The Pen is Mightier than the Sword: Humor in the Service of Social Justice

Friedman, H. H. and Friedman, L. W. (2020). Review of Contemporary Philosophy,19, 26-42.

24 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019 Last revised: 1 Dec 2019

See all articles by Hershey H. Friedman

Hershey H. Friedman

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business; CUNY - The Graduate Center

Date Written: May 30, 2019

Abstract

Some humor, while making us laugh, contains shadows of hostility toward those who cause strife – the racists, the bigots, the unaware and uneducated. Believe it or not, humor does have the ability to educate, to counter stereotypes and, if all else fails, to get even. Although humor can perpetuate and preserve stereotypes, it can also redress a wide variety of prejudices and preconceptions. Humor may not have been a powerful enough weapon to overthrow despotic regimes such as, for example, the US during slavery, Nazi Germany, or the former Soviet Union, but it did provide hope to the oppressed. This paper examines humor used by all kinds of oppressed people including African-Americans, Asians, women, Moslems, the disabled, and Jews. The authors conclude that society is better off if people get even with bullies and persecutors using humor rather than violence. Humor can educate the educable. Humor provides victims with psychological strength, and enables them to rise above despair and hopelessness.

Keywords: Humor, Social Justice, Charged Humor, Getting Even, Humor and Stress, African-American Slaves, Bigots, Racists, Anti-Semites, Sexists

JEL Classification: J50, M12, M14, M54

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Hershey H. and Friedman, Linda Weiser, The Pen is Mightier than the Sword: Humor in the Service of Social Justice (May 30, 2019). Friedman, H. H. and Friedman, L. W. (2020). Review of Contemporary Philosophy,19, 26-42. . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3396640 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3396640

Hershey H. Friedman (Contact Author)

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York ( email )

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cisnet.baruch.cuny.edu/friedman/

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