#GrowWise. Confessions of a Repentant Mocker


January 21, 2015

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Proverbs 21:24  (read the whole chapter)

The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name—
    behaves with insolent fury.



Proverbs makes no bones about taking on “mockers.”

Psalm 1, in no uncertain terms, lets know we do not want to “sit in the seat of mockers.” They will ultimately be like “chaff that the wind blows away.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone who considered themself to be a mocker.

I’ve heard many characterize their words, tone and posture as a socially acceptable form of sarcasm. But the question must be asked, “Is it wise?”

At other times, this kind of communication gets passed off as needful and often productive “satire.” Still, the question must be asked, “Is it wise?”

I rarely if ever make the “ripped from the headlines” move here on the Daily Text, but a couple of major international incidents of late have me thinking a lot about the difference between appropriate sarcasm and mockery and between insolence and meaningful satire.

This word, “insolence;” I had to look it up. It means, “showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect.”

Rather than make assertions I’ll just ask the questions.

How about the controversial on-again-off-again movie, “The Interview,” a satirical story about a government sponsored plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea? Productive satire or mockery?

How about the decision of the satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, to publish not one but two highly offensive depictions of the prophet Mohammad? Productive satire or mockery?

And the question is not whether these expressions were right or wrong. Our question? Were they wise?

Hear me clearly. My questions have nothing to do with political dynamics, retaliation against terrorism, artistic expression or the limits of free speech. My purpose here is to ask the wisdom question. Mockery may be fair play in politics, journalism and art, but the question must be asked, “Is it wise?”

As my four young children watch these stories unfold I feel a responsibility to monitor my own responses. I laughed out loud with everyone else in the theatre as the movie trailers played previews of The Interview. I was as mad as the next guy when Sony made the initial decision to pull the movie from theaters in response to the North Korean cyber attack. In retrospect, I think I sat in the seat of mockers.

I was as grieved and infuriated as anyone else when those terrorists murdered the French journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, and I must be honest, when they published the second cartoon depicting Mohammad on the cover of the very next issue I shook my fist with them in gleeful defiance. In retrospect, I think I sat in the seat of mockers.

On both fronts, my responses (as theirs) can be defended and even deemed warranted on many counts. Still the question must be asked. . . . were they wise?

Mockery may have its place, but is it ever really wise?

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 22.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


  1. As an analogy, I phrase the question this way: “Just because you can throw a rock (freedom of speech) at a hornet’s nest (a political/religious ideology you disagree with), is it wise to do so?”

    My 6th grade teacher instilled a concept of freedom that has served me well. She told a story of an immigrant getting off the boat in New York flinging his arms up in excitement and exclaiming “I am free! I am free!” Only in his exuberance, he smacked a bystander in the nose. The bystander reminded the immigrant that his freedom ended where the bystander’s nose began.

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