I don’t watch much television, but one of the few exceptions to this rule is the famous cartoon “South Park,” which most seem to have mistaken for little more than fart humor, but which is actually quite incisive as regards various relevant issues. Tonight’s episode combines two plots: one which involves the whole 9/11 truth thing (on which question I’m agnostic), and the other a prank performed in the boys’ bathroom.
As I write, Mr. Mackey, the school guidance counselor, is in a feverish search for the prankster. ”The boys bathroom is closed until further notice,” he announced on the school intercom. This reminds me of something that happened when I was in fifth grade. Someone—I don’t know if they ever figured out who—vandalized one of the school bathrooms. The vice-principal, in one of his typical rages, threatened to revoke bathroom “privileges.” Laughter ensued in the halls when this tirade concluded. There was an intuition amongst the students that this statement was ridiculous.
This little episode seems to me to highlight, in its own way, the tyrannical nature of the public school system. First, they hijack children each day under compulsory education laws. Then, when the students get there, they treat them as prisoners. The idea that going to the bathroom is a “privilege” does not comport with common decency. But, as we’ve seen over and over again, the State does not hold itself to such standards of morality.
In spite of all the encroachments of the government, however, perhaps there is one glimmer of hope in this story: the laughter. Laughter is such a powerful tool of humanity. We have used it not only to gain relief from the difficulties in life (precisely by making fun of them), but also to take power away from bullies. No one likes to be laughed at, least of all when they’re trying to be serious. In such a situation, the laughter says, “You are irrelevant to us.” Laughter is power, it is liberation. So I think about the laughter of those students that day, when they mocked their vice-principal for being an officious idiot, and it gives me hope that some day, they will wake up and laugh in the face of the State, and say, “You are irrelevant to us. We do not need you; we can manage our lives on our own.”
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