X. Insight humor illustrated






It is now obvious that our ordinary language can mislead us.  Therefore, Wittgenstein wrote,

What is your aim in philosophy?-To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle. (1968: #309)




A. Introduction.  Insight Humor: Humor about Religion

The world consists of two classes: one with wit and no religion,

and one with religion and no wit. (Syrian poet)

Religion is the ultimate irrationality. (A. N. Whitehead 1938:208)

            Religion is the one thing above all which is not allowed to be taken humorously.  It is regarded as divine, as absolutely true and unquestionable.  It is beyond criticism it is thought.  Therefore, it is not even a proper subject to be "studied."  It is only to be believed, or followed.  It is beyond question, beyond humor.  Humor about religion is censored just as any dogmatic or authoritarian view censors all opposing views.  There is a prevalent ban on humor about religion.  The internet site, anti-humor.com is a group of Christians who are "proudly fighting on God's side against humor."  Morreall (1999) wrote, "God has no sense of humor" (78); "Few biblical references to God's laughter, but to the laughter of scorn, not to the laughter of amusement" (78); There is next to nothing about comedy or humor in the thousands of books of Christian theology." (118)  Puritans and St. John Chrysostom outlawed humor.  In the United States we may and do criticize our government, but not our religions.  One who deals with or presents such humor does so at great peril.  Why is this the case?

            This situation tells us something.  Whenever we forbid humor, it tells us that we are afraid and weak, that we cannot allow honest, open inquiry.  We take our views too seriously and absolutely.  There is an oppressive immorality about banning religious humor.  Jesus said, "Woe unto you that laugh."  Is religion so insecure that we cannot explore it by means of humor?  On the other hand, G. K. Chesterton wrote, "It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."  (cf. Yakut Humor im Islam 1997)

Socrates said, "The gods too are fond of a joke." (Cratylus)  Tesauro (1670) and Gracián (1642), said that God is a comedian, a maker of riddles and farfetched conceits for humans to enjoy and resolve.  One such riddle is that of Tertullian: "I believe it [religion] because it is absurd."  In Elton Trueblood's "Holy Laughter" (Hyers 1969:184) it is suggested that "God cannot be…lacking in humor."  This is especially true if the gods are of our own making.  If we wish for the gods to have humor, we can just declare it and the miracle will happen.  Matthew (6:16) states, "Do not look dismal."  Kierkegaard (Sandok 1975) wrote, "Therefore, must the religious man, most of all men, discover the comical," and "Humor is also the joy which has overcome the world."  This must, of course, be interpreted in terms of Kierkegaard's work on irony.  Simon Stylites (1960:207, 239) wrote: "To say that there is a true relation between humor and religion does not mean that religion shouldn't be taken with deadly seriousness-a blunder which many have made.  Humor is a moral banana skin dedicated to the discomfiture of all who take themselves too solemnly."

            Humor is involved in oriental religions, such as Zen Buddhism.  The Buddha is regarded as a combination of opposites.  One may say, "Ah, Buddha, you are handsome and ugly."  The philosopher, Unamuno, in his approach to religion similarly combined opposites.  Ian Ramsey (1964:69) states, "What is not verbally odd is void of disclosure power."

            Metaphor, conceit and humor are thought to give insight.  We have, then, in some theories, come a long way from thinking that humor can have no place in religion, or that it must be feared and censored.  Yet, in our everyday discourse, jokes about religion are still taboo and censored.  On the other hand, such humor survives anyway.  There are religious jokes, religious satire, religious plays, and films which use humor to criticize or explore religion.

            What is important here is to honestly face the issue and see what religious humor people actually use.  Next, we can use insight humor to explore and provide criticism of the concepts and methods of religion.  This is what is meant by the philosophy of religion.  The average person has no knowledge of this.  Pro and con religious humor counter each other.  The well-known philosopher-humanist, Bertrand Russell (1957:30), suggested that we: "Apply solvent criticism especially to the beliefs that we find it most painful to doubt, and to those most likely to involve us in violent conflict with [people] who hold opposite…beliefs."  Leo Pfeffer (1967:667), one of the foremost authorities on church-state separation, wrote: "Ridicule has always been employed by the adherents of competing faiths….Satire and ridicule are often found in religious argument.  A vital part of one's freedom to practice one's religion is the freedom to combat any religious error, and, indeed, to reveal opposing religious views as ridiculous and absurd."

            We need religious freedom only inasmuch as it does not interfere with public benefit, but we also need the freedom and right to create insight humor.  Pfeffer believes that we, at last, have that right: "The Supreme Court would hold all blasphemy statutes unconstitutional." (Ibid. 675)  Until fairly recently fourteen states still had statutes punishing blasphemy as a civil crime.  These statutes forbid ridiculing religion, or saying that the Bible is just fable or contains lies.  Judge Parker, in a 1894 Kentucky case stated: "In the code of laws of a country enjoying absolute religious freedom there is no place for the common law crime of blasphemy." (Pfeffer 1967:666)

            Freedom of religion is defended, but this freedom in no way extends to freedom from criticism.  To free religion from criticism is to establish it as a state religion in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The purpose of the Constitution is not to defend dogma or exercise censorship of any belief.  Where human concern and honest inquiry are sought, we must have open inquiry, open discussion and the right to create humor about any subject whatsoever.  The Oxford philosopher, John Wilson (1970:8), put it this way:

Another way of defending ourselves against thinking-is to say things like 'Reason can only get you so far; after that you have to make the leap of faith,' or 'You have to rely on intuition'…that just because you believe something, that by itself makes what you believe right or true.  A lot of words, like 'faith,' or 'revelation,' or 'intuition,' are used to cover up this idea, which in its naked form is obviously silly....To be willing to give reasons, to have your beliefs out in public, to allow them to be inspected and challenged, is essential for all kinds of thinking.

            One test of rationality is, then, being open to criticism and being able to change our thinking on that basis.  The following is insight humor.  It is intended to explore and challenge religious belief, time, or any other subject, but not to ridicule it.  Ridicule is merely any expression of value judgments, or disapproval, and is not argument.  In addition, ridicule was shown not to be a genuine type of humor.  Ridicule is, perhaps, never acceptable.  Because the gender status of god is unknown or varies from religion to religion, it is referred to here as "he," "she" or "it," but mostly as "he," in keeping with those who believe in a Christian god.  God may or may not be capitalized.  God may also refer to one or more gods.)  One article published in the National Education Association publication considers whether or not God would qualify for tenure in a university. (Sonenfield, Advocate 1978:7)  The committee decides that God does not qualify.  Sonenfield wrote, "The candidate seems to have authored two highly influential books although there is reason to suppose that he may have had a number of collaborators.  Even many of the candidate's most outspoken admirers admit to a lack of clarity, and even inconsistency."

            Realhumor.  The following examples show the kinds of religious humor people actually use.  Humor about religion can give insight for religion, against religion, show doubt, or be neither for nor against.  The main point to be made here is that whichever way humor is used, in accordance with actual usage (or Realhumor), it is in fact a powerful tool for insight and argument.

B. Humor about Religion by Type

            Accident.  Actor trips on a Bible and falls down.  (Also cosmic irony.)  Bird takes a bath in holy water.

            Ambiguity.  We should exorcise every day.  "The friars are called 'Fathers' and they often are." (Erasmus)  Bars should be tax-exempt because they also deal with spirits.  The Bible gives us "hell."  "The poles are kissing as they cross." (Dylan Thomas 1957:3)  "Does anyone still go to church?"-"Only the die-hards."

            Allegory.  1. This wafer stands for the body.  "Isn't that cannibalism?"  2. "We read off God in nature."  "Would you read this pencil?"  3. "God is every smile."  "Then what do we need God for if we have the smile?  4. A spire is built to point to God.  It is built so high it weakens the church structure causing the church to fall. (Golding, The Spire 1964)  5. "But now if I say, 'The bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ,' what can I mean?  If you test the bread and wine before and after the communion service, it appears to be exactly the same; there isn't any test which would show any change in it at all." (John Wilson, 1968:17)

            Analogy.  "Many of their reports have the remarkable feature that they tell us that the god they have experienced is the only god who exists….No one comes back from the Congo and tells us that the kind of mammal s/he saw there is the only kind of mammal there is." (Richard Robinson 1964:125)  "'The Asamat [of Irian Jaya, New Guinea] believe that when they...ate a person, they became that person and absorbed his skills,' says Trenk, an anthropologist….'This is similar, of course, to the Catholic belief that we eat the body of Christ to become Christ.'  The 55-year-old priest shoots me a mischievous glance: 'What are Catholics, after all. but ritualistic cannibals?'" (O'Neill, 1996:26)

            Circular.  1. I'll only believe it if it is mystical.  2. You will lose your soul if you criticize "soul."  3. You will not be saved if you criticize The Savior.  4. "God only knows what 'God' means." (Prof. Sidney Hook 1976:23)  5. God helps those who help themselves.  6. That there is order in the universe only shows that there is order in the universe.  7. If you believe you will be saved, then you will be saved (inasmuch as you believe it).  7. "Resist God and He will fly from you." (Samuel Butler)  8. Proof by hypnosis.  9. "'What is unsayable is unsayable,' is a significant tautology." (Nielsen 1970:143)  10. Fiction is the kind of argument in which priests are put in as premises.  11. God is divine.  12. God is he who is.  13. God exists because God exists.  14. Everyone is religious and metaphysical whether they know it or not.  15. God exists, because He made the world.

            Conceit.  God is a comedian and maker of riddles and farfetched conceits (i.e. metaphors). (Gracián 1642, Tesauro 1968)

            Context Deviation.  1. "If I said, 'Smith always answers when you speak to him,'…you know what I mean….But now suppose I say, 'God answers prayer.'  You go away and pray, and say, 'O God, answer me this question, or give me that thing,' and nothing happens.  You don't hear a voice, or get the thing, or if you do get the thing, you see no reason to believe that it was God-you might have got it by luck, or by hard work, or from a friend….You ought to begin to wonder what I mean by 'answer.'…And now it's not clear that I really mean anything by the word 'answer.'" (John Wilson (1968:16)  2. The fetus is innocent.  3. The fetus is a person.  Father Fetus.  If the fetus is a person, would you take a fetus to lunch?  4. Causa sui (self-caused).  God created Him/It/Herself.  5. What does God eat for breakfast?  6. Sure God exists, but would it hold up in court?  7. "Mysteries are not necessarily miracles." (Goethe)  8. "God is dead."  But something has to live in order to be dead.

            Contradiction.  Type I: Analytic or Combining Opposites.[1]  1. "Believing what we don't believe does not exhilarate." (Emily Dickinson 1979:Poem #1741) 2. enlightened dogma, opulent poverty of the church, censored education, "benevolent neutrality," immaculate conception, "neutral church/state involvement" of church into affairs of state, indoctrinated, free conscience, truth by authority, proof by faith.  3. God makes people fallible by belief in God.  4. Church dogma has improved through the years.  5. God is love; God is vengeful.  6. proven miracle, knowledge by ignorance, proving by not proving, find truth in falsity (myth), believe what you cannot know, harmful harmlessness, proof by the unknown, knowing by means of an intelligence too limited to know, solve problems by denying intelligence, knowledge of the unknown, life after death, dishonest truth, true lie, true myth, weekday scientists, materialistic spiritualism, disbelieve evidence, unverifiable proof, truth by desire.  7. "I believe in God," means "I haven't proof and so I don't really know there is a god."  8. The only excuse for God is that He doesn't exist. (Nietzsche, and Stendahl)  9."One can't believe impossible things."  "I dare say you haven't much practice," said the Queen.  "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Carroll TLG 1960:174)  10. In the beginning God created time. 11.  I have no prejudices, thank God.  12. The proof of God is miracle.  13. Each religion is the only truth.  14. I know the unknown will come.  15. God's knowledge is so superior to human knowledge that we can't even know that it is.  16. The physical is metaphysical.  17. After you die. you'll know everything.  18. Is God is so intelligent that s/he can create a world s/he cannot understand? 19. Is God is so intelligent that she can prove that she is a man?

20. God exists. but we can never know Her, because She surpasses our understanding.  21. The only possible truth is Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Judaism, Atheism.  22. I don't know what I know.  23. Argument from design: There is order in the world (We put it there by the way in which we see the world).  24. "Enlightened religion is a contradiction." (Dewey 1934:26)  25. "Tillich and many like him use 'God' in such a way that God is so powerful that He doesn't even have to exist." (Nielsen in Hook 1961:270-281)  26. God is too perfect to be perfect.  27. "Much madness is divinest sense/ To a discerning eye-/ Much sense-the starkest madness." (Emily Dickinson 1979:#435. I:337)  28. To deny thought itself to achieve salvation is to deny oneself to save oneself.  29. "We are for religion against the religious." (Victor Hugo. in Flesch 1957:241)  30. "It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us." (De Vries 1958)  31. "Hypnotize yourself into believing." (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:120)  32. "'Oh well. I suppose she is enjoying eternal bliss, but I wish you wouldn't talk about such unpleasant subjects.'" (Bertrand Russell 1972:24)

            Contradiction.  Type II: Incongruity and Inconsistency.  Holy war.  Mysticism gives comfort at the price of intelligibility.  Dogma gives pleasure at the expense of humor.  "We can, of course, all easily see that other people's Gods are immoral." (Richard Robinson 1964:138)  If you believe there are fairies in catsup, you are insane, but if you believe there are ghosts and angels, you are religious.  "Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion." (Mark Twain)  "If everything happens in accordance with God's will, God must have wanted Nero to murder his mother; therefore, since God is good, the murder must have been a good thing." (Bertrand Russell 1972:9)  Pro-life people often believe in killing in a "just" war.  Each one has a right to his or her own irrational belief.  Amen, for empirical observation.  May God protect you from religion.  We believe in nothing so firmly as what we least know. (Montaigne)  Religious freedom under one God.  You have a God given right to be an atheist.  "A god who wished us to decide certain questions without regard to the evidence would definitely not be a perfectly good god." (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:113-157)  "The aims and intentions of my life have been…being satisfied with the cold fact that there is no life after death." (H. Allen Smith, humorist)  Religion is a legitimate form of insanity, war is another.  United States Government Church.  "Religion without any creeds." (Louise Driscoll in Partnow 1977:158)  "The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning." (Voltaire, in Stevenson 1948:p. 1949)

            Contradiction.  Type III: (Contradicts Experience)  Eternal punishment.  Jesus was born of a virgin.  "Do you pray?"-"Not if I catch myself at it."  God is self-caused.  We are guilty of original sin born.  Walking on water.  A burning bush which does not burn what is in it.  Feeding masses on a few fish and loaves of bread.  Vertical parting of the Red Sea.  Mystical science.

            Defense Mechanisms.  Religion has been thought of by some as a defense mechanism against death and all of one's fears.  The irony is that defense mechanisms do not defend, but distort reality, for example, rationalization and wish fulfillment.  The Church seems to be more concerned with the "next life" than with this one.  The literature suggests that belief in God is a defense mechanism which defends only at the expense of one's intelligence and humanity.

                        Compensation.  "She prays before, during, and after eating a hot dog."

                        Rationalization.  Whenever you try to see God, he suddenly becomes invisible.  God will solve all my problems.  You don't have to worry, God is with you.  So who wants to go to heaven, anyway, it's probably boring.

                        Superiority.  God is all-knowing and more powerful than a duck or anything else.  Deity: I'm the greatest and best.  Worship only me.

                        Denial.  No sense to ask if God exists, He does.  Way to keep the faith: I don't want to talk about it.  Talk about religion?-Very poor taste, antisocial.  Don't talk about religion, it might affect your beliefs.  I just know God exists.  It is sacrilegious to question religion.  If it is not in the Bible, it is false-except for some computer things and new weapons.

                        Fixation.  There is only one answer to every question you can ask: Zeus.

                        Identification.  I figured it out, I am God.

                        Intellectualization.  God is pure, infinite, eternal, absolute, perfect, being-in-itself which is unacceptable to the being-for-itself which perfects the nothingness of wisdom.  God is one, truth, good, being and my aunt Nellie.  My cat is infinite and eternal.

                        Introjection (Direct one's attitude toward others, instead against oneself.)  Stop sinning, you are making me feel guilty.  If I hear one more confession, I won't be able to face myself.

                        Projection.  God is a bumbler, really is quite lazy when you come right down to it.  God did a bit of good old sinning and messing around in his or her own time, too, you know.  He thinks that God is women.

                        Reaction Formation. (Doing the opposite of what is expected, or of the rational.)  I believe in God because Marxists don't.  If I lived in Spain, Italy or South America, I'd be an atheist.  You tell me your belief and then I'll tell you what I don't believe.  The best way to get more Christians is to tell them they can't go to church.  The best way to get believers is to outlaw religion.  The best way to get believers is to tell them there are intelligible arguments against the existence of god.

                        Regression. 1.  Give me that ol' time religion.  It was good enough for my father and mother and good enough for me.  2. Good old Bacchus.  3. The church members went to a "retreat."  4. Don't bother reading anything new, it's all in the Bible.

                        Repression. (Not face an issue.  Censorship.)  "Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves.  But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves." (Justice Rutledge, Prince v. Commonwealth of Mass., 1944)  Children should not be taught or indoctrinated into religion until they are at least at the legal drinking age.

                        Sublimation.  I don't need sex, God loves me.  My, you have been writing a lot of romantic religious poetry lately.  Do you think God can stand that much gush?

                        Symbolization.  God is a glass of water in the middle of a desert.  This cross will protect me from all evil.  Do you really think that emblem of a tortured dead man (the cross) around your neck is a good idea?  This wafer is the body.-Wouldn't you prefer a cheeseburger?

                        Transference.  1. I have a cat I pet.  God's like that.  2. God is my dad.  We have fun fishing.  He can ride horses too.

                        Wish fulfillment.  God gave me a cookie last night.  It had nice chocolate bits in it too.  I love God.  "I was lonely, poor, tired, tripped over my own feet  and couldn't do anything right.  Then God came to me."  "He told me to pray everyday, and whenever I asked for something I would get it.  But it warn't so.  I tried it.  Once I got a fishline, but no hooks." (Mark Twain) (also "sinking," and "reduce to absurd humor")

            Deviation Humor

                        Deviation from Desires.  Faith: eagerness to be wrong.  To believe in the devil, but not God.  To believe in God, but not immortality.  To believe in God and that God is absolutely worthless.  "There is no humor in heaven." (Mark Twain in Tripp 1970:293)

                        Deviation from the Familiar.  God is green.  We believe in an afterlife, we just don't believe there is a god.  "Not one person in a thousand has either strength of mind or goodness of heart to be an Atheist." (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

                        Deviation from the Ideal.  Isn't it too quiet in heaven?

                        Deviation from the Practical.  It's a new kind of lightning rod in case your prayers misfire.  God created the world by accident.  He did it just for fun.

                        Deviation from Purpose.  An edible, candy Bible.  On the way to the Church he tripped over a homeless street person who should not have been in the way.

                        Deviation from Rule. 


There is only one God, but don't put

all your eggs in one basket.


                        Deviation from Language.  "God" is the word "good" misspelled (also insight humor).

                        Deviation from the Usual.  In China, "soul chicken" is placed on the coffin to induce the soul to accompany the body.  In Tibet, the Buddhist belief is that a hair from the scalp must be removed in order to allow the soul to escape.  In Persia, the Zoroastrians purify by means of cow urine, giving new meaning to the idea of religious purification.

            Escape or Release.  God will solve my problems, so I don't need to do anything.  Deny reality: "Never did like reality much-'cept for blancmange."  Why escape with religion, when we can escape with humor?

Exaggeration Humor.  God: "I'm the greatest, best, and most perfect.  Don't even bother questioning it."

            Expand Metaphor.  1. We are sheep following our shepherd in the barnyard of God.  2. Isn't it wonderful that he died-he is probably in heaven now, lucky guy.  3. As we go down the road of truth and honesty, there are detours and traffic jams.  Amen, for traffic jams.  Amen, for left turns.  4. In the McCollum Case, Supreme Court, Justice Frankfurter wrote: "Separation means separation, not something less.  Jefferson's metaphor in describing the relation between church and state speaks of a 'wall of separation' not a fine line easily overstepped."  5. "God's eye sees everything.  Are eyebrows going to be talked of in connection with the Eye of God." (Wittgenstein 1966:71)  6. Recipe for God: Leave out salt, sugar, flour, eggs, don't heat, but pray.  7. Mystical objects have mystical rules, mystical proofs and mystical results.  8. If the fertilized egg is a potential person, one who aborts should only receive a potential sentence for potential murder of a potential fetus.  9. If the fertilized egg is a person, the unfertilized egg and sperm are also people.

            Defeated Expectation Humor.  "Sunday should be different from another day.  People may walk, but not throw stones at birds." (Dr. Johnson)  God exists……in your head.  Jesus saves……at the Vatican Bank.

            False Blame.  1. You were just born.  Then you are guilty-guilty of original sin.  2. Why did God make me fail that exam?

            False Reason.  1. All disease is caused by sin.  2. "'We ought to do what God wills because God will punish us if we do not obey him'…is hardly a morally good reason for doing what he commands since such consideration of self-interest cannot be an adequate basis for morality." (Kai Nielsen 1973:4)  3. Do everything I tell you or you will be tortured by the invisible god.  4. He stole the money because evil spirits entered him.  5. My automobile hasn't been working.  It must be possessed by the devil.

            False Statement.  There are four heavens.

            Free Association.  God, govern, gold, gone.

            Grammar Deviation.  "God is."  "Is what?"

            Blatant Honesty.  "Historically, it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him." (Bertrand Russell, 1957:16)  The religious goal is : one religious school, one religious religion, one religious world. (cf. Canon law # 22, Truman 1960, Blanshard 1960)  "If God bores you, tell Him that He bores you, that you prefer the vilest amusements to His presence." (Fenlon)  Religion is a pack of lies, an opiate of the masses, a defense mechanism, hypocrisy, blind prejudice, self-hypnotism-a lot of noise.  I love it.

            Sherman of American Atheist Press "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?"  George Bush (Chicago Aug. 27, 1987) "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

Hopelessness.  God is absurd so why not believe it?  If I believe in a god, I will be saved-but suppose I pick the wrong one?







            Hypocrisy.  Religion: It's all done with mirrors.  Be greedy-live forever.  "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose." (Shakespeare Merchant of Venice 1.3.98)  My gods are better than your gods.  "The religion of one seems madness to another." (Sir Thomas Browne 1685:Ch. 2, Hydriotaphia)  "Acknowledgment that we do not know what we do not know is a necessity of all intellectual integrity." (John Dewey 1934:86)  Never kill, except in holy wars.  Pilots prayed before bombing missions in the Middle East in the Gulf War-What were they praying for?-That their bombs would or would not kill everyone in sight?  Always be kind to everyone, except when they attack your religion.  "The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next." (Emerson, in Prochnow 1969:285)  I know wine is blood, Father, but why do you need so much blood?  All I do is get them to believe what they want to believe and then have them send their money to us.  "He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat: it ever changes with the next block." (Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing 1.1.75)  "The theologian arrives at the unthinkable, the inconceivable, and he calls this God.  The scientist arrives at the unthinkable, the inconceivable, and he calls it the unknown." (Robert Ingersoll)  Only 67% of German Catholics believe in God; of those who seldom attend church, 37% believe in God; "Only every second German believes in God." (Der Spiegel 34 (46) Nov. 10, 1980:76)  Only 39% of German Protestants believe in God. (Der Spiegel, 34 (47) Nov. 17, 1980:67, 71)  A later survey by the magazine, Ella, found that only one in three Germans believes in God.  "The Vatican owns the controlling interest in an Italian drug company which sells birth control pills.  Druggists often sell the pill saying it is only to 'reduce nervous tension.'" (Larson & Lowell 1969:227-229)  Religion on Sunday, science on weekdays.  "That part of one's religion which is convenient, that one will never drop." (A. A. Horn)  "Religious people refuse to be guided by reason and evidence…in theology.  They are determined to believe there is a God no matter what the evidence." (Robinson in Angeles 1976:116, 117)  The Bible says not to be angry, unless, of course, you say something against the Bible.  Religion is good for business.  "The church has owned tax-exempt hotels, theaters, TV and radio stations, aircraft factories, steel and oil companies, bra factories, cattle ranches, pleasure resorts, and a 320 acre Chicago garbage dump." (Larson & Lowell 1976:Ch. 19)  "John Mill compared a number of these manuscripts of the New Testament, and found that they differed from each other in thirty thousand places.…Other people discovered upwards of a hundred thousand various readings.…It is from these imperfect and discordant manuscripts that people have to make their Greek and Hebrew Bibles." (Joseph Barker, English writer)  "People cannot make a flea, yet they will make gods by the dozen." (Montaigne in Tripp 1970:790)  "If a book is listed on the [censored books] Index, all good believers read it in order to know how bad it is." (Elbert Hubbard)  "People choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the others." (Bertrand Russell 1972:9)  Secular education: The Seton Series in Arithmetic, used in parochial schools, has in it over fourteen pictures of saints, priests, and angels in its first grade mathematics book.


                                                                        21 Angels

                                                                     + 63 Angels

                                                                     = 84 Angels

                                                            HEAVENLY MATH


"In God we trust," the Supreme Court decided, is not a religious symbol, but just a "token"-a legal pun made into law.  It is just a meaningless phrase.  If we replaced it with, "In Buddha we trust," would that also be just a meaningless phrase?




Some argue that we should teach the Bible as literature in secondary schools.  Should we also teach Klu Klux Klan beliefs as literature?  "Make me chaste and continent, but not just yet." (Saint Augustine)  "The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction." (Wallace Stevens 1957:163)  "A lot of words, like 'faith,' or 'revelation,' or' intuition,' are used to cover up this idea [that believing alone makes something true], which in its naked form is obviously silly." (John Wilson, 1968:4)  "Congress members present many pro-religious bills which their sponsors present without any substantial hope of adoption.  No matter how nonsensical the bills are, they can be printed with the Congress member's name as sponsor and circulated to those sectarian advocates who enjoy seeing their ideas enshrined in a government document." (P. Blanshard 1960:99)  Some, such as L. Pfeffer, doubt that there will ever be any test of the federal religious exemption statutes, and that if one should occur the Court will employ a fiction in upholding its validity.  "A well-known…[religious] textbook [C. McFadden, Medical Ethics] advises doctors and nurses to deceive patients by this method [of "mental reservation"] when they see fit to do so.  If a feverish patient, for example, asks what his [or her] temperature is, the doctor is advised to answer: 'Your temperature is normal today,' while making the mental reservation that it is normal for someone in the patient's precise physical condition." (Bok 1978:37)

            Ignorance Humor. (See also Argument from Ignorance under Logical Fallacies.)  We put heavy religious stones on graves to make sure nothing comes up.  "Religion was…an opiate for the people." (David Colony, priest)  "It is impossible to defeat an ignorant person in an argument." (William McAdoo)  Agape refers to metaphysical love of a fictional being.  Idealized "love" requires not knowing about the object loved.  Thus we may hear: "God is wonderful!" and then reply, "Ah, then you must know very little about this deity."  "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." (Seneca)  Ignorance transcends knowledge.  "Just in the ratio that knowledge increases, faith diminishes." (Thomas Carlyle)  "Who created the world?" is more a statement of bewilderment, than a genuine question.  The unknown is more pervasive than the known.  "Religions are like glow worms; they require darkness to shine in." (Schopenhauer)  God transcends knowledge.

Impossible.  God exists because we cannot know Him.  "Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Carroll TLG 1960:174)

            Improbable.  "I'll live forever."

            Insight.  The problem with Heaven is, they never heard there of the cognitive theory of emotion.  "Ecclesiasticism in science is only unfaithfulness to truth." (Thomas Huxley)  The world was created by the question "Who created the world?"  "Religion is mere question of geography." (Edward Gibbon, historian)  One thing about animals is that they are smart enough not to need religion.  "I began to feel that I did not know enough to pay Him set compliments on set days." (Robert Hughes)  "A miracle is no miracle second hand." (David Hume)  Imagine if the person next door or your partner commanded the same obedience that God commands.  If it's possible that God exists, it's possible that He doesn't.

            Irony.  If a god created the world, then abandoned it immediately.  "These savages were so low that they had not even invented bows and arrows, usury, the gallows, or the notion of baptism by complete immersion." (Mencken)  "We owe a debt of gratitude to Adam, the first great benefactor of the human race: he brought death into the world." (Mark Twain in Esar 1978:9)  He went to a psychiatrist to rid himself of his belief in God, now he believes in Freud.  People should believe in ? because without it they would fall apart.  "It is all too easy for us to think we are being profound when we are just being muddled." (Knight 1974)

            Juxtaposition.  "And this is the law of inertia-Amen."  Van Gogh's 1885 painting "The Bible" shows a Bible, a burnt-out candle indicating the end of Christianity, juxtaposed with a book entitled, Joie de vivre.

            Blatant Lie.  God spoke to me on the telephone.  In war, God is on our side.

            Logical Fallacies

            We read: "Religion: in no case is it logic." (Beatrice Potter Webb in Partnow 1977:105)  "The religious impulse encourages all the fallacies." (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:117)  Theological and metaphysical arguments are now generally regarded by philosophers as misuses of language and based on informal logical fallacies of the following sorts.  Religious language is therefore a rich source of humor.  As a typical statement, Professor William Halverson (1976) wrote: "Most philosophers today are at least in agreement on this, that the proof of the existence of God, if it is possible at all, is no easy matter; and it is probably true to say that the majority of them regard it as impossible." (115)  "There are no sound arguments for the existence of God." [Ibid.,  148, cf. similar statements  by: John Wilson (1968), Michael Scriven (1966), Richard Robinson (1964), Kai Nielsen (1973), M. Knight (1955, 1974), D. J. O'Connor (1957), Bertrand Russell (1950, 1957), Sidney Hook (in Angeles, 1976), James Cornman & Lehrer (1974), Peter Angeles, ed. (1976), Saint Thomas Aquinas, etc.].

                        Abstractionist Fallacy.  God is being, one, truth, eternal-luck.

                        False Appeal to Perfectionism.  Are you pure?  Only the absolute truth will do.

                        Appeal to Authority.  I believe because the Bible says so.  It's true because God said so.  Why are you going to the bookstore, all you ever need to know is in the Bible?

                        Many question Fallacy.  "It was none other than Aquinas who taught that on grounds of reason alone we could not tell whether the world had existed from eternity or had been created by God." (Prof. Sidney Hook in Angeles 1976:26)  "'Who made everything?' is a silly question…it assumes that somebody rather than something made everything, and it also assumes that everything was made, and didn't just happen….But what makes it really silly is…'Who made God?'" (John Wilson 1968:22)

                        Argument from Tradition.  Paganism is older than Christianity and therefore more true.  Zeus created the world and everything in it.

                        Argument from Familiarity.  "Well, it all depends what you've been brought up to believe, doesn't it?" (John Wilson 1968:4)  "But I've always been told there is a God."  We have always been told that killing in war is pretty wonderful, and it gets a really large budget.

                        Argument from Majority.  The test of truth is to agree with the majority.  If they don't like spinach, it's no good.  "Most people believe in God."  "Most people speak Chinese."

                        Appeal to Emotion.  "People are religious on emotional grounds." (Bertrand Russell 1957)  I have the feeling that I am protected by a special fairy.  "Most people find it more snug and warm to keep their minds closed." (John Wilson 1960:100)

                        Ad Hominem.  "Christians do not take the attitude of reasonable inquiry towards the proposition that there is a God.  If they engage in discussion on the matter at all, they seek more often to intimidate their opponents by expressing shock or disgust at their opinions, or disapproval of their character…they make certain beliefs wicked as such." (Robinson 1964:115)

                        False Cause.  "The whole realm of…religion belongs under this concept of imaginary causes." (Nietzsche)  The lightning rod was once condemned by the clergy as an attempt to defeat the will of God.  "But aren't you filled with wonder at the beauty of the sky, and sun, those moments of human warmth, etc.?"  "Yes.  It is wondrous.  It is the sky's beauty.  Give it back to the sky."  "But Religion allows one to live forever."  So forget about medical research and nutrition.  "I broke my leg, I need a doctor."  "No, you don't, just say a few "Our Father's."  Inquire into death?  We prefer the more direct approach: sing a few hymns, put a few coins in the box, voilà-eternal life.  "Devils would settle on the food that monks were about to eat, and would take possession of the bodies of incautious feeders who omitted to make the sign of the cross before each mouthful….People still say "bless you" when one sneezes….The reason was that people were thought to sneeze out their souls." (Bertrand Russell 1972:6 An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish)  "When the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals asked the Pope for his support, he refused it on the ground that human beings owe no duty to the lower animals, and that ill-treating animals is not sinful.  This is because animals have no souls." (Bertrand Russell 1972:7 An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish)

                        Argument from Ignorance.  "You cannot prove God does not exist, therefore God exists."  "If you cannot prove ghosts are not in your head, they are there."  "All religions have their miracles, so that if miracles were good evidence for one god they would be good evidence for all the gods." (John Wilson Language and the Pursuit of Truth 1960)  John Wilson (Philosophy 1968:2-6) wrote, "People have always disliked thinking, because it's hard work, and it's much easier not to bother." (2)  "Saying that it's 'too abstract' or 'academic' is only one [defense against thinking]." (3)  "Another is 'Oh, well, it's all a matter of taste anyway.'" (3)  "Another is 'Reason can only get you so far; after that you have to make a leap of faith,' or 'You have to rely on intuition.'" (4)  "'I just know that …' or 'I just feel that….'" (4)

            Taking Metaphors Literally.  Billy Graham said, "If the Bible says that Jonah swallowed the whale, let's accept it and believe it; or it the Bible says that two plus two is five, let's believe it." (Paul Blanshard 1963:186)  "A main cause of philosophical disease-a one-sided diet: one nourishes one's thinking with only one kind of example." (Wittgenstein 1968:#593)  "The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next." (R. W. Emerson)  "The simple believeth every word." (Proverbs, 14:15)  "If only Adam had been content with peaches and nectarines, grapes and pears and pineapples." (Bertrand Russell 1972 An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish)

            Metaphor Humor.  Regarding tax-exemption, the church is a sacred cow.  Religion is like a communicable disease.  Barnyard metaphor of the "sheep following shepherd."  It's time the tax collectors sheared the religious sheep.  "The tremendous question mark called Christianity." (Nietzsche 1954:609)  The rhythm method is called "Vatican Roulette."

            Name-Calling.  "A spleeny Lutheran." (Shakespeare, Henry VIII iii.2.99)

            Nonsense.  "There is something so ludicrous, in promises of good, or threats of evil, a great way off, as to render the whole subject with which they are connected, easily turned into ridicule. (Abraham Lincoln)  "For God is supposed to have created the world out of nothing.  Now, in our experience, nothing is or can be created out of nothing." (Prof. S. Hook 1976:27)  First tell me what "god" means, if anything, then, we'll see if "god" can be said to exist or not.  "Am I to be obliged to believe every absurdity?  And, if not, why this one in particular?" (Freud, 1964:43, The Future of an Illusion)  "'God exists' must be classified as metaphysical, for nobody has yet produced a satisfactory and unambiguous meaning, and an acceptable method of verification, for dealing with the statement: although plenty of people have produced fallacious arguments for proving it true." (John Wilson 1960:73)

            Paradox.  In the beginning, God created a beginning.  God created himself.  If God created the world, who created God?  "It is a paradox that an experience, a fact, should seem to have supernatural value." (Wittgenstein)  God? is the question to an answer we already have in front of our eyes.

            Perceptual Humor.  Sheep with crosses around their necks. "God is a mighty man with holes in his eyelids.  He can see you wherever you are." (A. Neill 1960:246)  I was depressed and miserable when suddenly-God arrived!

            Personification.  A rat poison in Mexico is named "The Last Supper."  Human intelligence is to humans as God's intelligence is to God.  Do cats go to heaven?  And flies and bugs too?  Should we pray for dead flies?  "What God lacks is convictions-stability of character.  He ought to be a Presbyterian or a Catholic or something-not try to be everything." (Mark Twain)  "God is humans' idealized conception of themselves." (Feuerbach)  "After all, is our idea of God anything more than personified incomprehensibility?" (George Lichtenberg)  One day after God finished breakfast, He made the world.  God is in our image: "Ethiopians have gods with snub noses and black hair; Thracians have gods with gray eyes and red hair." (Xenophanes in Shibles 1971b:29)

            Practical Joke.  God helps those who help themselves.  If you believe you will be saved, you will be.  We live to die (life as a tragicomedy.

            Pretense.  "Religion, it seems to me, can survive only as a consciously accepted system of make-believe." (Aldous Huxley, [or perhaps unconscious])  "It sounds more impressive if you pretend that there's some sort of supernatural or marvelous truth which backs your moral code…myths…which aren't strictly true, but which are convenient." (John Wilson 1968:19)

            Reduce to Absurdity.  "But I must be guided by my conscience: I step on every crack in the sidewalk.  The Bible historians of almost all of the various religions have proved that hundreds of gods exist.  We have a perfect right to believe that elephants have wings.  He prayed every night-but to the wrong god.  Are there dentists in heaven?  Eternal pain and punishment!  Eternal?-I even hate to go to the dentist.  God is male, or female, or neuter, or…  "The religion of one seems madness unto another." (Thomas Browne, in Flesch 1957:241)  "One religion is as true [false] as another." (Robert Burton Anatomy of Melancholy, 1612:Pt. iii, sect. iv, mem. ii.)  Pity the unborn sperm and unfertilized eggs of this world.  After death we will all have better penmanship.  Believe in peanut butter.  "Tillich [theologian] doesn't put new wine into old bottles, he puts in grape soda and then labels it Chateau Latour." (Nielsen in Hook 1961:281)  "God is everywhere."  "Even in my cereal?"  If the U.S. were in the Mid-East, we would believe in Islam instead of Christianity.  If I am a good musician in this life, I will become a piano in the next, or a piano tuner.  Bicycles have an afterlife.  Suppose every author and theorist says about their view, "This is the only truth."  "Transcendent," or "the beyond,'' is not like "beyond the next house."  "History shows there is a God."  In history there are many gods.  "I started believing in God at 10:15 yesterday."  "Well, look.  The very fact that you talk of God shows that you must be talking about something so there is a God."  "Then let's talk of trolls."

            "You still can't prove God doesn't exist."  [This one keeps coming up.]  First tell  me what God is, is like, or means and then we'll see if God exists in some sense or other.  But approach it this way: I can't say God doesn't exist because I don't know what I am talking about.  I can't say God does exist for the same reason.  Either way I can't say much of anything.  But I can say I haven't got hold of an intelligent or  meaningful question.  So the solution to some puzzles or answers to some questions is to dissolve the question.  Throw it away.  "It's a God question." [Throw.]  "There is an evil spirit in your transmission.  We've called a minister."  Forget the "fires of hell"-these days we use a microwave.  If the First Amendment to the Constitution allows religion, it must allow all kinds of belief including the occult, astrology, satanical beliefs.  How to guide your life: Find the most questionable and controversial view and base your life on it.  "If I ask you to believe in Irglig, you cannot believe in Irglig no matter how deep your need, because you do not know what to take on faith (on trust)." (Kai Nielsen 1970:144)  "If the concept of God defies adequate grasp by human reason, then what can it mean to say that belief in him rests on faith?….How can he distinguish between the assertion, 'I have faith in God,' and the assertion 'I have faith in Mumbo Jumbo?'" (Prof. Sidney Hook 1976:30)  Our car won't start.  Maybe we should sacrifice a goat.  "Argument from design: everything in the world is made just so that we can manage to live in the world.  It sometimes takes a rather curious form, for instance, it is argued that rabbits have white tails in order to be easy to shoot." (Bertrand Russell 1957:9-10)  The wafer stands for the body of Christ-Pass the pepper, please?  "Who would dispute long about whether a 'hippogriff' exists without first defining it?" (Prof. Sidney Hook 1976:22)  How can one have peace of mind if one thinks God is always looking?  If you don't read the Bible carefully, your feet may go to heaven and your head to some other place.  "If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause." (Bertrand Russell 1957:6)  "The pious man is prepared to accept any command whatever as a test of his faith." (Prof. Sidney Hook 1976:37)  "In religion, one 'acts by virtue of the absurd.'" (Kierkegaard)  "As tax-exemption is allowed for religion-restaurants, clubs, and even brothels have been granted tax-exemption.  The bordello, 'Fellowship of Human Happiness,' was given tax-exemption in New York State." (Church and State  30, 1977:22)  "If I said, 'There's a little man flying around the room' and then added, 'but you can't see him or hear him or touch him,'…you should reply 'Well, then, in that case I can't see what you could possibly mean by little man and flying around." (John Wilson, 1968:18)  Lynn Taylor (in Religion and Culture in Education 1977) has primary grade students do mathematics as follows: "Discuss how much older Jesus was than a second grader, when he went up to Jerusalem."  "St. Thomas imagines a cannibal who has never eaten anything but human flesh, and whose father and mother before him had like propensities.  Every particle of his body belongs rightfully to someone else….How is he to be properly roasted in hell, if all his body is restored to its original owner?" (Bertrand Russell 1972:8)  Everything God makes dies.  Justice Douglas said that the Constitution in effect says, "Let each dogma flourish."  "Religious freedom-the freedom to believe and to practice strange and…foreign creeds. (Justice White, Wisconsin v. Yoder)  What Anselm thought he had done was to show that as soon as you have the idea of God you have to concede His real existence, because the conception involves the notion of real existence….But then you must remember that supersquonds [both round and square] exist definitionally too." (Scriven, 1966:145)  "Anselm's argument proves too much….We can prove by this argument that the happiest or saddest or cleanest or dirtiest, or fattest, or thinnest or most absurd, or most evil being possible exist." (Scriven, 1966:386-388)  The German word for "blessed" is selig, which etymologically relates to the English word, "silly."

            Reversal.  "True life, eternal life, has been found-it is here, it is in you." (Nietzsche 1954:601)  "I think that all the great religions of the world-Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism-both untrue and harmful." (Bertrand Russell 1975:48)  "Not to question, not to tremble with the craving and the joy of questioning.  That is what I feel to be contemptible." (Nietzsche)  "But without religion what would keep people from being good?"-Pray to rational, critical thinking rather than to a mythical being.  "Religious teachings…[are] neurotic relics: the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity. (Freud 1964:Ch. 8)  "Is man merely a mistake of Gods?  Or God merely a mistake of man's?" (Nietzsche 1954:467)  I believe in eternal death.  The worst thing that could happen is that atheists will go to heaven too.  "Whatever a theologian feels to be true must be false: This is almost a criterion of truth." (Nietzsche in Kaufmann 1954:576)  Unlike religion, I believe in life after birth.  God was created by the world.  I'll die forever.  "All religions have been made by men [or women]." (Napoleon Bonaparte in Stevenson 1948:p. 1949)  Only atheists will go to heaven.  Religion is in fact not a proper basis for ethics at all. (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:130. John Dewey agrees.)  Sciences reduce the unknown to the known; religion reduces the known to the unknown.  Jesus died so you may die: Let Him put out your light.  "Loss of faith is growth." (Wallace Stevens)  Everyone is an atheist whether one knows it or not.  The Deity created nothing from something.  "The world holds two classes of people: intelligent people without religion, and religious people without intelligence." (Syrian poet)  The world was created from something by no one at no time. God causes disease (by opposing medical practice and research), and disease causes God (by fear).

            Riddle Humor.  Q. How do you know when the soul enters and leaves the body?  A. Use a soul-o-meter.  Q. Does God exist?  A. This question doesn't.  Q. What's the difference between God?  A. One god is both the same.  Q. Who created the world?  A. "There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all." (Bertrand Russell 1957:7)  Q. Who is all of our fathers, yet not promiscuous?  A. I don't know.  Q. What is it that the less proof you have of it, the more true it is?  A1. Nonsense.  A2.  Religious belief.  "'Who made everything?'  'What is the meaning of life?'  'What are we all here for?'….God is often brought in as an answer to these questions.…The real difficulty isn't to know whether it's true or false, but what it can possibly mean. ….They're just stringing words together for their own amusement." (John Wilson 1968:17, 22)  "Who created the world?"  Answer. "God."  You knew that was coming didn't you?  You gave the correct answer.  This is a way of teaching small children to believe in God.  But it is a loaded and trick question: a.) It assumes that someone, a who, created the world.  Why not matter?  b.) It assumes that the world was created rather than always here.  b.) It assumes that "world" is known, but it is a vague open ended notion.  It's fun to trick another but even more fun to trick oneself.  This question then is a many question fallacy and involves personification-the "who" can refer to anything from a tree spirit to Superwoman.

            Simile.  1. We plant a seed, a flower grows; we bury a dead body, a new body grows.  What will become of our orange peels?  2. Belief in a Deity is like being in the middle of the ocean waiting for a train to come along.  3. I dyed my hair, but its color returned; I died, but I returned.  4. "You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion… It is the price [humans have] to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough." (Aldous Huxley in Andrews 1993:776)  5. "He made a drawing," is not like, "He made the world."  6. "Man makes religion….it is the opium of the people." (Karl Marx in Stevenson 1948; Kurtz 1973:153)  (Regarding religious indoctrination in the schools.)  If an apple is wormy at school, it is just as wormy at home.  "It is no defense for these [church-state] practices to urge that they may be only relatively minor encroachments.  Being a minor constitutional encroachment may be a bit [akin] to being just a little bit pregnant." (Hartung 1973:403)

            Sinking.  Voltaire said that the English have sixty religions, but only one gravy.  "If God lived on earth, people would break his windows." (Yiddish proverb)  "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created…that a cat should play with a mouse." (Darwin)  "The Virgin Mary was no more a virgin than my mother." (Pope Boniface VIII)  "My father was a God-fearing man, but he never missed a copy of the New York Times either." (E. B. White)  God's actions are at a level far below that of the Geneva Convention.

            Stereotype.  "A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen." (Oscar Wilde)

            Substitution.  Substitute a brand name for "amen" in religious services.  The wages of sin is life.  Religion is the "loophole" of rationality ("tax loophole").  Light a candle for scientific inquiry.  Ioe is truth.  If you don't believe what Joe says, you will go to hell.  Instead of "Our Father in Heaven"-"Our Nephew in Heaven." (Sidney Hook 1976:24)  "And while there is death, there is hope." (Huxley) "I was confused and suicidal and bowling [god] saved me and organized my life."

            Useless Humor.  "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." (Benjamin Franklin)

            Value Laden Terms.  Many religious terms are also swear words, e.g. "hell," "damn."  Thus, comedy often consists in the use of such taboo terms.

Blatant Vice.  God created the world as a joke.  If god is all-powerful, then He caused my taillight to drop off.  I didn't bomb them, God did; the cause of all war is all-powerful god.  "People have always disliked thinking, because it's hard work, and it's easier not to bother." (John Wilson 1968:2)  I help others so that I may obtain rewards in heaven for myself.  I really fear death, so I guess I better believe in some myth that gives me eternal life.  If there were no religion we would have to invent something else to fight about.  '"The salvation of the soul'-in plain English: 'The world revolves around me.'" (Nietzsche 1954:619)  "Judge not they say, but consign to hell everything that stands in their way." (Nietzsche 1954:621)  Arguments make no impression on them-they do not respond to them.  Because of this great desire for security one finds rational arguments boring.  "But I just got here."-"Tough, guilty of original sin."  "God is a vengeful and jealous God."  That's nice.  When can I start believing?  "Knowledge is irrelevant.  What we need is certainty."  Nietzsche pointed out that religion makes one a shadow of oneself-inferior to God such that one must constantly go about atoning-"Pardon me for being alive."  The Bible says, "You should not suffer a witch to live."  This led to the witch dunking and witch trials (tragicomedy).  Way to persuade people to believe in God: Play on their weaknesses and promise them eternal afterlife, organ music and free trips to the mall.  "The church…not only strove against the dawning and rising science as false, but it called this science unpious and anti-Christian." (Dewey 1971:v.4:6)  One religion  actually took over the public schools and distributed religious funny books in the public schools. (Zellers v. Huff 236 P. 2d 949)  "That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more richly, a perfect sight of the punishment of the damned is granted them." (St. Thomas Aquinas)  Each religion wants to deprogram the other.  In July, 1975 the Pope called for a halt to "the disobedience called 'liberty.'" (Catholic Almanac 1976:87)  "'Faith' means not wanting to know what is true." (Nietzsche 1954:635)  "Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it." (Nietzsche, in Kaufmann 1954:465)  If we judge by the following four quotations by women as well as men, they may serve as a source of satire and blatant vice humor:

            1. "The whole tone of Church teachings in regard to women is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading." (Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Partnow 1977:55)

            2. "It is a mistake to try to impose [Christian convictions] on children, and to make them the basis of moral training." (Prof. Margaret Knight 1955:29-30)

            3. "There is not much attempt today to defend Christian dogma by reasoning." (Margaret Knight 1955:32)

            4. "My heart once captured [by religion], I deliberately and, with a sort of frantic joy, showed reason the door." (Ms. George Sand in Partnow 1977:10)

            "All religions have been based on obedience…on voluntary slavery." (Alexander Herzen in Andrews 1993:776)

            "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." (Thomas Paine in Andrews 1993:777)

            "The religious man refuses to be guided by reason and evidence." (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:115)

            "While Jesus preached humility, he weakened his effect by insisting…on his own divinity…and demanding that everyone should believe in him….He threatened unforgiving damnation to those who disbelieved himself." (Robinson 1964:113-157)

            "The Roman Catholic Church, convinced, through its divine prerogatives, of being the only true Church, must demand the right to freedom for herself alone, because such a right can only be possessed by truth, never by error." (Civiltà Cattolica April 1948, Official Jesuit organ in Rome)

            "Religion cannot claim the sincere respect which reason accords only to that which has been able to sustain the test of free and open inquiry." (Kant)

            "We find that traditional views of the existence of God either are meaningless, have not yet been demonstrated to be true, or are tyrannically exploitative." (Prof. Paul Kurtz , A Secular Humanist Declaration 1973:18)

            "Religion is a very harmful thing," (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:117)

            "It is a duty to undermine faith." (Prof. Richard Robinson 1964:120)

            "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principle enemy of moral progress in the world." (Bertrand Russell 1957:21)

            "Belief in God is so incoherent that it could not possibly be true." (Nielsen 1970:132)

            The following is an insight humor poem about religion using the burlesque form of doggerel, a form also used by Chaucer, Samuel Butler, Jonathan Swift and others [cf. Preminger 1965:197; For other satirical verse about religion; see also the philosopher Aquilia (1981)]:


I believe because it is absurd.




True fictions abound

especially on Sunday,

which smell like the washing

the following Monday.

Because such a world is not really real,

its inhabitants seem to lack much appeal.

In the egotism of it all,

we find a tale that's rather tall:

the Deity can mean anything you wish,

from a bit of fog to an ocean fish.

Belief knows no bounds,

with its logic that confounds,

and if the need is especially great,

we can simply start to hallucinate,

create a strong being

that sends reason fleeing:

"Come, bend down on your knee

and promise you will worship only me."

Blind obedience is best,

leave your thinking to the rest.


Though Christ is a curse

and hell quite vicious,

still, to those who invented it,

it's simply delicious.

And they are in love,

but don't know with whom-

with an unknown above

or a ghost in a tomb?

Our fiction who is not our haven,

hollow be your name,

a loophole of reason

in income tax season.

They whisper to a passing breeze

to someone not there,

in (parentheses).

And there is of course, only one truth,

close all other books

to avoid being uncouth,

and above all, don't criticize

for if you do, they'll blacken your eyes.


Morality?  Oh, please!  That's just guilt and blame,

to keep us humans so weak and tame.

No, we mustn't speak of the subject of sex,

for in this domain there prevails a hex.

Sensual things they fail to allow,

the pleasures we have, cannot be had now.

There is little beauty in what we see,

it's just a symbol of eternity.

Take sky from sky, and leaf from leaf,

and women from women, and reef from reef.

Around their necks is a cross which is double,

to torment those who give them trouble.

Aquinas said all atheists should be killed,

a kinder saint no god could have willed.

Still, it isn't safe to believe in any,

because of the gods-there are so many.


If belief means faith,

and faith belief,

such circularity gives little relief,

an intricate spoof

is a curious proof.

"Resist and He will fly from you,"

surrender and make your debut.

Go to satisfy the clown,

it's geographical really,

go, then, town by town,

and try not to look to silly.

Though history shows

that no one knows,

the only test is that it doesn't exist,

the weaker the belief,

the stronger it seems to persist.


When thinking is hard,

if you tend to retard,

personify the world like Mickey Mouse,

say heaven is a haunted house,

that wafers are meat,

which cannibals eat,

sacrifice a goat to a sinking boat.

A virgin birth

gives one much mirth,

though there is a rumor

that here is no humor.

So, should we blow out the flame

in Christianity's name,

believe in just this,

or any old thing,

or perhaps rather, join them to sing:

Christianity hits the spot,

twelve apostles, that's a lot

twice as good with a virgin too

Christianity is the thing for you?


They tell you to deny the bodies you know

so that in their garden their souls may grow.

But bodies are not flowers,

you can't plant them like seeds,

not even by the fingering of rosary beads.

"Your soul will arise,"

is also plain lies.

And is eternity a place

that disappears without a trace?

The only thing you can surely believe

is that supernatural arguments deceive.

Here, people don't count,

but only their souls,

which are soon tucked away

along with the moles.



                        Warren Shibles (1987c)

1. Cartoons About Religion




Zeus created the world and everything in it.

God is so intelligent that she can prove that he is a woman.

God is so intelligent that he can prove that he does not exist.


0 beliefs

My religion has no beliefs in it at all.


Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

(Lewis Carroll TLG 1960: 174)








Are there cats in Heaven?


You ought never to do wrong when people are looking.  Mark Twain






[If the fertilized egg is a potential person, so is the sperm and unfertilized egg.  Then all sperm and unfertilized eggs should be saved.  A fertilized egg does not much look like a person.]

Mysticism:  Mysticism seems to mean that which we don't know.  So it doesn't make sense to believe in it.  A bird once told me that.


       Oh, how nice!  A tea shop.


The final belief is to believe a fiction you know to be a fiction-and that you believe in it willingly.  Wallace Stevens 1957: 163














The Absolute Truth:


The problem with heaven is they never heard of the cognitive theory of emotion.


Well, I guess my task here was just to unsolve nonproblems.

What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use.

(Wittgenstein 1968:#116)


2. Religion Humor Bibliography

Andrews, Robert. The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations. NY: Columbia University 1993.

Angeles, Peter, ed. Critiques of God. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books 1976.

Aquila, Richard. Rhyme or Reason: A Limerick History of Philosophy. Washington, DC: University Press of America 1981.

Blanshard, Paul. God and Man in Washington. Boston: Beacon Press 1960.

Blanshard, Paul. Religion and the Schools. Boston: Beacon Press 1963.

Bok, Sissela. Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. NY: Pantheon 1978; 1999 edition is basically unrevised.

Cornman, James, and K. Lehrer. Philosophical Problems and Arguments. 2nd ed. NY: Macmillan 1974: 327‑422.

Dewey, John. John Dewey: The Early Works 1882‑1898. Vol. 4. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University 1971.

Esar, Evan. The Comic Encyclopedia. Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1978.

Foote, G. and W. Ball. The Bible Handbook. NY: Penguin 1938.

Freud, Sigmund. Future of an Illusion. Tr. W. Robson-Scott. Garden City, NY:Doubleday/Anchor1964.

Golding, William. The Spire. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World 1964.

Gracián, Baltasar y Morales. Agudeza y arte de ingenio. Madrid: Huesca 1642.

Halverson, William. A Concise Introduction to Philosophy. 3rd ed. NY: Random House 1976: 115‑207.

Hartung, A. "Religion: Courts and the Schools." Clearing House 47 (1973) 403.

Hook, Sidney, ed. Religious Experience and Truth. NY: New York University Press 1961.

Hook, Sidney. "Modern Knowledge and the Concept of God." P. Angeles, ed. Critiques of God. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books 1976: 21-40.

Hyers, M. Conrad., ed. Holy Laughter. NY: Seabury Press 1969.

Kaufmann, Walter. See Nietzsche 1954.

Knight, Margaret. Honest to Man: Christian Ethics Reexamined. NY: Prometheus 1974.

Knight, Margaret. Morals without Religion. London: Dennis Dobson 1955.

Kurtz, Paul. A Secular Humanist Declaration. Repr. from Free Inquiry l, l (1980).

Larson, Martin, and C. Lowell. Praise the Lord for Tax Exemption. Washington, DC: Luce 1969.

Larson, Martin, and C. Lowell. The Religious Empire. Washington, D. C.: R. Luce Co. 1976.

Neill, Alexander. Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing. NY: Hart 1960.

Nielsen, Kai. "In Defense of Atheism." eds. In H. Kiefer & M. Munitz, Perspectives in Education, Religion and the Arts. Albany, NY: SUNY 1970.

Nielsen, Kai. "Is God so Powerful that He Doesn't Even Have to Exist?" 270‑281 (In Hook 1961).

Nielsen, Kai. Ethics without God. NY: Prometheus 1973.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Portable Nietzsche. W. Kaufmann, ed. NY: Macmillan 1954.

O'Neill, Thomas. "Irian Jaya." National Geographic 189, 2:( 1996.) 2‑34.

Partnow, Elaine. The Quotable Woman 1800‑1975. Los Angeles, CA: Corwin Books 1977.

Pfeffer, Leo. Church, State and Freedom. Boston: Beacon 1967.

Preminger, Alex, ed. Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton University Press 1965.

Prochnow, Hert, Jr. A Treasury of Humorous Quotations. NY: Harper & Row 1969.

Ramsey, Ian. Models and Mystery. NY: Oxford University Press 1964.

Robinson, Richard. Atheist's Values. Oxford: Clarendon 1964.

Russell, Bertrand. "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish." in Atheism: Collected Essays 1943‑1949. 5‑26. NY: Amo Press 1972.

Russell, Bertrand. Bertrand Russell's Best. R. Egner, ed. NY: New American Library 1975.

Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian. NY: Simon and Schuster 1957.

Sandok, Theresa. "Kierkegaard on Irony and Humor." Ph.D. diss. Notre Dame 1975.

Scriven, Michael. Primary Philosophy. NY: McGraw‑Hill 1966.

Sonenfield, Irwin. "Executive Committee Recommendation on Tenure Consideration (Candidate: God)." National Education Association Advocate Feb. 1978, p. 7.

Stevens, Wallace. Opus Posthumous. S. Morse, ed. NY: Knopf 1957.

Stevenson, Burton. Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases. NY: Macmillan 1948.

Stylites, Simon. "Humor and Religion." Christian Century 77 (1960) 207, 239.

Taylor, Lynn (in Religion and Culture in Education 1977.

Taylor, Lynn. Religion and Culture in Education. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas 1977.

Tesauro, Emanuele. Il Cannocchiale Aristotelico. 1670 (Bad Homburg: Gehlen 1968)

Thomas, Dylan. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. Orig. 1939. NY: New Directions 1957.

Tripp, Rhoda, compiler. The International Thesaurus of Quotations. NY: Crowell 1970.

Truman, Tom. Catholic Action and Politics. London: Merlin Press 1960.

Whitehead, A. N. Science and the Modern World. NY: Penguin 1938.

Wilson, John. Language and the Pursuit of Truth. Cambridge University Press 1960.

Wilson, John. Moral Thinking. London: Heinemann 1970.

Wilson, John. Philosophy. London: Heinemann 1968.


[Key Topic: War, Anti-War, guerra, guerre, háború, harb, harb, Krieg, krig, milchamah, milchome, oorlog, perang, po'lemos, rat, razboi, sensoo, sota, válka, vita, voiná, wojna.  Pacifism, pacifisme, pacifismo, pasifisme, Pazifismus]

A. Insight Humor Against War

Insight Humor AGAINST WAR

People are more afraid of arguments and thinking than of any military weapon ever created.


            1. Essential Prerequisites Before Going to War

1. These are conditions which must be met before one (individual, group or nation) may use killing, force or military action.  By "war" is meant killing or deliberate harm to life and physical and mental health.

2. Knowledge of prerequisites. The declarer of war must be familiar with the prerequisites for war is herein stated.  Evidence of such qualification must be presented by resume, personnel evaluation and detailed examination before one can be qualified to decide about going to war.

3. Justification in writing. The prerequisites for war as herein stated must be justified in writing addressing and complying with each item.

4. If all of the prerequisites are complied with then it will be seen that war is never justifiable.  It is only a failure to comply with them. "War itself is the real villain." Harry Truman. (Watkin 1986:438)

Aggression. A vague, abstract term.  Can mean any act considered to be a violation, such as an insult, flying over another's territory, embargo, a single bullet fired against a battleship, etc.  Often means actual invasion of a country by armed troops.  There should be no war out of aggression. No first strike. Can only attack if attacked first, and satisfy other requirements.


1. We must actively exhaust all of the reasonable alternatives before going to war. This includes prevention. Thus, unless each nation has a Peace Corps (Department of Peace and Prevention) at least as large as their military to prevent and correct the causes of war, they are not justified in declaring or going to war. "Last-resort" argument. It cannot be said that one has no alternative unless the alternatives, including active prevention, have first been tried. If the alternatives to war are never exhaustible, then no war is just. Nations spend trillions for defense, but not one penny for prevention.

2. Cannot kill one or more even to save more than several or even many. It would have to be first clearly shown that all other alternatives were exhausted, and this is unlikely.

3. "If you are against war, what is a better?" is an excuse, not a reason. See these prerequisites.

4. "There is nothing else we could do," is an excuse for not considering, or not being able to consider alternatives. There is not one solution to all problems: war.

5. Ignorance of alternatives is not a reason. Knowingly doing preventable immoral things is self- contradictory. Saying there is no prevention or alternative is unfounded. ["The Gulf War was unjust primarily because it was unnecessary." (McMahan 1993:540)]

6. Not defense which does not defend, but secure in our humanity. Giving up our humanity is not negotiation.

Amount of force used. Use only the minimum amount of force necessary to prevent and correct the harm done.

Anger. One cannot go to war out of anger.

Authority. War requires competent authority, but not an appeal to authority. The Head of a state or Congress/Parliament alone is clearly not a satisfactory or adequate competent authority. Any authority must conform to these prerequisites.  A Lockean or instrumentalist would hold that a corrupt government has no authority to declare war.

Beliefs. War cannot be justified on the basis of defense of religion or cultural beliefs.

Blame. Blame and punishment are not ethical methods. They can never serve as reasons for war.

Boycotts. Boycotts and sanctions can also kill people and should require the same prerequisites as war before employing them.


1. Foreign policy, including war policy, must eliminate and correct the causes of the war and not just its symptoms.

2. There is typically no one cause of war, but a large number, including lack of humanistic education and critical thinking.

3. War cannot be resorted to because of bad communication, arguments or conflicts. These must be resolved in other ways. Similarly in an argument between two people killing is no way to resolve the argument.

Civil war. If killing of other nationalities is justifiable, then killing of our own leaders and citizens may be justifiable as well, as has been the case. Civil war must also conform to these prerequisites.

Collateral damage. This must minimal, but in war it seldom is, e.g. one million mostly civilians were killed in the Gulf War (Over 200,000 killed between Jan. 16-Feb. 27, 1991). Bombs go astray, we bomb the unknown, there are mistakes, and "surgical strikes" are not precise. This alone is an important reason for never going to war. Francis Kelly (In Clark 1992a:48): "70% of the bombs dropped on Iraq missed their intended targets." On Feb. 13, 1991, the US accidently bombed and killed 1,500 civilians in Al-Amariyah bomb shelter in Baghdad. (Ramsey 1992b:xxvi) This alone is one-fourth of those killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Comprehensiveness: The consideration must specify planned comprehensiveness and detail before being engaged in.

Conscience. War should never be "left to one's conscience." "Conscience" is neither a clear term nor an acceptable guide.

Consequences. War can be supported only if the consequences are justifiable. To the extent that all the possible negative consequences are unknown, killing should not be allowed. Churchill's call for "victory at all costs" is never acceptable.

Contradiction. "I fight in their war to save my life," is self-contradictory.  To use force to end force, use killing  to end killing, use war to end war are contradictory.

Cost of war.

1. It must be determined that the money spent on the war is better spent than if it were rather spent on humanitarian uses such as to establish a department of war prevention, aid starving people and those in need of medical care. (One warhead costs over a million dollars.)

2. The war must be affordable without affecting needed health care and health needs of any people in the world, or undermining the economy. The U.S. Military budget in 2001 was over 283 billion, five times more than any other nation (e.g. Russia) spends.  India with the same number of troops spends 15 billion, North Korea with about the same number of troops as the U.S. spends two billion.

Courage. Courage is not a reason to go to war. The World Trade Center terrorists were courageous. Suicidals are courageous. Fools are courageous. One must rather have the intelligent courage to find rational and humanistic alternatives.

Debate. War must be justified by full and open debate.

Decency. "We should preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence." But to go to war or, threaten it is not decent human existence. The memory of those we kill in war blocks any hope of future decency.

Defense. The Defense Department does not defend because it keeps us under a constant nuclear, chemical, biological weapon and military threat. These weapons deny the presumption of security. If such wars do not defend, war cannot be used as a self-defense argument. We are forced to try other alternatives which genuinely defend. One best defense is prevention

Demands made must always be reasonable. As war is self-defense, one cannot ask for unconditional surrender.


1. One cannot justify war, punishment or torture by the claim that it is a deterrent. War creates known deaths. Deterrence and punishment are neither prevention nor correction.  Each side wishes to deter the other.  The U.S. often needs deterrence.  Torture is also deterrence.  War does not seem to deter people from going to war.

2. The goal of deterrence must be to deter militancy and war.

Dogma. The decisions to go to war should not be based on prejudices, dogma, supernatural or religious beliefs. No rational arguments, no appeal to sensitivity, humanity or decency will change the thinking of those who believe in killing and war, nor will war change their thinking.

Duty. It is not acceptable to go to war merely out of "duty" or "obligation to defend one's country or flags."

Emergency. We may never go to war in a "supreme emergency." "Supreme emergency" is a fallacy of abstractionism.

End of War.  (jus post bellum) It must be clearly shown how a war will humanistically, justly and quickly be terminated.

Escalation. Pacifism avoids the possibility that a smaller war will escalate into much killing or world war.

Expert opinion. Debate must include adequate expert opinions including university and academic experts on these prerequisites.

Failure. Wars are failures to deal with problems. We say "The negotiations failed" or "they failed" but not "we failed in our attempts to negotiate." (False cause)

Flags. The display of any nation's (e.g. American) flags (or) is not an argument for war, but rather a sign of parochial nationalism and cause of war. "We fight for our flag." It can be like racial prejudice. A world peace flag or world citizenship flag would be more humanistic.

Freedom. "Freedom" is a vague abstraction.  It can even mean aggression.  One cannot go to war for freedom.  "Either we have to fight or we will lose our freedom." (simplistic, either-or fallacy) A freedom won by blood is slavery. If we fight and kill to solve problems, we lose our freedom to be rational human beings. Nothing can make up for a killing.  We trade other's blood for our oil.  Freedom is freedom from ignorance and argument illiteracy.  We are free when we are critical and humanistic thinkers and put that into practice.  One is only moral if one knows about ethics and is a critical thinker.  Otherwise one a slave to dogma: of enculturation, religion, militarism, and indoctrination.

Freedom of speech. Heard during Gulf and Afghanistan War: "We've got people protesting our own troops and marching for peace. That's wrong."  It is not only right it is a requirement to protest such wars to determine if they are justified.

Future consequences. The holistic and future consequences of a war must be determined and shown to be rationally desirable. Our own militarism caused the present universal terrorism.  The result is that there will never be a future for our children unless we move to be a model for peace and are anti-war.


1. War should not be a mere game as it often is. That the Geneva Convention, Hague Convention  (No. IV, 1907), and United Nations Charter rules for humane treatment are often not followed, shows that war is just a game.

            2. Game without rules. "If complete pacifism is not accepted, no holds need to be barred at all, and we may slaughter and massacre to our heart's content." (Watkin 1986:306) Thus, terrorism and any form of killing is justifiable without constraint. If we can use a flame thrower, etc., in war, we cannot argue against chemical and biological warfare. All is fair in war. It is not just a game. There are no boundaries to war anymore.

Geneva Convention Pact 1949 for protection of prisoners. (See account of Geneva Convention at end.) Prisoners must at all times be treated humanely and protected against acts of violence, insults, rape, indecent assault, and public curiosity. Army, but not at the time ratified by Iraq, the US, Britain or France.  The Geneva Convention treats war as a game, like rules of etiquette at the table.  The Geneva Convention is a complex legal document unlikely to be either understood or followed during war or peacetime. The conventions have been violated regularly by the U.S., Israel, and other nations. It only applies to those who sign it.  It is contradictory as it is hypocrisy to require humane treatment of prisoners, but not during battle  If one can be humane, one would not have war in the first place.

Goal. The goal of war must be to end war. The goal can never be killing.  The goals of the war should be made clear (clear objective) and the means of accomplishing them shown to be clearly achievable.

Good vs. evil. To say a war is one of good versus evil, is not a reason, but a misuse of ethical terms. (Former President Bush and now his son said the war is "between good and evil." (Misuse of value terms, fallacy of abstractionism, oversimplification) War is an irrational conflict to determine not who is right, but who is left.

Hatred. One cannot go to war out of hatred. An individual who is hateful needs therapy. The same is true of a nation.

Honesty and Disclosure. The government must tell the truth to the American public and not withhold relevant information in order that the people may be informed about matters of war. If not, a war is unjustified. The government has consistently censored information, lied and withheld information making each war unjustifiable. General Colin Powell said when asked about casualties in the Gulf War, "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in." General Norman Schwarzkopf had a strict policy not to do body counts of Iraqi dead to hide the slaughter of what is now a million dead by our hands. We buried people alive by bulldozers and killed those who were surrendering, and committed other atrocities. (Clark 1992a:42-64.)

Honor or dignity. No war to defend one's honor, pride or dignity. All killing is dishonorable and undignified.

Humanistic aesthetic. The act of war must able to be determined to be humanistically aesthetic. This principle to used for human behavior generally.  This principle can only be understood by an analysis of ethics, emotion and humanism.  For this see Shibles 1995 Chapter 1, 2, and 10)  On a holistic view, ethics, aesthetics, and humanism interrelate approaching identity. If it is not aesthetic to kill, then one should not do so.  Unless one can understand such arguments one cannot be qualified to recommend war.

Humanitarian concern. War must only be waged out of humanitarian concern.

Humanitarian rules. General written and unwritten humanitarian and humanistic rules should be followed. (e.g. Humanist Manifesto I, II. (Humanism of John Dewey)

Idealistic war. Because war is illogical and violates rational thinking, war is not practical thinking, but rather idealistic and fantasy.

Indoctrination. Citizens should not be indoctrinated to fight, especially for leaders who do not themselves have to fight.  It is never acceptable to indoctrinate children to be militant. If one does so, one cannot claim to have a just war. One cannot go to war because indoctrinated. (Young children, even under age 10, are often trained to fight and do fight in battle.)

Inevitability. It is not an argument to say that there will always be war, so we must accept it. If it is held that there never will be peace, then war is never justifiable to try to obtain peace. It would be impossible to go to war.

Innocent people. Only military, not innocent people or citizens, can be targeted.  Individuals who voted for the militant model or are themselves militant and so accomplices are not innocent and can be targeted. In a militant democracy the majority are not innocent. Pacifists, and non-militant health care workers and only those others against war cannot be targeted. If soldiers are young and indoctrinated, it is not clear if they are innocent. Therefore, in war we could not even kill such soldiers and no war would be basically justified. "It's anything but clear what precisely in meant by 'innocence'." (Wakin 1986:332) With guerilla warfare, war has become a game everyone can play.

            "Civilians are just as necessary causal conditions for the war machine as are combatants, therefore, they claim there is no moral distinction in targeting an armed combatant and a civilian involved in arming or feeding the combatant." (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002. utm.edu/research/iep/j/justwar.htmp. 3)

Insensitivity to killing. Sensitivity to the value of life. It is presupposed that each person's life in the here and now is the most important and precious thing one can possess.  Lives are not to be taken for monetary, material, ideological, religious, or political gain. The U.S. policy is that politics and money are more important than lives. Soldiers' lives are traded for dollars. (dehumanization fallacy) Before going to war it must be shown that the value and preciousness of life must be overridden. War cannot be engaged in without fully having the sensitivity to the full value of human life. (Soldiers and Americans became jubilant and elated, "top guns," after missions of successful killing. Their claim to be against killing is thereby contradicted.) Do not unnecessarily kill any human life.  Even one death is too much. Killing is not a statistical matter.  Each death (murder) is the global annihilation for that person.

International concern. War can only be waged if it is of benefit internationally, not just for the gain of one nation or individual. It must be also of benefit to the alleged enemy.

International debate. Debate must include adequate international opinions including the approval of as many nations as possible on the basis of these prerequisites.

Jingoism. "Extreme nationalism marked, esp. by a belligerent foreign policy." (Webster's) No war to be declared during, or in a climate of, or out of jingoism.

Just War violation. It may be noted that the British use of force in the Falklands violated every criterion of the "Just War arguments, according to a Journal of Peace Research article (1987). The same is virtually true of the Gulf and Afghanistan war.

Just war. Pacifism eliminates the need to see if a war is just or to rationalize it.

Justice. :"Our country right or wrong," is not justifiable.

Killing.  Destruction of a human being. (See pacifism below for arguments against killing.)

Laws. Some give laws in war (jus in Bello), but they are not and need not be followed.  There are no laws in war.  There are Geneva convention rules some nations adhere to and just war arguments, e.g. do not kill the innocent, proportionality, etc.  If a church or medical organization and its members support war they are not innocent and can be considered to be targets.  Medical units do back up the soldiers and so support war.  If we can have rules in war (jus in bellum) we could have rules to avoid war in the first place (jus ad bellum).

Limitation of violence. Use of violence and killing must be shown to be contained, limited and small.  If war is allowed in one case it will be difficult draw the line as to when it is disallowed. "If complete pacifism is not accepted, no holds need be barred at all, and we may slaughter and massacre to our heart's content." (Watkin 1986:306)

Love. War (like other acts) must only be waged out of love and caring. (It may be noted that a loving war is a contradiction in terms.)

Majority rule. War and killing cannot be part of one's normal foreign policy or normally subject to majority rule. If majority rule or democratic methods are used they must conform to these prerequisites.

Methods. Methods used must always be humanistic. "Nonviolent resistance and destructive hatred are mutually exclusive." Die Gruenen Peace Manifesto 1981/1986:p. 4.

Military decisions. The main purposes of the military is to kill or threaten to kill on command. The military are not capable making the decision about going to war.  They may only provide strategic military information. The military is not a humanistic institution. Kant: "Standing armies are themselves the causes of wars of aggression."

Modeling. A nation or individual must serve as a model for peace, not militarism, in order to go to war. Militant nations such as the U.S. and (most nations) are, ironically, not justified in going to war.  They arm the world and only serve as models for war.

Necessity. "The war is necessary," is a failure to consider alternatives. No war is necessary unless it first conforms to these prerequisites.

Negotiations cannot be based upon threats of killing or torture.

Pacifism.  "Pacifism" is regarded here as the opposition to the intention and act of killing, intention and doing of physical or bodily harm.  Peace, here, does not mean quietness, but an end to killing and hurting people in all its forms.  A better term is "humanism."[2]  Pacifism basically means here anti-killing and anti-harm to humans.  The concept therefore extends far beyond just war.  It includes opposition, for example, to policies which oppose safety measures for autos, promote use of tobacco and alcohol, promote punishment over education and therapy, or which promote the production of weapons of destruction over medical research

Active pacifism is to be preferred to war as it stresses prevention and actively getting at the causes of the problems which lead to war. "I conclude that war cannot be justified as an ethical activity. Therefore...pacifism becomes the only ethical position." (Stroble 1966. Ph.D. diss.) (stroble@hawaii.edu) War (See definition of war below.) is never justifiable because: 1. It destroys one's needs and wants and these are the most important things one has. 2. It is contradictory to being a person and alive. 3. It is final and cannot be restored. 4. If we kill others for one reason the door is open to kill for any reason, as is now the practice, and this also means that it would be also be justifiable to kill us for any reason (e.g. terrorist attacks on World Trade Center). 5. By definition, the desire to do psychological or bodily harm, including punishment, is immoral.  By definition, to kill is immoral because it is to destroy the individual's most desired wants (good) and desire for life. 6. War does not get at the cause of one's problems.  It creates the worst problem imaginable: torture and killing.  7. Use of war to eradicate war is self-contradictory.  It supports the institution of war and militancy instead of solving one's problems. 8. War is not self-defense because it destroys our most reasoned and comprehensive wants and likes.  We are world citizens and ideally do not wish anyone to suffer or die.  9. Because others do harm is no justification for us to do harm.  Our effective problem solving would rather involve prevention of harm, getting at the causes of war, education, social work and therapy. 10. People have usually gone to war for superstitious, selfish, irrational, and immoral reasons.  Therefore, war should be disallowed and prevented.  11. To say killing is wrong presupposes a view or ethics and philosophical theory.  Killing is not wrong in itself, it is wrong because of the informed and adequate consequences for humans.  On a naturalistic ethics such that of John Dewey killing is wrong because it does not bring about our informed wants based on inquiry and as full and rational a consideration of adequate human consequences as reasonable possible.  Dewey developed a humanism based on this ethics.  Killing is wrong on this view because "moral" means to regard humans as having the highest value, but war regards humans as having the lowest value by destroying them and harming them bodily and psychologically.  To do harm and what is bad is by definition immoral as defined here.  War opposes humanism.  War is a crime against humanity. (cf. Chomsky 2001:15) 12. War is inconsistent with our other behavior.  a) If we think it important to grieve for someone we know, then we should not kill those we do not know.  It is hypocritical to grieve for the World Trade Center victims or Oklahoma bombing victims and not for the million people we killed in Iraq, and millions of others elsewhere. b) If self-defense is justifiable it means one has an absolute right to his or her own life.  If so, it means one's life is of the highest value and that therefore other's lives should also be of the highest value.  c) Our military tries to have the fewest casualties on our side while inflicting the most casualties on the "enemy."  If life is so valuable to our side it is as valuable to the other side. d) Doctors do all they can to save life and are jailed if they make a mistake or violate an abortion law, etc.  Soldiers and nations should also have the goal to protect and preserve as many human lives as possible, thereby making war no more acceptable than allowing doctors to kill their patients.  e) If killing is not acceptable for an individual in society, it is just as unacceptable in war.  A dual morality or double standard is hypocrisy.  f) After a war the "enemy" often becomes a friend in spite of the deaths caused. They never were an enemy. g) We give people who need it therapy and education, we do not kill them.  Similarly we should do the same instead of war. 13) People typically only do harmful things out of ignorance and indoctrination.  By definition, it is immoral to do what one knows is bad.  They need correction and education and therapy, not death.  14. Society does not teach people to be critical or rational, so we cannot trust them to make rational decisions regarding war.  War must therefore be disallowed. 15. The people who die in war are not the leaders, but the young and insignificant who did not have any say in the war.  See other arguments and requirements before going to war in the rest of this paper.  16. War is sometimes based on majority rule (democracy) but argument from the populace (argumentum ad populum) is a logical fallacy, and democracy can exercise tyranny. (Shibles 1993)  17. If one does not know about ethical theories or have a well-founded philosophical theory, one cannot intelligently make decisions about moral questions such as war.  The average person never has studied either. 18. Those who war do not repair the damage done to countries and individuals engaged in the war. sides.  19. Weapons of mass destruction and biological warfare threaten to destroy all peaceful people and nations or all life so war should not be engaged in.  A small war may escalate into a war of mass destruction. 20. Lack of proportionality.  We killed a million in Iraq, only a few Americans were killed.  Americans killed many more innocent Afghans in collateral damge in the 2001 Afghan war, than were killed in the World Trade Center attack. 21. If morality rests, as it does, on not killing, war is always immoral. 22. The Geneva Convention is contradictory as it is hypocrisy to require humane treatment of prisoners, but not during battle. If one can be humane one would not have war in the first place.

Patriotism. In terms of justification, it may be argued that one is anti-American and unpatriotic if one does support war. Anti-American typically means anti-militant. (See jingoism)

Peace Corps. Each nation should have a peace corps as large as their military to prevent and deal with issues of war.

Peace. "Fight for peace" is a contradiction in terms. "Peace" in "fight for peace," could mean we killed everyone in the country. (Equivocation, vague abstractionism)

Philosophy of War, Killing and Punishment.  The criticism of the concepts, arguments  and methods in these areas.  A thorough knowledge of this subject is necessary in order to make intelligent decisions about war or going to war.

Potential Threat. The potential threat of a nation or individual is not a just basis for war (Domino Theory). We cannot produce a known death of others now because of an uncertain, possible future death of our own.

Prayer. "Prayer for soldiers and for success in battle and for peace" is an argument from superstition fallacy.

Problem-solving. War is neither education nor therapy and cannot be justified on that basis. If using force is an effective way to solve problems, then we should presumably use it instead of therapy, education, and in solving, political and economic problems. (Reduction to absurd) Problem killing is not problem solving.

Promoters. Those politicians, heads of state and citizens who promote war without full consideration of the prerequisites for war are to be tried as war criminals. Voters should conform to the prerequisites before voting and their vote recorded to make them responsible for the consequences for their vote. (In regard to reparations, expenses, harm done, etc.) If one votes for a known tyrant one is equally guilty.

Proportionality. If we cause certain and inestimable deaths by war now for possibly fewer possible deaths later, it violates law of proportionality. If we create a known death elsewhere for a possible death in the U.S., it is a violation of proportionality of harm. 

Public opinion. These prerequisites for war must first be satisfied whether or not the government and/or the people want war. War is not justifiable just because most, e.g. Americans, support the war. The matter must be determined by well-founded argument, not mere wants.


1. Punishment is no more prevention than is cruelty.

2. Punishment is a form of violence. (Circular. Argument from force) It cannot be the basis of a sound ethical system anymore than can torture.

3. Society is passionate about revenge and punishment for those who do individual crimes, but if as a leader of state one causes over a million deaths, as in the Gulf War, s/he is a hero.

4. The purpose of war must not be punishment or torture but solely to correct and change unhumanistic actions.

Reason. "Reason" is not a reason for going to war.  Arguments are needed.  The full reasons for going to war must be made explicit.  Arguments must not violate informal logical fallacies, such as circularity, appeal to the masses, ad hominem argument, appeal to tradition, etc.  This means that the decision makers must know what these fallacies are if they are to be qualified to make decisions.


1. It is not an argument to say that God or Allah is on our side. Often the religious think they will go to heaven and choose to kill or be martyrs for their religion. (President Bush thinks that he is being guided by the hand of God to wage war.) The Catholic Church (Pope) in 2002 stated that one cannot go to war for or by God.

2. No war because a god wills it. No God or supernatural reason is a valid reason for war.

Reparations. Those who go to war are obligated to repair the damage done to the environment and people affected and compensate them for their losses as if it were a civil law request for damages. All land mines placed in a country should be removed after the war has ended. All those specific voters and participants should be held responsible for the actions and results of the war.

Removal of the Government. The people of any nation are justified in the removal of any militant government.

Revenge. One cannot go to war out of revenge.

Right and wrong. It is not acceptable to support one's nation, right or wrong.

Risk. When we go to war we risk an infinite or undetermined number of lives on both sides and the terrorist and other consequences which follow. If we risk a million American lives in the Gulf War we have to assume, however unlikely, that all might die. We were willing to risk them for oil or a "way of life."

Saving lives. War is not fought to save lives. We lose our lives, take the lives of others. and the money spent on the war could instead have saved millions of lives of needy people throughout the world.

Self-cause. We say others caused our war. But we caused it in the sense that we serve as a model of militancy with the greatest military in the world. If we just kill a million people and they then come against us, we cannot say we attack again in self-defense. This is self-provoked retaliation. We have a failed foreign policy which makes war against us unjustifiable.


1. The war must only be in self-defense of one's (or group's) life where no other alternative is rationally possible.  If a nation does not have a large peace corps or has used unjust military force they cannot claim the justification of self-defense. The U.S. does not fight now for self-defense of life, but for our way of life. This is unjustifiable. The Greens party argues that there is no "enemy" because we are world citizens. One could then never have a war out of self-defense. It would be a civil war. (Fratricide [Bruderkrieg] means the killing of one's brother or civil war.) Self-defense should not mean just defense of the military alone. Before one can claim self-defense they must ask what they have done to cause the aggression. If they have caused it they cannot claim self-defense.

2. Self-defense cannot be invoked in response to an attack that is over." (Watkin 1986:327)

3. There is rarely a case when killing in self-defense is necessary. There are alternatives, including prevention, wounding instead of killing, avoidance, escape, negotiation, etc. If such an unavoidable case arises it must be fully justified as it would be in a courtroom. The U.S. practice of going to war "to defend one's way of life" is not self-defense, but blatant aggression.

Self-perpetuation. Wars, whether just or not, promote the acceptability of war. This negative effect must be included in the decision.

Success. Wars are never "successful."

Suffering. No unnecessary suffering on any side.

Terms misused: "war," "win," "succeed," freedom," "peace," "liberty," "necessary," "self-defense, " "innocent," "succeed," "lose," "good," "evil," "just," "defend," etc.

Threat of war. If it is contradictory to use killing to end killing, it is contradictory to threaten to do so as well. This is also true of nuclear threat. If nuclear weapons are not justifiable to use, e.g. because of mass slaughter, then we cannot threaten to use them either. We should not then possess what we will never use.  Threat is a form of psychological harm.

Treaties and international agreements. Treaties and agreements regarding war must all satisfy these prerequisites for war.

Unjust war. "Just war" is a contradiction in terms.

Utilitarian Principle. It is not allowed to take one or a few lives to save more lives or the lives of more important people when prevention and other means are available. Each such case must be justified, if it can be justified, in terms of the other principles presented here.  Basically, the principle is disallowed. Who will be able to intelligently make the judgment and on what criteria? If this is once allowed then it opens the door for killing for  many reasons. (cf. self defense)

War. A vague abstraction.  It is a language game which means whatever anyone wishes it to mean. Different societies and individuals in different contexts have given vastly different meanings to the term so as to make it meaningless.  It is also used metaphorically, e.g. the war of words.  We can say that it means whatever anyone in history thought it meant.  As with any other term, there will be no absolute definition of the war.  The paradigm or definition (meaning or reference) of "war" which I will use here is: a) "War" is a subcategory of the intent, willingness or practice of killing humans.  We also kill by producing unsafe drugs, cars, by establishing unsafe workplace policies, opposing medical research, etc., and by extension we may regard this as war as well  We may be against such killing as well. b) "War" is a subcategory of the intent, willingness or practice of doing psychological or bodily harm to humans.  Threat is a form of psychological harm. War may be conducted by or involve two or more people, groups of people, nations, armies, etc.  It may involve terrorism, guerilla warefare, biological warfare, boycotts, embargos, etc.

War Crimes. On May 11, 1991, Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, charged then President George H. Bush and his lieutenants [including General Colin Powell, and Commander Schwarzkopf) with nineteen counts of war crimes as a result of the Gulf War. (Clark 1992b:1) House Resolution 34 Passed the House Judiciary Committee charging President G. H. Bush with war crimes for getting us into the Gulf War. It was authored or supported by Congressman Henry B Gonzales. On March 2, 1991, the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division killed thousands of Iraqi soldiers in post-cease-fire battle. (Clark 1992b:xxvi) The US encouraged the Iraq war with Iran causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Kissinger said, "I hope they kill each other."


1. Humanistic weapons used should be created to stop the aggression rather than to kill, e.g. rubber bullets, paint balls, laser-tag, gasses to put people to sleep rather than kill, etc. Do not kill, only restrain.

            2. Weapons of Mass Destruction. The threat or use of nuclear weapons explodes most of the justifications for war. The institution of war leads to the eventual use of weapons of mass destruction as is the case in the US in 2001 anthrax and smallpox experience and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Being under the threat of such weapons does not defend and so a war based on them is not self-defense, but is suicide. The US policy is now to use any weapons at all (poison, etc) against our aggressors. This encourages any future aggressors to use any weapons, including biological, chemical and nuclear, as well. At the present time no one can even safely open a letter without fear of death from anthrax. One cannot safely do anything.

Win. If war hurts both sides no one can "win" a war. "Win" is an equivocation and fallacy of abstractionism. Victory means no one was killed. Wars cannot be won, only lost. The best problem-solving is where both win. This is also true of the use of majority rule.

Win. "We will win the war because it has not been shown that we will not." (Argument from ignorance)

World citizenship. The judgment to go to war should be determined as a world citizen, not from a nationalistic concern.

      2. Bibliography on War

Bluth, Christoph. "The British Resort to Force in the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict 1982:International Law and Just War Theory." Journal of Peace Research 24, 3 (1987) 5-20.

Chomsky, Noam. 9-11. NY: Seven Stories Press 2001.

Clark, Ramsey, et al., eds. War Crimes: A Report on United States War Crimes against Iraq. Washington, DC: Maisonneuve Press 1992a.

Clark, Ramsey. The Fire This Time: US War Crimes in the Gulf. NY: Thunder's Mouth Press 1992b.

Gonzales, Henry B. Congressman. House Resolution 34 Passed the House Judiciary Committee charging President Bush with war crimes for getting us in the Gulf War. (cf. Violations of rules of international law, just war arguments, UN Resolution, constitution, humanistic rules, UN Security Council Resolution, etc.)

Die Grünen Peace Manifesto 1981/1986.

George, Alex. Western State Terrorism. Polity-Blackwell 1991.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002. utm.edu/research/iep/j/justwar.htm.

McMahan, and Robert McKim (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign) "The Just War and The Gulf War." Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23, 4 (1993) 501-541.

Shibles, Warren. Emotion in Aesthetics. Dordrecht Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1995.

Shibles, Warren. "The Majority Rule Fallacy." Indian Philosophical Quarterly 20, 4 (1993) 329-347.

Stroble, James. "The Ethics and the Uses of War: An Essay in Philosophical Pacifism." Ph.D. dissertation. University of Hawaii at Manona 1966.

Watkin, Malham, ed. War Morality and the Military Professions. Boulder, CO: Westview Press 1986.

      3. Comments on the Gulf War

"The Gulf War was unjust primarily because it was unnecessary." (McMahan 1993: 540)

The U.S. killed over one million men, women and children (1/2 million were children) in the Gulf War, the same number of U.S. soldiers were killed in World War II.  American casualties were 766.

"An unnecessary war that is deliberately pursued in preference  to nonviolent means in part in order to serve aims that unjustly advance the national interest is not a mere mistake; it is a crime." (McMahan & McKim 1993: 541)

"The recent U.S. military strikes [Sept. 1996] against Iraq do not meet the criteria of just war theory." Mark DeForrest " Just War Theory and the Recent Air Strikes Against Iraq." 1997 PhD. candidate, Gonzaga University School of Law. (also on internet: gonzaga.edu/borders/documents/deforres.htm)

4. Comments on the Falklands War

"The British conduct of the Falklands Conflict, it can be argued fails to satisfy each of the criteria of Just War Theory." (Bluth 1987: 17)

5. General Comments

"The U.N. Charter effectively outlaws the use of military force as a method of resolving international conflicts between nation-states." DeForrest (1997 op.cit.)

Von Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of politics by other means."

Herbert Spencer: "'Our country right or wrong' is detestable."

"In much of the world the U.S. is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason." Chomsky (2001:23, also 40, 43, 67ff.)

"The U.S. is the only country that was condemned for international terrorism by the World Court and that rejected a Security Counsel resolution calling on states to observe international law." Chomsky (2001:44)

"There is no precise definition of war." Chomsky (2001:78)

U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia gives torture and terror training.

6. Geneva Convention

The Fourth Geneva Convention on Rules of War was adopted in 1949 by the international community in response to Nazi atrocities during World War II. The international treaty governs the treatment of civilians during wartime, including hostages, diplomats, spies, bystanders and civilians in territory under military occupation. The convention outlaws torture, collective punishment and the resettlement by an occupying power of its own civilians on territory under its military control.

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War:  Entered into force 21 October 1950. Article 2. Applies to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict [or occupation] which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties. [Problem with the definition of war here.] Forbidden are: (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) Taking of hostages; (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the Red Cross, may offer its services. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised, in particular to obtain information from them. They shall, receive medical attention and hospital treatment, and be allowed to practise their religion. The use of tobacco shall be permitted. The clothing supplied shall not be ignominious nor expose them to ridicule.

Addition to the Geneva Conventions, 1977. Only attack military objectives. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited are prohibited. Article 53 it is prohibited: to commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship. Article 54: Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage.

 [Topic: War, Anti-War, guerra, guerre, háború, harb, harb, Krieg, krig, milchamah, milchome, oorlog, perang, po'lemos, rat, razboi, sensoo, sota, válka, vita, voiná, wojna. Pacifism: pacifisme, pacifismo, pasifisme, Pazifismus]


7. War Humor by Type of Humor



THE FIRST RULE OF WAR ETHICS: Off with their heads.


The Queen had only one way of setttling difficul.ties, great or small. "Off with his head," she said without even looking around. (Carroll Alice in Wonderland 1960:81)


                        [It is difficult to parody war because its absurdities are so widely accepted.]

Accident Humor

If I would summarize all of military history in one word, I would say, "Oops!"

Aesthetic Humor

            In war we need style. There should be parades and trumpets and drums. Boom. Boom. Boom.

            By the way, there must be war dances too.

            We must have a beautifully orchestrated war.

            Is war tragic or comic?

Allegorical Humor

Concerning nuclear waste: "I certainly don't know what to do about it. But if my barn was filling up with cow manure faster than I could shovel it out, I'd learn to live without the cow." (Robert Skogland WHIMSY 5, 1987:172.)

Ambiguity and Puns

"I'd walk 10,000 miles to smoke a Camel." (Gulf War humor)

"Just war" seems to mean, "Let's just have war."

War is a grave issue.

Bulldozer: One who sleeps through the war propaganda.

Military: We believe in tanks, not think tanks.

Headline: "U.S. push bottles up Taliban."

Kant: There used to be an inn in Holland with the sign of "Perpetual Peace" and on the signboard was depicted a graveyard.

            Military strategy: Take a bush shot. (Cf. President G. W. Bush)

President G. W. Bush: "Everyday I go into work to do battle for the country."

President G. W. Bush wants to conquer space. Many believe he has already conquered it.

            President George W. Bush (2001) "It is O.K. to fly now and do your business around the country."

Religious warriors who prey.

Soldiers love peace to death.

The Arabs have us over a barrel.

The present political situation is an atmosphere of fear

The Taliban bans information.

War: Comedy of Terrors.

Behavioral Humor

            Enemy shoots a rubber suction arrow landing on soldier's helmet.


            "Daddy, what did you do today?" Bomber father: "Uh,..."

            "What do you think of war?" "Oh I've never been into video games."

 (Picture of bombing) Caption: Nothing personal, you understand.

            [Airport signs at check-in:] First Class, Coach, Terrorists.

            Picture of red cross in cross hair of rifle.

            General at cemetery: "It's what we do best."

            Cemetery of unknown soldier with flowers on one grave.

Children with balloons reading, "Desert Storm."

Children with balloons reading, "Wanted dead or alive."

            Cemetery Stone Inscriptions:

            Gravestone inscriptions:

I fought for my life.

                        I killed 23,000 in a bombing raid.

                        I killed an untold number of people. Long live the country.

                        I thought it was a computer game.

                        I went to war to fight for war.

            Oh, look mommy there is some nice powdered sugar in the envelope.

            Oil barrel filled with soldiers heads.

            Picture of a crowd. Caption: Targets.

            Picture of bombing. Caption: "They just don't seem to share our values about life."

            Picture of broken window of peace.

Picture of President G. W. Bush saying, "Wanted dead or alive."

            Picture of round peace sign with eyes. A tear drops from one eye.

            Poster: "Wanted dead or alive!" Shows pictures of women and children.

            President:"Surrender!" Taliban: "Its in the mail."

            Rebuilt World Trade Center made safe by putting a convenient Airport and mosque on top.

            Red Cross signs on make good targets.

            Show people, animals and cats being blown up. Caption: Saturday morning cartoons.

            Sign: Support all soldiers everywhere.

            Top Gun and Ace

Circularity Humor

            Death is freedom from life.

            Either we will win, or they will lose

            Peace is the enemy of war.

            The "enemy" is the cause of the ills of the world

            The best defense against reason is ignorance.

Connotation Humor

            Israel: Outpost of democracy.

            New cereal called, "Guns and Ammo."

            With war we can't be squishy.

Contradiction Humor

            A. Type I: Analytic

                        "Support our blunders."

             President G. W. Bush: "Our crusade against the Taliban is not a religious one. God is on our side."

            President G. W. Bush: "Our crusade against the Taliban is not a religious one. This is a war of good versus evil."

                        President G. W. Bush: Give war a chance.

            Self-defense?  "Every nation in Europe goes to bed with a gun under its head." (Will Rogers)

            President G. W. Bush: The way to keep church, state and military separate is to unite them.

                        Censored information

                        Defensive aggression

                        Friendly war

                        I don't belong to any political party, I'm a pacifist Green.

                        I obey freely.

                        I will die to protect my life.

                        Idea of the century: MAD = Mutual assured destruction.

                        If all people are part of one another, when you kill, you kill yourself.

                        If we kill, we kill something in ourselves.

                        No one can win a war.

                        Self-provoked retaliation.

                        The best solution is prevention.

                        War is a defense which does  not defend.

War is a game without rules. War should not be a mere game as it often is. The Geneva Convention rules for treating prisoners is just a game. Why can we blow up a person, but when captured protect them?

                        War is OK if it protects human dignity, but war is never dignified.

                        War is pleasurable torture.

                        War is the only way we can have peaceful coexistence.

                        War out of love.

                        We are deathly afraid of what we are doing to ourselves.

                        We are torturing and killing to preserve the dignity of life.

                        We must terrorize to preserve civilization.

                        We torture in the name of peace.

                        We will win the slaughter.

                        Well, don't worry, it was just a crime against of humanity.

            B. Type II:  Incongruity and Inconsistency

                        "I do not say: a gentle stone, a gentle bridge,...a gentle war." (Van Kaam 1976:257)

                        War is stone age people fighting stone age people to save "civilization."

If we cannot run our democratic government without bombing and bloodshed, why send it abroad?

"Sorry," written on a bomb.  Don't we know that they can't read, especially at that speed.  Then they would have to know about irony as well. Maybe if it lands as a dud they will have a good laugh.

                        Aesthetic to kill.

                        We must target the causes of war.

                        The war on terrorism is now being led by the leading terrorist nation. (cf. Chomsky 2001)

Republicans in 2002 have been against deficit spending and were for reducing the deficit-except if it is to help the rich or for the military.  Bombs not bread.

                        This is a lousy, stinking war, but I love it.

On the battlefield you can be serrved as  dog food, but if captured they can't serve you dog food.

Bills in Congress link aggressive military policies to proposals which were originally just for humanitarian aid to the starving, e.g. in Ethiopia.

                        Brilliant strategy I: We trained the terrorists who then attacked us.

Brilliant strategy II: We supplied the country with the arms they are now using against us.

Department of Showdown: Suppose you and your enemy have loaded your guns and have them pointed at one another and then you say, "We are at peace."

                        Enemy today, friend tomorrow.

                        Etiquette of war.

                        Fight to end fighting.

                        If the marine is so fearless and courageous, how come he fears to disobey his orders.

                        Kinder, gentler bombing.

Love your neighbor, but war is OK.

Moral militants ("No human is ever justified in murdering or torturing another." Nagel 297)

                        Secret war (cf. private football game)

Soldier: dead person walking.

                        Soldiers defend their deaths.

                        Teddy bear in cockpit of fighter jet.

                        The good news is: united we stand, the bad news is: united we fall.

                        The government you fight for and trust lies to you.

                        This year, America will be looking for Easter eggs in the Afghan deserts.

                        Those who are pro war are also usually anti-abortion.

                        Use conflict to end conflict.

                        Use torture to end torture.

                        Vietnam vets anti war.

                        War = You shoot yourself in the foot.

                        War saves lives = killing saves lives. Is that like spending saves money?

            C. Type III: Synthetic Contradiction or Contradiction of Experience

                        Killing and torture are forms of education.

                        War encourages war.

                        If war is good, then living is bad.

Defense Mechanism Humor: Psychiatric Logic.

            Types of Defense Mechanism Humor

                        Department of Defense = Department of Defense Mechanisms.

            l. Acting-Out Humor

                        War is a defense against one's own failure.

2. Depersonalization

            War casualties are just statistics.

            OK there a million we killed, but don't you understand, my cat just died.

3. Rationalization

            Pacifism eliminates the nee to see if it is just or to rationalize it.

            torture as tough love

            dicaeologia: means: to confess an act, but excuse it by necessity, e.g. "We had to kill a million people in Iraq because of the situation there."

            Yes, Jane, I love it here.  I have a nice view of snow-capped mountains, my own bunker and machine gun.

            "We had no choice."

            Defense Department = Department of Rationalization

            "I just followed orders."

4. Symbolization

Can't get rid of guilt by flying flags or tying Gulf War yellow ribbons on everything.

Deviation Humor

A. Deviation from Desires

"The desire to kill people to whom I had not been introduced had passed away." (Mark Twain in Schafritz 1990)

            B. Deviation from Language

                        War: Words become swords.

1. Style

            Alliteration: War: Battle of the Bibles.

            Alliteration: Determine the dollar per death.

            Alliteration: Calculate the cost per kill.

            Bombing bakes no bread.

                        2. Deviation from Pronunciation



                                    Army = arm me.

Baghdad = bag dad, bad dad, bang dad, ban dad, bag the dead.

                                    Fuq Iraq (bumper sticker. O'Rourke 1992:165)


                                    It is OK to use deadly farce.


An unexamined war is not worth fighting for.

Can you not see that they are not our enemy?

Let the poor fight the war.

Marching song: I don't know, but I've been told, soldiers don't get very old. One two cadence march. I don't know, but I've been told, body bags are very cold. I don't know, but I've been told, soldiers' lives have just been sold. One, two, three, four, one, two, three-four.

Militarism: Tell a rational person something and he/she becomes more wise, tell a militarist something and he/she sighs.

National Association of Women wants women to have the right to fight.

Nothing is new since World War II.

Soldiers have the courage to die, but not the courage to find out why.

Thrill of the kill.

War is just, war is fine, I'll have a war just any ol' time.

War, not peace, in the Middle East.

            C. Deviation from the Practical

                        We speak of a "show of force," but not a "show of reason."

D. Deviation from the Usual

1. Deviation from Truth (Lies)

            Of course, the government must lie to the people, but it is for their own good, trust me.

                        2. Defeated Expectation and Surprise Humor

War is a conflict to determine not who is right, but who is left.

                                    Soldiers are our best citizens---but not for long.

                                    a. Unexpected Honesty

                                                Dear Dad, How many did you kill today?

                                                Defense Department = Department of Mass Murder

                                                In matters of war, morality has no place.(Watkin 1986:317)

                                                Militant democracy

                                                Military padding $.

                                                War = legal murder

            3. Deviation from Usual Role

Cicciolina, Italian Parliament member, who had a hunger strike against the war, offered to be Saddam's love-slave if he would release the hostages.

False Reason

            The separation of the head from the body will solve most medical and political problems.

"What are you fighting for soldier?" "My girl back home." "Your name wouldn't be John, would it?

Hopelessness Humor

Hope: Look at the bright side: you can bomb some of the people some of the time, but you can't bomb all of the people all of the time. Some days the weather will be too bad.

War is the triumph of hope over experience.

Hypocrisy Exposed Humor

The U.S. has more weapons of mass destruction and the largest military of any nation in the world and yet condemns any other unfriendly nation that develops the same weapons.

"Camouflage" itself is simply hypocrisy erected into a military system." (Oliver 1960) MIT University has just been granted millions by the U.S.Government to improve the camouflage.

"War is above all a carnival of hypocrisy." (Oliver 1960)

9754 medals were awarded for our brief action in Granada a few years ago.

Early Americans (and late). "They would shoot a couple of Indians on their way to every prayer meeting." (Will Rogers)

"That's what makes us a great country.  The little things are serious and the big ones are not." (Will Rogers)

A soldiers give their lives for their country they are heroes; if they are suicide bombers, they are cowards.

They had to be careful with which atrocities to accuse people of in the war crimes trials to avoid having the U. S. presidents also tried for the same atrocities.

Religion is a legitimate form of insanity, war is another.

U.S. What is the cause of 9-11?  "Look into the mirror." Chomsky (2001:54)

We are shocked in a mother kills her child, but proud when we cause the death of half million children in Iraq.

Afghanistan War is called, "Operation Enduring Justice." Translation: Infinite revenge.

After the Gulf War bombing, Marines sponsored "toys for tots" at Christmas.

After the Trade Center disaster investors sought military and other such stocks to invest in.

At time of war and national crisis, President G.W. Bush proposes a tax break for the rich.

Dear God, please help the bombs t fall on the right targets and not too much to the right like last time taking out the candy store.

President G. W. Bush: Have a strong military to back up prayer.

Defense Department sees itself as being so humanistic that they are thinking of changing their name to the Red Cross. They think of their tanks as ambulances for the dead.

Enemy: Some of our relatives.

How many body bags do we need to preserve the peace this time?

I support the use of war....as long as I am not in it.

President President G. W. Bush, Billy Graham and the Pope said that God is on our side.

The militant by pretending to be for peace gives support to pacifism.

The military says it will not tolerate any violence.

            The military thinks they are doctors, surgeons and nurses saving lives. They cure life.

They are the terrorists and we are terrific.

U.S. Military about terrorism: "We will have won when we live in security again." What do you mean "again"?

War profiteers. "Damn, I knew I should have dumped those airline stocks."

We supported an agreement for all nations to eliminate the use of nerve gas.  Now we will have to get rid of ours.

Where politics begins, reason stops.


"Daddy, you always go to war, but you don't bring me anything back as spoils."

After a certain point, there will be no new ideas about war. For some, this stage is reached almost immediately.

            Blind obedience

President President G. W. Bush has proposed a constitutional amandment to eliminate inquiry and critical thinking in the schools. (Pro faith-based education)

Boomerang bombs. (US armed and trained its recent attackers.)

He joined the Army because they were giving out free body bags.

It takes brains to avoid war. Therefore war is inevitable.

Members of the US Army War College in their debate with University of Wisconsin students did not know what the pacifist Greens Party platform is and thought pacifism means: "You just stand there and let them hit you."

The Intelligence Department declares war on intelligence.

Impossible Humor

            A genuine fool would be able to do the impossible.

            Only a fool could win a war.

"There never will be peace." "Then war will never work and pacifists will never be pacified."

Insight Humor Rational or Philosophical Humor

            Riddle: Why does the US like to cause itself to be attacked?

Irony Humor

            A. Standard Irony

"With love," written on a bomb.

Of course, we are safe. Just do not fly, travel, walk, eat anything, drink public water, or open your mail.

            The Defense Department does not defend.

The US harbors terrorists: G.H. Bush, G.W. Bush, and the military.

The US was disappointed when it wanted to bomb Afghanistan, but could not at first find a target.  But it turned out OK. They finally found the red cross signs.

            B. Cosmic Irony

General Omar Bradley: "We know more about war than we do about peace---more about killing than we know about living."

            Retaliation against U.S (World Trade Center and Pentagon attack): The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

            C. Dramatic Irony

                        Live by the sword, die by the sword.

                        Every bullet you fire has you as its target.

                        Do not ask for whom the bombs burst, they burst for you.

Juxtaposition Humor

            Kuwaitnam (magazine Die Zeit) (Reduction to absurdity)

            We kill flies. We kill the enemy.

Logical Fallacy Humor

            1. Ad Hominem Fallacy

                        Head of Kuwait has 80 wives. Any one with that many wives needs defense!

            2. Dogma

                        God's war vs. Allah's war.

3. Either-Or Fallacy

Either we have nuclear weapons or lose, uh, something or other.

            4. False Cause Fallacy

"The fact that nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945 means that deterrence has worked." (M. Watkin 1986:475) (But we are running low on missiles.)  And the fact that it has not rained for a week means our rain dance has worked.

                        Defense Department does not defend.

                        Deterrence does not deter.

Marianne Moore: We won't have conquered war until we have conquered that within ourselves which causes war. "In Distrust of Merits"

The cause of the war is clear. It's revenge, or it's national interests, or oil, or our way of life, or... Well, maybe it's self-defense of something, or defense of someone's freedom somewhere, or whatever. Hell, I don't know.

The Christians are praying and the Moslems are praying to win the war. We will see whose prayers work better.

                        We have now won the war and eliminated all of its----symptoms.

                        Why did you kill everyone in the town? Because they wuz there.

5. Argument from Ignorance

            You can't show the war will not succeed, so we will win.

6. Fallacy of Irrelevance

Military Briefing: "It's not your question, but I have a good answer for it."

            7. Fallacy of Majority

                        Most people are for the war, therefore the war is good.

8. Miss the Point Fallacy

            What's wrong with war? Eventually people will die anyway.

            9. You-Also Fallacy

                        Engaging in war justifies others to war in return, which puts the innocent at risk.

                        If others violate the rules or war, we can too.

            10. False Assumption.

Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization. He replied that he thought it would be a good idea. Chomsky (2001:92)

Sure, people are killed in war, but many are also killed in automobile accidents each year.

Take Metaphors Literally Humor

            "There was nothing else we could do."  We drank the whole keg."

Metaphor Humor

1 soldier = $1. You may use coupons. Buy something nice with it for your mother. Credit cards accepted.

            1 soldier = 5 barrels of oil

1st Lt. Elizabeth Rodriquez [in and re Gulf War] "It's like a big slumber party."(USA Today 1/25/1991:5A)

            Americans will persevere, we are not biodegradable.

            Blood is oil

            Bomb the day

            Broken window of peace.

            Exchange death for freedom, death for money, death for oil, death for ourselves.

Gods of war

            Guns as pacifiers.

Killing as currency.

            Military camouflage allows us to see right through soldiers.

My arguments for peace may have bullet holes in them, but I have at least shot down the arguments for war.

            Nuclear weapons explode the excuses for war.

            Peace: an anti-war missile.

Recipe: 1 cup of white soldiers, 1 cup of dark soldiers, 2 pinches of revenge, 5 quart s of blood, 1 heaped tablespoon of militarism, 1 strong religion, water. Mix up all ingredients except soldiers, water down the truth, sprinkle with ignorance, let blood and revenge brew into self-righteousness, fold in the soldiers and beat all together until done. Makes one large-scale war.

            Soldier as a weapon.

            Soldiers as suicide bombers

Soldiers: comedians with powerful punch lines.

Think with guns.

            Top gun

            Travel agency sign: Winter hunting season opens in Afghanistan.

Use soldiers for money, and spend them. Token soldiers. Buy a pizza with them.

            War as policy $

            War is a game of dice.

            War: to negotiate people.

            We bomb in the dark of day.

            We play soldier.

            World citizens: All blood is red.

Name-Calling Humor

            Written on missiles: Peace, Boom, Pop, Happy Birthday, Merry Xmas.



            "Hey, Charlie, your mother wears combat boots."

            Infantry: Derives from infante, boy, infant; from Latin: child. It is a division of these.

Coward, killer, slaughterer, baby-killer, do nothing, egghead, ape, boot licker, shrapnel brain.

Perceptual Humor



Internet picture of President G. W. Bush shown with an Afghan beard and turban.

Join the military. Explode yourself.

The German international action party, Die Grünen, who have the most humanistic platform of any other party, strictly oppose all killing even to end killing, oppose all violence even to end violence.  They make extensive and creative use of humor to communicate their message.  They show in poster format an eye chart using the word Frieden ("peace") suggesting that the military-minded average person is blind to the concept. (See section on Perceptual Humor.)

Paint the White House with military camouflage.

Shoot at the whites of there eyes.

Show bombing Christian bibles.








women wish to

fight and bomb and

obey orders blindly

in war just like

men do


just harm vs. just help

just cruelty vs. just kindness

just anger vs. just composure

just bitterness vs. just balance

just belligerence vs. just kindness

just aggression vs. just self-defense

just destruction vs. just creativeness

just dogma vs. just enlightenment

just dysfunction vs. just therapy

just abuse vs. just consideration

just butchery vs. just treatment

just error vs. just carefulness

just enmity vs. just love

just hatred vs. just care

just hostility vs. just defense

just ignorance vs. just argument

just irrationality vs. just rationality

just massacre vs. just concern for life

just murder vs. just valuation of life

just punishment vs. just education

just slaughter vs. just humaneness

just persecution vs. just tolerance

just mistakes vs. just prevention

just vengeance vs. just treatment

just prejudice vs. just argument

just killing vs. just reformation

just revenge vs. just correction

just terrorism vs. just behavior

just torture vs. just treatment

just rape vs. just prevention

just stupidity vs. just reason

just war vs. just negotiation

just war vs. just peace

just war vs. just lust

just war vs. just problem-solving

just war vs. vs. just prevention

Reduction to Absurdity Humor

            "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." (Song)

Advice from Post Office because of anthrax threat: When you open letters whistle for confidence.

            Bush! A war cry. (President G. W. Bush)

            If we go to war to get peace, why not have a really big war to really have peace?

            President President G. W. Bush is balancing the war budget-in outer space.

            Department of Defense and Cemetery Management

            During anthrax scare: "Well, I guess that puts an end to stamp-licking."

            Enemy of the Month.

            Enlightened Military: Equal opportunity killer.

            Equality: Only women should now fight in wars until as many of them have died as have men.

            Even their prayers are fighting.

            For news I watch ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, and XYZ.

            He joined up for the Afghan War to get out of writing a term paper.

            How to protect yourself from terrorists: Take an umbrella.

            If the goal of war is death, nearly every war is a smashing success.

            I'll give my life for my country. In fact, I'll do it for a beer.

In Lysistrada by Aristophanes, the women refused to have sex until the men brought peace.

Military recruitment slogan:" Join the Army. Be all that you can be." Right, dead.

Now, just which specific freedom is it that you are fighting for?

            Our bombing is so surgical we now use it to remove warts.

People who work in tall buildings after the World Trade Center buildings fell, are now bringing parachutes to work and have gas masks in their purses.

            Soldier: one who obeys blindly.

            Supreme Emergency = our lipstick routes were in danger.

            Surgical strike: A new way to remove cancer.

            Surgical strike: Pinpoint strike. We can bomb the head of a pin...and the town at the same time.

The good news is you are safer in the skies; the bad news is you can't walk safely down the streets.

The only thing the military has made the world safe for is the military.

            War does solve some problems, for example, the problem of overpopulation.

War must be proportional: we kill 1 million, the enemy kills 200.

            War: When words no longer mean anything.

Reversal or Inversion Humor

            "If your enemy is hungry, give him food, if thirsty, give him drink." Proverbs 25:21.

Bravery: The American will fight to the last child.

Coward. The word is to apply to those who kill. Those who are pacifists are to be referred to as being brave.

We have already found bin Laden: He is us.

The best way to get militants is to tell them there are intelligible arguments against war.

"[President G. W. ] Bush wanted dead or alive." Salzburger Nachrichten Fall 2001.

Do you think the terrorists will really deter the Pentagon?

The answer to the G. W. Bush statement of there being an evil axis is, "The U.S. is evil too."

            Duty not to fight. (If we have a duty it is to be loving and humanistic and not to go to war.)

            George Hussein, Saddam Bush

            Deterrence may be a good thing.  The U.S. military should be deterred more.

Hero. The word "hero" is to be reserved for those who prevent killing, not for those who kill. It is easy to kill, but takes great intelligence and courage to prevent it. (cf. Peace Prizes to such people.)

            If you fear being a pacifist, join a pacifistic organization.

In war the language becomes reversed: the guilty are innocent, aggression is self-defense, violence is education, revenge is justice, violence is prevention, killing is protecting lives, collaboration is support, showdown is defense, the unjust is just.

            Militants are idealists, not realists.

            One advantage of war is that militant people eliminate militant people

            Our citizens are soldiers in disguise. (President G. W. Bush view)

            Our war is a war of evil versus evil.

            Pacifism is active and aggressive problem-solving. War as problem-solving is to do nothing.

            Religion is the problem, not the solution.

            Soldier of Peace.

            Tell militants to be even more warlike and to torture.

            The best defense is not to have to defend.

The children of America have been asked by the president to each send $1 to help the children of Afghanistan. They should also be asked to give $1 each for missiles as each costs lots of money (over 1 million dollars).

            The goal of deterrence must be to deter war.

            The innocent who vote pro-war are guilty.

The only heroes are war protesters.

            There are no enemies.

They used to disguise ammo dumps as Red Cross buildings, now they are disguising Red Cross buildings as ammo dumps.

Through cowardice one can gain everything

            War is heaven.

            War is raw. (palindrome)

            War is unpatriotic.

            War last resort requirement became the first resort.

War on war, bomb the bomber.

            We bombed them with food.

            We can win a peace, but can only lose a war.

            We go to war out of fear, not bravery.

            Weapons are the enemy (of life).

Riddle: The Humor of Questions

"What's the difference between militarism and murder?" "I don't know and I don't care."

Who would make a good vice president for President Bush? A bomber pilot. (or Powell)

Difference between murder? None except that war is that war is on a larger scale (slaughter).

History Quiz: Which country has the US not used military force against?

Militant: Those who believe in revenge, punishment, killing as a foreign policy, nationalism, enemies, superstition, yet think they are wonderful?

What involved a over a million deaths and made Americans proud?

            Why cannot anyone conquer our country? Because fools never die.


            Being a political humorist is easy.  Just quote the Congressional Record and the evening news.

            Department of Defense = Department of Aggression

            Department of Defense instructions in case of nuclear attack: Wrap yourself in your flag and head for the nearest cemetery.

Need a seven day waiting period before one can enlist.

                        How many military people does it take to screw in a light bulb?

            Depends on whether the switch is on or off.

            Enough to balance the plus and minus charges.

            Gulf War Pilot: "A day without bombing is like a day without the sun."

            Mission Impossible.

Mission Light Bulb: Surround the house, capture the owner, remove old bulb on command, dig 4x4 hole for old bulb, replace with torch.

            None to have reasons for it, one to follow the order.

            None. After the nuclear explosion they just glow in the dark.

One column.  One to put his finger in the socket, the others to touch the soldier in front of him/her.

One squad to camouflage themselves as burned out light bulbs and slip in and change it in the dark.

            One up to an entire army. They just "shoot it out" to the end.

One.  He/She will do anything ordered, anytime, anywhere.

Sailor: Reminds me of the night I spent with a nurse in a lighthouse.

Sergeant: One, but do you really want to be hung upside down and have a bulb forced down your throat just for asking?

            Sergeant: What's a light bulb?

            Snap to it soldier!

            They don't change them, they just explode them.

Self-Deprecation (Self-Attack Humor)

            The only life one should be allowed to take is one's own.

            We have located the enemy--it's us.

            Gravestone: "They didn't miss and I won't be either.


            We have located the enemy.  It's us.

The U.S. caused itself to be bombed because of its own military policy.  We bombed ourselves. (cf. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.  What goes around will come around.)

Simile and Analogy Humor

            A criminal is condemned for being willing to kill, in the military it's one's job.

            A fertile idea: We should spread democracy around the world.

            Almost as tragic as killing is that people cannot follow the arguments against wars and killing.

            Americans would be outraged only if we do to cats and dogs what we do to people in battle.

            Belief in militarism is like belief in religion.

            Better black humor than black war.

            Criminals kill sometimes, but seldom en masse.

            Don't trust America's foreign policy. I'd  rather trust a rabbit to deliver a head of lettuce.

            Hawk vs. dove vs. pet cat.

            He likes battle better than down hill skiing.

            If my cat dies it is a tragedy. If we kill a million in war, it is a statistic.

            It would make more sense to drop teddy bears than bombs.

            Our bombing is so precise that it knocks on the door before it comes in.

            People as targets.

            Prisoners as leftovers.

Shouldn't we rather bomb our prisoners, as well as foreign enemies?

            Soldiers as cannon fodder

            Soldiers as pawns.

            Surgical strike. The only surgery is that which goes on in the hospital afterwards.

            Think of their brown eyes as targets

            To bomb in war is like bombing psychiatric patients.

            War as circus

            War as the sport of hunting.

            War encourages war like ridicule encourages ridicule.

            War is never just.

            War: burning the house down to protect it from the fire.

            We have become the clowns of the world


Helmet Upside Down


using hatred to end hatred is like using viciousness to end viciousness

using propaganda to end propaganda, is like using lying to end lying

using force to end force is like using oppression to end oppression

using violence to end violence is like using torture to end torture

using revenge to end revenge is like using blame to end blame

using war to end war is like using ignorance to end ignorance

using killing to end killing is like using murder to end murder

using war to end war is like using ignorance to end ignorance

using war to end war is like using slaughter to end slaughter

using anger to end anger is like using abuse to end abuse

using war to end war is like using rape to end rape

use understanding to end war

use education to end war

use therapy to end war

use reason to end war

use humor to end war

use love to end war

Sinking Humor

            "Are you digging that 4x4 hole for yourself, soldier, or are you trying to strike oil?"

            Bomber: "It's just a job."

            Bombing is like spitting in the wind.

"Imperial Caesar, dead and turned to clay, might stop a hole to keep the wind away." Hamlet 5, 1, 205.

Book title: They were Expendable [Soldiers]

During the Gulf War pizza orders increased.

            Soldiers can be replaced, not oil.

            War is our way to teach people geography.

We had to go to battle to protect our vital interests. That was the only place we could get Evening Joy lipstick.

Stereotype Humor (Repetition or Habitual Behavior. Fixed and Rigid Ideas or Behavior)

British have tea in the battlefield after a battle.

            Camouflage lipstick.

Capt. Rayda Nadal: "Over here [Gulf War] I wear more makeup than at home--just to feel more feminine." (USA Today 1/25/1991:5A)

            Fashion foxhole slacks.

            I will obey any legal order no matter how humorous.

In Army-Navy store: "I wonder if you would by any chance have a pair of camouflage brown and green high heels?"

Let me walk you through this. We initially killed 250,000 people in the Gulf War, and then about 750,000 died of wounds, disease and lack of nutrition.

            Military view of Ecology: Target rich environment.

            She gently placed her delicate finger on the trigger and blasted their heads off.

            Soldier: "Arabs are not really people." Why do you think they invented numbers?

Soldiers walk geometrically, turn at right angles, and one bullet through the column takes them all out.

            Take the guns and other toys away from a soldier and what do you have left?

            Women must wear camouflage bras regardless of how size.


"The shame is back. (cf. "The pride is back.")

An unexamined war is not worth fighting. (cf. Socrates)

Balance of power, balance of terror.

            President Bush: Read my lips, kill! (Either President G. W. Bush or ex-President G.H. Bush)

            "In War we Trust" on U.S. money.

The U.S. flexes its missiles.

            President and ex-President Bush: I never met a weapon I didn't like.

            In bombs we trust.

Instead of killing people, the leaders should play a game of "Play Soldier" to win. Each board piece can stand for 100 soldiers.

            New world order = new world chaos.

            Problem killing is not problem solving.

Understatement Humor/Euphemism

After Trade Center disaster people were advised by a therapist to take a deep breath.

            Department of Defense: Since 1947 substitution for Department of War.

            U.S. does not officially engage in terrorism or use of any kinds of weapons even against civilians, but only "low intensity warfare." Chomsky (2001:57)

            Killing: providing alternative goal opportunities.

            The bombing of Serbia was called "humanitarian bombing." (Chomsky 2001:14)

            Organic farming: the use of local biological warfare.

paradiastole is a rhetorical term for giving favorable word to cover an unfavorable one, e.g. peace keeping for war, war for slaughter, policy for deceit, correction for punishment, soldiers for paid killers, justice for revenge or retaliation.

            Soldiers are humanity challenged.

            Soldiers are life challenged.

            Soldiers are peace challenged.

War is said to be the neutralization of the enemy, making the world safe, the establishment of peace, problem-solving, diplomacy, moral obligation, duty, courage, justice, appropriate action, defense, defense of the oppressed, restoration of law and order, defense of civilization.

            War: political health care.

Uselessness Humor

Comic heroism: Defense Department gave medals to those sitting at their desks during the Pentagon attack.

            Home security: Trying to outrun the bullet.

Send the letters airmail, but don't put anything in them in case of airplane hijacking.

            We have the solution to terrorism: Everyone will now wear dog tags.

Value Deviation Humor

            Black Humor

                        "Support our killers."

Bed time story: "And then we bombed about 100,000 people or whatever. You should have seen the blood spirting in the air. There were arms and legs and fingers flying in all directions."

                        Department of Defense = Department of Terrorism.

                        Excitement of battle.

                        He joined the military so he can kill people legally.

Our soldiers say "Kill, kill, kill" when they charge the bayonet bag. They could instead say, "Fun, fun, fun."

The Defense Department is working on a jeep which will run on blood.

            The Taliban are tallying up their dead.

                        We bomb interracially and without regard to gender. Genocide is wrong.

                        Words "revenge" written on US bombs.

Vice (Blatant)

"As a hunter, I admit the thrill is in the kill. As a pilot, I admit I was elated by direct bombing. In my spare time I kill chickens by smashing their heads with a hammer. I like my job."

"I'm here to join the infantry. My mother volunteered me."

Your voting for a strong military is the same as you yourself cutting the throats of millions of innocent people.

"Be a politician.  No training necessary."  (Will Rogers)

"Jesus saves" written on bomb.

Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, said about the half a million deaths of children (over one million people) U.S. killed in Iraq: "We think the price is worth it." Chomsky (2001:73)

President G. H. Bush (and G. W. Bush): I am for a laissez-faire policy on the pollution of streams. I stand for the mainstream on matters of war air, said on television

President Reagan believing he was "off mike" said on television "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes." (This was said in front of a number of Russian diplomats. His advisors explained that Reagan was “checking the sound.”)

"Trolling" = take out everything that moves.

[Following aggressive militant policies leading to terrorism in the US:] G. W. Bush: "Every American is a soldier.  Every citizen is in this fight." [Thanks, President! Good work!]

Army in Afghanistan put anti-aircraft gun on top of a Red Cross building.

Bomber pilot in Gulf War: "It's the greatest job in the world. I can't believe they pay me to do it."

Born to kill.

Pure militancy: Kill in war for its own sake.

Cancel Halloween, we don't need to fake horror anymore.

Carpet bombing is red carpet bombing right up to the enemy caves.

Collateral damage? Well, perhaps a few hundred here or there. We do what we can.

Congressional debate: Ignore the arguments. Stick with what you know.

                        Diplomacy: short for "dip-stick mania."

Faber Book of Comic Verse was published in the middle of World War II.

General Schwarzkopf: (About an Iraqi man who just crossed a bridge before we bombed it.) "Want to see the luckiest man in the world?"

Government anthrax prevention advice: Do not open mail, and hold your breath.

Government survival instructions in case of nuclear attack: Duck and cover.

He joined the Army because he likes to hunt.

                        I killed, 95 teenagers, 64 women, 20 children and 6 babies. So?

Insomnia: Soldier thinking about all the ones that got away.

It is a just war. I would even send my son to war in my place...and the neighbor down the street.

Love the enemy? Of course. When they are in my gun sight I pop the question.

Military mingles with innocent civilians so as not to be shot.

Military often paints Red Cross symbols on their military buildings.

No-lose war: Either I go to my glory in heaven, or I return to 'bama a hero.

So you wish to enlist. Tell me, do you like to kill people? Have you had any experience with knifing?

Tanks and arms are stored in churches.

The airport was disguised as a church.

The Arabs invented the abacus to count their dead.

The special forces have landed and they will kill...hopefully only after the commands have been given.

The toys that children first ask for at Christmas are often guns.

The World Trade Center bombing got almost as much attention as the sex scandal in the White House in the last administration.

They hid the weapons in the hospital.

U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning Georgia gives torture and terror training.

Tötenfroh means "joy in killing."

"Hath this fellow no feeling of his business that he sings at grave-making?" Hamlet 5, 1, 65.

U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf in Gulf War: "We don't do body counts."

US bombs the same Afghan hospital twice (10/23/01). Oops!

War has provided Americans with great television entertainment.

Afghan soldier: "I love war."

We will make the world safe for war.

Which are the best stocks to buy during wartime?


He is our top gun.


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Methods Used in Ordinary-Language

Philosophy: Wittgenstein, Zen and Humor.

[1] For contradictions, absurdities, atrocities and obscenities in the Bible, see Foote & Ball 1938.

[2] See humanism chart in Chapter 9, under "Humanist Feminism," and also Shibles 1995j.