Sense of humour failure is it?

It’s nice when people remind us not to be literal-minded, isn’t it – that’s always a helpful bit of advice. There’s nothing more dreary than people who can’t see a joke, unless it’s people who think a metaphor is a statement of fact, or perhaps people who think advertising is literally about causing people to pay money for products, or then again maybe people who think candidates for office ought to live up to the statements they’ve made about what they plan to do once elected. Pedants all; drones and killjoys. Jokes are jokes, soundbites are soundbites, metaphors are metaphors.

There are those witty and fascinating people for instance who traipse around embassies wearing masks and holding posters that say drolly ironic things like ‘Behead those who insult Islam’ and ‘Massacre those who insult Islam’ (note the broad and flexible vocabulary) and ‘BBC=British blasphemic crusaders’ (note the creativity). What wonderfully puckish, wry, postmodernist, playful fellas (they do seem to be all fellas) they are, don’t you think? I wish I could join them for a pleasant afternoon drinking coffee and chatting about ideas – it would be so enriching. And yet, if you’ll believe it, there are those who think they meant the stuff about beheading and massacring literally. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad – as they point out themselves:

Javed told the jury: “I regret saying these things. I understand the implications they have, but they were just slogans, soundbites. I did not want to see Denmark and the USA being bombed.”…The conviction was attacked last night by Muslim activists who said that a fair trial was not possible in the current climate in Britain. They said that the demonstrators had merely been expressing their anger and not literally calling for murder.

Well of course they had. They were just giving original, thoughtful expression to their very natural and legitimate anger at – um – some cartoons. Some cartoons which were…um…not jokes at all, of course, but deadly, literal…um…insults, if not quite exactly threats, directed at…um…the prophet and therefore also at all those who…um…admire the prophet, and so –

I gotta go.

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