On joking and diversity

From the Five Books post The best books on Free Speech:

I think humour is unbelievably important as a way we use free speech to live with diversity. The Today programme, on BBC Radio 4, is full of mild ethnic joshing between the English, the Welsh, and the Scots. That’s the sign of a really healthy society, when you’ve got to the point that you can joke about it.

In my book I quote something terribly interesting, which is that in Senegal, which is a very diverse society, there are actually rituals of inter-ethnic joking. Everybody does jokes, and then, when they’re asked, ‘Why is it that people get on quite well with their neighbours?’ a large proportion of them say, ‘Because of these joking rituals.’ What Amoz Oz says is, ‘I have never met a fanatic who has a sense of humour, or someone with a sense of humour who is a fanatic.’ And therefore, he says, he wants to manufacture humour pills and have them distributed free around the Middle East. I think that’s just such a great insight.

Note that Five Books runs quite a few interviews with various people in which they're encouraged to pick out their favourite 5 books about a subject they're an expert in. The site is often worth a look.