Given a choice, I always choose funny. As a rule, I prefer to laugh so as not to cry. If funny isn't a choice, I add it. When nothing is sacred, everything becomes sacred. Seeing the funny, that makes my day better. As long as shaming is not the intent, I'm in.
I credit, others blame, Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton and J.D. Salinger and Toni Morrison. And the Smothers Brothers, Scrubs, The West Wing, The Wire, and China Beach. They all have some serious funny. Just the stuff I need to get by.
But lately I've been finding it all less funny. It worries me that I could be running low on irony. That absurdity has become absurdly commonplace. That satire is turning tired and tiresome. It's not their fault. It's ours.
When a Southern Carolina couple puts their 16-year-old daughter up for adoption because she is gay, I'm not laughing. When Michelle Shocked goes on a homophobic rant in the middle of her concert, or when North Dakota gives legal protections to human embryos but not the women whose bodies house them, I can't even muster up a smirk. And when North Carolina declares that it has the right to establish Christianity as the official state religion, or when twenty percent of Republicans claim that President Obama is the anti-Christ, confirming that the U.S. is in the midst of a religious war, I can no longer find a laugh.
These behaviors are the newest normal and they are far too commonplace to keep on being funny. While I am a fan of Jon Stewart and of Steven Colbert and of all their writers, I really wish they had less material to work with. I wish their jobs were a lot harder.
There are many issues facing us globally, nationally, for which there is no wrong or right answer. Instead screaming immoral and slinging insults at those who have a different opinion, why is it not possible to muster even a little cultural respect for those who believe differently then us? If we do not find a way for all sides to recognize that each choice is imperfect and each choice can be difficult then we will not have to worry about vanquishing the enemy without as we, the enemy within are becoming a formidable enemy of everything this nation was founded on.
The Founders understood that they couldn't predict the future. Luckily, they were more than capable of drafting a living document that allowed for a vibrant society in which differing views could and should coexist. They did not expect everyone in the union to be the same, live the same way, or think the same way. But they did expect that each member of these United States be united by the common interest of the nation's well-being. And that interest was best served by freedom of information.
So, my funny wants to know: When did we become afraid of information? When did options become obsolete? When did we abandon the freedom to learn?
My funny may not be your funny, but all us deserve to laugh.
Follow Elan Barnehama on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elanbarnehama