What exactly is a joke?

And the sea isn’t green. And I love the queen. And what exactly is a dream? And what exactly is a joke?” — Syd Barrett

People that know me know I always had a fascination with Pink Floyd and its orginal front man Syd Barrett. Barrett was erratic and often non-sensical, but occasionally he would utter something profound. As Roger Waters would later say in “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” he wore out his welcome with random precision.

The lyrics above were from “Jugband Blues” which would be his last recording with Pink Floyd. The song made little sense and was a window into the soul and mind of man struggling with the ravages of schizophrenia. Yet through all the mutterings of that song came the haunting final line. What exactly is a joke?

Donald Trump proved he didn’t know when Joe Biden got in the quick retort of calling Trump Abraham Lincoln. Trump didn’t understand. He demanded an explanation. Those of us watching got the joke. Trump continued to stick his foot in his mouth and proving the power of the joke by claiming he was the least racist person in the room. This was with a moderator with mixed African American and Native American ancestry. I’m sure we were all amused.

His followers picked up the slack when they pounced on a state representative from Georgia. She apparently had never heard the term “coyotes”. Most of us know that refers to drug smugglers that come over the border. She apparently had not heard that term. So, conservative twitter and conservatives on Facebook decended on her like a plague of locusts.

We include the link the original Twitter post that got it all started. She thought the president was referring to actual coyotes. It was indeed a huge blunder. Yet, one can understand it on some level. I’m guessing Georgia doesn’t have a huge problem with drug smugglers from south of the border. Of course, I’m just guessing on that count.

Conservatives on social media were quick to pounce on that. They proved to have more humor than the president. As you might imagine, there were all kinds of pictures and memes released to poke fun at the representative. My favorite is posted below.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, just like any situation it means more than one thing at the same time. The first meaning is rather obvious. Someone said something stupid and got owned on social media. It’s quite common these days and a great cautionary tale for young people as they figure out how to navigate social media.

The second is somewhat more complicated and dovetails into our opening quote. What exactly is a joke? More accurately, who exactly is the joke on? Well, we could say it is on her and that would be right in the interim. However, over the long-term I’m not so sure. The president was downplaying a horrific humanitarian situation by denying the real-life situation of families being separated at the border. Besides, they should feel lucky to be in such nice and clean accommodations.

Instead of responding with compassion or concern we are ready to pounce on this poor woman and those that show concern for these kids. I’ll admit it. I laughed. I shared the photo online as an example of how stupid this person was. I even conceded that conservatives won that round. However, there are battles won and then there is the war.

The war is waged over our soul. Who are we really? Are we a compassionate people that care about those around us? Do we care about the plight of those that yearn to be free? Do we care about the plight of those that want a better life? Do we care about those that are less fortunate than ourselves? Clearly, some of us do and some of us don’t. Those that do gain more evidence that there are some of us that don’t. So, maybe that’s the final joke. The only question is what is going to be the punchline.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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