Somehow the Dutch – never a country with a great sense of humour to begin with – have lost their idea of what is funny and what is not. This week saw the unfolding of a scandal around leftwing MP Wijnand Duyvendak who, in the eighties, had been part of tough actions against nuclear energy; the house of a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Economics has apparently been firebombed after a young Duyvendak published the address in a protest pamphlet.
In reaction to his party’s defense of Duyvendak’s past actions, blogger and columnist Rikus Spithorst wrote (under a pseudonym) that he “…would appreciate it highly if someone would […] find out the home address of [Party leader] Femke Halsema and then […] torch the place. The bitch doesn’t deserve any better.”
I won’t get into further details – Dutch readers can find more here. What concerns me most is that Spithorst had the nerve to call his column ‘satire’. But satire – in Dutch as well as in English – works through wit and is it very witty to point your finger and say “They should do the same thing to her”? I guess it’s not. I would call that rage rather than satire, especially if you add that the bitch doesn’t deserve any better.
Somewhere in the last ten years the humour got lost. Intelligent, witty stuff is almost nowhere to be found and the greatest successes can be booked when you dare make the boldest remarks. Spithorst, a fiftysomething guy writing for a decidedly more juvenile audience, is just one of the sorry crop of unhumourous guys – he is a spokesperson for a club of disgruntled public transport users, how unhumourous can you get! – riding that wave on the internet. But when charges are pressed for inciting violence, these characters crawl out from under their rock and claim satire.
You know what, Rikus? Get an education. Get a dictionary. Better still – get a life. Preferably off-line.