Tragedy and comedy

By Andrew Ross

Academic Probation exists as a section to give the Gauntlet levity by counterbalancing the serious tone of the rest of the newspaper.

Due to the extraordinary events of the past week, it was decided that the tongue-in-cheek attitude of AP would be inappropriate for this week’s issue of the Gauntlet.

Therefore, appearing in place of this week’s AP section is the following opinion on humour and tragedy.

Laughter is supposed to be the best medicine. However, there are some things it simply cannot cure; there are some things we simply cannot laugh about. The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, are among them. A loss this great is no laughing matter.

While some would argue that it is in the times of greatest tragedy that our need for humour is the greatest, it is also the most difficult time to be the source of levity. This problem is two-fold: making light of a tragedy in its wake is callous and insensitive; on the other hand, an event of such magnitude dwarfs everything else which may be going on in the world. In effect, it trivializes anything one might write about something else.

Eventually, someone may look back at this and laugh in the same way that I made jokes about the World Wars in my high school history class. These things happened before even my parents were born, which allowed me a great degree of detachment and distance–luxuries unavailable in this case. This event is too close to home, too close to the heart to make light of.

I am not an American, nor am I a big fan of the United States. However, the millions of people who were personally affected by this disaster are, at the end of the day, still just people. When a foolish public figure has something bad happen to them as a result of their own idiocy, the potential for humour is ripe. The victims of these attacks did nothing to deserve their fate. They were not deserving of such tragedy; thus, it is not funny.

On a more personal note, I have to admit that it is well nigh impossible to think of anything else right now. It is Tuesday evening, and I am still somewhat in a state of shock. Humour normally comes naturally to me, but today I cannot think of anything funny. I sincerely wish that I could write something light, something to help keep up morale, but I cannot. The show does not go on this week. Instead, I give my sincere regrets to all who have suffered in this human catastrophe.

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