On Humour at Another's Expense

Have you ever visited Cliff Yablonski Hates You on SomethingAwful.com? For those of you have not, maybe you'll want to take a look, maybe you won't. Google it if you'd like to see it for yourself (or just browse Something Awful), or read on.

One of the easiest kinds of humour is the kind at the expense of another. Honestly, it's funny to see someone suffer some kind of hardship or accident. Why this is is a good question. Is it in the nature of animals to mock one another? I've hear that there's little humour in the animal world, so we'll assume that that is not the question. Is it in the nature of humans to mock one another? It appears that, of all the animals, it is man that mocks others of his own species.

Are we born with this, or is it something that we gain from interaction with others - innate, or learned? I'd like to believe that it's learned, but perhaps it is innate. But, it does seem more probable that it's learned.

What purpose does this serve? Is mocking an individual simply an immoral act, or does it actually serve some purpose? They say 'if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?' This typically is determined as saying - if you can't laugh at your own stupidity, you can't laugh at the stupidity of others. Yet, there are few that can harsh words thrown at them, but there are many who are filling to dish them out.

Perhaps the best way to determine whether an act is 'good' or not is to ask - how would I feel if I were in that position. For example, /is rape 'good'/ suggests /how would I like to be raped/ and /how would I like to rape/ (both must be considered). Equally, /is murder 'good'/ suggests /how would I like to be murdered/ and /how would I like to murder/.

In addition, we must come up with a case in which a situation would be seen as 'good'. After all, since people act in a way they determine as 'good', there must be some reason for doing the act that they do. In the above cases, an individual could see rape as 'good' if they believed that women were subordinate to men and have no rights. Equally, murder could be 'good' if the individual to be murdered broke into my house and raped my wife.

We can do this with 'lesser' acts, such as stealing. Stealing could be seen as good if it's the only way to save someone's life, since the good (a medicine for example) is too expensive to attain by ordinary means.

So back to our original question, is mocking an individual of any good? On the one hand, it's highly unlikely that most of these individuals will release that their picture is online on this site. That which does not have an effect upon an individual does not have an effect upon that individual. Yet, as we all know, everyone is really effected by everything, to some extent. While it may be the case that it has no effect at this point, that could change - the very fact that such images are online and are portrayed in such a manner opens the door for the chance that these individuals could find these images.

Yet on the other hand, that's true of any kind of document that could be 'troublesome'. If I create a shrine to Charlize Theron, it could be that my shrine could be exposed, allowing the contents of such shrine to be released to an audience that the shrine was not created for. Would that stop me from creating such a shrine? Probably not.

I suppose also that at some point you either kill yourself, physically or mentally, or resolve to not let such things influence you, taking comfort in what's positive. Yet, ignoring any aspect of your self leaves yourself open to a possible harm at some point in your life.