One of the most depressing things I’ve heard in recent months was Mel Brooks’s acknowledgement that it would be impossible to make Blazing Saddles today. As it happens, when I’ve taught the Western in my film classes, I’ve closed the semester with Brooks’s film. (Remarkably, only a few of my students have seen it before, and even fewer have seen an unedited version. I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.) I actually find it a bit of a kick to watch the jaws drop… and then to watch the kids realize that it’s a powerfully anti-racist movie.
But the Outrage Brigade continues, as we’ve discussed quite recently, and an article I read today at NRO confirms it. Charles C.W. Cooke reports that the Norfolk, NE Independence Day Parade included a local man’s homemade float:
The entry, which featured a zombie standing on an outhouse marked “Obama Presidential Library,” was created by a veteran named Dale Remmich, and was designed, Remmich claims, to express the “political disgust” that he feels at the Obama administration’s mismanagement of the Department of Veteran Affairs.
OK — maybe not the cleverest joke in history, nor the newest. (Indeed, a Google image search for “Presidential library outhouse” reveals that this joke is deader than disco and Buddy Holly combined.) However, the reaction seems a bit disproportionate. Cooke quotes the Omaha World-Herald:
The U.S. Department of Justice has joined the discussions over a controversial float in the Norfolk Independence Day parade.
Were we even within Aldis Lamp distance of sanity, this would be laughed out of town, out of Nebraska, and out of society. Remember when “Don’t make a federal case out of it!” was hyperbole?
When the power of the federal government is used to harass people for holding political opinions, when “the process is the punishment”, then that government — and the society that approves it — is approaching irremediable levels both of power on the one hand and villainy on the other.
A nation that can’t make jokes, be they Mel Brooks’s or Dale Remmich’s, is a nation in serious trouble.