A man and his wife went on vacation to Jerusalem and while there the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her shipped home for $5,000 or you can bury her here in the Holy Land for $150."
The man thought for a while then told the undertaker he would have his wife sent home. The undertaker asked, “Why spend $5,000 to ship your wife home when you could spend $150 to have her interred in an historic place like Jerusalem.”
The man relied, “Some people think that a man died here, was buried here and there days later he rose from the dead. I don't really believe it but I just can't take that chance.”
Imagine the jokes Voltaire could have written if he hadn't had the Catholic church looking over his shoulder and breathing down his neck. Still did a damn good job of poking fun at religion and royalty while trying to avoid (not always successfully) going to jail for stepping over the line.
With the exception of Dutch and Swedish cartoonists, few people in Western society have to physically fear offending someone through sarcasm and humour though that wasn't always the case. In America, the harassment and jailing of Lenny Bruce for violation of "decency" laws had a very strong effect on a young George Carlin, everyone's favorite atheist comedian.
Humorists and satirist have always played a strong role in breaking down taboos. Unfortunately, many have also paid a terrible price for doing so. Oscar Wilde leaps to mind.