Greta Thunberg is a young environmental campaigner setting off on a carbon-neutral boat trip across the Atlantic. Aaron Banks is a businessman, Brexit campaigner and money man behind the far-right UK Independence Party. On Wednesday, Banks tweeted to Thunberg: "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August." In the resulting outrage, he says it's just a joke.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas … said she reported his comment, while Mr Banks said it was a joke.
"Arron Banks' vile tweet about @GretaThunberg makes me sick to the stomach," Ms Lucas wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. …
His tweet faced widespread criticism, with Mr Banks later responding, saying it was "a joke" and accusing his critics of having "no sense of humour".
It's worth pointing out that there's no actual joke in the phrase "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August."
It's the unspeakable wrapped in jocular sarcasm, so that it can be denied even as it gives public life to a private fantasy.
Aaron Banks is encouraging "stochastic" violence, that term having become popular to refer to public rhetoric that hopes to make something more likely without being personally involved in any act that results from its general encouragement.
But Banks is a dumb thug, so he just blurted out I hope you die thinking it could pass muster as a "joke."
Here's Sartre on the right-wing mode of humor, then exemplified by anti-semites and now by alt-right meme culture.
They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. … They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.
Correction: Thunberg's trip is across the Atlantic, not around the world.