13 July 2006 - Thursday
The family dog and I are both a bit under the weather right now, but seeing this -- "Hammer & tickle" by Ben Lewis -- cheered us up. It's an article about (mostly, but not exclusively dissident) humor behind the Iron Curtain.
As the system became harsher, a distinctive communist sense of humour emerged -- pithy, dark and surreal -- but so did the legal machinery for repressing it. Historian Roy Medvedev looked through the files of Stalin's political prisoners and concluded that 200,000 people were imprisoned for telling jokes, such as this: Three prisoners in the gulag get to talking about why they are there. "I am here because I always got to work five minutes late, and they charged me with sabotage," says the first. "I am here because I kept getting to work five minutes early, and they charged me with spying," says the second. "I am here because I got to work on time every day," says the third, "and they charged me with owning a western watch."(Via MeFi)