A new weapon for the weaponless

Arthur Black takes a look at Canada's politics and why we should laugh at them

Our increasingly Don Cherry-like federal government is in the process of lashing out $9 billion for 65 fighter jets. Planes critics claim are absurdly unsuited to Canada’s needs.

But that’s okay because Honest Sam, the fast-talking guy in the stovepipe hat who sold them to us, is throwing in a 20-year service contract that will only cost us another $7 billion.

Sixteen billion dollars. I’m sure we could have hired Jon Stewart for ‘way less than that.

Stewart is, of course, the host of the popular Daily Show, the TV news source for humour junkies who don’t find Fox News sufficiently hilarious. The Daily Show skewers politicians, exposing them for the buffoons, poltroons and baboons that they so frequently are. Trouble is, the show’s got so much American raw material it scarcely has time to train its crosshairs on Canada. And that’s a pity.  Imagine what Stewart and his writers could do with walking punchlines like our pudgy pit bull Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the incoherent interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel, and Defence Minister Peter just-air-drop-me-off-at-the-lobster-carnival MacKay. Not to mention Darth Harper.

Jon Stewart has only one arrow in his quiver — humour — but for the High and Mighty, humour is the H-Bomb. Tyrants can weather insults, lies, treachery and chicanery but they cannot abide being laughed at.

And we don’t laugh at them nearly often enough.

During the Second World War the most famous man on the planet was Adolf Hitler. The second most famous was an actor named Charlie Chaplin. Hitler loved Chaplin’s films — until the actor made one called The Great Dictator, which lampooned Hitler. Hitler responded by putting Chaplin on his death list.

In 1989 when the Velvet Revolution swept through Czechoslovakia, peaceful protestors came up with the ultimate ‘up yours’ to humiliate the occupying Soviet tyrants.

Under cover of darkness they sneaked up to a massive public monument in a Czech square that featured a menacing Russian tank. They painted it fuchsia pink.

People are warming to this new-found weapon for the weaponless. In the decidedly undemocratic republic of Belarus, the head thug, Alexander Lukashenko, has recently outlawed applause. That’s because opponents of his regime have been holding ‘laugh-ins’ wherein crowds of protestors mass in front of the presidential palace, break into huge grins and begin to applaud — apropos of nothing. Soon waves of laughter break out. It’s irresistible. Eventually even the police join in.

Lukashenko has declared anyone caught clapping on Belarus Independence Day will be arrested.

Can’t help but smile, can you?

Canada has had its own political pricksters — Rick Mercer and Marg, Princess Warrior have brought blushes to the well-upholstered cheeks of many an Ottawa trougher, but those platforms are getting creaky and showing their age.

No, for real political humour with teeth you have to go to The Daily Show and its offshoot, the Colbert Report — even if the CanCon percentage is lamentably low.

Currently, Stephen Colbert is lampooning the stuffing out of the U.S. campaign finance laws, which Republican wheel greasers and pork barrelers have so thoroughly corrupted they’ve managed to get corporations declared ‘citizens’ (Fred Exxon!  C’mon over here and meet Bob Wal Mart!”). That way there’s no limit on how much said ‘citizens’ can spend to elect their favourite candidate.

Stephen Colbert is steadfastly opposed to such skulduggery.

“I do not accept the status quo,” Colbert fearlessly declares. Then adds:  “I do accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.”


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