Debate and Discussion

Is it Racist to laugh off ethnic humor?
DAJB at 6:55AM, June 24, 2010
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There are two parts to causing offence. On the one hand, a joke can be deliberately designed to cause offence to a particular national or racial group, by belittling them. On the other hand, there is the perception of the group concerned. In the legislation we now have to live with in many modern day Western societies, I believe we focus so much on the perception of the target group, that we tend to lose sight of a joke's actual intent.

That, coupled with the fact that the courts often award substantial damages for supposed offences, has meant that tawdry money-grubbing individuals are actually incentivised to claim that they've been offended by a joke even when there was clearly no malicious intent or when the majority of other people within that racial or national group would not have been offended.

What I've always liked about the British (and, as bravo1102 mentioned, the Jewish) sense of humour, is that it is very often self-deprecating. We do make jokes at the expense of other nationalities and racial groups (obviously) but - with the exception of a sad minority who are genuinely racist - most Brits are just as likely to make (and laugh at) jokes at their own expense.

*************************

Genejoke
Okay here is a joke, lets see who considers it racially offensive



Thoughts please?
Nope. In a way, this illustrates my point. Because the victims are black, I can imagine the perception of many well-meaning but misguided do-gooders would be that this must be racist. In reality, however, the butt of the joke is the South African police. The intent is clearly to ridicule the authorities who promote prejudice and racism, not the victims of it.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
Product Placement at 7:01AM, June 24, 2010
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ozoneocean
Another one of his gems that seemed to amuse him no end, was that every time he felt cheated at something- in a game, short changed at a shop etc, he'd say that he'd been "jewed'.
The term being “jewed” used to be pretty common not long ago but I think it fell off the radar after WWII, since being antisemitic wasn't hip and cool anymore.
DAJB
What I've always liked about the British (and, as bravo1102 mentioned, the Jewish) sense of humour, is that it is very often self-deprecating. We do make jokes at the expense of other nationalities and racial groups (obviously) but - with the exception of a sad minority who are genuinely racist - most Brits are just as likely to make (and laugh at) jokes at their own expense.
Quite true. They always say that the best comedians are the ones that can make fun of themselves.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
ozoneocean at 7:57AM, June 24, 2010
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DAJB
That, coupled with the fact that the courts often award substantial damages for supposed offences, has meant that tawdry money-grubbing individuals are actually incentivised to claim that they've been offended by a joke even when there was clearly no malicious intent or when the majority of other people within that racial or national group would not have been offended.
I'd love to see a few examples of that.
If that even happens at all, it'd be a very small minority. Sounds more like a strawman argument invented by the old “it's politikal korektness gorn mad!” brigade to me.
DAJB
Nope. In a way, this illustrates my point. Because the victims are black, I can imagine the perception of many well-meaning but misguided do-gooders would be that this must be racist. In reality, however, the butt of the joke is the South African police.
Oh those silly “well-meaning but misguided do-gooders”, always quixotically defending the wrong causes, tilting at windmils etc, etc…
I think only someone who was particularly thick wouldn't get the meaning of that joke, and even then the thicko would probably go the other way and say: “har har har! That'll teach those black guys!”
…And the rest of us would laugh at the thicko.

——————

In the end we know that there are no hard and fast lines about what is offensive and what isn't. As humans, we're not binary like machines, our world isn't simple, black and white, easy to understand. We have our brains, we have intelligence, if people are smart they can work it our for themselves.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
elektro at 4:21PM, June 24, 2010
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Product Placement
The term being “jewed” used to be pretty common not long ago but I think it fell off the radar after WWII, since being antisemitic wasn't hip and cool anymore.

It pretty much got replaced with being “gypped”, which is almost as bad for another group.

Speaking of ethnic humor, am I the only one who thinks the TV edit of the movie “Casino” is actually more offensive than the original version (for example, instead of “Jew motherfucker”, Joe Pesci's character says “Jew money-lover” in the edit)?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM
meemjar at 6:12PM, June 24, 2010
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I'm the one who started all this and I guess I'd better speak up again so as to let everyone know I'm still accounting for my statement.

If we eliminate EVERY joke that offends at least ONE person there would be NO humor left in the world.

I said it before: “Humor belittles…it is the nature of the beast.”

That said I haven't heard many complaints about MY comic here in this site as it tends to sprinkle a little ethnic humor in here and there.
But it also reverses some stereotypes.
Example: My two main girl characters are Swedish and Jewish.
Their stereotypes are reversed as its the Swedish girl who'se a prude and the Jewish girl who'se promiscuous.
Furthermore what about jokes about mentally challenged?
One running joke in my comic is a dimwit named Rob who causes no end of grief because he is so thick.


Finally, I agree that some ethnic groups are unafraid to joke about themselves like the English and the Jewish. But the Afro-Americans can sometimes be able to be self-effacing in humor too.
I would dare say that while these three groups may not have wrote the actual book on comedy, they certainly contributed the most sizeable chapters.

Now speaking of being able to laugh at yourself, I as a Canadian would like to quote some jokes about US!
There's not too many and they're usually about how dull & boring we are (lol!)
I can take that because the grain of truth to it is that while we are NOT really insipid, our ethnic reputation isn't as colorful as other nations.

But here we go;

You may live in Canada;

If your Dairy Queen is closed between October & May.
If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't even work there.
You've worn shorts and a parka at the same time.
You have a lengthy conversation with someone on the phone who dialled a wrong number.
If vacation means going south of Detroit for a weekend.
If you measure distance in hours.
If you know several people who've hit a deer at least once.
If you switch from ‘Heat’ to ‘Air-conditioner’ several times in one day.
If you can drive 90 kmh through 2 feet of snow during a blizzard without flinching.
If you install security lights on both your house and garage yet leave both unlocked.
If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them.
If you can design Halloween costume that fit over a kids snowsuit.
If your doing 90km on a road that has a speed limit of 80 km and everyone else is passing you.
Winter driving is better because the pot-holes are filled with snow.
The four seasons are ‘Nearly Winter, Winter, Still Winter and road construction.’
Your snow-blower has more mileage than your car.
If you find 2 degrees above zero ‘A little chilly’

and lastly;
If you actually get these jokes you're Definately Canadian!

lol! lol! lol! lol! lol!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM
ozoneocean at 8:02PM, June 24, 2010
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meemjar
Now speaking of being able to laugh at yourself, I as a Canadian would like to quote some jokes about US!
There's not too many and they're usually about how dull & boring we are…
Some jokes I've heard from Canada focus on how stupid “newfies” are… also people from Quebec.
Bad ethnic humour ;)

Some “laughing at yourself” Canadian humour that's great are Bob and Doug McKenzie. You hoser.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Product Placement at 8:06PM, June 24, 2010
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meemjar
You may live in Canada;

If…
Oh I love stuff like this! We used to have a thread that encouraged people to post “You know you're a…” jokes about their home state or country. I liked the Australian one :P
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
bravo1102 at 4:07AM, June 25, 2010
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meemjar
But it also reverses some stereotypes.
Example: My two main girl characters are Swedish and Jewish.
Their stereotypes are reversed as its the Swedish girl who'se a prude and the Jewish girl who'se promiscuous.

Actually the promiscuous Jewess/(and Catholic School girl) is also a stereotype. Part of the JAP mystique (Jewish American Princess) is that she'll be a sexual dynamo before her marriage to the good Jewish boy but only with goyim. ;)

Thank you Robyn and Arlene where ever you are.

Cue Frank Zappa.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
bravo1102 at 4:21AM, June 25, 2010
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ozoneocean
Another one of his gems that seemed to amuse him no end, was that every time he felt cheated at something- in a game, short changed at a shop etc, he'd say that he'd been "jewed'.

Sorry for the double post but I'm not computer saavy enough to do multiple quotes in one post. “jewed” down was a very very common term for barginning and haggling. Some of the older residents in the building I work in still use it with a nod and a wink. It retreated into the shadows around the same time that all colored people stopped being “niggers” all the time to everybody. Hollywood helped alot more than people realize in killing certain colloquialisms and encouraging others.

The fact that many of the studio heads in Classoc Hollywood were Jewish (or other groups with vivid memories of oppression) had no small impact on American popular culture and they helped to kill such expressions as “jewing down”

But like the Irish no one loves a Gypsy.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
Product Placement at 9:35PM, June 25, 2010
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You know what? I don't care if this is the debate thread. Meemjar set the precedence and by golly I want to be part of it.

You know that you're an Icelander if…

• You are the drunkest one at a party
• You have an unexplainable hate for the Danes
• You hate chess and fishing, but you’re good at it anyway
• Your dad opens a fishing business
• You can name all of your great-grandfathers all the way back to the Viking times
• You collect technological gadgets and devices, but don’t ever use them
• Eat fermented shark and goat’s head, but secretly hate the taste
• Have hangikjöt for Easter every year
• You drink 5 cups of coffee a day
• You have to wear all of the clothes and sweaters your grandmother knits you
• You have fish with almost every meal
• You go and check out the genealogy records whenever you have a crush on another Icelander, just to make sure s/he's not too related to you.
• Your garage is cleaner than most people’s kitchens
• You frequently buy icecream in the winter
• You can spot another Icelander a mile away
• Your mother hits you with a shoe because you wore your shoes in the house
• You start drinking and smoking at age 10
• You walk around outside in T-shirt at 0°Celsius (32°f) and claim that it's warm outside
• You refer to women as various kinds of food (the womenfolk do that too)
• You have more alcohol in your house than the bar around the corner
• Can be heard blasting Icelandic electronic music in your car a mile away
• Your grandmother wears the ‘peysufot’ to every wedding and family gathering
• You wake up on the balcony or in the bathtub at your friends house after a big party
• You believe in trolls and elves
• Your mother yells at you in Icelandic in front of your American friends
• You don't like Björk, yet promote her at every chance you get
• You laugh at all the jokes people make about you
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
mlai at 8:15PM, June 29, 2010
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Jokes belittle, and therein lies the problem. If you're the dominant group, and you make a self-deprecating joke, you are comfortable in the knowledge that IRL you're still the winner. So the joke merely allows you to say "Look at how humble and sportsmanlike a winner I am!

But try being the oppressed group and then having to endure the butt of ”humor.“ Forget ”race“ or ethnicity. Try being a rich person and telling a ”poor“ joke at someone who just lost his job or went a notch down on the income ladder, or just someone 2 notches poorer than you. Try being a tall/fit person and then telling a ”short/fat“ joke at someone who's short and/or fat.

That's when the belittling aspect of ”humour" can be twisted. And that's why you're only allowed to make jokes regarding your own team, in polite society.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Product Placement at 6:46AM, June 30, 2010
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True. Being a tall, athletic, male, Caucasian, who's in his prime, means that it's hard for me to find jokes that I can make without making me sound like a dick.

“So this black guy walks into a store… no… There once was a guy who was so fat… uhm… This blond woman walks into a bar… eh… A catholic and a Rabbi… oh nuts…”
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:52PM
meemjar at 8:47PM, June 30, 2010
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Well, the very best ethnic joke of all is directed at us Canadians.

Q: How many Canadians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. We don't try to change them…we accept them as they are.


lol! lol! lol!


last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM
ozoneocean at 8:57PM, June 30, 2010
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meemjar
Well, the very best ethnic joke of all is directed at us Canadians.
I think that just goes to support the point made by Mlai ;)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
meemjar at 7:01AM, July 1, 2010
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And it also supports what I've been saying;

No matter what you say…there will always be someone who will oppose you.

If you joke about others there will be the ones who will get in your face about it.

And if you joke about yourself, there will be those that will get in your face about it.

And the worst of these is the same person who will cut you down BOTH ways…damning you if you do and if you don't.

And THAT my friends is usually the basis of most humor…the fact that sometimes you just can't win.

But then again…maybe I AM winning.;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM
ozoneocean at 7:34AM, July 1, 2010
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meemjar
And it also supports what I've been saying;

No matter what you say…there will always be someone who will oppose you.

If you joke about others there will be the ones who will get in your face about it.

And if you joke about yourself, there will be those that will get in your face about it.
Not really. You're adding a layer of narrative to this that wasn't there.

The thread of this part of the discussion was that people who like to make inappropriate jokes at the expense of other groups will justify that by making harmless jokes about themselves.
It's not the “damned if you do, damned if you don't” equation that you're presenting at all.

In the end you're making a badguy out of those you perceive as spoiling your fun :)

-No one says that making harmless jokes at your “own expense” is bad, it is bad however if you only do that to justify less harmless joke at the expense of others.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
meemjar at 8:48AM, July 1, 2010
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I always try to keep the balance…

meaning that I try to make the jokes of others ‘Harmless’ too.


I never resent a joke at my expense, just when the person cracking off at me can't take it when I dish it back.
And then I'm made out to be the bad guy.

I've noticed we can often take a joke from someone who'se a friend more so than anyone else because we know they're just kidding.
But those we know dislike us we know they mean it with malice.

I had two cousins (brother and sister) who both teased me a lot. But while I didn't mind it from my boy cousin, cause he was a good sport, I resented the SAME exact teasing when SHE did it because she was a brat.

So frankly it is just as it has been said previously…when we know when its in fun or not we react accordingly.

It takes a big person to take it, a bigger person NOT to lash back…

But the biggest of all will try to take everything in stride.

The world is a difficult place to live in.
Sometimes we just gotta try and laugh.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM
ozoneocean at 9:19AM, July 1, 2010
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meemjar
meaning that I try to make the jokes of others ‘Harmless’ too.
And that is the really important part. and what we're all getting at in the end. :)

Not who's really the badguy and who isn't.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
meemjar at 9:42AM, July 1, 2010
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So then Ozoneocean, and everyone else…
Do you understand me, and my point I'm trying to convey?

I'm no advocate for racism. It's a crime against decency.

But sometimes you just gotta keep a sense of humor and laugh at yourself and we should all laugh WITH each other…not AT each other.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM
ozoneocean at 9:47AM, July 1, 2010
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meemjar
I'm no advocate for racism. It's a crime against decency.

But sometimes you just gotta keep a sense of humor and laugh at yourself and we should all laugh WITH each other…not AT each other.
Agreed.
But one of your sub points here has always been that a person who gets mad about you laughing is the real problem, and I think that's where a lot of the contention has been.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
meemjar at 10:11AM, July 1, 2010
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The sub point I'm making is the person who can't take what he dishes out.
If he made cracks at you and thought they were funny but couldn't take it back is the kind of person I dislike. They are Bullies and hypocrits.

And Racism is a form of bullying and hypocracy don't you think?
Its Racial bullying.
And like all bullies they can't take what they dish out and like all hypocrits they are doing it to hide their own low self-esteem.

But the humorist strives to face lifes hardships, injustices and insecurities in a way that can hopefully help us cope with good cheer and thus healthy self-esteem.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:58PM

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