Edward Snowden's Snowmageddon Response Is Controversial, But Not In The Way You'd Expect

Edward Snowden is many different things to many different people. Well, maybe that's overcomplicating the matter a bit: He's basically either a traitor or a patriot, depending on who you ask. But now, he's outed himself as something else: A guy who makes dad jokes on Twitter. As the east coast continued to be slammed by Winter Storm Jonas, Snowden made a corny Snowmageddon joke on Twitter that divided both fans and detractors alike.

"Soon, even D.C. will be Snowden," the NSA leaker and digital rights activist quipped. Zing! He attached an image of a magazine cover depicting the Washington monument almost completely engulfed in snow.

It goes without saying that Snowden, currently holed up in Russia to avoid prosecution in the US, is an enormously controversial public figure. To some, he's a courageous American who sacrificed everything he knew and loved to blow the lid off the US government's secret domestic spying program and inform the nation that their every communication is being monitored. To others, he's a coward who put his fellow countrymen at risk by revealing secrets that severely hindered America's counter-terrorism efforts and then fled to an enemy state to avoid facing the consequences of his actions.

Now, Snowden is wading into the wholly separate controversy over whether puns are funny.

Needless to say, the joke was highly divisive amongst Snowden's 1.76 million Twitter followers. It didn't break down on partisan lines: Some people who abhorred Snowden's actions as a leaker appreciated the joke, and vice-versa.

At the risk of looking far too deeply into an event that doesn't warrant such scrutiny, Snowden's apparent affinity for puns may say something about his psychological makeup. John Pollack, communications consultant and author of the book The Pun Also Rises, has argued that a person's love or hate for puns reveals something important about their attitudes towards rules and hierarchy.

"People who dislike puns tend to be people who seek a level of control that doesn’t exist," Pollack told The Atlantic. If you have an approach to the world that is rules-based, driven by hierarchy and threatened by irreverence, then you’re not going to like puns.”

If that's true, we shouldn't be the least bit surprised by Snowden's joke. After all, Snowden leaked troves of confidential US government documents to the press, and infuriated just about the entire US intelligence community in doing so. That certainly doesn't reflect a worldview "rules-based" or "driven by hierarchy." No wonder he likes puns.