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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Humor that's not Politically Correct. (Page 0)

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Author Topic: Humor that's not Politically Correct.
Da_Goat
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I liked Trogdor's jokes, and I know I've said worse. I probably wouldn't say those jokes in this forum, though, as I haven't been here long enough to decide what's kosher and what's not. I'm not really somebody that gets offended at jokes that relate to me; in fact, I usually laugh harder at those, especially if you can think of something about the people of Arizona *that makes sense* (the guy who had his wife frozen in his refrigerator, which just happened to be in my hometown, comes to mind).

Here are a few examples of threads I wouldn't mind posting on this forum, though.:

-----------------------------------

There are three blondes in a bar shouting "51! 51! Alright!" and cheering. The bartender walks up sand says "51 what? What's all this about?" and one of the blondes says happily "We did a puzzle in 51 days! The box said 2-3 years, but we did it in 51 days!"

A boy goes to his father and says "Dad, is God male or female?"
The dad says "neither."
The boy says "Dad, is God black or white?"
The dad says "neither."
So, the boy thinks about this a while, and asks "So, Dad, is Micheal Jackson God?"

-----------------------------------

Not like you wanted to know those...I just kinda added that last part so I could post some jokes. I'm always a little foggy on what is PC and what isn't, so I just base my jokes on my company. I think the above jokes are fine, especially when you think about all the references to onanism on this board. That gives even me the willies.

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rivka
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Xavier, I could have commented on the joke, but I was refraining. I try not to post in anger.

While none of the jokes on this thread have been particularly tasteful, and only one or two have been ones I would even consider repeating, that one was among the most tasteless.

There are better ways to make a point.

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dkw
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Rabbit, I donít believe sndrake is "way off the mark." The special Olympics joke states that a non-retarded person achieving nothing at all is better than a retarded person achieving top honors in a competition. In other words, there is nothing a retarded person can do or achieve, no matter the effort, that brings them up to the level the non-retarded person is at just by existing. And that is exactly the opinion held by those who believe that mentally disabled children would be ďbetter offĒ if they didnít survive at birth. Yes, itís a slippery slope argument, but it is not unconnected.
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Xavier
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I was trying to be offensive.

I want some people to realize that they are only "just jokes" because they don't offend you in particular. To me there is very little difference between some of the jokes on this thread and that one.

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Svidrigailov
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Let me reiterate, I find you disgusting. I can put up with "un-PC" jokes. I really don't care. But the fact that you feel that telling them is WRONG, but you do it anyway leaves me filled with contempt.

Furthermore, the terms and agreements page to this web forum states:

quote:
You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use this BB to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You also agree that you will not use this forum to try to convert people to your own religious beliefs, or to disparage others for their own religious beliefs.
So, as you can see this violates the terms, not that I care. If at some point in the future someone DOES start making anti-mormon jokes then they better just let them slide. If you're not going to enforce your terms then equally don't enforce them. Of course, they can do whatever the hell they want since it is a private BB, but I can't stand hypocracy.
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rivka
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I realize that you were, Xavier.
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Synesthesia
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I always have mixed feelings.
I hate political correctness. I think it drowns out any kind of serious discussion about an issue by making peopel say "You are being too PC." or making people say, "You are not being PC enough."
It is difficult to win in such a situation so one must simply tell it like it is at times and not play that silly sort of game.
However, certain jokes, stereotypes and images still annoy me and make me angry. I don't like seeing some old movie with a white guy dressed up like an Asian guy talking with a ridiculous, exagerrated accent. I despise modern shows that only portray Hispanic women as maids and seeing the same sort of stereotypes about blacks, gays, any group dragged out on the screen.
But how can you see it clearly if it's censored? How can you understand why joking about rape or mental retardation or being too casual about a subject is wrong without directing touching a person's nerves?

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Paul Goldner
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"I guess I should have just laughed and joined in the merriment though, right Paul? I mean, they are just jokes."

No, Xavier... my point isn't that you should laugh at jokes you don't find funny. The fact you think so tells me you didn't bother to try to understand my post at all.

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katharina
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quote:
I also think it's wrong to lump it with the "Helen Keller" joke, which, regardless of whether or not you find it funny, does not make a statement about her worth or about the worth of deaf people in general.

Thank you.

The point of my joke was that it is possible to tell jokes addressing disabilities without being dreadful and offensive. Even then, I softened the joke. Originally the setup was "Why didn't Helen Keller scream when she fell off the cliff?". In that scenario, HK is toast, no matter what. In this joke, she just sees the train coming, and therefore there is a possiblity or likelihood of getting off the tracks. In the first joke's world, she's dead. In the second joke's world, she pulled a Stand By Me.

On the other hand, part of a successful joke is the shock value - the little jolt of the unexpected or startling. I could soften the joke and still an effect because the previous discussion had heightened our sensitivity. I can see how someone would have to make the joke gruesomer to get a reaction out of a less-attuned audience. The question is how gruesome does it need to be before it is too far?

Now that I've sucked all the humor out of it....

[ September 30, 2003, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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UofUlawguy
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My four year old has started learning, telling and laughing at jokes. At his age, the reason jokes are funny is because they are absurd. He is learning about how the world works, and so he is tickled when he can recognize that a joke presents a picture of the world that isn't quite right.

Older kids start getting into at least two other kinds of humor: humor that pokes fun, and humor that relieves pain/stress. The former is universal, and is a big part of what we often call "immaturity," even when it is exhibited by grown people. The latter is something that stays with you the rest of your life, and the need for it just keeps growing the more stress and pain you experience.

The thing is, these two areas overlap a lot. The same joke can be told as a way of poking fun, and as a way of relieving pain and stress. Even kids are usually able to tell the difference in the way the joke is told. For example, it is possible to tell a joke based on race, nationality or sex in a mean-spirited, vicious way. It is often also possible to tell the same joke in a way that simply invites people to look at an issue that might otherwise be avoided because it has too many painful/stressful connections. A joke told this way is not only not offensive, it is actually healthy and helpful. Context is very important.

However, there is a whole related class of jokes that are only vicious, and have no value as healthy jokes. I think a very useful discussion would be one that examines this line.

My first proposal is that jokes that are about the characteristics, real or misperceived, of a person or group have at least the potential of being "good" jokes. In addition, jokes that are about generic human suffering can also be "good." However, jokes that are about the real-life suffering of actual groups or people are almost never "good." An exception might be made if the sufferer himself/herself makes the joke as part of a cathartic process.

I think there are a lot of holes in this theory, so fire away.

UofUlawguy

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UofUlawguy
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Stranger in a Strange Land wasn't my favorite book, but there was one scene in it that really made me think. I wish I could remember exactly how it goes. It's when Valentine (the Martian-raised human) finally figures out laughter.

The whole book he puzzles over the reasons why people laugh, and what they find funny. Finally, after he sees a lot of the meanness and suffering in the world, he has this moment at the zoo. He is watching the monkeys, and sees a large monkey strike a smaller one and take its food. The smaller one shrieks and rubs it head or something, but then runs over and smacks an even smaller monkey upside the noggin'.

Valentine just cracks up. For the first time in his life, he laughs. He tells the woman beside him that he has finally figured out laughter. He says something to the effect that people laugh because it hurts too much.

Can anyone remember the exact line?

UofUlawguy

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mackillian
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rivka: but it's so warm and squishy!

I'll have to address the other stuff when I get home from work. [Smile]

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Morbo
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quote:
I think about the possibllity of developing other types of mental and/or intellectual disabilities because I am probably more at risk than most people for early development of motor and cognitive losses. I suspect, but cannot know for sure, since there aren't more than a handful of people my age with hydrocephalus, that I may show neurological signs of aging sooner than most.
I can't say I look forward to it - who like change that involves increased difficulty in living your life? But it doesn't really bother me and it doesn't scare me. My intellect isn't the only thing I value about me. And I have known many people over the years with significant limitations in mental ability whose company I enjoyed.
That really is where I'm at on mental disabilities. I know it's not exactly a dominant perspective.

Stephan, thank you for posting this, it illustrates your view well. I knew that you had hydrocephalus and that you were an advocate for people with disablities. But I had no idea your future mental health was so uncertain. I don't know much about hydrocephalus beyond the definition, but I do know that people with rare disorders are basically at the mercy of fate, medicine is relatively impotent to help them as it relies on large populations of patients to test theories, medicines, treatments, etc. "there aren't more than a handful of people my age with hydrocephalus." I didn't know that, I'm glad you've beaten the odds so far and I hope you continue to do so. I've learned from various posts you've made regarding the marginalization of people with disbilities, and how society generally values their lives and struggles and accomplishments less than more normal members of society, and it has really made me think. Keep up the good work! [Hat]

My intellect is almost the only thing I value about me, though I don't like that it is how I am. Senility, alzheimer's and mental illness terrify me. Kudos to you for facing your greater risk of those problems with more courage than I have.

And more kudos for having the depth of soul to get to know " many people over the years with significant limitations in mental ability whose company I enjoyed." Though I am far humbler than when I was a teenager (What an arrogant jerk I was! I shudder to think, [Angst] ), I am still something of an intellectual snob. Your statement makes me realize how shallow and condescending I can sometimes be, though I hope I haven't come across that way on the forum.

I just went to your webpage via your profile. Holy crap, I had no idea forced sterilization was so common in the US.

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Icarus
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quote:
I despise modern shows that only portray Hispanic women as maids and seeing the same sort of stereotypes about blacks, gays, any group dragged out on the screen.
Sorry to derail, but this reminded me of how the first Bad Boys was set in Miami but had no Latino cops or citizens. The only Latinos in the movie were, of course, the drug dealers. Apparently they couldn't find any others in Miami. [Mad] Is the sequel any better on this count?

-o-

You know, in between the personal atacks, we are actually seeing some good discussion of an interesting issue here.

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Morbo
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Uof Ulaw guy, I forgot about thet passage, very appropriate. Stranger is one of my favorite novels and has shaped the way I look at the world significently because I read it in Jr high.
quote:
[after seeing the apes, Mike bceomes convulsed with laughter, to the point the zoo attendant wants to call an ambulance for Mike and Jill instead of a cab][paragraphs of endearments form Mike to Jill]
..."Jill, I grok people"
"But how, darling? Can you tell me? Does it need martian? Or mindtalk?"
"No, that's the point. I grok people. I am people . . . so now I can say it in people talk. I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much. . . because it's the only thing that will make it stop hurting. [more dicussion, no time to post.]

Heinlein

Does anybody still want this thread deleted? I could see you point if it was just a list of offensive or non-PC jokes. But it isn't.

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Synesthesia
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Don't delete it.
It's an issue people need to think about and deleting it will just make folks forget.

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Icarus
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I don't think it should be deleted, but I don't agree with the judgment of people who posted inappropriate jokes here.
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Deirdre
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quote:
The same joke can be told as a way of poking fun, and as a way of relieving pain and stress. Even kids are usually able to tell the difference in the way the joke is told. For example, it is possible to tell a joke based on race, nationality or sex in a mean-spirited, vicious way. It is often also possible to tell the same joke in a way that simply invites people to look at an issue that might otherwise be avoided because it has too many painful/stressful connections. A joke told this way is not only not offensive, it is actually healthy and helpful. Context is very important.

Yeah, I agree. For me, context is everything because it's the difference between laughing with someone and at them. It's why most people wouldn't have a problem hearing a joke about their father from their brother, but they would take issue if they heard the same joke from the rich kid down the street.

Who was it who had that theory about comedy engaging the intellect and suspending empathy? (Probably a lot of people, really, but I was thinking of one guy in particular.) I tend to buy into to that mostly, or at least the jist of it. Most humor, if it doesn't trivialize and desensitize, does at least tweak our perspective in a way that throws off our usual emotional response.

Sometimes, though, it's deliberately set up to backfire, so that it engages both intellect and empathy. A lot of satirists use that approach, from Jonathan Swift to Mark Twain to David Sedaris. That's the best kind of humor, IMO.

[ September 30, 2003, 12:30 PM: Message edited by: Deirdre ]

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Hobbes
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You know, I looked back at what I posted and when and I realized that I was primarily responsible for most of the complaints, if only because Pat started off with a decent topic and I didnít follow up. Icarus is right, I showed really poor judgment posting those jokes, without, really, any other purpose. Iím not going to delete or edit what I wrote since that would feel like I was trying to hide what I did, which wouldnít really be fair. I apologize to everyone who was offended by what I wrote, and I hope you guys forgive me. I havenít decided yet, but I may ban myself for a few days as punishment, in the hopes that next time Iíll think through what I say here before I say it.

Iím sorry guys. [Frown] [Embarrassed] [Frown]

Hobbes [Smile]

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sndrake
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I don't want this thread deleted, either. I hope no one thought I was asking for that. As difficult as some of this is, it's been valuable for me, even if for no one else. Wiping it out and pretending it never happened doesn't make sense - the phrase "throwing the baby out with the bath water" comes to mind.

I'll post more later. After getting up at 5 am, I have to stay at work until maybe 8 pm - there's a meeting that I don't have to attend, but I have to give a ride to someone who does. I need to let my coffee buzz wear off and go find a corner here to take a nap.

Nice thing about working with a disability organization - the nap I need today is understood by all to be a "reasonable accommodation." [Smile]

and...

[Sleep]

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UofUlawguy
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Rather than edit my post, I'll add here another point I had intended to include.

Because humor that pokes fun is so common among children, and causes so much consternation and hurt feelings among those who are the butt of the jokes, many people develop an inability to see a joke as anything but poking fun. These people are likely to find a joke offensive simply because it could, under other circumstances, be used to poke fun. They find it difficult or impossible to see the usefulness and appropriateness of the joke in its correct context.

These people have a lot to learn.

Unfortunately, there are also people who have never grown out of the childish phase of mean and hurtful humor that simply elicits giggles because it pokes fun at someone. These immature folk still find great glee in making themselves feel more important by putting others down. They misinterpret "good" jokes and may be likely to repeat them later in highly inappropriate contexts and with malicious intent.

These people also have a lot to learn, but I sometimes despair of their ever learning it.

UofUlawguy

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katharina
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quote:
These people have a lot to learn.

Maybe they have a lot to unlearn.
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Papa Moose
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I sorta touched on this subject in this thread already, but I'll share a couple things that have probably already been said in this thread and so will not be useful at all.

I think it's possible to make a joke about a characteristic of a group of people without attaching a value-judgment to that group. It's the attachment of that value-judgment that moves jokes from the humorous to the offensive category (though admittedly it's possible to remain in both from an objective standpoint, but not usually from a subjective one).

In most cases, I'm fairly detached from humor. I worked as the house manager of a comedy show for three-and-a-half years, and so became pretty much inured to comedy. I'll still recognize things as objectively funny, but there are far fewer things I find subjectively funny, at least enough to actually laugh at them.

I don't think there's a line -- I think there's a fading from light to dark. If one's goal is to avoid offending anyone, stay to the light side. There are plenty of jokes there, and some very good ones, and they can be told without offending anyone except those who don't get jokes. [Tangent]One of my brother's favorite jokes: "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Interrupting cows." "Interrup-" "MOO!" He told this joke to a woman in one of his classes at college, and her reply was, "What, are you calling me a cow? Are you saying I'm fat?" [/Tangent]

Some humor relies on how close it is to the dark side, or even having to cross over. Those tend to be my least favorite. I'm consistently unimpressed with black men who tell black jokes, gay men who tell gay jokes, latino men who tell latino jokes, Jewish men who tell Jewish jokes, fat men who tell fat jokes, etc. I think a repertoire of humor that relies on such a gimmick is in most cases rather pathetic. I won't begrudge them their audience, but I certainly don't want to be a part of it.

However, I realize also that a white man who tells black jokes, or a straight man who tells gay jokes, or any of these other categories -- such people are far less likely to be found funny, unless their audience consists of people who agree with the stereotypes portrayed in the jokes. I think that's far, far sadder.

My personal favorite type of humor is a play on words. Not so much puns, though they're the lowest common denominator of the category, but the unexpected twist resulting from an intentional misunderstanding of the clear meaning of words. This is probably why I provide such a rash of Onanism jokes. (Sorry if mentioning Onanism and rash in the same sentence brings up painful memories for anyone.) I think it's important that the joke be on the words, though, rather than on the person who said them. Some people don't discriminate between the two -- I try to be aware of who those people are, and refrain from the jokes if I know they will offend.

As I said in the other thread, there is comedy which makes fun of the stereotypes themselves -- movies like Blazing Saddles and The Three Amigos, for example. These often have a little more bite to the humor, and maybe I find them funny because I agree with the judgment that the stereotypes are objectively wrong. But that's subjective, too, isn't it?

I've rambled, touched on a few points but probably failed to support any of them completely. I think motivation is horrendously important, but also cannot be known; therefore, I try to assume the best of motivations for all people, whether joking or not. But I'm not perfect, and I have in the past ripped into someone (here at Hatrack, in fact) because I judged his motivation. I judged it wrongly, however, and felt bad afterward.

When I'm judging humor, I also find myself often considering what type of people would likely form an appreciative audience for the joke, and reflect on whether or not I'd want to be one of those people. Yes, some motivation judgment occurs there, too, but I keep it to myself.

But as I believe has been asked, what is the appropriate response? I received a joke via e-mail (twice) in which I found no humor and plenty of maliciousness. Both people who sent it are close to me, and I love and respect each of them. I'd like to think that I responded to them telling of my being offended for their sakes -- I wouldn't want them being thought of as the type of people who would send such jokes to others. Looking back, I was angry about other things (like Mooselet's current sleeping habits or lack thereof), and took it out on them.

Just so I don't sound completely pompous about the whole thing, here's my joke, also received via e-mail:
quote:
A woman is looking at herself in the mirror after a shower, and comments that she thinks her breasts are too small. The husband, instead of telling her it's not true (as he usually does), tells her to rub toilet paper between her breasts for a few seconds several times a day. "It will take time, but they'll grow larger over the next several years."

She tears off a piece and begins to rub. "What makes you think this will make my breasts grow larger?"

"Worked for your butt, didn't it?"

--Pop
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Synesthesia
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[Confused]
I don't get it...

I have a weird sense of humour. It's remarkable the silly things I think are funny.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
The special Olympics joke states that a non-retarded person achieving nothing at all is better than a retarded person achieving top honors in a competition.
While I can see how one could interpret the joke that way, the joke does not state that. In fact, even after thinking it over carefully it never occurred to me that this was intended in the joke. To me the joke begs the question "Would you choose to be seriously mentally disabled if it meant you would win the gold in the special Olympics?" and for most of us the answer is so obviously "no" that is obsurd to ask the question. That obsurdity is what makes the joke funny.

In my mind, that is totally different than asking "Would you rather be mentally retarded or dead?" because the latter question is not obsurd. It hits closer to the heart of who we are and what we value in our lives and in ourselves as individuals.

I suppose that I should add that while I don't think the joke is offensive, I personally I don't find the joke funny. I think it rubs me the wrong way because the word "retard" was used when I was a kid to mock people who were different so I have a knee jerk negative reaction when its used.

[ September 30, 2003, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Morbo
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Good humor often has an edge to it. That's why it can be risky and sometimes not funny.

Recently I was over visting two black friends of mine. I am white. It came time to leave, but it suddenly started to pour down rain. One friend went and got a white trash bag and slit the the side down so it would fit over my head and shoulders, We had recently seen Dave Chappele's bit on his show in which he plays a blind, black white supremist/KKK'er. So I punched two eyeholes in the bag, threw it on and shouted "White power! White power!" while raising my fist like Chappelle had done.

Risky? Yes, very. In fact, I probably wouldn't have done it if I had thought longer about it. But they thought it was funny (I hope.) I got away with it because they knew I was quoteing Chappelle and that I think white supremists are morons. I was mocking the KKK, not black folks.

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Icarus
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quote:
I may ban myself for a few days as punishment . . .
[Eek!]

Nooooooooo!

[Frown]

No Hobbes?

Is this a punishment for you or for the rest of us?

[Wink]

((Hobbes))

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MaureenJanay
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quote:
However, the one joke that seems REALLY REALLY inappropriate to me on this thread is the one about the astronauts. Making fun of a class of people is one thing. Making fun of the actual deaths of specific people with families and friends is just wrong.
I think this describes how I feel. I don't think a joke is funny when it addresses someone's suffering. I do think that other un-PC jokes are funny, but I probably wouldn't tell them. Just because something is funny, does that mean you have to say it?

It turns out that most of the jokes I've told since childhood were based on very racial ones, but my parents cleaned it up to tell them to me. I did think the original jokes were funny, but I leave them cleaned up and tell them that way. Why offend someone when you don't have to? I understand that you can't avoid offending everyone all the time, but people have taken this and used it as an excuse to blatently and purposefully offend people. I think if you can avoid offense, then you should. If you can't avoid it, then do it, and don't lose sleep over it. I really don't think that telling offensive jokes in necessary for anyone, nor does it IMPROVE anyone's quality of life, when there are other, less offensive jokes available. So let's not tell them anymore, okay?

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mackillian
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quote:

GRANDMA

The other day I went up to a local Christian bookstore and saw a honk if you love Jesus bumper sticker.

I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put in on my bumper.

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is and I didn't notice that the light had changed.

It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.

I found that LOTS of people love Jesus. Why, while I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and when he leaned out of his window and screamed, "for the love of God, GO! GO!" What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus.

Everyone started honking! I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people.

I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love. There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach...

I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. When I asked my teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant, he said that it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.

Well, I've never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back.

My grandson burst out laughing, why even he was enjoying this religious experience.

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me.

I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.

So, I waved to all my sisters and brothers grinning, and drove on through the intersection.

I noticed I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and I felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared, so I slowed the car down, leaned out of the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!

Bunch of steretypes in there, right?

But I laughed. And laughed. Maybe 'cause of the Hawaiian salute. [Wink]

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Pat
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When I started this thread I was posting in my Trogdor character, and because of it, I was a little out of line.

As the thread progressed, I've decided that this is one of those arena's where I'm not all knowing. I am liable to make mistakes, and to be honest, I'm ready to admit that some of the earlier jokes I posted and summarily deleted were wrong.

I will again invoke Slash's 4444 thread when he told me that he won't forgive his father because his father abused him when he could not defend himself. I agree with this. There is nothing worse than a big strong man picking on someone who defenseless.

I went home and thought about this alot. When we tell and laugh at un-pc jokes are we picking on those who cannot defend themselves? And when we try to explain it away as just having fun, or try to dissect what makes the joke funny are we just deluding ourselves?

Would I have told that opening joke to OSC or Geoff knowing that they both had a family member who was mentally disadvantaged pass away recently? Would I have felt equally stupid if I would have told it to a group, not knowing that they were listening around the corner?

[Frown]

I love children. I love all children. I would never do anything to hurt them. Why then, would I tell jokes about retarded children, that would hurt them if they knew what was being said about them?

I've learned from you on this subject, people. Perhaps I never thought it through like this before, but I will not participate in humor that makes fun of groups of people who a. can't fight back, b. are abused, or c. not deserving of the humor thrown at them.

I'm not going to edit my original post. But I wouldn't write those same things again with the wisdom I've gained. It's not a question of being conservative minded or liberal minded. It's a question of treating human beings correctly.

Pat

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katharina
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*won't hug Pat, but would if it was okay*

Thanks, Trogdor. Still Magnus.

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docmagik
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I've avoided this thread because I thought it was just going to be a list of racist jokes that degenerated into dirty jokes, and that didn't really appeal to me.

But this has turned into a fascinating thread, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to pipe up sooner.

Unfortunately, this post is going to be long, and therefore a lot of you won't read it. That's cool. Move along.

But for the brave with free time . . .

As a couple of you know, I'm a huge fan of one of the most offensive people on radio, and that's Phil Hendrie. His schtick is that he does voices, and he'll do the voices of his own guests, outrageous people who have horrible ideas. He talks to himself for a while, until he can get people outraged enough to call in who don't know the whole thing is staged.

Last night he was pretending to be a doctor who likes to help handicapped drivers who are driving too slowly to learn they're just as capable of going fast as any other driver. He does this by getting right up on thier bumper and leaning on the horn until they speed up.

So you can see he gets to deal with issues in a unique way. This particular bit put tailgaiting in a whole new light.

But one of the themes that runs through all of his shows is this: How manipulatable are we? How easily can somebody goad us into a reaction?

Not all of his voices are really that good (although some are amazing). But people are so pre-programmed to be outraged at certain things that they don't stop long enough to use thier brains and realize he's kidding.

(Although admittedly, part of what we see is also how scarily plausible even the most outrageous ideas can be.)

If you ask me, he's the opposite of such shows as Ren & Stimpy or South Park, where much of the humor relies on that "giggle at the naughty" reaction that a lot of us tried to overcome sometime after junior high. Those shows rely on thier audience's knee-jerk reaction to offensiveness to entertain. If you've outgrown the urge to laugh at detailed drawings of boogers or animated pieces of poo, the shows aren't really anything but boring.

However, there's another part of society that automatically reacts to the naughty by drawing back and screaming in horror, and that's why the shows get so much publicity. People are just reacting to what they've seen in the way they've become accustomed to.

So the shows take advantage of these built in "naughty" buttons by pushing them and making us all jump. What Phil's show's taught me, and I agree with, is that maybe we should uninstall the button and jump when we're ready to jump.

-------------------------------------

That said, there are offensive things I find funny, and offensive things I won't touch.

I find jokes about tragedy funny. My favorite joke of all time is about a Brazilian rock group that died in an airplane crash. (I won't bother to repeat it--unless you know the brazilian music scene from the mid-'90's, it's not that funny.) I find the challenger jokes funny. I love the joke that comes up whenever a celebrity dies in a car crash:

"Did you hear that ________ was on the radio?

And the dashboard? And the steering wheel?"

Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because I feel that joking about death gives us a certain power over it. By being able to laugh at tragedy, it helps us remember we're alive.

I don't know. Maybe that's a schlock answer. I certainly know there's a reason they call a morbid fascination with death a MORBID fascination with death.

------------------------

I've also traditionally found a lot of the "broken-down dishwasher"-style jokes funny, but I'm finding them less and less funny as I get older. A lot of that has to do with having two daughters of my own, now.

I used to think of stuff like "pornography" as victimless, solitary enterprises. Just somebody alone with a magazine or video. But now that I feel responsible for the protection of my two little girls, phrases like "objectification of women," are starting to mean something more to me than they did before.

This kind of humor can desensitize. If you doubt that humor can desensitize, think about television. Any "verbotten" topic on television is first introduced through humor. First it's through innuendo, then by jokes, then it becomes refrenced in passing, then it's just out there. Now we're to the point where you can learn more about sex from an hour of CSI than I knew in the first year of my marriage.

(Not to knock CSI, one of my wife's favorite shows.)

But by the same token, humor can also pull the rug out from under sacred cows, or point out that the emperor really doesn't have any clothes after all--lay things bare in a way they need to be laid bare so we can see them more truthfully. In other words, the same power humor has to desensitize us to evil can be used to strip away pretense that may be keeping us from seeing something in its true light.

----------------------------------

Phil Hendrie subscribes to the philosphy that's been brought up in this thread--it's wrong to make fun of something that somebody cannot change, but it's perfectly fine to make fun of something they choose to do. Hence, it's wrong to call Osama a geezer, but pefectly fine to call him a towel-head.

I disagree with this mostly because of the collary that's also been mentioned in this thread--you're allowed to make fun of something that can't be changed, as long as you're a part of the group that you're making fun of.

Now here's the deal: I think these guidelines are helpful to commics who are trying to make someone else laugh. It's usefull to know what's going to make people giggle and what's going to make them glare.

But as far as what I'M going to find funny, I don't think they make any difference. Humor is so serendipitous that impossible to lay out in A B C order all the elements that will make me laugh. If those words get into my brain and fire off that right set of neurons in that right way, I'm going to giggle, whether I'm proud of it or not.

So any "rule" like that really is just a guideline.

---------------------------------

One of the biggest moments in TV history was on the Dick Van Dyke show. (Dick Van Dyke show spoilers! [Smile] ) In the episode entitled "That's My Boy!" Laura has Richie. Because so many of the gifts they were getting were getting mixed up with the gifts of another family down the hall, Rob becomes convinced he has the wrong baby. He calls the other family, who he never met while at the hospital, and asks them to come over so they can straighten things out.

When they get there, the other family turns out to be black.

It's hilarious. They said it was the only time they ever edited the show because the audience laugh was just so long they could't keep it all in.

But CBS was sweating over whether to put it in or not. "You're making fun of the fact that the man is black!" the execs told Carl Reiner.

"No," Carl told them, "We're making fun of the fact that Rob's a dope!"

So after consultation with various minority groups who cleared the program, they aired it, and it's still one of the funniest moments in TV history.

Why do I tell this big long story?

Because ultimately, this is where being TOO PC will lead us back to. A place where we'd rather not bring up a topic at all than run the risk of offending somebody.

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Icarus
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quote:
Now we're to the point where you can learn more about sex from an hour of CSI than I knew in the first year of my marriage.

(Not to knock CSI, one of my wife's favorite shows.)

[ROFL] [ROFL] [ROFL] [ROFL]

*sigh*

::wipes tear::

[Big Grin]

-o-

Good post. Interesting ideas.

I don't think the point was to figure out when they were funny, but a code of ethics behind when it was OK to tell them or to laugh at them.

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The Rabbit
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I just read this joke. It clearly has a liberal bias, does that make it PC?

quote:
A lobbyist, on his way home from work in Washington, D.C., came to a dead halt in traffic and thought to himself, "Wow, this seems worse than usual.

He noticed a police officer walking between the lines of stopped cars, so he rolled down his window and asked, "Officer, what's the hold up?"

The officer replied, "The President is depressed, so he stopped his motorcade and is threatening to douse himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. He says no one believes his stories about why we went to war in Iraq, or the connection between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, or that his tax cuts will help anyone except his wealthy friends; the press called him on the lie about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger, and now Campbell Brown is threatening to sue him for a sexual innuendo he made at a recent press conference. So we're taking up a collection for him.

The lobbyist asks, "How much have you got so far?"

The officer replies, "About 14 gallons, but a lot of folks are still siphoning."


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Nick
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I thought it was a hilarious joke, even though I am not liberal. [Dont Know]
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katharina
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quote:
now Campbell Brown is threatening to sue him for a sexual innuendo he made at a recent press conference
Is this true? I couldn't find any more information about it.
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docmagik
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The president joke is another joke that reappears from time to time. Last time I heard it, it was an OJ joke.
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Morbo
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How can you tell the difference between a Democrat and a Republican?
Throw a nickel on the table and turn your back.
A Democrat will steal the nickel but a Republican will kill you for it.

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mackillian
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*snort*
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Dude Love
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Dave Barry:

quote:
The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and time again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club.

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Feyd Baron
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Well, I figured this belonged here...

quote:
The Difference Between Liberals, Conservatives and Texans

Question: You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges. You are carrying a Glock .40 and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Liberal's Answer:

Well, that's not enough information to answer the question! Does the man look poor or oppressed? Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack? Could we run away? What does my wife think? What about the kids? Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand? What does the law say about this situation? Does the Glock have an appropriate safety built into it? Why am I carrying a loaded gun and what kind of message does this send to society and my children? Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me? Does he definitely want to kill me or would he just be content to wound me? If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me? This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for a few days to try to come to a conclusion.
_________________________________________________________

Conservative's Answer:

BANG!
_________________________________________________________

Texan's Answer:

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click... (Sounds of reloading).

Wife: "Sweetheart, he looks like he's still moving, what do you kids think?"

Son: "Mom's right Dad, I saw it too..."

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click.

Daughter: "Nice group, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips

Yeah, so I found it funny, so sue me.

Feyd Baron, DoC

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mackillian
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[ROFL]
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Morbo
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"Nice group, Daddy!" [ROFL]

Oh sure, Dude Love, trump me with the master, [Hail] Dave Barry. I have got to buy one of his books.

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Taberah
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Speaking of not politically correct and potentially offensive, allow me to submit this website for your consideration:

http://www.tardblog.com

This once more raises questions about what it is okay to joke about. The use of the word "tard" unsettles me, but I don't think the authors are really being mean-spirited. It reads more like cynical humor than vitriol. I suppose I'd have to see the teacher in action to really know if there is spite underlying this or not.

Is the stress-relief argument valid?

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Taberah
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On further reading, I'm slightly more unsettled. The use of profanity in particular bothers me, but I'm also seeing more than just exasperation.

Let me know what you think; if the link really bothers anyone I'll delete my previous post.

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sndrake
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Taberah,

I'm offended, but don't delete the link. The rationale of stress reduction is tripe.

I worked for years in different settings - special ed classes, day treatment centers and group homes. Sometimes I did bring my stories home and tell them in private - with people who had heard enough stories to see the students/clents as full human beings. With rare exceptions - and changing lots of the identifying details - do I tell a story in public that makes someone look bad. Someone with whom I was put in a position of power and trust.

As near as I can tell, any real contact info for the authors of the site is absent. Doesn't that alone tell you something?

Think about one of the justifications they are using - I'll paraphrase. "I'm the one who has to deal with these ____, and because of that I have the right to say whatever I want to say about them. And since they don't know about this, they don't get to respond. Nor do their parents."

What does that sound like to you?

The foul language on the site is the least of its problems.

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mackillian
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I am an evil horrible person.
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rivka
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Ok, I got curious enough to follow the link.

This person has no business being a SEd teacher. Never mind how she reacts to stress. Or the fact that she tries really hard not to see her students outside of school. The two sentences that totally floored me:
quote:
I still don't know why Malcolm wanted to be in the building so much.

Why on EARTH not? After all that, when things calmed down, why didn't she find out?? At the very least, for the practical reason that this might come up again.

quote:
Despite this amazing effort, he didn't actually do any of the problems. Apparently after all that hard work making the booklet he didn't feel like putting anything in it.

Let me guess. She didn't reinforce his hard work, did she. [Frown]

I have several friends who work in SEd, and they would be aghast. The stories they tell are sweet or, occasionally to vent frustration. None of this deliberate cruelty. And she thinks she doesn't make fun of her students??? Wow, talk about denial and delusion. If she wanted to tell funny stories, it would be so easy to do so minus the cruel sniping.

Just lovely, how she claims that any problems I have with the site or word choices are mine, not hers. [Roll Eyes] No, of course none of the responsibility is hers.

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Morbo
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"This person has no business being a SEd teacher" Amen. They have no respect for the people they are working with.

That was the most offensive thing on this thread, to me.

Tards--"We wanted to make up a word [for the disabled students.]" What's wrong with "people," or "human beings?" Labels suck.

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Dagonee
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This thread pre-dates me (just barely), but having had it brought to my attention, I though I'd comment on the nun joke:

quote:
The butt of the joke, in this case, is the thug who doesn't "know what he's does." We laugh because of the play on words, but also because of an inner fear. The first nun says the thugs don't know what they are doing, in a moral sense. The second nun disagrees... by taking a totally different meaning of the phrase uttered by the first nun.
What some people may not know is that there is a VERY long history of anti-Catholicism that expresses itself by alleging that nuns are sex-fiends and that convents are house of prostitution.

"Get thee to a nunnery" is Shakespeare way of having Hamlet tell Ophelia she's a whore. There were a lot of books published in 19th century America about people "rescued" from sexual slavery in convents. Basically, it was the preferred way to publish pornography for a while.

So while the listener may not know this when laughing at the joke, be aware that it is part of a long, ugly tradition.

Dagonee

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