So, my friend Greg has this huge problem with a certain kind of humor among friends. The humor that seems to be belittling someone else. [For instance, the propensity, among a certain circle of my friends, to somehow or the other always bring my receding hairline into the conversation :)]. We had a long discussion about this over New Year's Eve. Greg couldn't get how this kind of sarcastic humor, or satirizing among close friends (especially guys) can be a sign, paradoxically, of affection.
He is, in fact, opposed to all mockery. He thinks mockery is intrinsically evil (everything he's said about it boils down to this claim at least), because it causes harm to the other by exaggerating a weakness or a fault to the point of distortion. The person becomes the fault or weakness. Such behavior can never be tolerated. In fact, he doesn't think any satire is legitimate.
He's been thinking about this since then, and we've been at it back and forth a bit over email, and I think are at the stage of clarifying our positions. I'm trying to articulate what it is he is missing here (without just saying, "loosen up buddy!")
He's also seeking some saintly aid to defend his position, viz. St. Francis de Sales.
So: what do y'all think? [Greg please let me know if I've misconstrued anything you've said.]
And let's not get sarcastic in the comments, shall we? :)
[He's also lead me to the delightful blog: the Ironic Catholic. She's posted his question there as well.]
[And, on cue, the reliable folks at Christianity Today have a profile of the hilarious evangelical-humor website, LarkNews. And a link to an earlier piece by Orthodox theologian, Frederica Matthewes-Green on humor.]