I lurk on an internet forum that is principally focused on one my hobbies. I don’t think it matters exactly what it is officially about (its legal, nerdy and pretty boring to most people). On there however, are some boards that deal with off subject topics such as current affairs and the odd bits of ‘culture’ if people feel like a general chat. In one of the current affairs threads the talk turned to the Paris shootings and responses thereto. It started off fairly seriously and with a variety of approaches,(none I am pleased to say of the ‘shoot the xxxxxxxs’ variety). The conversation became fairly deep at one stage with serious discussion about the wider implications of such cases and how they are presented by the media and those who have the power of disseminating ‘opinion’.
These discussions were quickly, and intentionally, derailed by people adopting a ‘good naturedly’ foul mouthed and ‘silly’ take on things. They declared their distrust and dislike of any ‘intellectual posturing’ about the topic. I thought, and still think, that such serious events warrant a serious discussion. Yes, there will no doubt be a time for humour and perhaps it has already arrived, in its place, but if some people want to explore a thoughtful discussion about something so serious why do some, a majority it turns out, feel it is necessary to undermine that approach? The discussion was not being forced on anyone who wanted to ignore it. It wasn’t breaking any laws or obvious social taboos except perhaps one very serious one: the approach was intellectual and involved some ‘French’ ideas – a bit of postmodernism and a critique of that approach.
It appears that Brits have a very low tolerance for anything remotely ‘intellectual’. It is almost a badge of honour to make a brash, irreverent joke of everything and reduce it all to ‘common sense’ which seems to be a polite term for insensitive stupidity.
I like humour, irreverent or otherwise but I enjoy serious discussions too. Perhaps because of my ASD, I like the two to be used appropriately and generally kept separate. I know the mix of the two, the clash of the ‘po faced’ and the absurd is what makes things humorous for many people, the subversion of expectation is all, but do we have to subvert every expectation of a serious thoughtful discussion when we see it? The state of our politics, our culture and our education system would seem to suggest that a little more intellect would enable us to know what is worth being irreverent about and what is worth taking seriously.