Why Do People Find Humor In Tragedy?

How can anyone find humor in the tragedy unfolding in Japan?  The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, according to an ancient poem. That means that whatever one does in life is one’s own responsibility and cannot be changed.

In 1859 the poem, the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, decreed The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

Old Omar must have had a premonition about the Internet. Most people who dabble in social networks know cyberspace is permanent and unforgiving. Once you tweet, post to Facebook, or record a video, then publish to the Internet, what you publish becomes a permanent fixture in cyberspace.

Two people attempted to make light of the people in Japan who are suffering unfathomable loss, suffering and death. One was a third-year law student at UCLA. Amanda Wallace thought poking fun of Asian students who talked on their cell phones in the library was funny.  What was even more questionable than her rant was her apology.

” I can not explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did,” she said. “And if I could undo it, I would.”

Sorry, Amanda, but the moving finger writes. I wonder how you made it to your third year in college. As a prospective law student.

Her video ranting prompted angry and wide-spread  responses from those who failed to see the humor in her video. The president of the university received scores of posts on his Facebook page demanding that Wallace receive punishment for her video.  The school newspaper reported that Wallace had to call campus police because she received death threats.  The university issued a statement calling the video repugnant.

Another person apparently unmoved by the tragedy in Japan was Gilbert Gottfried, on Twitter as RealGilbert, joked about the plight the Japanese people are suffering.

His apology on his Twitter page was as disturbing and as questionable as Wallace’s. “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan,” he tweeted.

I have serious doubts about his sincerity.  I think more than one person was offended by his attempt at humor at the expense of suffering people.

Within an hour after Gottfried tried to be funny at the expense of the Japanese people Aflac fired him as the voice of their popular white duck.

Death threats, calls for expulsion and loss of a job are just a few of the consequences these two people may suffer as a result of their viral humor.  I wonder if either Wallace or Gottfried suffered devastating loss or tragedy in their own lives they would respond kindly to others making fun of them.

We don’t have place to judge or ridicule either of these folks, or anyone else who finds humor in tragedy.  Sooner or later they will feel the brunt of the truth found in Omar’s wisdom. Their consequences will probably be much worse than any judgement we could render ourselves.


This entry was posted in God and tagged , , , , , , by Steven Sawyer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Sawyer

God blessed me with the gift of writing. Mom told me I wrote paragraphs in second grade when others were learning to write sentences. I spent more than three decades in professional writing gigs. For the past eight years I've combined my passion for writing with my love for the Lord. He and I write a Christ-centered, family-friendly blog to glorify God Monday-thru Friday at https://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/. My wife and I have four grown children and two precious granddaughters we co-parent with their mom. I'm a Galatians 2:20 disciple of Christ seeking to allow Christ to live His life in me, through me, and as me.

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