Wednesday, May 20, 2009

racist humor

A Rabbi and a Priest are walking down the street. They pass a schoolyard of a boys school. The priest whispers to the Rabbi, "Hey, let's screw those kids." The Rabbi responds, "out of..?"

Someone I barely know, who says they are Catholic and know I am Jewish, told me that joke. Why is that Ok? Is it Ok? Is it not Ok?

I accept that artists, be they painters or comedians or actors or other, but people pursuing art, may at times break the lines and barriars that society has drawn and that is awesome in my p.o.v. But is it ok for regular people to tell these types of jokes? Does it matter the race/religion/gender of either the teller or listner?

I hear less and less of this type of humor, but it is still previlant.


Jason said...

There are a few reasons why I don't take ethnic jokes too seriously:

1. Perhaps because Jews have faced so much real oppression, it's quite difficult for me to get offended at a joke. I would rather focus my attention on individuals who pose a real threat to Jewish welfare.

2. The majority of the people I know who make ethnic jokes do not harbor real animosity towards them.

And of those who harbor animosity, a tiny, tiny minority would ever put it into practice.

So, it makes much more sense to be vigilant against the small number of people who are truely racist who truely pose a threat to the well being of other people.

3. Because of politically correct taboos there is a large gulf between what most people express and what they think of certain groups, making honest dialogue on race all but impossible. Until our culture reaches a point in which honest dialogue is possible, humor may serve as a healthy safety valve.

The Way said...

I see your point. But I guess maybe that its not the joke itself that bothers me so much as the person's decision to tell the joke.

I understand if you're in a particularly comfortable setting with friends and making silly or stupidly silly jokes. But when you tell a joke like that to an almost complete stranger, even jokingly as in this case, there is something about that lack of distance that bothers me. That he can tell it openly to a stranger gnaws at me for some reason.

Jason said...

Your point about the context of complete strangers versus friends that you know is valid. So, it would seem as if your concern is less on racial sensitivity and more on social space and familiarity.

The Way said...

or a combination of lack of social space as it regards racial/ethnic sensitivity...