I received an email this morning full of beautiful pictures, in fact, somehow voted Best Internet Pictures of 2008. My kids and I were mesmerized, enthralled and enriched by looking at almost all of them.There was an immediate response from a young family member who had also received the pictures - full out exuberance about one picture in particular; that of a young kid peeing on a military person, clearly in a war zone. Somehow, this was the picture that stood out most to her, this was the one that caused an enthusiastic response.
I like to think of myself as a humor researcher of sorts. I heard a presentation by Diana Waring (http://www.dianawaring.com/) about "Living Outside of the Box" years ago and she focused quite a bit of time on the importance of humor in the family, teaching our kids about what's funny and how to deliver a joke. I've looked at humor differently since, because JOY, while a gift of the spirit, does not come naturally to me, a task oriented melancholy arteest type. So I've bought my kids joke and comic books and searched out good, clean fun and funny people when we can find them. Sadly, finding good comedians to emulate is difficult because so many of them think vulgarity and bathroom humor are the epitome of a joke, when it's just immaturity vying for a laugh.
Diana had a whole apologetic for Puns. Which is funny in and of itself because Viking Man hails from a family where PUNS can be a conversation, an art form and intelligence test all rolled into one. I myself am convinced that puns will not be in Heaven but Viking Man is praying that my theology will evolve. I should have not underestimated the importance of the Viking Fam Thanksgiving I attended before I had tied the knot where Viking Man, his dad, uncle and a host of cousins spent hours talking in pun alone. Seriously.
A component of humor is the unexpected. I'm good at that, because I'm a middle child and a bit of a rebel so I'm always about saying the wrong thing at the right time- hence I'm funny. Really, I am. So, in a way seeing the picture of a 2 1/2 foot tall kid peeing on a man in full military gear, pointing a loaded automatic is funny. It's certainly not what we expect. But the humor is at the expense of the person, the uniform, our freedom. And that detracts from whatever humor might have been there. It becomes tasteless, cheapening everyone involved; the child, the soldier and us for participating in the degradation of a fellow person.