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COMMENT | Cartoons are figures of fun portraying human foibles – stinginess, greed, stupidity – meant to evoke laughter.

Except our authorities have not been laughing.

Already arbiters of what is acceptable religion, language, art (recently at the Biennial at the National Art Gallery), news, etc, they also sit in judgment on what people should laugh about.

Zunar hasn’t been able to get a chuckle, much less a laugh, out of them in ages.

The government is right. No good can come from laughing at our politicians.

I confess: I used to be snide whenever a politician was having an apoplectic fit, claiming he was misquoted for a vacuous statement. Hey, want to be heard clearly? Next time take your foot out of your mouth before you speak.

Here are the grounds for my shift in attitude.

The Greeks created drama and its genres of comedy and tragedy. The kernel of Greek comedy was an amusing “agon” or conflict.

It’s amusing to have conflict? Go ask the thousands who have fled from Syria. Their answer probably will be: nothing comes from “agon” but “agony.”

What was the usual “agon” in a Greek tragedy? A society of powerless young people unable to progress, unable to get rid of a society of the powerful old, left with no recourse but derisive laughter.

Do we want this in our country – young people laughing at our musty, past-their-shelf-life politicians?

Weren’t we taught from young to respect our elders, to salam them, gently wipe away their drool and look like we’re paying attention to their garbled, rambling monologue, no matter how demented or senile they are?

Don’t we want the young to have another career option? It doesn’t matter which side you pick in Malaysian politics. All get rewarded – a title, wealth and property overseas on one side, mass adulation while under detention on the other. Win-win is what I say.

Lastly, but most important, as the world’s second oldest profession, politics was the first pillar of civilisation. This was when warring tribes realised endless raiding for slaves and livestock, meant diminishing numbers on both sides while larger, hungrier tribes were looming on the horizon, and decided to coalesce in larger numbers for security where land was rich or harbours deep.

Just as there was no more raiding neighbours (though IS is trying to recreate that primordial era), men took their conflict into politics. Instead of eviscerating enemies face to face, they stabbed each other in the back, whispered lies.

Once in a while, the tribal genes asserted themselves and they reverted to coups and assassinations to settle differences, but generally, over the centuries, there has been evolution.

In many parts of the world they just lied, got misquoted, and talked and talked and talked … and now we have tolled highways and submarines, hillside re-development in more ways than one and GST, all thanks to politicians serving the people...

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