September 27, 2001

Brace yourselves. I'm going to offend some of you. I'm not trying to: honestly, I'm not. I'm trying to heal, and I'm trying to help some of YOU heal.

A couple of days ago on a mailing list for cartoonists of the webbish ilk, someone asked when we'd ever be able to laugh about this. Some folks replied and said "never." Others said "a year." I think (and you are now listening to, "Howard The Armchair Psychiatrist Who HAS Lost Both His Parents And Is A Genuine Orphan, I-Kid-You-Not") that it depends on the person. I told jokes about being orphaned within days of losing my parents. My sibs and I STILL swap the occasional gag.

Curtain rises. Howard says something tasteless
Randy: "Oh great. Thanks for that. Mom is rolling in her grave, I assure you."
Howard: "She is? DIG HER UP, QUICK. SHE'S ALIVE!"
Curtain falls

Sure, not everybody can do this. But it's how I cope with tragedy, and I suspect some of you may need the same sort of activity. Confession time: I told a couple of WTC jokes on September 11th, in an effort to explore the depths of my own, depraved, bottled emotions. Then the reality of the situation hit me, and I stopped. I actually felt guilty for making a joke.

But this evening I decided that we have to Deal With What Happened for the rest of our lives, and if we lose our senses of humor, the bad guys win. Understand, I still hurt like Hell for the loss of life that has occurred, and I'm genuinely afraid for the innocents who may be persuaded to stand in the path of the multinational war machine that will likely plow through some mountain range, rice paddy, or city looking for international criminals. Oh, I still feel bad... but to remind myself that I'm human, I've interrupted those defense mechanisms, and laughed a bit. It was therapeutic.

The Onion helped. Ordinarily I don't point my readers at stuff that has the F-word, or the S-word, or similar junk in it. But this week's issue of The Onion (a website that spoofs the news) made me laugh very, very hard in spite of how uptight I can be about potty-mouthed humor. They took the events of September 11th, and captured the essence of what we can laugh at.

Be warned: The Onion is intended for readers OVER the age of 18.

My favorite byline: "Hijackers Suprised to Find Selves in Hell." Sweet mother of holy, therapeutic futhark--this is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. If you're bent on Jihad, and think that you'll get Paradise for dying for your cause, you might not find it funny. Tough. I've seen my religion (mormonism) as the butt of countless jokes, and I've learned to laugh at them.

Now don't worry... Schlock Mercenary is not going to feature airplanes crashing into buildings anytime soon. But it will continue to poke fun at the violent tendencies we all have, and it will likely serve as escapist, vicariously experiential entertainment for more than a few readers. That's what it started out doing, and those elements will not go away.

Maybe stuff like this is a sign of a depraved nation. Maybe it's a sign of sickness of the soul. You can think that if you like. I, for one, believe that only a mature society can laugh at itself. You want healing power? Try laughing in the face of death.