Sometimes I write blog posts already knowing, more or less, what I’m going to say. This is not one of those times.
Steven Brust is discussing the ethical use of humor over on his site. To sum up, in one case, someone used humor against a friend of his; the friend was hurt; the offending person didn’t understand why. In another case, his daughter, a comedian, participated in a show with the theme of mental handicaps, and her friends were offended.
The dilemma, as I see it, is something like this:
1. No one has the right, through humor or any other way, to needlessly hurt someone else.
2. No one has the right to decide for another how and when to use humor to relieve suffering.
It stopped me. Of course there’s a way through, I thought. So I posted, “It hurts worse when they laugh at you; it hurts less if they laugh with you. The screwups come when people mistake laughing together at someone else for laughing with someone.”
But I continue to think about it. I’d rather blather on here than post multiple comments on someone else’s site.
I had somebody make an unforgiveable joke at my daughter’s expense the other day. I’m not going to say the joke – you’ll be offended. I wasn’t. I laughed. Because I knew the guy; to know him is to know that he limps through his day with one foot in his mouth. Most common quote: “What? What did I say?” And in fact, he told the joke so ineptly that I didn’t get it at first, which made me laugh harder when I did get it. Guy’s making an ass of himself, and he can’t even spell.
But that’s okay. I know he didn’t mean any harm by it. It…just…came…out.
I’ve been far more offended by less offensive jokes from other people, the kind of jokes that are an attack, with a sly wink that says, “I’m testing you…if you don’t laugh, we both know that you’re a frigid, prude @#$%.” Those are the ones I hate. Buddy, you don’t know me well enough to tell me off-color jokes.
For example – the joke about the Muslim woman who, after being “liberated,” still follows her man by four feet–because of bombs. I am SO sick of that joke. I’ve received it, via e-mail, about once every two months for the last three and a half years. But I find that the joke is offensive or not depending on who’s telling it–it’s told via e-mail, mind you, so not really dependent on tone of voice or facial expressions.*
Some people can send me offensive crap, and I laugh my ass off.
Some people can send me something just slightly off the mark, and I hate them for it, because of that sly look in their eyes.
Are you sharing something with me or not? Or are you trying to take something away? If you want to see me squirm, screw you. If you want to see me fall over on the floor, unable to talk I’m laughing so hard, bring it.
–Unless it’s just not funny. Meh.
*But seriously, please stop sending me that joke. I am SO OVER IT.