Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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February 06, 2007
"No Mockers in Hell"

The other day I saw a somewhat raggedy fellow who stood in the middle of the stream of pedestrian traffic and wore a sandwich board. Scrawled on the board were the above four words: "No Mockers in Hell." He handed out religious tracts. I wondered, "What does this slogan mean?"

My first thought, silly me, was, "Is this a veiled Hard Day's Night reference?" I immediately rejected this theory because my first thought in relation to anything might as well be in Martian compared to the plane on which anybody else usually is operating.

Next I theorized that the message on the sign was intended as a warning against any who would "mock" the man who distributed the leaflets in public. I remembered that "mock" is a vivid verb that appears in a key place in the story of public humiliation and martyrdom that is central to the Xian scriptures. Indeed I see that the phrase "Jesus Mockers" appears in prominent part in the warnings that some contemporary self-identifiedly religious sign carriers display.

However, the aforementioned interpretation crumbled at once because it would require the sign's text to contain an internal inconsistency so unresolvable that the message would become incomprehensible and meaningless. How could the sign carrier's vision of Hell contain "no" mockers? On the contrary, the sign carrier would consign all mockers to that realm, to be sure. Thus the message should read "All Mockers in Hell," if my guesses about his definitional presuppositions were correct. So clearly I had made a mistake in my reasoning. I would have to rework my interpretation.

My mental impasse caused a buildup of tension in my low-watt brain which caused a more intense struggle with the ideas in play which squirted out a brainchemical residue of momentary enlightenment which caused a relief of the tension. I realized that the sign carrier was socking it to me with an astonishing insight about the nature of Hell that I had never thought of before:

In Hell there is no mockery.

In other words, the sandwich board theologian seemed to be saying, if you mock godly things in this earthly plane of existence, Hell will wipe that smile off your face, Mr./Ms. Smartypants. To mock anything in Hell is an impossibility. The implied message is that residence in Hell necessarily reveals the irrefutable Truth behind all things, beyond any room for dispute or difference of opinion.

The implications of this message, if true, staggered me. No mockery in Hell. Did this not also mean no ridicule in Hell? No sarcasm in Hell? No irony in Hell? Indeed, no humor of any kind in Hell? If there is no humor, must there be no double entendres? And if no double entendres, must there be no room for ambiguity? No differences of interpretation? No verbal mixups? Indeed no misunderstandings? Of any kind?

In Hell there is no language.

I decided that, if the sign carrier told the truth, this would make sense, insofar as things in Hell would be so unarguably crappy that everyone would be in sort of universal telepathic agreement about everything all the time and there would be no need for anyone to talk about anything ever.

I then decided that being in Hell sounded pretty good. Damned good. In fact, it sounded a lot less hellish than much of what comes before Hell, in this life. Relocation to Hell it seemed would constitute an incredible and blessed relief.

My wise travelling companion then corrected me, to suggest that if one's personal idea of Hell is a realm of constant confusion and miscommunication, that is exactly what you would get if you were a "mocker" who went to the place that the sandwich board man had in mind. At once I recognized the persuasiveness of this view. I tried to imagine a realm in which the former Mocker somehow could be burned forever in a vat of boiling mockery rather than hot oil.

In addition, it later occured to me that this uptight, humorless view of Hell would stand at marked variance with other possible portrayals in which the Devil is actually a pretty    funny    guy.