Religion in Humor

I’m a comedian. (And an actor, and a writer, and an artist as well, but that’’s another story.) As a comedian I really feel that most things are fair game. I can have a joke that includes nearly any subject. HOWEVER there are a couple of rules. First you cannot make fun of the victim. Humour must attack power. To attack the weak, the victim, the downtrodden, is in bad taste and simply put not funny. Conversely, having religion in a joke is fine as long as you don’t MOCK the religion. For example:

A Muslim, a Mormon, and a Methodist walk into a bar.
And nobody knows why.

You see there’s an example where religion is the backdrop, but the target is the classic joke form. The other aspect of religious, or for that matter any humour is that the rules are more lax if you are a member of that group. Years ago I memorizes some great routines by Jackie Mason. But I cannot use most of that material because I am not Jewish. On the other hand:

Heaven hired an efficiency expert who told St. Peter that he could tell where someone should be by the first thing they said upon arrival. Doubtful, St. Peter decided to give it a try. The next person to arrive was an Evangelical Christian.

“Welcome to Heaven,” said St Peter.
“Heaven? Well, praise the Lord.”
“Okay,” said St. Peter, “But that was an easy one.
Just then an Atheist arrived.
“Welcome to Heaven,” said St. Peter.
The Atheist looked around “Heaven is REAL? Well I’ll be damned.”

Which is fine because I AM an Atheist, even though the target of the joke isn’t Atheists as much as common vernacular. Sometimes you need to make it fairly clear what the target of the joke is, to whit:

I have a number of Muslim friends and they’re really cool people. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I want to fly someplace with my friend Jihad. But that has more to do with the TSA.

In that case it’s not only not making fun of Islam and Muslims, it shines a light on some of the unfair treatment they have received. There is a difference between having religion as a part of, as the setting for, as a critical element of, a joke, and making FUN of a particular religion. In this day and age it’s just not gonna fly to make fun of particular religion, or ethnic or sexual group. Or for that matter handicapped people. Charlie Callas had a routine back in the ’60s about a person with spasticity and someone with a stutter going hunting together. Very funny, but you just can’t do that kind of material any more. Times, and what is considered acceptable, change.

I’m not Catholic but I was at a Catholic funeral a while back. At a point in the service everyone had to go up for Communion. The Priest said if you weren’t receiving just put your hand on your heart and he would know to just give a blessing, which was cool. However, being the kind of guy I am, when it was my turn I put my hand on my chest…and said “Qapla”. The best part was the Priest knew what I meant. 

What’s important is to be very aware of what the TARGET of the joke is. You can include religion, or other taboo subjects, as long as they aren’t the target of the joke. You can have fun WITH religion, just not make fun OF religion. Some of the funniest people I’ve ever known were ministers or priests. 

It’s Not The Hate


My dad always told me that companies advertise their weakest point. If they talk about their cars acceleration, you can be sure it’s slowest off the line. If they say their bread is full of vitamins, you can be sure others are better

With Trump’s election, the racist right wing in America has been emboldened. There boy is in the White House, time to try to reclaim the privilege they feel they’re owed. The thing is, there is a problem with these white supremacists. In fact the whole White Power movement has a fundamental flaw at its heart. 

They’re just not very bright. 

Look at the symbols they rally around. Some of them are neo-Nazi’s. They espouse racist pseudo science, and clutch copies of Mein Kampf. They stomp around in Hitler brownshirt uniforms looking like they took last place at a cosplay contest. But the costume is not the heart of the problem. The real issue is more fundamental. They are holding Nazi’s up as symbols of White Power. News flash: Nazi Germany LOST the war. You are covering yourself with the image of the losers. Nowadays Nazis are a punch line, a joke. Nobody takes them seriously any more than they take self proclaimed Communists seriously. Oh and who did the racists of Nazi Germany lose to? A combined multi ethnic, multi national, MULTI RACIAL force. Not only did they lose, their racial theories were proven wrong by the rest of the world.

And then there’s the flag they scream and yell to protect. The Stars and Bars. The Confederate flag. The very same flag that Robert E. Lee … took down when he surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. It is the flag of the side that lost the Civil War. Why wrap yourself in the banner of the losers. Why march and protest to defend statues of people who were not only on the wrong side, but the losing side of a war they were stupid enough to start.

And then there’s the Klan. The KKK is at most of these rallies. People in white robes and hoods. Dudes, fifty years ago that would have been terrifying. A Klan rally was a symbol of power, a symbol of hate, a symbol of violence. The Klan controlled some areas of the South. And admittedly they can still terrorize the odd small town family. But in reality, now they are a joke. Literally, LITERALLY, a punchline from a long line of bad movies and comedy sketches. They’re just a bunch of posers that stomp around and try to act like they have power. But guess what? If you look up “wannabe” in the dictionary you will find a picture of a klansman. They have no real power any more. They lost. They are by definition losers. Once again, why wrap yourself in the image of the losers?

Now, some in the white pride movement are talking about setting up a White Homeland. A place for white culture to be protected, to thrive. Huh. I guess that would be something like the Indian Reservations. And you know how well they worked to preserve their culture. How well the tribes have thrived in their ethnic enclaves. And even more isn’t that an admission that their vision of white culture is incapable of standing on its own? Aren’t they saying that white European Christian culture is so inferior that it needs protecting from all these other cultures in the world? 

LOSERS.

So there they are, the White Power Movement. Proclaiming pride in the white race, by wrapping themselves in the trappings of every loser movement, and failed revolution of the last couple of centuries. Standing up for how “superior” the white race is, while demanding protection from other cultures. They’re too stupid to grasp how weak and pathetic that makes them look. It makes you wonder. Oh but it gets back to what my dad said about advertising. They advertised themselves as a white power movement when they really have no power, and are hardly a movement, and I suspect that a genetic test would show that none of them are really “white” either.

The thing I wonder about though, why don’t they promote white power by promoting real heroes who were white. Great scientists like Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, or legendary musicians like Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein, or doctors like Sigmund Freud and Jonas Salk. These are the real white heroes. Oh thats right, those guys were all Jewish. These White Power mental midgets are proud of white people unless they are Jewish. News Flash: you are already a minority in this world. Not a good idea to whittle down your numbers even farther for ridiculous arbitrary reasons.

For many years in the early part of American history there was something called The Paper Bag Test. The idea was simple. If someone’s skin was lighter than a brown paper bag, they were “white” and got rights and privileges. If they were darker, they were “black” and were discriminated against. It was a simple test, used by very simple minded people.

The irony, is that the people in todays white supremacist movement fail the paper bag test. Oh they all look like white nordic types. They fail the 21st century paper bag test. 

They are all dumber than a paper sack. 

There’s an old line that I keep thinking of. You know how in summer people will say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity?” Well, when you’re dealing with today’s white supremacists, it’s not the hate, it’s the stupidity. Thats what I find the most annoying. 

And I can say that because I am white. And as a white person, I want to tell you White Power morons something. Every time I see one of you guys, and have you noticed it’s almost always guys, I guess for the most part women are smart enough to not fall for this garbage. Anyway when I see one of you show up at a rally, or an event of some kind, frankly you are embarrassing. You show up like somebodies idiot brother, and every other white person in the world does a facepalm. We’re all thinking, I don’t know him, no not any connection to me, no not my family. 

Hey Racist White Power Morons. You’re embarrassing the rest of us. Just stop it.

Politics

I Hate Politics

There, I said it. I despise politics and the sleazy people that make it their life’s work. But no, I don’t think getting businessmen or other civilians involved will improve things. It will only corrupt good people. It is the form that is fatally, terminally, irreparably flawed.

You see, I consider Governance to be humanities greatest invention. Governance is where individuals gather together, work together, join together, to deal with problems that face all. Governance is people building the dam to stop the floods. Governance is the police and courts that deal with people who want to harm others. Governance is the rule of law, not the guy with the biggest gun. Governance is how things get done in a society. You can thank Governance for schools and roads. For food that isn’t poisonous, for clean water and air, for every house having electricity, and for the house being built to standards so it doesn’t fall down. That is Governance. 

Now I hear you saying that this was all done by politicians making political decisions. No, it was done because those in charge did what the people wanted or needed. Politics is the exact opposite of Governance.

Politics is the parry and thrust of people who want power, prestige, and profit for themselves, regardless of what it does to the wider society. You see it all the time. Something happens, immediately those in opposition act like it was a massive breakdown in management, that those in charge must resign, that it is incompetence at the highest level. Conversely those in power defend themselves, regardless of whether they made a mistake or not. Both sides use distortion, fabrications, exaggerations, and lies to defend their position.

Most tellingly in all of this, nobody talks about the problem, how to solve it, what needs to be done for the good of the people. What needs to be done for the good of the city, state, province, or country. Each individual playing the political game is fighting for their own personal power and wealth, to the detriment of everyone else. 

I’ve seen this over and over, those in power want to do something. The ones in opposition fight like hell to stop it. The ones in power see a problem that needs to be solved. The ones in opposition deny that the problem even exists, no matter how desperately, and obviously, the problem needs to be addressed. No matter how much suffering the delay causes among the citizenry. A good honest person in charge makes a mistake, an honest mistake of no consequence. The opposition acts like it’s the worst most immoral and incompetent thing ever committed by humanity and try like hell to drive the good, honest man out of office. Those in power rally around the person, even if it wasn’t an honest mistake. Nobody is interested in a little thing called The Facts. The one constant has been that politics has been the enemy of solving problems, of good governance, of The Facts, of the people.

There is another consequence of politics ruling public lives. When those in opposition DO finally gain control of the government, they arrive with a cynicism drawn from the struggle to climb to the top. Once on top, the new leaders know that they are just one peccadillo away from getting thrown out. One verbal gaff from losing it all. One natural disaster from getting blamed for all of the suffering of mankind and being frog marched out in disgrace. As a result there is a drive, I’d say a subliminal imperative, to profit while they can. Deals are made, pockets are lined, palms are greased. Why not? If they are going to get tossed, they might as well get thrown out for something big and profitable. This is corruption, corruption that is a direct and traceable consequence of politics. 

And don’t think the press is going to try to find the truth. They are so wrapped up in the horse race that they long ago stopped trying to find out who is right and who is wrong. The Press would rather get the two sides in a room and let them argue, so they can score it like a boxing match. Coverage is all about who is ahead in the polls. What this will do to this or that politicians standing. Who is on the way up, and who is on the way down. Can someone recover from this blow. The ethos of sports reporting has saturated much of The Press, driving good journalism out. Determining the truth behind the slander and innuendo isn’t even a question any more. The press is now little more than enablers, for a very sick system that helps no one. 

So yes I hate politics and politicians. Every once in a while I run across a bright, eager kid fresh out of high school. They want to change the world for the better. They want to improve humanity’s lot. They want to make a difference. When I hear that I am filled with hope. Then they say they are going to University to major in Political Science, and I die a little inside. They might as well say they are going to become a prostitute. At least then they would be honestly trying to screw everyone for money. Politics is essentially the same, but with a nauseating hypocritical facade of honestly. 

Politics and politicians are the direct opposite of good governance, of civilization, of humanity. Politics will be the downfall of humanity. When that happens there will be a tombstone a mile wide and three tall proclaiming “Here lies the remains of Human Civilization. Brought down by its inability to govern itself. Doomed by politics and politicians to ignominy.” 

That is unless the politicians get involved, then they will argue and pose for the cameras, but nothing will be accomplished.

Petals

Petals petals in the air.
Petals drifting everywhere.
Petals flying all around.
Old graves are covered in petals crown.

Words words are in the air. 
Words are flying everywhere. 
Words of hatred, words of scorn. 
Words of poison from dusk till morn.

Drums drums are in the air. 
Drums are sounding everywhere. 
Drums of war they do abound. 
Drums that bury dissent with sound.

Guns guns are in the air. 
Guns are pointing everywhere. 
Guns they glisten in the dawn. 
Guns on all sides they are drawn.

Lead lead is in the air. 
Lead is flying everywhere. 
Lead is tearing bodies apart.
Lead is shattering both heads and hearts.

Blood blood is in the air. 
Blood is pooling everywhere. 
Blood from all stains the ground bright red.
Blood of loved ones who are all dead.

Tears tears are in the air.
Tears are flowing everywhere.
Tears of anger, tears of remorse.
Tears of sorrow, tears of loss.

Petals petals in the air. 
Petals drifting everywhere. 
Petals falling to the ground. 
New graves are covered with petals crown.

Elected Office is for Chumps

It is election time around here. Not Provincial or National, just local. City Councilmen, Mayors, that sort of thing. Last summer my sister stopped by for a visit and I mentioned that there would be an election in the fall in my little town. She immediately asked if I was running. Actually I was more than a little offended that she’d think I’d even consider it. I hate politics and me running for office would be the stupidest thing I could ever do.
But it’s deeper than just my hatred of politics. I just do not understand why anyone would run for office. I mean seriously. In the last few months the CBC has had several stories about people running for office, or more often deciding not to run because its just too much of a headache with too little reward. Stories about the difficulty the parties are having to get candidates for office, especially local offices. The number of good people who were thinking about running but somebody found a record, a post, a tweet, an article they did years before. An article that if taken out of context and twisted just right made them look like utter scum, so they decided not to run. The list goes on and on. People just don’t want to run, and I completely understand why. It simply isn’t worth it. Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would put themselves through that. Oh yeah, something about public service. I’m not buying it. What public? In this day and age if you run you’ll get elected if fewer people hate you than the other guy.
And rest assured that even if they didn’t hate you before, after the campaign they quickly will. After you’ve been in a term you can be sure that way over 50% will hate you. Not just mildly annoyed either. Not just “yes he’s a rascal, but he’s our rascal,” way. I mean spit on the sidewalk when your name is mentioned HATE. “But what about those long serving public servants?” I hear you asking. “Surely some people must be popular enough to get reelected.” Sorry, but the way someone gets reelected today is to get more people to hate the other guy. There is no love in politics.
Why would anyone, outside of a near psychotic narcissist, put themselves through that?
Then there’s the abuse people get once they are in office. Even if you get into office the people are lined up with knives. Say anything, even innocently, that they can twist into something insulting and they will crucify you, just because they can. Of course, sometimes you’ll get crucified for NOT saying something too. Even if you do a good job, do exactly what you promised, you still can’t win. People will find reasons to hate you and your government for doing what you said you would.
Recently the government here in BC eliminated the tolls on the major bridges in Vancouver. It was something they said they’d do. They were elected on a promise to do it. The tolls were massively unpopular. Locals were upset because the neighbourhoods near the bridges were clogged with traffic from people who were avoiding the toll bridges. The bridges themselves were however mostly empty. Dropping the tolls was something everyone wanted done. So they removed the tolls. What was the response? Talking heads on the radio saying that it would destroy BCs credit rating. People screaming loudly how much longer it was talking them to drive to work, despite studies showing that the average commute was in fact noticeably quicker. Social sites and the air waves were full of vitriolic complaints. The howls could be heard all the way to Seattle. Nobody had a good thing to say about it. You see even if you do the right thing the masses will be at your doorstep with torches and pitchforks.
This only hints at all of the abuse and even death threats elected officials get on social media. Not the old fashioned, “I don’t like how you voted on this”. I mean physical threats, rape threats, death threats, threats against their children. I mean really. You’re going to threaten to kill someone because they approved a dog park in your neighbourhood? You are going to threaten someone’s children because how they voted on a water contract? Seriously? But it happens. It happens regularly, and with increasing viciousness. Why would anyone put themselves in a position to receive that? Why would they put their families through that?
And of course, nobody thinks you should get paid for your time. Let’s be honest, most local elected officials are paid far less than they could earn putting their time in the private sector. Yes, there are lots of stories, mostly gossip, about officials living like kings on other people’s taxes. In reality for the vast majority, the hours are long and the checks are short and nobody appreciates the work you put in.
I’m always amused when people say that some industrialist, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, etc, should run for office. How did you think they got to be vastly wealthy industrialists? By not making stupid decisions. By not going into no win situations. By not being idiots. By carefully avoiding stupid mistakes that lead to disaster. By not wasting their time doing thankless jobs for people who automatically despise them, and assume that everything they do is somehow criminal.
So that is why I cant understand anyone running for office. I am sorry but I do not understand why anyone that is capable of putting a coherent thought together would ever run for political office at any level. That’s why I was offended when my sister suggested that I might run. No, I’m not going to try crack or naked ice hockey either. I don’t do stupid things that are self destructive and doomed to failure.
Like elected office.
So, let me make something clear. If I do ever run, I want someone to dig up this post and hold it up for everyone to see. Because if I ever do run, it will be because I had lost my mind and become a psychotic narcissist and would therefore be unfit to hold office.
Remember that when you go to the polls.

Evil Taints

Doing something bad for a bad reason is bad
This we all understand
Stealing for greed is never okay
No matter where the rational may land

But doing something bad for a good reason is bad too
Though many try to justify
Robin Hood was still a thief
No matter how hard we want to deny

Then there is doing something good, but for a bad reason
Many people fall into this trap
Helping someone so you get something from them
Is still wrong you stupid sap

Only when you do the right thing for the right reason
Will your action be just and true
For what you do is just as important
As why you did it too

For evil taints whatever it touches
To be truly good, a deed must be pure
No becauses, no if-then clauses
Of this I am completely sure.

Lake of the Woulds

Far to the North is a special place. 
They call it the Lake of the Woulds.
People stumble across it quite innocently
Instead of doing things that they should
 
They come to it with great intentions
Meaning to accomplish many great things
But once there they always find
Achievements always come with strings
 
From far across the landscape
You can hear how they lament
They didn’t accomplish what they meant to
Much to their great regret.
 
I would have built that house
With the beautiful deck out back
But somehow I just didn’t get started
My week went all to heck
 
I would have written that novel
Filled with deeds of great renown
But the air conditioner was bothering me
I did not like the sound
 
I would have liked to get married
And had a family back in the day
But I was always just too damn busy
Though doing what I cannot say
 
I would have finished that invention
That was going to make me filthy rich
But I never quite got around to it
So I’ll just say ‘life’s a bitch’
 
I would have gone to school
Become a Doctor, cured a disease
But somehow it was less effort
To sit here and take my ease
 
So if you find yourself at the  Lake of the Woulds
You are welcome to enjoy a pleasant time
Or you could get off your ass and do something
Instead of sitting around writing silly rhymes

Circles

At first  we were a million tiny bands. 

Small groups of people, each subtly different in some way, clinging to each other and scrabbling to survive. 

Each thought of themselves as people and everyone else as the other. We are the band in this area. They are the band on the other side of the river. 

Soon though, bands started to associate. To gather into tribes. The bands on this side of the mountain are a tribe. The bands in the forests on the others side are that tribe. This tribe is us and we wear this symbol to show who is us. If they don’t wear the symbol they must be killed.

Then tribes gathered into nations, and nations fought for supremacy. We all salute this flag and kill those that don’t. 

After a long time, and many wars people came to realize that nations, and tribes, and bands were artificial. There was a realization that we all were human. A realization that all humans should be respected and protected. 

At first we were all human. 

Then people started looking around. They said yes we are human but I’m male and you’re female. 

Then people noticed colour. I’m a black male, you are a yellow female. 

Then people started to resent people who had different beliefs. I am a yellow, Buddhist, male, you are a brown, Muslim, female. 

Then people began to claim each subtle difference as identity. I am a caribbean, black, queer, Jew, you are a slavic, white, bi, Catholic, and they are an indigenous, brown, gender-fluid, Atheist.

People’s identity became more important than their humanity. They began to segregate themselves into small groups. Soon there was no longer a single humanity trying to make the world better for everyone. 

Instead there were just small groups of people, each subtly different in some way, clinging to each other and scrabbling to survive.

At first we were a million tiny bands…

Gif or Gif?

So one day I called the file Gif
My friends acted like I’d emitted a bad whiff
I’m not really sure
If there is a cure
But it seems to have caused quite a tiff

So then I started calling it Gif
And still some people are miffed
I know not what to do
Or which way is true
From now on I’ll just use an MP4

Fuck it

The Expatriat

My friend he was feeling low
The news had dealt him a blow
All he could see around was worry and deep fear
He then went on to say
That the world that we’re in today
Was so bad he felt he was about to shed a tear

I looked at him a while
And then said, as if to a child
One man can only do what he can do
Did a woodsman up in Gaul
Worry about Rome’s awful fall
Of course not, there was nothing he could do.

He thanked his gods he was free
And took his child upon his knee
And enjoyed the peace and quiet that about him reigned
So sit back and watch the show
For an empire is about to blow
Just be glad we’re safely here out of harms way

For all things made by men
Have a beginning and an end
And the spirit of ’76 is long gone and spent
The USA today is in a very bad way
With the shootings, and the hatred.
And Donald The Bent

For he sews a fear of the other
Pits brother against brother,
It is better for us to stay out of the way
Seriously, what can one man do
When common sense goes up the flue
And simple decency is a scarce commodity

For when dinosaurs did clash
and the landscape they did smash
’Tis the ants that paid the price so some would say
But that is only true,
For those that are red or blue
The clever ones watched from safety far away

So be glad my good man
We have our families and our friends
Safely o’er the border where the madness will do no harm
And you can say you were there,
Watching the collapse from your chair
To your grandchildren on some frosty distant morn’

You see we were smart enough
To pack our families and our stuff
And get out while the getting out was good
To a land where peace did reign
And people care about each other’s pain
And being decent is just normal in the ‘hood

So turn off the news, open the door
Go out and walk along the shore
And forget the awful events by that far off band
Feel the breezes in your hair
And smell the salt sea air
For you are safe and cared for in this lovely land