search instagram arrow-down
Jack Weinstein

Need advice? have a philosophical question or comment?

Explore a topic:

Top Posts & Pages

Enter your email to follow PQED.

Join 3,110 other subscribers

Recent Comments

Andrew on Mad Max: Fury Road is a very v…
Jack Russell Weinste… on Are college students adults?
anonymous on Are college students adults?
Hannia Pot on Mad Max: Fury Road is a very v…
222228 on Mad Max: Fury Road is a very v…

Click image for the Why? Radio podcast

Why? Radio’s Facebook

Instagram

No Instagram images were found.

Follow PQED on Twitter

What is Philosophy?

Archives

There’s a fine line between laughing with someone and laughing at them. This is made more complex by the ironic stance that seems ubiquitous on the internet. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement started, there has been an avalanche of jokes, satires, and derivative activities feeding off of the term “occupy.” Most of it isn’t making fun of the people involved, but I can’t help wonder whether it still works unconsciously to delegitimize the movement, even among those who would otherwise support it.

In the eighteenth century especially, there were many people who saw ridicule as a moderating influence on people’s manners (see, for example, comments by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury). Occasionally, something comes along that insightfully ridicules in this way, like this image, calling attention to the absurdity of pepper-spraying passive protestors at University of California, Davis.

But most of the jokes are not as incisive as the above Seurat painting and serve little purpose but to make people laugh. Does all of this take away from the message

I’m not suggesting that I am offended, and my own relationship with Occupy is complex, to say the least. But again, I can’t help but wonder how public reaction would be different if there were a more solemn reaction to the movement. Is the disarming nature of humor the greatest adversary Occupy faces? I’m beginning to think that it is.

Leave a Reply
%d bloggers like this: