Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can You Laugh Without Laughing at Someone?

I received this from a friend today:

Ruger is coming out with a new pistol in honor of Obama. It will be named the “Union Worker”.
It doesn’t work and you can’t fire it.

The irony, of course, is that his wife is a teacher.

A couple of things about this hilarious joke:
1) Why bring Obama into it? He froze federal wages and has been nowhere to be found in Wisconsin, aside from one or two offhand remarks back in the first week.
2) This is a typical joke from this friend of mine. He's a white guy from the suburbs who has never had to fight for a living wage for his profession. He had the opportunity to go to a good school, and he did work hard to pass his exams in a state college. He eventually became an engineer. I don't want to discredit his work there. In fact I'm glad he can pay his bills, because I care about him. Everyone who works deserves a living wage.

His type of humor comes from the position of power. If we're laughing, we have to be laughing at someone. We have to be putting someone down who is less "deserving" than we are. In this case, it's unions. In past cases, it's been Hmong people, or gay people, or Mexican immigrants. Of course many times it's "liberals," whoever they are anymore.

I've got some basic facts for my friends that continue to laugh at these jokes.

  • Your "fiscal conservatism," laid bare in Wisconsin, now means taking money from underpaid public workers and giving it to billionaires.
  • The people you point and laugh at today are currently fighting to keep all of our children from losing the opportunity that you had growing up.
  • The elected representation of your preferred political party is more concerned about finding ways to punish those who disagree with them than they are with getting actual work done.
  • The benefits package your wife has available as a teacher is a direct result of the union she belongs to. It was not a gift from the state.
The intentions here are not obvious - he knows where I stand, why send this to me? What good does this do me, to know he's laughing at yet another person or group of people?

He doesn't know it, but this kind of thing actually gets me moving. When I see something like this, I get fired up, I get ready for some fun, and I want to go out and make things happen. Meanwhile, he's like the Grinch, sitting up there in his cave, asking why we still smile to ourselves after a defeat. We are a community, and we are together, and nothing can stop us. We are no longer protesting, though we may head out occasionally to let Walker know he's not welcome in our city. We are a movement, and we will take Wisconsin back, with clipboards, recalls, ballot boxes, victory parties, and eventually, legislation. Wisconsin will be ours!