April 01, 2013

The Power of Satire

Source: Arab American Institute
Bassem Youssef is the host of an Egyptian television program called al-Bernameg. He has been arrested for allegedly "insulting Islam and the Egyptian president." His show features satirical representations of the leadership of Egypt and has an enormous following. 

Satire is a powerful tool against governments in that it illuminates hypocrisy, ineptitude, corruption, and other undesirable characteristics, while at the same time providing a comedic and emotional release for the government's subjects. A smart government would welcome satire as a way of tightening up its game. In fact, any government that can't withstand a bit of mockery doesn't deserve to be in power. 

America has benefited enormously from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, etc., who have prompted their viewers to turn out of office ridiculous extremists like naked emperors. Egypt and other burgeoning democracies should (in this case) follow America's example.