Satire: A literary or visual work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn, or trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly. Ridicule: To make fun of, either sportively and good-humoredly, or unkindly with the intention of humiliating. Moral agency: The ability and desire to act on and be accountable to a standard of behavior that represents a moral or religious philosophy higher than your own desires.
The first two definitions were from merriam Webster, the third is my own. I also want to offer an antonym, the opposite of, moral agency: The disease or excuse model of bad behavior. “I steal or I gamble with my family’s food money, even though I know it’s wrong, but I cannot help myself, due to my……upbringing, addiction, circumstances, fill in the ___________, not because I am too lazy to work, or too impulsive to delay gratification, or too undisciplined to save money.” Moral agency says “I will function according to my society’s rules and laws, as long as they don’t violate my conscience, but I am accountable to a higher power.” Here’s the problem though. What if “my society” is ISIS, or al-Queda, or a drug cartel world, or a vicious and repressive dictatorship? What if your “higher power” loves death more than life? Bad behavior on the part of immoral individuals can be dealt with by the law, moral agency can be enforced or lack of it discouraged. Can moral agency be enforced if people are doing evil under the belief that their evil is good?
Yesterday I presented ridicule of the idea of the death fatwa by Larry David in his “fatwa sex” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I also mentioned the British satire called The Real Housewives of ISIS. So how are satire and ridicule effective enforcers of moral agency? More specifically, the moral agency of preserving human life and human freedom, as opposed to the upside down “moral agency” of killing and oppression by a warped sense of what God wants, which I assert is really a coverup of their own bloodlust and sexual lust (see my post entitled Lust Rules the World). Try this thought experiment: ISIS effectively used videos to recruit their foreign minions by exaggerating their exploits and portraying their cause as something to give meaning to the lives of their recruits. Imagine an “equal time” rule whereby every ISIS video had to be followed by a Western “unrecruitment” video. Wouldn’t the best counter to their false promises of glory be laughter at them?
Example: ISIS brides are discussing the coming beheading party, and complaining “I have nothing to wear to the beheading” when a fifth bride comes in modeling a suicide vest, twirling around while bragging about the quality of the Semtex. One of the four brides snidely exclaims “you stole my outfit, you copycat! That’s what I was going to wear”, as they start uploading snide Instagrams of each other. Compare that to a more didactic video trying to lay down the facts about their propaganda. Satire would win. Humor wins. How do I know? The French magazine Charlie Hedbo was physically attacked, staffers were killed, over cartoons. Any joke, cartoon, sketch or video satirizing any aspect of Islam is subject to death fatwas, bombings, shootings or media outrage, while Christians and Jews (especially) can laugh at themselves or their own foibles. Truth is not threatened by humor or satire, lies take themselves so seriously that threats and violence are preferred to debate.