The Case Against God Sequel
, by George H. Smith
, 31 Jul 1999
Speech given at the Freedom From Religion Foundation mini-convention in San Francisco; based on excerpts from then to be published Why Atheism?
Does God have a sense of humor? ... Can God, a perfect being, tell a perfect joke?--a joke of which nothing funnier can be conceived? Can an infinite being tell a joke that is infinitely funny--and, if so, could it cause people to die laughing? ... Humor plays an important role in human life. Laughter is an intrinsic value, something we enjoy as an end itself rather than a means to something else. Laughter is a moveable feast, something we can take with us anywhere and enjoy at our leisure. To laugh with another person is among the purest forms of social interaction, a spontaneous intermingling of thoughts and emotions.
George Carlin: A Four-Letter Threat to Authority
, by Butler Shaffer
, 24 Jun 2008
A memorial tribute to George Carlin (and Lenny Bruce) on their irreverent attitude towards authority and to Carlin as a "standup philosopher"
... George Carlin ... was the successor to the man I continue to regard as the most significant dismantler of authority in my lifetime, Lenny Bruce. To most people, Bruce and Carlin were nothing more than dealers in four-letter words; men who loved to shock the sensibilities of others. But there was a deeper meaning in their humor, and modern libertarian thinking would not have been possible without their important groundwork. ... Bruce and Carlin understood that there is nothing that can more quickly undermine this aura of obeisance than for those who command others to be referred to in vulgar terms.
H. L. Mencken, America's Wittiest Defender of Liberty
, by Jim Powell, The Freeman
, Sep 1995
Biographical essay, highlighting Mencken's tenure at the Baltimore Sun
, the books he authored, the founding and his work at the American Mercury
monthly and his brief relationship with Sara Haardt
Biographer William Nolte reports that Mencken ranks among the most frequently quoted American authors. Certainly Mencken was among the wittiest. For example: "Puritanism—the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy ... Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard ... The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flophouses and disturbing the peace."
In Memory of the Charlie Hebdo Victims
, by Sheldon Richman
, The Goal Is Freedom
, 9 Jan 2015
Comments on the Jan 2015 attack and killings at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo
magazine and the ensuing mainstream commentary
Nothing can justify attacks on people whose only offense lay in their use of words and drawings to mock religion and politics. Charlie Hebdo freely satirized all three Abrahamic religions, as well as politicians of various stripes. No source of power was immune from the cartoonists' and writer's pens—which is not to imply that had Islam been the magazine's only target, the murders would have been less monstrous. And neither were the powerless, such as France's Muslims, immune ... The satirists' profession should not be dangerous, no matter how much its practitioners offend other people's feelings.
The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart
, by Sheldon Richman
, 7 Nov 2014
Laments the dearth of poltical satire, as evidenced by Jon Stewart's backtracking on his answer about not having voted and recanting a 2009 comment about Harry Truman being a war criminal
Political satire has a long and honorable history ... Unfortunately, while it would be a slight exaggeration to say that political satire is dead in America, it's been on the critical list for some time. That's too bad. We need it more than ever. Throughout history, satirists have risked their liberty and even their lives using humor to engage in deep commentary about the reigning political system and its exalted political figures—they're called leaders, though surely better terms are rulers and misleaders. But no satirist risks his life or liberty in America today, which makes the scarcity of good satire so puzzling.
, by Drew Carey, Nick Gillespie
, Steven Kurtz, Reason
, Nov 1997
Interview topics range from Hollywood reactions to Carey's humor, his attitude toward government, the ABC network censor, Las Vegas, drug legalization and more
Carey: ... The show is very easy to relate to [in that way]. I wanted to do a show based on what my life would be like if I had never become a comedian. I would have had some bullshit degree, some general job, going nowhere. People laugh to forget their troubles, and to forget their troubles they like to look at people who aren't doing better than they are. Nothing's funny about someone who's successful. People who are happy and adjusted just aren't funny. Even when people are rich and successful on TV shows, there's always some trouble–you have to poke holes in them, throw them out of a job, put a pie in the face.