have lost precisely this ability to take themselves with a grain of salt, and to laugh about differences, or perceived slights and insults.

To give you one serious example, I remember several years back when a Purdue chicken advertisement poked fun an a Hare Krishna devotee at an airport. The advertisement portrayed the devotee, who is a vegetarian, being horrified and Mr. Purdue for promoting the killing of animals.

I asked a very high ranking person in the Hare Krishna movement what he thought of the advertisement. He laughed and said that it did not bother him at all.

Now, supposed they were so fanatical and humorless that they put out a contract on Mr. Purdue. Does this sound far fetched? No of course it does not. We have seen many instances of people who were killed or imprisoned for insulting a religion, or even a political regime.

On Myspace one sees animated GIF cartoons of President Bush doing silly things like competing with Gov. Schwarzenegger, lifting weights. We see the President mocked on television in skits like Saturday Night Live, and nighttime talk shows.

No one is imprisoned or assassinated for such mockery.

That is because we have a sense of humor. We can take roasts and jests in our stride. And what is it that enables us to do this? It is our confidence in ourselves and our principles and beliefs and values which gives us the courage to laugh at ourselves.

I say hooray for Laury Silvers, and all those progressive minded people who seek to humanize their beliefs, and work towards tolerance , equanimity and forbearance, whatever their personal convictions or ideologies might be.

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