I have a weakness for weak witticisms, and self-cancelling statements are a particular favourite. You can make them up pretty easily, but they never fail to make the corners of my mouth twitch. Here’s a brief selection:
All generalisation is suspect.
Hyperbole is the worst thing in the world!
Nobody has the right to criticize freedom of speech.
Sexism is just something a bunch of silly women made up.
The whole world wants to discredit my conspiracy theories.
Some may find these trite, but I rather like the way they dismantle the implicit self-justifications of a stance within a few words. “Everyone says I’m paranoid” is, for instance, a cliché, but it’s an amusing one that potentially makes us pause and wonder if the joke isn’t at least a little on us and our solemnly-held convictions, too. As the editorial staff at Prospect may occasionally be heard to scoff, “Pretentious? Nous?”
What to make, though, of those who don’t get the joke? One of most appallingly witty images to emerge from the whole “cartoons” furore was, as many commentators noted at the time, that of protesters marching under banners that proclaimed their willingness to kill anyone who dared call them violent/fanatical. And today, following up on our last month’s curio about Hamas’s hateful children’s TV programming, I found this report over at Harry’s Place describing their latest hi-jinks—which entail a man in a giant bee costume swinging cats by their tails and throwing rocks at caged lions “in order to demonstrate how wrong it is to torment cats and lions.”