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conservatism

Digby provides some shining examples of rightie “humor.” One is a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”

The other is a list called “Know Thy Enemy: Fun Facts About Liberals.” This is followed by a list of suggestions, such as “Liberals will try to entice you with their twisted logic. Counter with a bitch slap,” and “Liberals are always whining about tolerance, but when I punch them for that, they get moody. Hey, be tolerant!”

Righties will say that if we don’t laugh at the joke we have no sense of humor. Of course, these little jokes aren’t really about being funny, are they?

There are all manner of soc-psych studies on “humor” as a form of hostility and aggression. A quickie google search turned up this one. The authors find that men who enjoy sexist humor are more likely than other men to be aggressive toward women and have, um, an accepting attitude toward violence against women, including rape.

Most women recognize when “humor” is being used to insult them and keep them in their place, and they don’t laugh. This may be the foundation of the stereotype that women don’t have a sense of humor. If you are old enough to remember the 1950s and early 1960s you might remember when a comedian only had to say “women drivers” and roll his eyes up, and the audience would howl. Ugly wives and shrewish mothers-in-law were also standard stand-up material. Women drivers, wives, and mothers-in-law were expected to laugh.

Many years ago, ca. 1978, I edited a book by a man who made a living as an after-dinner speaker. In fact, I dimly remember it was a joke book. I deleted a spectacularly ugly “joke” about wife beating, and he complained to the senior editor that I had no sense of humor. But the senior editor was a woman, too. The joke stayed out. All the ugly wife jokes stayed in, though; if we’d deleted those, there wouldn’t have been enough material left for a book.

In earlier times most white Americans just loved hideous caricatures of African Americans and other minorities. The Library of Congress prints & photographs archive is full of the stuff. This Harper’s Weekly cover from 1876 was intended to be funny, I suspect (if you haven’t been much exposed to this genre before — the guy on the right is Irish). This cartoon from 1893 is a “humorous” depiction of “darkies” at the Chicago World’s Fair. And this specimen was considered a real knee-slapper back in 1916. These illustrations were not aberrations; they’re very typical of cartoons commonly published in major general-circulation newspapers and magazines in their day.

If they don’t make you laugh, you must not have a sense of humor, huh?

Although it’s true humor sometimes can diffuse hostility, it seems obvious that laughing at a person or group is a way for the laughers to reaffirm their shared hatreds and make their bigotry socially acceptable. It is no coincidence, IMO, that the ugliest of the racial cartoons in the LoC archives come from the same time period as Jim Crow and mass lynchings. It’s also no coincidence that Jews were caricatured in Nazi cartoons. (The LoC has a collection of Nazi cartoons that are not online.)

You might remember a few days ago when a rightie wrote in the comments to this post “heh, well if its one thing you ‘lefties’ lack, its a sense of humor.” I had been dismayed at the guy’s attitude toward foreign tourism displayed in this blog post. Yes, obviously, he meant it to be humorous. But the loud-and-clear subtext of the piece is derision and condescension toward non-Americans, which only another American nativist would find funny. The authors’ defensiveness and discomfort with foreigners is palpable. It’s a very ugly piece that, apparently, got picked up by Pajamas Media and linked (no surprise) by Little Green Footballs, a not-jolly crew if there ever was one.

Liberals laugh at righties, but as a rule, liberals don’t make jokes about righties being lynched or slapped or punched. Yet these acts of aggression are staples of rightie humor. That says something, IMO.

Of course, righties don’t think Al Franken is funny, which proves they don’t have a sense of humor. You may have heard this one, but I’m gonna tell it again, anyway … here Al explains humor to Ann Coulter –

Ann recently told an audience:

“We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee,” Coulter said. “That’s just a joke, for you in the media.”

Here’s my question. What’s the joke? Maybe it’s a prejudice from my days as a comedy writer, but I always thought the joke had to have an operative funny idea. I’ll give you an example of a joke.

    Like they do every Saturday night, two elderly Jewish couples are going out to dinner. The guys are in front, the girls riding in back. Irv says to Sid, “Where should we go tonight?”

    Sid says, “How about that place we went about a month ago. The Italian place with the great lasagna.”

    Irv says, “I don’t remember it.”

    Sid says, “The place with the great lasagna.”

    Irv says, “I don’t remember. What’s the name of the place?”

    Sid thinks. But can’t remember. “A flower. Gimme a flower.”

    “Tulip?” Irv says.

    “No, no. A different flower.”

    “Magnolia?”

    “No, no. A basic flower.”

    “Orchid?”

    “No! Basic.”

    “Rose?”

    That’s it! Sid turns to the back seat. “Rose. What was the name of that restaurant…?”

That’s a joke.

And it still makes me giggle.

Update: Outside the Beltway tries to argue that leftie T-shirts are just as nasty as rightie ones. However, his T-shirt examples are all aimed at Bush and only Bush, not all conservatives — nothing comparative to the “liberals are the enemy” message described above — and the closest any of them come to advocating violence is the one that says “Give Bush another pretzel.” (The OtB blogger explains “there’s not a specific Democrat for Republicans to focus on.” Nah — the “liberals are the enemy” meme has been kicking around since the 1960s, at least.)

There’s a “European travel T-shirt” that says “Sorry my president is an idiot” in French, German, Dutch, Italian & Spanish. I actually kind of like that one.

He did find some bumper stickers that express hostility for all conservatives and Republicans. I say honestly that I don’t find these a bit clever or funny, just juvenile. It’s possible they weren’t meant to be funny. There’s a link to a “less family-friendly” site selling the kind of raunchy junk that I complained about in this post. They’re not funny and I’d be very happy if nobody ever wears them.

Thanks to services like Cafe Press anybody with half a brain can create nasty T-shirts and stickers and try to sell them on the web. The “Know the Enemy” shirt, however, comes from IMAO, a long-established rightie “humor” site and member of Pajamas Media. I’d be very surprised to find a leftie blog with a comparable blogosphere ranking pushing “all conservatives are the enemy so let’s smack them” merchandise.

Update update: Steve M. finds more examples of rightie “humor.”

Update update update: See David Neiwert, who points out in this post that the IMAO blogger has a history of hostile “humor.”

Update update update update: As I predicted in the post above, rightie commenters on the IMAO blog have decided we liberals don’t have a sense of humor. The blogger says he just wants to make people laugh, and I suspect he believes that’s true. But the “humor” displayed is, IMO, a form of passive aggression, not real humor.

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62 Comments

  1. KS  •  Apr 26, 2006 @11:10 am

    “Rope. Tree. Michelle Malkin. Some assembly required.”

    Nope, still not funny.

  2. bfranky  •  Apr 26, 2006 @11:27 am

    Here’s a funny book: “The Department of Homeland Decency: Decency Rules and Regulations Manual.” Hilarious satire of what the people with no sense of humor are doing to us.

    Check it out at http://www.homelanddecency.com

  3. Ian  •  Apr 26, 2006 @11:52 am

    That t-shirt site is interesting … one or two actual funny shirts, the rest just pathetic … two observations. First, in their “Patriotic Shirts” section … of 5 shirts, only 3 are actually patriotic. It is instructional, I think, to realize that these people believe that “stamping out liberalism” and re-electing george bush count as “Patriotic”. It’s weird that a group that prides themselves on their “patriotism” doesn’t actually know what the word MEANS. Second, in their “Baby Shirts” section … first of all, the concept of political shirts for babies is more than a bit tasteless, in my not so humble opinion, but then one of them … “i survived roe v. wade” … that’s just fucking SICK.

    -me

  4. joanr16  •  Apr 26, 2006 @12:45 pm

    The ability or inability to laugh at oneself, and even one’s own beliefs. I think that’s key.

    I’m a big fan of The Simpsons, and I noticed around 1997 they started beating the everliving snot out of Bill Clinton. Just savaged him. (“Ah’ve done it with pigs, Marge. Real, no-foolin’ pigs.”) I believe this was the writers’ Dem disappointment overflowing. I’ve also noticed that, aside from some oblique references to “his stupid monkey face” and calling him “Commander Cuckoo Bananas,” George W. Bush is never mentioned on the series. He’s just too awful to acknowledge. His dad got a whole episode, playing Mister Wilson to Bart’s Dennis the Menace.

  5. Rick  •  Apr 26, 2006 @1:27 pm

    The site for these shirts is http://www.imao.us? What’s that?
    In my asshole opinion?
    (I think THATS funny)

  6. James Joyner  •  Apr 26, 2006 @2:07 pm

    I don’t disagree that IMAO is more mainstream than the sites pushing the bumper stickers, although I do disagree that Frank J is actually advocating violence. He’s a college-age or early 20s humorist. Certainly, it’s lighter in spirit than, say, Ted Rall or several hard left comics out there.

    My view isn’t that one justifies the other, just that it’s all juvenile stuff. Yes, there has long been a “Democrats hate America” meme that arose in reaction to the Warren Court and the hippie culture. It came from a frustrated segment of society who thought their culture was being undermined by a powerful minority.

    Now, though, there’s a not-insignificant segment on the left who hates conservative America, especially the Religious Right, and is directing anger and vitriol at them.

    Basically, these shirts and stickers are a way for people without better ways to express themselves to vent. I wouldn’t wear them, but I’m a grown man. I suspect I would have found some of them funnier 20 years ago.

  7. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @2:27 pm

    Certainly, it’s lighter in spirit than, say, Ted Rall or several hard left comics out there.

    No, it isn’t. It’s ugly and mean and hateful.

    Now, though, there’s a not-insignificant segment on the left who hates conservative America, especially the Religious Right, and is directing anger and vitriol at them.

    Yes, but as a rule they don’t try to claim their anger and vitriol is cute or clever or humorous..

    And there’s one kind of merchandise in which the “liberals are evil” message is far more common than the “conservatives are evil” message, and that’s BOOKS. Here’s a post I wrote awhile back on the subject. I’m sure the point is still valid.

  8. Donna  •  Apr 26, 2006 @2:45 pm

    The message on a bumper sticker “He’s Not My President” saved me when I traveled to Australia a few years ago to work there for three months. In my first week there, my Aussie friend was introducing me as her friend from America. I begin to realize that her introduction of me to her social group was followed by a noticeable cooling.

    Finally, I said, “Yes, I am from America, but listen, ‘He is NOT my president’”. Wow, what a difference that made! Those folks let down that cool reserve, some even feeling free then to offer their always polite but negative opinion of Shrub, and all went swimmingly afterward.

    Speaking of humor, the Australians are full of laughter and keen on creating a good time for all. I cannot imagine them responding to ‘rightie humor’ except to turn away, then focus elsewhere with a shake of the head, a grin, and a favorite saying, “No worries….”

  9. Shystee  •  Apr 26, 2006 @3:15 pm

    I posted the following in comments at OTB but it wasn’t published? Maybe I made a mistake in posting or maybe not:

    Do you really, honestly, fail to see the difference between immature political humor and immature political “humor” that explicitly calls for violence?

    You neglected to post the front of the shirt at the top of your page: “Rope, Tree, Journalist. Some assembly required.”

    While the Lefty examples you post do express strong feelings, even hatred for the Right wing, none of the Lefty examples call for injuring or killing anyone, and definitely not lynching.

    That’s “violent, eliminationist discourse”, my friend. T-shirts saying “fuck Bush” are strong language but they don’t call for violence. And that’s the difference. Trying to present both sides as equivalent because they are both “immature” and “hate-filled” is intellectually dishohest.

    I’m all for passionate partisan debate, but when you call for people to be harmed you’ve crossed the line.

  10. James Joyner  •  Apr 26, 2006 @4:01 pm

    Maha: Yes, there are the “liberals hate America” books out there, although I think your list exaggerates that. The Charen books and “drive liberals insane by voting Bush” are hardly examples. Like the Bork book, most of them aresimply curmudgeonly “the country is going to Hell in a handcart because we’re abandoning God” rants. They’re not my cup of tea–I don’t own and haven’t read any of them beyond reviews and media discussion–but they’re not hateful. Coulter, Horowitz, and a couple of others exceptions.

    The liberal counter-meme is “conservatives are morons.” There are numerous books out there on that topic.

    Shystee: Your comment was in my spam queue. The f- word does that. It’s now rescued.

    I don’t see “Rope, Tree, Journalist. Some assembly required” as any more an advocacy of actual violence than “Kill all the lawyers.”

    I don’t know Frank J personally but I’ve read his IMAO blog occasionally since starting my own blog three plus years ago. He isn’t an advocate of violence, unless one counts killing terrorists. He’s anti-gun control and anti-liberal, to be sure, and his schtick includes satirical humor along those lines. But it’s just absurd to claim that he’s trying to encourage the actual lynching of journalists.

  11. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @4:20 pm

    I don’t see “Rope, Tree, Journalist. Some assembly required” as any more an advocacy of actual violence than “Kill all the lawyers.”

    The journalist T-shirt makes me seriously queasy. The hostility behind it is palpable. Sometimes when people say “kill all the lawyers” they are being just as hostile, and sometimes they aren’t; you have to provide context. Sometimes a joke pretends to be an expression of hate. But that T-shirt strikes me as a clear expression of hate pretending to be a joke.

    The liberal counter-meme is “conservatives are morons.” There are numerous books out there on that topic.

    Name some. At the time I wrote that post I made a sincere effort to find books firing broadside smears at the other side, and there just weren’t that many books written by liberals smearing all conservatives. However, the books by conservatives smearing all liberals could fill libraries.

  12. Andy Vance  •  Apr 26, 2006 @4:45 pm

    I don’t see “Rope, Tree, Journalist. Some assembly required” as any more an advocacy of actual violence than “Kill all the lawyers.”

    I think the equivalent meaning would be more like saying “Kill Whitey” in 1968. Sure, there’s a kind of snide, in-group humor to it, but there’s also a kind of wink and a nod, a “you know we would if we could” mentality.

  13. Shystee  •  Apr 26, 2006 @4:52 pm

    But it’s just absurd to claim that he’s trying to encourage the actual lynching of journalists.

    Maybe if he didn’t print T-shirts that say “lynch journalists” it would be harder to make that claim. But since he does, I don’t think it’s absurd at all.

    They are his words, why should they not be taken seriously? Because you think he’s a “good guy”? People should be judged by what they say and do rather than assumptions about their character.

    What if the T-shirt said “Rope, Tree, Negro. Some assembly required”? The “Aw, I was just playin’, I don’t advocate ACTUALLY lynching anyone. Why can’t people take a joke?” defense doesn’t cut it for me.

    Rhetoric that expresses feelings of hate is not the same as rehetoric that expresses wishes of violence.

  14. Buck  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:04 pm

    Maha sez:
    The liberal counter-meme is “conservatives are morons.” There are numerous books out there on that topic.

    Name some.

    Al Franken’s made a career out of writing such books (e.g., “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot,” “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right”) and Mike Moore ain’t far behind (e.g., “Stupid White Men : …And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!’ & ” Dude, Where’s My Country?”), just to name two such authors.

    I’m a moderate-conservative and don’t truck much with wingers of the Left or the Right. I’d not spend my money on Ann Coulter, but neither would I spend it on the rantins of, say Rhandi Rhodes, were she to write a book. I did buy Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” back in the day, but I worked for a subsidiary of GM at the time…and lived in Detroit.

    Ultimately, my point is this: there are wacko fringe wing-nuts on BOTH sides of the fence, and I’m surprised you don’t acknowledge this, Maha. Which one is worse depends largely on the time of day or which blog’s comments section you’re reading. As examples, I no longer read comments at Little Green Footballs because I find them appalling (for the most part); ironically, I still wander over to Democratic Underground periodically for a laugh at the fringe-left. And you can find violence-a-plenty in the DU threads.

  15. justme  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:13 pm

    WOW ! Where to begin.. Yikes….James,, you last comment “but it’s absurd to claim that he’s trying to encourage the actual lynching of journalists” wow! Really?So what is he encouraging?, group hugs???….a person does not make comments like that or pawn shirts with comments like that on their web site if they don’t agree with the ideal……..

    And “schtick”? Since when is selling a shirt with ANTIAMERICAN slogans on it considered a “schtick”?Journalists,liberals,lawyers…they are your fellow Americans…making suggestions that they should be lynched,ect is a most ANTI AMERICAN act….In a free country people with all kinds of views should be respected for you to accept any less is nothing short of being a traitor to your country..instead you think it is cute schtick to suggest anyone with different views should be lynched……..could you be anymore intellectually dishonest?

    As much as I dislike george bush the shirt in question wouldn’t be one bit cute if the word was “president” instead of “journalist” …it’s not “schtick” ….it’s SICK….

    You think it’s schtick,, and to you it may be BUT you don’t see the terrorists you speak of LOVE you…they have to do nothing to this country with people like you working for them…they must be pleased when they see antiAmerican slogans on your clothes…

    If you think the power of suggestion is so meaningless, just wait till one of the many mentally ill in your party acts on a statement like that(remember eric rudolph or timothy mcveigh)….How fast will your pal step aside and play innocent” I didn’t do it, it wasn’t my fault”

    This is what I meant the other day when I asked SOMEONE,, ANYONE to remind me why we are still pretending to be united with a group of people so filled with hate ….people who claim casually that lynching is “satire”…if we are infact united with this element, what does that say about us?

    I noticed no one had an answer for that, but I am asking you again…Why are we pretending to be united with a group who thinks joking about lynching AMERICANS is satire???????

  16. joanr16  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:28 pm

    James Joyner, you’ll have to blame Shakespeare for the “Kill all the lawyers” slogan. Apparently you didn’t know that. Not that I’m surprised.

  17. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  Apr 26, 2006 @5:58 pm

    Another thing about right vs. left humor. Our humor is directed at those in power. If you’re powerful, being the butt of jokes should go with the territory. If you can’t stand the heat, etc. But notice how berserk with rage the righties get if we poke fun at their boy king.

    But who is rightie “humor” directed against? The powerless, the unprivileged. Gays, single mothers surviving on two minimum wage jobs, ethnic minorities, etc. This is what gives right-wing “humor” its incredibly petty and mean-spirited odor.

    Like all bullies, the extreme right are cowards. They can dish it out but they can’t take it.

  18. Andy Vance  •  Apr 26, 2006 @6:04 pm

    Shakespeare…d’oh!

    I’m working on my new shirt: Hello, citizen, ask me about the Dolchstoßlegende.

  19. averagejoe  •  Apr 26, 2006 @6:19 pm

    Hey No more,

    I can do both…but this site doesn’t allow ANYTHING right
    and every right side comment get pissed on and then removed
    by the REAL cowards…you know… the small
    minded back patting peanut packers who come here to swirl
    their drool

    p.s. and YOUR site is a joke…first time in and I’m reading about blow jobs. Classy!

  20. Sam  •  Apr 26, 2006 @6:20 pm

    Orcinus says it all: “Anger at Bush is a healthy sign. But liberals must find a way to continue to channel that anger in a constructive direction. If we become haters, like the conservatives who are fomenting violence against us, we ALL will be lost.”

    True humorists: Will Rogers, Mark Twain, Richard Pryor (notice what they all had in common? Intelligence and compassion)
    Not true humorists: Three Stooges

  21. Sam  •  Apr 26, 2006 @6:31 pm

    What the hell was that, “#18? A hit and run? A blast of nonsense and then a disappearance back into the smoke of rightie land from which you came?

    By the way, Maha, I loved your joke!

  22. joanr16  •  Apr 26, 2006 @6:57 pm

    Sam, clearly comment #18 was written by a chimpanzee. Perhaps the Smirking Chimpanzee?? Since he has nothing better to do these days….

    Either that, or the most marvelously subtle example of anti-rightie nutjob satire I’ve ever seen.

  23. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2006 @7:05 pm

    If the t- shirt said,” Linch Journalists” it might have softend the message so it wasn’t percieved as hateful and given the reader the opportunity to think little harder about the message and the senders attitude. But that’s just my humble opinion.

  24. Sam  •  Apr 26, 2006 @7:35 pm

    joanr16 –
    You could be on to something.
    And if I were an Average Joe, I’d be pretty offended. I’ve known some Average Joes and you, sir, are no Average Joe.

  25. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @7:41 pm

    Buck, #14: I already listed Franken’s books in my original post on rightie-leftie books. Perhaps you should read the post before you comment, so that you understand the argument. Here it is..

    Stricly speaking, the title of Michael Moore’s book doesn’t slam conservatives, just “stupid white men.” I guess they’d be a subset of conservatives. :-)

    Ultimately, my point is this: there are wacko fringe wing-nuts on BOTH sides of the fence, and I’m surprised you don’t acknowledge this, Maha.

    I do acknowledge it, and have written about leftie whackjobs in the past. However, when it comes to hate speech, the volume and quality are NOT equal. Rightie hate speech directed at lefties tends to be more broad-brush and more violent. Leftie hate speech is sometimes raunchy, which is unfortunate, but lefties tend to have a narrower focus (on a particular person or organization, not all conservatives) and give reasons.

    Again, I’ve written about this a lot in the past, and I’m not going to repeat the whole argument just for your benefit in this comment. Orcinus is a better resource on this point, anyway. Please don’t try to argue with me until you have read some of Dave’s posts on “eliminationist” rhetoric.

  26. linnen  •  Apr 26, 2006 @8:22 pm

    Re #18,

    And, even though it ‘kills’ the joke, here is the explanation;

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolchsto%C3%9Flegende, the Dolchstoßlegende regards the ‘Stabbed in the back’ story about how the Juden et al., betrayed Germany during WWI and also caused the hyper-inflation during the Weimar era. #18′s joke is that today’s Republicans and most of the media, think Wash. Times, will take up the Dolchstoßlegende and blame any and all of America’s problems on liberal.

  27. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  Apr 26, 2006 @8:53 pm

    #19: Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  28. Sam  •  Apr 26, 2006 @10:19 pm

    Thanks, linnen –
    Now we know who our visitor was. No wonder Andy Vance didn’t stick around. I’ll bet he won’t have the guts to read anything on Orcinus.
    And I’m still chuckling over average joe‘s foray into reality. Hope he made it back okay…

    Is it my imagination, or are the righties getting restless?

  29. Frank J.  •  Apr 26, 2006 @10:33 pm

    It takes quite skill to split this many hairs.

    Humor is humor; if it’s funny, people laugh. The difference is the targets (though I’ll make fun of Bush and Republicans and Conservatives if it’s funny; people will laugh at themselves if they understand the jibes aren’t mean-spirited). Every once in a while there comes some blog posts about how “conservative humor is this” and “liberal humor is that” and it’s the most pointless, asinine navel-gazing.

    Humor, by its nature, is quite fascist, though, so I don’t know why everyone is so quick to own it.

  30. maha  •  Apr 26, 2006 @11:37 pm

    Every once in a while there comes some blog posts about how “conservative humor is this” and “liberal humor is that” and it’s the most pointless, asinine navel-gazing.

    I disagree, with the note that we’re not really talking about “conservative” versus “liberal” humor. I think there is a huge difference in the way right-wing extremists use humor as opposed to more moderate people, and that’s what we’re really dealing with in most of the Right v. Left blogosphere — right-wing extremists v. moderate-to-liberal progressives. (Left-wing extremists don’t seem to blog; nor have I noticed much humor among them. And never, ever invite them to parties. Trust me on that.)

    I’m saying that the extremists are using humor as a form of passive-aggressive hostility. They really want to injure us but cloak their eliminationist fantasies inside their idea of “humor,” which isn’t humor at all. I compared this to “humor” aimed at women and minority groups because it’s all the same thing — “humor” as a means of intimidation and threat.

    Compare/contrast the “Know Your Enemy” post with Left Blogosphere humor like, say, this post out of the Fafblog archives — “So Your City Is Full Of Republicans!” There are layers of humor there, and it’s not just about laughing at Republicans. If you look deeper it’s poking fun at how liberals stereotype conservatives, and it’s a dig at political partisanship in general. The piece is more silly than mean.

    For more examples of “liberal” humor, read some of the Koufax Award “most humorous blog post” finalists for this year. I didn’t get the first one, but the rest of them are a hoot. And I don’t believe any of them are passive-aggressive.

  31. Sam  •  Apr 26, 2006 @11:44 pm

    Frank J.
    I’ve been puzzling over your post and I can’t make much sense of it. (Am I wasting my time?)

    Humor is humor? Mark Twain’s humor is revered to this day. Potty humor is also revered to this day, but mainly by third-graders. Which kind do you prefer?

    All humor is fascist? How is fascism not mean-spirited? Or does it have some other meaning to you? Or am I not supposed to get into such hair splitting?

  32. Frank J.  •  Apr 27, 2006 @7:16 am

    “Left-wing extremists don’t seem to blog”

    And here is where I realize that reason is futile. It’s good I never tried to use that weapon.

  33. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @7:20 am

    And here is where I realize that reason is futile.

    From what you’ve written here, I suspect reason is way outside your skill set. And that you’re so far right you’ve forgotten what moderate looks like.

  34. Frank J.  •  Apr 27, 2006 @8:48 am

    What’s it with liberals pretending to be moderate? To be honest, I am quite confused what moderate is these days. Can you explain?

  35. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @9:02 am

    What’s it with liberals pretending to be moderate?

    What is it with hard-right extremists pretending to be moderate?

    I am quite confused what moderate is these days. Can you explain?

    I’d say that a political moderate in America is one who respects the Constitution and who wants to protect and preserve the political processes that have sustained this nation throughout its history. We support civil liberty and free enterprise and respect the rule of law, hard work, and honesty. Moderates can be liberal, or conservative, or somewhere in between.

    Liberalism in the American tradition tends to be moderate. Left-wing extremists generally are not liberals but Maoists or anarchists of variations thereof. Maoism and anarchism are not liberal.

    For more, read this.

  36. Frank J.  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:01 am

    “Moderates can be liberal, or conservative, or somewhere in between.”

    Gah?!

    Moderates are filth. They are craven fools – cowards – who choose not take a stand on issue out of fear. They are the bane of progress, and must be disposed for the good of our nation. May moderates run forever in front of the gates of hell being stung by bees and feeding the maggots at their feet with their blood.

    I never write about moderates because they fill me with so much anger that humor is impossible.

  37. Andy Vance  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:29 am

    The measure isn’t extreme/moderate, it’s intelligent/idiotic. Bill Hicks’ humor was extreme, for example, but it was extremely funny. Like most “extreme conservative” humor, the rope and journalist thing is idiotic to the point of parody, like a chimp flinging his own excrement and hooting with excitement at his own cleverness.

    John Stuart Mill, a laughmeister in his own right, explained why so much stupidity emanates from the right: “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.”

  38. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:31 am

    Moderates are filth. They are craven fools – cowards – who choose not take a stand on issue out of fear.

    Let’s have some English language lessons, shall we, Frank? Because I don’t appreciate it when people play semantic games so they can argue with me.

    It should have been obvious from context that I was using “moderate” to mean “not radical.” On the American political spectrum, “radical” refers to people whose beliefs fall outside of democratic principles. Maoists, Stalinists, fascists, anarchists, etc., are radicals. You’re trying to shift the definition to mean “wishy washy” or “uncommitted,” which is not at all what I’ve been talking about.

    REASON should have told you that; clearly, you are not a person who can be reasoned with.

    I had already done the heavy lifting for you by defining what I mean by “moderate,” thus:

    I’d say that a political moderate in America is one who respects the Constitution and who wants to protect and preserve the political processes that have sustained this nation throughout its history. We support civil liberty and free enterprise and respect the rule of law, hard work, and honesty. Moderates can be liberal, or conservative, or somewhere in between.

    So, you say, people who support the Constitution, who want to protect the integrity of our long-established political institutions and processes, and who support civil liberty, the rule of law, free enterprise, etc. are filth. They are craven fools and cowards. They must be disposed of.

    Thanks for proving my point about righties being radical.

    I never write about moderates because they fill me with so much anger that humor is impossible.

    You are seriously screwed up, Frank. Seek therapy.

  39. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @12:01 pm

    The measure isn’t extreme/moderate, it’s intelligent/idiotic.

    We’re starting to mix up apples and oranges here. My point about moderation wasn’t about humor, but about what constitutes radicalism in the American political tradition.

    Regarding humor, the measure is whether the “joke” is really hate speech pretending not to be hate speech. Any woman — well, any woman over the age of 50; I can’t speak for the younger ones — and most racial/ethnic minorities in this country have run into bigots who tell hateful, ugly jokes meant to be an insult, and then when you don’t laugh the bigot taunts, “Wassamatta? Don’t you have a sense of humor?” It’s plain as day the bigot just wants to insult and taunt and try to get you angry, which isn’t funny except to other bigots.

    That’s why I say such “humor” is a form of passive aggression, or something like it. It’s a means of expressing hate and desire to do violent harm in a socially acceptable manner.

  40. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @1:08 pm

    I just took a quick tour of Frank J.’s blog and comments and it looks pretty hopeless over there to me. Here’s the kind of reasoning on display –
    We say we like Mark Twain. Some of us don’t think The Three Stooges are funny.
    They say: The don’t think the Three Stooges are funny – they have no sense of humor!

  41. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @1:11 pm

    So I ask you, what is Mark Twain? Chopped liver?

  42. jimmyb  •  Apr 27, 2006 @1:47 pm

    Remember the “Kill Bush” t-shirts ala Kill Bill?

  43. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @2:23 pm

    I took a look, jimmyb and there’s a nifty capitalist online shop called CafePress.com (linked by Michelle Malkin) where you can get anything you want – including this stuff on Ted Kennedy. Your point is?
    http://www.cafepress.com/cp/search/search.aspx?cfpt=&q=kennedy&cfpt2=2%3AeX____DB______c_Pr-X_PE__Dc&copt=-yBqD_LBpraC4UgTr2-z-V–_D&source=searchBox

  44. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @3:56 pm

    Remember the “Kill Bush” t-shirts ala Kill Bill?

    Remember actually seeing someone WEAR the Kill Bush T-shirt?

    After Michelle Malkin whined about it awhile back some of us went looking for it, as I’d never seen one. It appears it was spotted in London a couple of years ago. Don’t hang that one on American liberals, thanks.

  45. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @4:36 pm

    Since we haven’t seen it since, I would assume it was a poor seller. I wonder why…

  46. Matt B  •  Apr 27, 2006 @5:05 pm

    It’s freedom of expression. It’s a constitutional right. Whether or not you consider it appropriate is absolutely irrelevant, just as is your right to disagree with it and express that disagreement. What is the danger in that? Do we honestly belive that someone will hang a journalist after seeing this shirt? If so, I have some great oceanfront property in Nebraska I’ll sell you. I’m a Libertarian, and I’ve taken flak from both sides of the field. I’m not a “moderate” at all. I have chosen sides. I am very liberal in my views of personal rights, and I am conservative on my views of the economy. But from an honest, unbiased opinion, the liberals are more aggressive in debates. Not saying all liberals are aggressive though, I’ve encountered a lot of aggressive cons in religious debates. Just an observation.

    If the R and D both fail , Vote Libertarian!!

  47. Matt B  •  Apr 27, 2006 @5:15 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t mean your right to disagree was irrelevant. Didn’t proofread.

  48. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @6:30 pm

    Do we honestly belive that someone will hang a journalist after seeing this shirt?

    I’d be very surprised, but such “speech” has resulted in real lynchings in times past. History shows us that when a big chunk of a populations begin to express hostility like that, even dressed up as “humor,” the target is well advised to maintain a low profile or hire a bodyguard. I gave examples in the post. This is not to say that the speech incites violence, but that people who like hostile humor really are hateful and would like to commit acts of violence if they thought they could get away with it. I gave an example of that in the post as well.

  49. Anonymous  •  Apr 27, 2006 @8:58 pm

    You never should of linked to the man-boy Frank J. Fleming’s web site. He and his ‘disciples’ really get off on the attention. Frank is a guy with a huge ego and his disciples massage it for him daily. Frank, you see, is highly trained in the martial arts and is a gun expert. He even names his guns. He also believes he is a ninja and his disciples are ronin. He is the ultimate chickenhawk however. Frank got married to the recently divorced SarahK (T shirt model and ex-accountant). He stole her heart and moved her from Texas to Florida. SarahK is more like a mother to Frank than a wife. She adores him even more than his disciples and gets up every morning, extra early to make Frank his morning coffee. Oh yeah, and the cute couple go to ‘worship’ more than once on Sunday. I’m not quite sure who they worship besides FrankJ. SarahK is divorced from the ‘psycho-ex’ although if you read her blog you can kinda see what drove the poor guy psycho. In any case, they are I assume, your typical ,fear mongering, holier-than-thou, hypocritical, chickenhawk, minuteman-belonging, gun toting right wing couple.

  50. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @9:04 pm

    You are seriously screwed up, Frank. Seek therapy.

    Maha hits the (idiot) nail on the head once again.

  51. maha  •  Apr 27, 2006 @9:41 pm

    She adores him even more than his disciples

    (sigh) I suppose if more of us women had better sense about men we’d all be on the endangered species list.

    That was a joke, by the way.

  52. Sam  •  Apr 27, 2006 @10:17 pm

    What was that Aristophanes play about the women withholding…? Oh, Lysistrata. I often had my doubts that it would work, though…

  53. Swami  •  Apr 27, 2006 @11:00 pm

    OK, can we all just get along?

    Way back in the comments was a mention of Lawyer jokes… one joke that I’ve heard and thought was particularly funny is,..”It was so cold outside yesterday that my Lawyer had his hands in his own pockets”

  54. coff  •  Apr 28, 2006 @3:10 am

    Let’s see, advocating violence against all conservatives?

    I’d rather be choking Republicans.

    Support Gun Right, Shoot a Republican!

    I found plenty more advocating general hatred toward Republicans and Christians but none so blatent as these.

    I am a Moderate Conservative. I’m all for gay marrige, legalizing marijuana, teaching evolution in schools and keeping intelligent design out of ‘em. I’m against abortion but I have enough common sence to see that banning it just creates different problems rather than fixing the problem.

    I visit Frank J’s site several times a week and I think it’s hilarious. I think one of the things you don’t understand is that this type of humor stems from the stereotyping by the ultra-left of those on the right. If you think I am a gay hating, racist, violent redneck I will act like one just to get your goat. That’s what Frank J does. He takes a stereotype imposed on him and takes it to the extreme. I’m not saying that all Republicans are completely tolerant towards everyone but then there are Liberals who are intolerant of Christians and Republicans to the point of prejuduce.

  55. maha  •  Apr 28, 2006 @6:19 am

    I found plenty more advocating general hatred toward Republicans and Christians but none so blatent as these.

    I notice you don’t leave a link. You didn’t find those on any liberal blog that gets more than a 100 hits a day, did you?

    Every group has its assholes. My point is that eliminationist rhetoric is common and even condoned by what might be called the “mainstream” right, including high-ranking bloggers, but I never see it on any of the leftie blogs on my blogroll, which includes most of the popular ones. Violent fantasies, expressing desire to kill or physically harm opponents, is part of the culture of the Right Blogosphere but not of the Left Blogosphere.

  56. Pluto's Dad  •  Apr 28, 2006 @9:38 am

    Maha,

    I hope you also condemn Al Franken for his sketch where he beat up a republican, smashing him over the head with a metal fold up chair, then smiled and said “that felt good”

    I hope you also condemn the liberals who printed up the “kill Bush” t-shirts, with Bush’s face and a handgun pointed at it.

    “Liberals arent’ like that” hmph. There is bad taste to go around.

  57. maha  •  Apr 28, 2006 @10:56 am

    I hope you also condemn Al Franken for his sketch where he beat up a republican, smashing him over the head with a metal fold up chair, then smiled and said “that felt good”

    If I’d seen it I might have. He was probably making fun of you righties, though. You guys have no sense of humor.

    I hope you also condemn the liberals who printed up the “kill Bush” t-shirts, with Bush’s face and a handgun pointed at it.

    Have you ever SEEN anyone wear that T-shirt? I already addressed the “Kill Bush” shirt, which apparently was worn by a few people at a protest in LONDON a couple of years ago, but I’VE NEVER SEEN IT WORN. I’ve been in big mass protests of us lefties in New York and Washington DC and NEVER SEEN IT WORN. In fact, I’m not sure I ever did see it, even in a photo.

    I hadn’t heard Bush’s face and a handgun were on the shirt, just the words “Kill Bush” to mimic the ads for “Kill Bill.” Perhaps you never saw it, either; you just heard about it, and someone with a vivid imagination added the gun and Bush’s face.

    But this proves my point. You have to dig real hard and find the exceptions, the outliers, a few people on the fringe, to find examples as bad as the crap you righties shovel out by the truckful every day.

    “Liberals arent’ like that” hmph. There is bad taste to go around.

    There IS enough bad taste to go around. Liberal “humor” can get raunchy, which is something I’ve complained about here on this blog. But I’m not talking about bad taste. I’m talking about eliminationist rhetoric; rhetoric based on violent fantasies, expressing desire to kill or physically harm opponents, disguised as “humor.” You CAN find some of this among the left, but it’s UNUSUAL. on the right, it’s STANDARD.

  58. Mum  •  Apr 28, 2006 @3:32 pm

    Does anyone know where I can find the European travel t-shirt that says “Sorry that my president is an idiot?” I have a niece that’s going to be travelling in Europe this summer and I would love her to have an alternative to the maple leaf.

  59. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  Apr 28, 2006 @9:25 pm

    Mum: I think there are a couple of different shirts on this theme. Here are some links:

    http://americanapologyshirt.com/
    http://www.cafepress.com/buckfushin2004.15158310

  60. DanM  •  Apr 30, 2006 @12:47 pm

    I guess you can find a few violent jokes on liberal t-shirts, too, but they don’t carry the disciplinarian overtones of the conservative “jokes.”

    Part of the humor of the “Give Bush Another Pretzel” t-shirt is that it’s an awful thing to say. I don’t see that self-awareness in the conservative t-shirts. You get the sense that they would gladly do these things if they felt they could get away with it.

    Can you imagine a shirt that said, “Rope. Tree. Republican. Some assembly required.” It would never happen.

  61. Kip W  •  Apr 30, 2006 @7:44 pm

    Bush Supporters. Heads. Asses. Some disassembly required.

  62. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  May 1, 2006 @11:45 pm

    Kip W – that means not to tell the truth, in Bushspeak.

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