Gallows Humour Hung Out to Dry in the UK

Colin Liddell

Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed more than a quarter of a million people in South East Asia, a bar owner in Phuket, one of the towns worst affected, was asked how business was doing. “It’s been very quiet,” he replied. but some of the regulars are starting to drift back.”

Following the 9-11 attacks in New York, in which many policemen and firemen were reduced to ashes, the following joke surfaced:

Q: Why are police and firemen New York’s finest?
A: Because now you can run them through a sieve.

Both of the above are extremely “offensive.” But they are also examples of gallows humour, a particularly black-tinged variety that is all the funnier for being so. In our increasingly dysfunctional modern age, such black humour is more necessary than ever as a coping mechanism for the various insanities that surround us.

However, it seems that coping with insanity is the last thing the UK government wants its people to do, as it has taken to routinely arresting people for any humour considered “offensive” or “insensitive.”

The latest example is the arrest of Richard Gear Evans, aged 37, for a comment made on Facebook in the wake of the van attack on Muslims leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque. Evans is the the son of the man who owns the van hire company from which the attacker Darren Osborne rented the van used in the attack. A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said Evans had been arrested on suspicion of “displaying threatening abusive / insulting written material with intent / likely to stir up racial hatred” for the following comment:

“It’s my dads company I don’t get involved it’s a shame they don’t hire out Steam Rollers or Tanks could have done a tidy job then.”

It seems that since that attack the police have been taking time off from the important business of keeping tabs on Britain’s officially admitted population of over 23,000 known jihadis to instead trawl social media accounts for such examples of “unkind” words.

It is not clear what the consequences of this solitary comment will be, but the timing is certainly an issue. With a spate of Islamist terrorist attacks in London since the announcement of Article 50, a major “third world style” tower fire that burned scores of mainly non-Whites to death, and the government’s extremely narrow and unstable majority in Parliament, the potential for chaos and riots, especially in London, is now extremely high.


Welcome to Maybot Britain: humour does not compute.

This may push the government to attempt to keep a lid on things in a particularly heavy-handed way. For this reason, Evans could well be made an example of for his “unforgivable Islamophobia.” Those in authority may well be thinking that only by hanging him out to dry can the multiracial mob be placated and its sons weaned away from the radicalism that once found its home in the very mosque that was the subject of the attack.

But in doing so, they are merely creating a more brittle and fragile situation, because gallows humor exists for a reason and serves a useful function. Sigmund Freud explained it not implausibly by linking it to the human need for stoicism:

“The ego refuses to be distressed by the provocations of reality, to let itself be compelled to suffer. It insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world; it shows, in fact, that such traumas are no more than occasions for it to gain pleasure.”

In 1981 Ronald Reagan produced an excellent example of gallows humour when he was badly wounded by gunman John Hinckley Jr. As he was taken to the emergency room he cheerily quipped to the medical staff, “I hope you’re all Republicans.”

Taken in the same completely humorless way that the British authorities now take everything said about Muslims, this comment clearly implies that Democrat-voting doctors routinely kill anyone whose political opinions differs from theirs—an obviously extreme and very libelous comment. Treating humorous comments in this way thus creates absurdity. So, what are we to make of Evans’ quip?

First of all, it is ridiculous that we are forced to consider what is an essentially private comment made by an anonymous person as a state and public matter.

But, looking at the comment’s content, the message seems to be that things could have been a lot worse (tanks, steamrollers) and that this would not necessarily be such a bad thing. There is also an implication of surprise at the signalling of concern for the mosque, which suggests that Evans is well aware of its history as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism connected to actual terrorists.

Anyone thinking he is literally advocating attacking Muslims with tanks and steamrollers is clearly a moron. But it seems that this is exactly what the British police are—morons choosing to ignore the frivolous gallows humour of the comment and instead robotically interpreting it in the most literal sense.

Of course, this may be how certain low-IQ Muslims also interpret it, but that is merely an argument against creating the kind of conflict-riven multiracial societies where everyone inevitably misunderstands each other all the time. Also, if that is the kind of society you have created, then it is probably not the best idea to use the full Orwellian apparatus of the state and media to blare out the private thoughts and comments of individuals from different groups about each other. Imagine what kinds of insults against “kufars” and infidels you would find from trawling through the social media of the average British Muslim. I’m sure they say plenty of things that could be willfully misinterpreted when they let off steam on their side.

But if gallows humour is a coping mechanism for a society that is deeply flawed and out of balance, then maybe the best way to fix things is to do exactly what the British authorities are doing, namely crack down on Gallows humour. Because, after all, anything that helps a dysfunctional system to function and survive is itself dysfunctional.