Mockery is strongly prohibited in the Old Testament. Mockers, mocking or mockery are mentioned 57 times in the OT; 2 duplicates of Isaiah saying God mocks the Assyrians, once God mocking mockers, and the rest directly condemning mockery. Clearly mockery is strongly prohibited by God. And yet mockery is a basic rhetorical tool of Jews in attacking political opponents. Puritans and other heretical Christian leftists prefer self-righteous admonishment, yet they engage in mockery sometimes as well. What is to be made of this pervasive method of attack?
Mockery, or more specifically unmerited critical attack, is addressed in “Beowulf”. For those not familiar with the story, (if you aren’t please read it, the Donaldson prose translation is the best) Beowulf arrives from Geatland (Goth land, now southern Sweden) in Denmark to fight Grendel, a monster who has been terrorizing the Danes for years. Beowulf’s great feats precede him and most are glad he has come. One drunken fool, Unferth- the name means discord- a cowardly fellow, tells Beowulf he failed to defeat Breca in a swimming contest, so he will probably fail.
In the mores of the times, Beowulf would have been justified in immediately killing Unferth. He had been grossly insulted. Beowulf however takes a more measured approach. He admits that yes, it is true, he did not defeat Breca in their swimming contest. They had been in the ocean for days, neither able to pull ahead of the other. Then a storm came up, and forced them apart. The storm aroused the anger of the sea monsters, and Beowulf was then occupied for days more with fighting and killing them, some dragging him all the way to the bottom of the sea. Beowulf and Breca were then each blown ashore at their own homelands.
Beowulf tells Unferth that yes, he is right, he didn’t defeat Breca in swimming; but there is a lot more to the story, and he hasn’t heard of any comparable victories of Unferth’s. Furthermore Unferth has murdered his own brother, a particularly heinous crime in that culture. For that matter none of the Danes have been able to kill Grendel, but they will soon see what a Goth can do.
After killing Grendel, Beowulf then goes to kill Grendel’s mother. Unferth lends him his sword, and while it proves useless against the spell of the monster woman, Beowulf says nice things about it when he gives it back.
Mockery is a tool of cowards and fools, and only works with cowards and fools. Mainstream conservatives are laid low by mockery every time. Called names, they insist they aren’t those things, and disparaged they try to appear not to be disparaged. Called racists, conservatives spend a great deal of time trying to prove they aren’t racists, as if you could prove a negative, and derided as unfashionable, they try very hard to be fashionable.
Beowulf’s response to mockery is the correct one. Measured response to the attack, admitting the truth where it is true, is appropriate. A counterattack on the moral standing of the mocker to make any criticism is also correct. Dismissing the view of the mocker and substituting it with your own completes the response.