TED Conversations

David Hamilton


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Now that the The United States Government has won the war on terror... Other human emotions better watch out!

Coming soon... The Tet "I'm Offended". The Battle of the Bored. The Troubles, with Anxiety. The Skirmish Against Insecurity.

And, of course, it will all culminate... With The Police Action to Institute Happiness... Agree or disagree?


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  • Oct 12 2012: Reply to Edward Long 's whiteboard questions below:

    Definitely do not agree.

    White board: Can humor be used to highlight public policy flaws and help people reframe the issues?
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      Oct 17 2012: Funny or Die has some great comedy about relatively serious issues.

      On the coming elections.

      On Ayn Rand

      It's a great site.
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      Oct 27 2012: My issue is not with public policy flaws as objects of humor. I think some issues are outside the boundary of humorous reflection. Perhaps a few examples will help: rape; child molesting; slaughtering innocent people; brutality; starvation; slavery; tyranny. I really would feel uncomfortable participating in laughter regarding these real life problems and many others. Do you agree some things are not appropriate subjects of levity and laughter? Or, do you really believe anything can be laughed at? Thank you!
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        Oct 27 2012: Great insight!

        I think the sense of humor, as emodied in parody for example, has the highest potential of penetrating the meaning of different phenomena.

        A good comedian is able to see the superficial, and by turning it into a joke he can point it out to the public.

        "Child molesting; slaughtering innocent people; brutality; starvation; slavery; tyranny" probably do not have any deeper meaning, therefore there is nothing to laugh about, and the role of the comedian here is none.
      • Oct 28 2012: Edward I think it profoundly inappropriate to laugh at child molestation. However, I think laughing at the way public institutions respond to child molestation can highlight how badly they react and how poorly they handle it (the Catholic church comes to mind as do the boy scouts.) What these sacred institutions did was horrific and the pain caused to their victims was untenable. But, it is by making fun of the response of the institutions that we enable and allow the topic to come out of whispers and enter into the public discourse. This can be done ham-handedly, causing pain and with no redemption, or it can be done adroitly and enlighten the audience.

        In the case of this thread. the target of David's humor was the government. The best target of all.

        Humor is a form of deviance. Deviance serves two vital functions in any society. It can highlight an injustice (such as choosing to break an unfair law) or it can help society determine what its norms are - here and no further. Humor helps do that. Humor says this is ridiculous and society chooses to agree and begin changing the way they view the issue or disagree an sanction the comedian. Our country is in dire straits right now and it is not an accident that a huge percentage of our populace gets their "news" from Comedy Central. Those comedians tell very unpleasant truths in a manner people can hear. But it is also well known that liberals and conservatives have different senses of humor and this can sometimes cause conflict.

        Rape is not at all funny. But, the manner in which many conservative politicians have been addressing it lately is a perfect target for some very telling and accurate humor.....
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          Oct 28 2012: Sorry, I don't see any humor in the Roman Catholic church's treatment of child molesters in their ranks. I don't see anything funny about the reaction of the institution. I think you might feel coerced into making my point for me, but I must ask you, do you believe there are issues where humor is inappropriate?

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