With the recent death of American student Otto Warmbier, the world is desperately trying to beat an oppressive North Korean regime with dismissive laughter and mockery, and the occasional Dennis Rodman visit.
As much as satire can be a powerful tool for criticizing systems of oppression, the reality is that humor has its limits. In fact, laughing at genocidal regimes can be downright dangerous.
There was a time when making fun of Adolph Hitler was a cinematic fad in Hollywood, where “Der Fuhrer” was sent up by everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the Three Stooges. After the war, when the concentration camps were liberated, government leaders responded with war crimes tribunals, the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the mantra “Never Again.”