In 1729 an anonymous pamphlet was published in Ireland entitled “A Modest Proposal to Prevent the Children of the Poor in Ireland from Becoming a Burden to Their Parents or Country, Extracting From Them Benefit to the Community”.
The author’s idea was simple: a “very educated” American friend had assured him that “a healthy and well-nourished child constitutes, at one year of age, delicious, nutritious and healthy food, whether as a stew, roast or baked in the oven”. , either poached”.
According to his calculations, the poor would not spend more than two shillings to raise their children until the age of one year, and could then sell them to the rich for five times that amount, since the “carcass of a fattened beautiful baby will make four courses of excellent nourishing meat.”
We don’t know much about the reactions the pamphlet generated at the time, but there is no record of it being banned. On the contrary. In just over a year, it was reissued three times.
Readers, it seems, quickly recognized Jonathan Swift’s style and understood the critique of oppressive English rule in Ireland.
In 1984, at the reopening of the Gaiety Theater in Dublin, actor Peter O’Toole decided to give an interpreted reading of the famous text. The result was the mass abandonment of the theater by high-ranking invited dignitaries.
The next day, a local newspaper announced: “O’Toole defends ‘disgusting’ reading”.
Something must have happened between 1729 and our times. There are those who consider that we evolved and started to have the sensitivity to condemn unacceptable jokes. It seems to me that we have regressed and no longer have the sensitivity to know what a joke is.
In the preface to the book “Antologia do Humor Negro”, in which Swift’s “Proposta Modesta” appears, André Breton writes that black humor is “the mortal enemy of sentimentality”.
That’s right. The target of black humor —whether talking about poor babies, the terminally ill or victims of catastrophes— is always good souls. Whoever makes the joke actually says: imagine what those people who are shocked by jokes would say if they heard me.
In fact, the author of a dark joke about babies has nothing against babies, nor does he wish them harm. Those who seek to harm others choose different methods.
Jokes are a rather unsatisfactory instrument for achieving this goal. That’s why we have a gun license, but we don’t have a joke license. It seems that Brazil is a violent country.
Courts must strive to punish criminals. That a court would consider the comedian Léo Lins to be one of them leaves me very perplexed.
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