Shock Horror: Folklore of Disaster 12

SHOCK HORROR: The Folklore of Disaster


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© Warren Fahey


As an example of the folklore process I am relating three versions of the same joke based on the guise that they are imparting traditional father-to-son wisdom. I do this to show how jokes evolve. Which was the original? Who would know? Why was it obviously changed? One answer is that joke tellers constantly change jokes to suit their own performance techniques and language. Whatever the case there are most probably a dozen more variants of this same story hurtling through space right now.

 In the year 2030

A father and son are walking though the streets of Manhattan admiring the buildings and the father explaining something of the history of the more impressive ones.
The they come across a vast space
What’s this” says the son “why is there this huge empty space?”
“that was where the Twin Towers were” explains the father
“What were the twin towers?”
“Well they were a kind of centre of commerce where some 50,000 people worked, It was called the World Trade Centre”
“What happened to them”
 “Well the were destroyed by Arabs about 30 years ago” says the father
“Dad?” says the son
“Yes son”
“What are Arabs?”

 A father is walking w/ his son around year 2032 in lower Manhattan.  As they explore the area the father explains to his son about the grandeur of the buildings and take on the sites. Suddenly they come to a beautiful park and plaza. The son is so excited at the beautiful park and monuments and asks his dad: 
“What are these monuments for?”
The father replies: “This park is dedicated to honor the Twin Towers and the memory of the people of New York.”
“What are the Twin Towers?” the son asks?
Dad replies: “They were two very large 110 story buildings which stood here for nearly 30 years until Arab terrorists destroyed them.”
“Dad, what is an Arab?”

A man and his son are walking through a highly built-up area of Manhattan in 2032 when they come across an empty space and the father stops to reflect for a while.
“Imagine son,” the father says “exactly 31 years ago the great twin towers stood proudly in this area”.
Intrigued by the comment the son then asks, “what were the twin towers dad?”
To which the father replies, “they were two of the largest buildings in the world and they housed many thousands of offices…. but in 2001 they were destroyed by Arabs.”  
The son pauses for a while and then asks:
“what were Arabs dad?”

George W Bush vs Osama bin Laden

 George W.  and Osama decided to settle the war once and for all.  They sat down and decided to settle the whole dispute with one big dog fight.  They agreed that they would have five years to breed the best fighting dogs in the world and whosever dog won would be entitled to dominate the world. Osama and his dog handler Mohammed found the biggest, meanest Dobermans and Rottweilers in the world, then bred them with the biggest, meanest Siberian wolves they could find.  From the litters, they selected the biggest and strongest puppy and trained it day and night to fight to the death.

After five years Osama and Mohammed came up with the biggest, meanest dog the world had ever seen.  Its cage needed steel bars that were five inches thick and nobody could get near it. When the day came for the dog fight, George W.  and his dog handler Boudreaux, showed up with a nine foot long Dachshund.  It was the strangest looking dog anyone had ever seen.  Boudreaux said it was a Cajun Dachshund.

Everyone felt sorry for George W.  and Boudreaux because they knew there was no way that this poor excuse for a dog could possibly last 10 seconds with Osama’s big, mean animal.  When the cages were opened up, the Dachshund slowly came out of its cage, wagged its tail, then waddled over towards Osama’s dog. The Doberman/Rottweiler/Wolf snarled and leaped out of its cage, then charged the poor Dachshund.  But when it got close enough to bite the Dachshund’s neck, the Dachshund opened its mouth and ate Osama’s dog in one bite.  There was nothing left of the snarling beast.

Osama came up to George W. and Boudreaux shaking his head in disbelief.
“We don’t understand how this could have happened.  We had our best people working for five years with the biggest, meanest Dobermans and Rottweilers, and the biggest, meanest Siberian wolves in the world.  How did you do this?”
“Da’s easy”, said Boudreaux, the Cajun.  “We ‘ad our bess plasic surgins workin’ fo’ five year for to make dat alligator look like a weenie dog.”

Considering our diplomatic and cultural relationship with America we accept their humour without too many questions. What folklorists need to ask is what humour, if any, has been created by the supporters of the Taliban. The answer might possibly lie in the uniqueness of individual cultures and also their attitude to humour. Did they create and circulate sick humour about the attacks on America? Did they place George W Bush and other leaders in a joke ridicule situation? Did they use the Internet to distribute such humour?

As the war against terrorism progressed it was inevitable that jokes would be circulated about Australia’s involvement. This one, possibly revived from an earlier war, has a distinct Australian attitude and is typical of the military folklore than provided the Australian Armed Forces with its mythical reputation.

 A large group of Taliban soldiers are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune.
“One Australian SAS soldier is better than 10 Taliban.”

The Taliban commander quickly sends 10 of his best soldiers over the dune whereupon a gun-battle breaks out and continues for ten minutes, then silence.
The voice calls out “One Australian SAS soldier is better than 100 Taliban.”

Furious, the Taliban commander sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instantly a huge battle commences.  After ten minutes of fierce fighting, again silence.
The Australian voice calls out again “One Australian soldier is better than 1000 Taliban.”

The enraged Taliban commander musters 1000 of his finest fighters and sends them over the dune. Cannon, rocket and machine gun fire ring out as a huge battle is fought. Then silence.

Eventually one wounded Taliban fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying breath tells his commander, “Don’t send any more men, it’s a trap. There’s actually two of them.”


 Osama Bin Laden phoned President George W. Bush. “I had a dream about the United States,” he said. I could see the whole country, and over every building and home was a banner,” said Bin Laden.
“What was on the banner?” asked Mr. Bush.
“LONG LIVE OSAMA!” answered the terrorist scum.
“I am so glad that you called,” said President Bush, “because I too had a dream. In my dream, I saw Afghanistan and it was more beautiful than ever; totally rebuilt, and over every building and home was a big, beautiful banner.”
“What did the banner say?” asked Osama.
“I don’t know,” answered President Bush, “I can’t read Hebrew.”


 Osama bin Laden, severely injured in an American attack, is in a US Army medical facility, when he asks the attending doctor, “Doc, when will I die?”
“Unsure of the exact time of death,” his Western doctor says. “But you will die on an American holiday.”
“How do you know it will be on an American holiday?” asks the terrorist.
“Oh,” said the doctor, “Any day that you die will be an American holiday.”

There were several photoshop emails that modified well-known products. Familiarity brings discontent?


Fake office memos have always been a popular expression in photocopy lore. They appear on office notice boards and usually lampoon some aspect of the office management or procedures. Like many other aspects of photocopy lore they are now appearing on email screens.

 I N T E R C A V E M E M O

From: bin Laden, Osama
Sent: Monday, 19th November, 2001 8:17 AM
To: All Cavemates
Subject: The Cave

Hi guys. We’ve all been putting in long hours but we’ve really come
together as a group and I love that.

Big thanks to Omar for putting up the poster that says, “There is no “I”
in team” as well as the one that says “Hang In There, Baby.” That cat is
hilarious. However, while we are fighting a jihad, we can’t forget to
take care of the cave. And frankly I have a few concerns.

First of all, while it’s good to be concerned about cruise missiles, we
should be even more concerned about the scorpions in our cave. Hey, you
don’t want to be stung and neither do I so we need to sweep the cave
daily. I’ve posted a sign up sheet near the main cave opening.

Second, it’s not often I make a video address but when I do, I’m trying
to scare the most powerful country on earth, okay? That means that
while we’re taping, please do not ride your razor scooter in the
background, or making “bunny ears” behind people’s heads. (Yes I did see you Attia!) Just while we’re taping. Thanks.

Third point, and this is a touchy one. As you know, by edict, we’re not
supposed to shave our beards. But I need everyone to just think hygiene,
especially after mealtime. How tough are we going to look with a big chunk
of falafel in our beards? We’re all in this together.

Fourth: Food. I bought a box of Burger Rings recently, clearly wrote
“Osama” on the front, and put it on the top shelf. Today, my Burger Rings
were gone. Consideration. That’s all I’m saying.

Finally, we’ve heard that there may be American soldiers in disguise
trying to infiltrate our ranks. I want to set up patrols to look for
them. First patrol will be Omar, Muhammed, Abdul, Akbar, and Chip.

Love you lots. Go team!