Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Criminalising funny humour

As many have pointed, most or all of the Danish cartoons were seriously unfunny. The implication is, the, that it they were funny/ier, their publication would have been more justified.

Which makes perfect sense to me – the only trouble here, though, is that in Australia recently, a “the funnier the prank, the more criminal it must be (and vice versa)” paradigm seems to be emerging.

Exhibit one: the Chaser AWB novelty-cheque stunt

While I’m tempted to put anything involving oversize cheques in the “automatically- unfunny” drawer (they’ve almost been done to death), the absurdly inflated reaction to the Chaser team’s stunt allows them, IMO, leniency on this occasion.

Now, since commissions perform quasi-judicial roles, I quite accept that they do (or if not, should) possess some court-style inherent contempt powers – that is, to keep things serious and respectful inside and immediately outside their hearing rooms, as well as (more contentiously), to have inherent jurisdiction to punish disrespectful (=shit-stirring) reporting of their proceedings.

AFAICT, the Chaser stunt would not have been contempt, had the commission and its building been an actual court. Moreover, while one can understand the greasy AWB executive Charles Stott being "completely shaken" by what he first may have mistaken as a gesture of public support for his plight, Commissioner Cole’s apparently referring the matter to police (same URL) easily takes the Prank of the Day prize. Seriously, it’s bizarre – and deeply unfunny also, needless to say.

Exhibit two: the Leunig Cartoons

For probably the first and last time, I agree pretty much with everything Andrew Norton (a co-Xer, FWIW) has written on something. Building on Andrew’s argument: the stunt, far from being a bizarre hoax, was clever, because it shows up what a pathetically provincial controversialist Leunig really is. Oh, and another word for “pathetically provincial controversialist” is “unfunny”. Needless to say, here the police also have been called in, this time with the aid and resources of Leunig’s (co-boomer) paymasters (and sometime censors!) at The Age. More curiously, the Iranians seem to have been exemplars of co-operation in this matter. So they can build nuclear bombs to take out the West with relative impunity, but when it comes to a minor copyright infringement (note: usually a civil, not a criminal matter), establishment Australia and establishment Iran somehow become best buddies, united against a common enemy – a lone, mischievous Xer (I’m guessing)

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