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Is There Harm In Political Humor?

Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2011

"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." —Will Rogers

There might have been time when I considered that humor, but in the past year I have seen so many public officials indicted, engage in pay-to-play schemes, take freebies from lobbyists, violate campaign finance laws, and admit to sexual scandals I’ve lost my sense of humor.

There have been periods in our recent history when public trust has been shaken by criminal or unethical behavior (Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearing, for example) but I have grown weary of the pot shots that reflect poorly on the other government employees– the people who work hard every day on behalf of the public.

The common phrase “close enough for government work” is an example of how we have changed our view of excellence. The original quote is said to be “good enough for government work,” and it described a product or action that was of the highest standards. The current, popular interpretation indicates shoddy or barely passable work.

So I’m calling for a moratorium on denigrating quotes, jokes, and bumper stickers that ridicule government. Things may not be perfect on the local, state, or federal level, but we don’t need to add to the cynicism.

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