I love humour. I think the ability to laugh at ourselves, each other and the world around us is the last stand we have against insanity. Intelligent humour. Gallows humour. The black humour of policemen at terrible crime scenes. The uncontained snorts of giggles of school kids standing outside the Head teacher’s office knowing that they’re about to be expelled and deep shit is heading their way. Often, looking out at the world, to be able to laugh at it, to laugh in the face of it, is the best way to try and understand the often pointless mess we live in. Humour often saves us from rage. I don’t have the energy for raging. Laughter is better for the soul and the brain.
When it comes to getting me into bed, I don’t care about looks, I don’t care about money… just make me laugh. I’m not alone in that. It’s how technically ugly men can have beautiful wives. Humour goes straight to the heart and soul of us. I value nothing better than a good joke.
There have been plenty of evenings however, when, while clutching my sides in laughter with friends, talking about some farce exploding on the Internet, whatever issue Twitter is hashtagging or over-reacting to, I’ve quipped something WAY over the line, barbed – cruel even – but still INCREDIBLY funny obviously. When the giggles have died down, there’s normally a sigh, followed up with, ‘Well, that’s not one for sharing on Twitter!’ And I never do. Because I don’t want the horde coming for me, even if the joke perhaps has a valid point at its core. I don’t want to feel the rage at my back. I like an easy life.
And that is why, come the terrible events of January 7, 2015, I did not, on any social media platform, write the words: #jesuischarlie.
I understand the sentiment. The need to stand together, to wave candles in the wind. To show support. But I am NOT Charlie. I’m not even brave enough to put an edgy pointed joke on Twitter for fear of reprisal. If those jokes were to make people come after me with with repeated death threats and guns? HELL, NO.
I work with words. I understand the power of words. But the words are only words if there is nothing behind them. No bravery. No risk. I remember teaching The Crucible to some year tens and they didn’t get it. They just kept saying, ‘But why didn’t he sign his name and live?’ To be fair, it was hard to answer. I would have signed in no time at all. Just like I wouldn’t have worked for Charlie Hebdo no matter how important I think it is that the world has that kind of satire in it.
Every now and then, while work avoiding, I write something on this blog. If this blog was going to get me 50 lashes a week, I can tell you now – faster than you could pour me a glass of white wine or I could drink it – this blog would be GONE.
Those people, those Raif Badawis, John Proctors, and those Charlie Hebdo journalists – they’re a rare breed, and we shouldn’t forget that. We, 99.9% of us, are not those people. We are the people who hashtag #bringbackourgirls for a few weeks and then think we’ve done our bit.
But I’ve thought a lot about these men and women in the past few months. These people who believe in the power of words and images to make the world a better place, to make us better thinkers, to the point that they are prepared to back them with their lives.
And I’ve reached the conclusion that No, Je ne suis pas Charlie. To claim to be so insults their memory.
But I sure as shit can aspire to be Charlie.
I think that serves them better.
Now for fuck’s sake, someone make me laugh;-)