It Is Good To Be Laughed At; It's Better Than To Be Ignored

from the wisdom dept

Aaron DeOliveira points us to a wonderful “letters of note” entry concerning UK prime minister Harold Macmillan’s 1962 response to the news that his then Postmaster General, Reginald Bevins, had declared that he was “going to do something about” the new late-night political satire show That Was The Week That Was. Despite being a regular target of the show, Macmillan sent Bevins the following letter telling him to not do anything about the show, and (effectively) to chill out and enjoy being laughed at:

Broadcasting (Gen)

Admiralty House
Whitehall. S.W.1

Post Master General

I hope you will not repeat not take any action about “That was the week that was” without consulting me.

It is a good thing to be laughed at.

It is better than to be ignored.



Those last two lines are wonderful: “It is a good thing to be laughed at. It is better than to be ignored.” Of course, you could claim that statement was somewhat derivative of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Either way, it seems pretty accurate, and highlights something that so many people miss. All too often we hear of people — politicians, companies, celebrities, etc. — trying to stifle criticism or satire, rather than recognizing that there are much worse things in the world: such as being completely irrelevant.

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Comments on “It Is Good To Be Laughed At; It's Better Than To Be Ignored”

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GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

I disagree, slightly...



I think you’re veering off the farm by thinking this a derivative of the Gandi quote you cited. I think this is far more likely a derivative of the famous Oscar Wilde quote:

?The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.?

Had you grown up a “proper nerd” and spent the requisite 500 plus hours rolling around in Monty Python recordings as a teenager, you would have known this.

I leave you well fish slapped with this Python Clip:


out_of_the_blue says:

Could just be "response to the news", meaning damage control.

After some fool opened his mouth about actual plan that the PM wanted. And/or could be a use of “the criminal’s code” in which the reverse is said (from The Firesign Theatre comedy group, the American more than equivalent to Monty Python).

Regardless, many politicians rely on stealth, so being laughed at isn’t a severe drawback, one can still be truly nasty; whether it can be used to advantage depends on personality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It looks like it’s written in shorthand, which is based on phonetics, and some shorthand glyphs are “simplified” to allow you to write it at normal talking speeds. Perhaps this is actually a dictation taken by a secretary, who forwarded it on to the Postmaster’s secretary…

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