A discussion borne out of a Facebook post where I shared and questioned what’s “funny.” In no way am I defending performative outrage with no other intent than to offend.
So, since I’m NOT posting the meme that started the controversy, I had better describe it. It was a little after the big fire on Maui. Someone posted a picture of a pizza crust that was pure black, and it read “Hawaiian pizza.” My introduction to that meme was, “VERY dark humor, and WAY too soon. What happened there is horrible. But I get the humor.” In post after post I mentioned my purpose WAS to question the humor. And I mentioned my other purpose was to start a discussion.
Well, I sure did!
However, I do think I need to address what’s offensive and people’s reaction to it.
Some have its assumptions of racism and who is racist. Not necessarily the same, racism being more institution. Anyone can be a racist. And some of that IS mere all too convenient assumption.
Others have “culture wars” where history itself is found “offensive.” If whites burned down a black town 100 years ago are you to blame? Of course not, but learning about such events helps us understand difficulties our ancestors went through, why things may be as they are now. It’s not “woke,” learning history is about being and staying AWAKE. However, as George Will said, sometimes we skip over those who fought against such things who were white.
Here’s another example, one person objecting to a book being used in school: a book sold in their own book fair that her students chose, can get a teacher fired.
If the teacher could no longer use that book, I get it. Maybe not agree, but get it. Fired? No.
There are plenty of things both sides find offensive. And there are many more things either side wants to ban, get people fired over, socially shame people over. “Snowflakes” is no one sided accusation. However, such comments and efforts stifle discussion. Plus, they hardly even address even the paper thin surface level of any single issue.
In my case I wanted to get into what’s humor, what’s not. There’s plenty of humor out there I don’t care for. Eddie Murphy, when he first started, seemed to have a one word laugh line and that word alone is not funny. Andy Kaufman always seemed about as unfunny as one could get. Don Rickles? No matter how kindly intended, usually straight insult humor seems less than unfunny to me, with the caveat being that a roast can be funny, depending on how it’s done.
However, I would ban none of these.
I’m sure you have your dislikes.
I am a fan of the Avenue Q song, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist. It kind of brings home one of my main points here: as hard as we try we all make assumptions about groups of people and individuals; at best they are vast generalizations.
The final question being, “Does avoiding something make it go away?”
No, it still exists out there, so maybe relaxing a bit might be a better option when something is not intended just to offend. Or at least discuss rather than insult or demand.
“Inspection” is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 50 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions.
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