Brazil: Why can’t tyrants stand satire? | Opinion

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, raises a finger in approval, surrounded by the doctors who treated him during his last hospitalization.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, raises a finger in approval, surrounded by the doctors who treated him during his last hospitalization.Twitter/jairbolsonaro (via REUTERS)

Dictators, tyrants and all despots are rich in pathologies, but they cannot stand satire or humor. Their brains are unable to understand these stress-relieving mechanisms. They believe they were born only to give orders and command. They feel untouchable gods.

Brazil has just witnessed this inability of politicians. After knowing the news about the umpteenth hospitalization of President Jair Bolsonaro, his fanatical followers appeared along with the evangelicals asking for his health. At the same time, the photos were broadcast from the president’s hospital making gestures of victory. An image that recalls when three years ago he had been stabbed by an unbalanced man and God had saved him. This time, he has given him a little push at the moment when he was sinking in the electoral polls ahead of the day next October, in which he seeks his re-election.

With his last hospitalization, it was not long before satirical and humorous cartoons appeared on social networks. Not 24 hours had passed and the patient’s family had already challenged the Supreme Court to condemn those images. Democracy and freedom of expression are the demons most feared by despots of all ideologies. Perhaps for this reason, as a journalist who already had to deal with censorship in the times of Franco, I have always maintained a certain sympathy for the former Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, who in her first speech and in the moments when her own party, the PT, flirted with restrictive measures to freedom of expression, she, who had been imprisoned and tortured during the military dictatorship, pronounced the famous phrase: “I prefer the noise of the newspapers to the silence of dictatorships.”

And it is true that the most intelligent politicians are those who are capable of supporting, even with a sense of humor, those invested with satire. When I was a correspondent for this newspaper in Italy, I met important politicians such as Giulio Andreotti, who had been President of the Government five times and one of the most powerful figures in the world of politics. Here in Brazil I met the immortal former president José Sarney. Both came to collect the satires that were published against them and never acted against their authors with legal requests.

They are usually mediocre and insecure politicians or despots, who proclaim themselves gods, who are unable to understand the importance of humor as detente against the outrages of power. I have studied the History of Religions and I know the importance that the sacred, since the beginning of time, has had in the world for better or for worse. For this reason, in disputes about whether satire and humor are also possible about the gods and their doctrines, I have always defended that humor cannot have barriers, not even in the world of divinity. Nothing is more sacred than the human being and nature, at the same time nothing more liberating and protecting human essences than irony or satire that purifies false modesty in the face of what we consider untouchable.

Everything is relative in History, even the gods and religions, much more politics and therefore there are no untouchables before satire and especially when it is intelligent and deep, which reaches the root of things as they usually are. the cartoonists of the mainstream media. Each of his creations are a punch to the stomach of the satisfied and a stress-relieving valve of bondage.

Some have objected to me that in the Christian gospels the prophet Jesus never used satire. It is not true. What happens is that in him, humor took on a deep and even philosophical dimension. Just one example: one day he met a group of Greeks who wanted to meet him. Jesus listened to them and knowing that in Greece at that time the greatest value was bodily beauty, as can be seen in his wonderful sculptures, he reminded them of a parable impregnated with fine and forceful satire. He told them that in nature it is born if before the seed “does not rot in the ground” and if it is not treated with manure. Apparently the Greek visitors left without responding or perhaps without understanding the depth of the prophet’s irony.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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