Or how galling would it have been for the victims if Norse satirists had descended on them to make fun of their local customs while carrying off their women and livestock? There’s nothing worse than to lose a cow you love and be satirized at the same time.
All these conjectures do raise an interesting question about how a people form a collective sense of humor. More likely is that oppressed people embrace humor as a defense mechanism. It’s the oppressed people — not the oppressors — who have the last laugh, because the choice we have in this life is to laugh or cry, and crying only makes your sandwiches soggy.
Reg Henry is deputy editorial-page editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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