22 February 2008

Sometimes You Have to Laugh

As a rule, I'm not a fan of the "Darwin Awards" genre of comedy. To be honest, it's a guilty pleasure sometimes, with the emphasis on guilty. The guilt comes from my conviction that a truly civilized society will not concede that some people are too stupid to live, or would not argue that, for whatever reason, someone doesn't deserve to live. But sometimes I have to make an exception, if only because I can't control my own amusement. One of those moments came yesterday when I read a report that one of the drunks who stormed the American embassy in Belgrade and set it afire had managed to go up in flames himself.

I assure you that my reaction would have been the same no matter whose embassy was lit up and no matter who lit it. I simply had to laugh. I was impulsively amused by the thought of a drunken firebug setting himself on fire and dying, without even knowing whether that was what happened or not. It's nothing personal against the guy. It's just something about human futility, a sense of recognition that probably everybody shares, except that lots of people are quicker to laugh than I am. On the other hand, I laughed at the ending of There Will Be Blood, while others will not. Who, then, is more moral or culturally correct?

Actually, it was maybe a little personal, or as personal as it can get when you don't even know the poor fool's name. All I know is that he was a pissed off Serb, and he was pissed off because the U.S. was going to give diplomatic recognition to Kosovo. I stand by my sentiments on the secession question from a few days ago, but you have to ask Serbs who exactly they think they are that they have some special right to lord it over another people. I'm sure they'd say it's really all about the land because the Serbs are one of those nutty nations that revere the sites of their greatest defeats, but you can't have the land without the people, so claiming the land means you're claiming a right of one people to rule over another. If it comes to shooting between the Serbs and the Kosovars, I'm more likely to root for the latter, though they've been far from angels in the troubles of the last decade. It's not my business what happens there, but I can certainly express a preference, and I guess that by laughing at a Serbian idiot accidentally emulating a Vietnamese monk circa 1963, I have done so.

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