When the going gets tough, the tough use black humor and courage. That’s one thought I had when reviewing last night’s event with Mark Steyn, presented by the Citizens’ Council on Health Care (CCHC), which as of last night is the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.

KTLK-FM host Sue Jeffers started things off by saying it was no accident the event was held on Veterans Day: It’s all about health freedom. Jeffers spoke several times during the evening, imploring the 600 to 700 members in the audience to give generously when the baskets came around. (I’ve never seen the pass-the-basket method outside of church; I hope it did well.)

We also heard several editions of the Health Freedom Minute, short commentaries on health care featuring CCHC president Twila Brase. They’ve been running on 1280 AM The Patriot. Ron Stone, a manager for Salem Communications (which owns the station) says they’ve gotten tremendous public response from these programs. Brase announced later in the evening that she plans to put these commentaries into national syndication.

The main event of the evening was a 30-minute talk by Mark Steyn, author and guest host of the Rush Limbaugh program. Black humor can be a useful response to both danger and oppression, a situation that oppressive governments are good and inducing. During the Cold War, I heard several examples of such humor from residents of Eastern Europe. For example, on employment, “they [government officials] pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” The ancient empire of Rome was oppressive too, and Monty Python played off that fact in the song, Always look on the bright side of life in the film “The Life of Brian.”

Steyn, for his part, used humor well throughout his presentation, ripping on airlines and of course pretentious politicians. I can’t do his humor justice–though I had a computer and took notes, they weren’t complete–but I can relay some of his comments.

* “Big government creates small citizens.”

* After World War I, European governments suffered a loss of confidence. The ruling elite sent young men into war for no particular reason. They continued this ruin of human life by turning war’s orphans and widows into wards of the state.

* “Government health care is not about health care, it’s about government.”

* Governmentalization of health care all but makes limited government impossible.

* He relayed the story of a man who had a medical problem that doctors in a government health plan (England?) made worse. They removed the wrong testicle. “I consider that the inaugural ball of the new health care system.”

* Health care reform never solves the problem it is intended to solve but it does give you a new and exciting range of new ones.

* What about government plans in Massachusetts, Maine, and Tennessee that spiraled out of control? Advocates say yes, they should have worked in theory. Yes, that’s true in the same sense that you could cut the incidence of glaucoma in half by poking out everyone’s left eye.”

Steyn concluded that advocates of self-governance have some hard work in front of them if they wish to prevail, and not be mere subjects. After all, what other major programs have been undone so far?

I may revise and extend my remarks, but that should give you a flavor of the evening.