The US President is rewriting the book on acceptable behaviour from political leaders and we might soon expect a new normal. The US president mocked the late Rep. John Dingell and “longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history” may be “looking up from hell”. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg43wcegraI) 19 Dec 2019. Previously he had mocked the late John McCann ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YBOVgVS4HI ) 19 Dec 2019. But mocking in itself is not the issue.
Mocking ideas, beliefs, attitudes and lampooning foibles and behaviours has always been the role of the “all licensed fool” or the satirist. Shakespeare references the court jester or fool in a number of his plays. Such characters were not immune from drawing the displeasure of the powerful. While Erasmus suggested: “They can speak truth and even open insults and be heard with positive pleasure… “, people with very fixed positions haven’t always appreciated being lampooned or sent-up in parody, even by their own appointed jesters. This was seen directly in the Tudor period with the likes of William Somers and Richard Tarleton.
While these “fools” worked to reveal truths and break through the fawning of sycophants surrounding kings and queens, the mocking seen by the US President is of a very different nature. In his adopting the guise of the Fool and Jester, he is assuming a weapon to strike on behalf of his power in quite the opposite way of the traditional Fool. He is not revealing anything more than his own ingrained prejudice and sociopathic nature. This is a very different kind of mocking and should not be confused with the genuine value of the satirist and Licensed Fool.