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Oct 16 2012

Get it?

There was a conversation on a post of PZ’s about a guy who had to endure outrageously and heart-wrenchingly frequent racism at the hands of his bosses and co-workers, who responded to his complaints with condescension and dismissal (which, by the way, most victims of oppression have experienced many times before – it’s why we don’t always speak up about it). The discussion centred on how to know where ‘the line’ is for jokes and humour that involve race. None of us want to offend our friends, and knowing which topics and jokes are ‘okay’ is occasionally quite difficult. Often you don’t know where the line is until you’ve crossed it.

My usual policy is to remember that all jokes are inside jokes. Humour is based on a shared perspective on an issue – that both the speaker and the audience see a situation identically. Some comedians (e.g., Mitch Hedburg) are masters at drawing you into a story and then subtly adjusting the perspective, and the laugh comes from realizing that the situation under discussion, or the meaning of a word, is actually quite different than you thought. Others (Louie CK, Sarah Silverman) push boundaries of acceptable social norms based on the shared understanding that both audience and speaker understand those norms. Still others (Chris Rock) point out the absurdity of the norms themselves, holding them up for scrutiny and ridicule.

Humour, in whatever form, requires the audience to be able to share the perspective of the comedian, which in turn requires the comedian to be able to understand the audience. There are many who fail to be funny because they miss this important second step, resulting in awkward and sometimes hurtful situations*. We sometimes feel bad for those whose humour simply doesn’t work because of failed delivery, and cringe at those who try to be ‘edgy’ but instead fall back on ‘crude and mean-spirited’.

That latter group seems to be particularly prone to lash out when their jokes are not appreciated by the audience. When faced with disapproval and stony faces, instead of recognizing the obvious answer – that the joke isn’t funny – there is an all-too-common tendency to blame the audience. The problem is, apparently, that we have a poor sense of humour; that we are just ‘looking for an excuse to be offended’; that we just don’t ‘get it’.

All right, well here’s some jokes. Let’s all have a chuckle.

White students in blackface simulate Chris Brown beating Rihanna

At the most resent Pep Rally for Waverly High School, located in Waverly NY, the usual fanfare of cheering for the home team to get them ready was in full swing. As the rally progressed you had your usual cheers and rally cries for the fall sports teams and the football team. It seemed to have done well, with Waverly defeating their opponent 70-21. But what happened at that pep rally went much farther than simple cheers. Three white students were to perform a skit in black face, depicting Chris Brown and Rhianna most notibly. In this skit they would display acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty, and various members of the media and community leaders. None of them stopped the skit.

GET IT?! Because Chris Brown savagely beat his girlfriend, hospitalizing her, and then paid absolutely zero price for it. The funny part is that Rihanna was widely condemned for not ‘forgiving’ him fast enough (tee-hee! He never apologized!), and Chris Brown has gone back to the limelight, having paid seemingly no price! And isn’t the brutal beating of women funny? It’s not like a quarter of the female population of the United States experiences it – certainly not a disproportionate number of black women. Of course the real side-splitting part of this story is that, judging by the screen shot in the article, this is a mostly-white school, meaning that none of the students will ever have to deal with the consequences of anti-black racism, which is what makes it so fun to use as mockery!

Hilarious! Let’s have another!

UT Austin students attacked with bleach-filled balloons

The University of Texas in Austin is reeling from reports of black and Asian students seemingly being targeted and hit with bleach-filled balloons while off campus. Dozens of students, alumni and faculty protested the attacks on campus Tuesday, after four students filed reports with the UT police department Monday saying they had been targeted. Each of the students reported being hit while walking near West Campus apartments, a location that is off UT’s campus, according to Cindy Posey, public information officer for the UT police department.

GET IT?! Because Texas is a state for white people, even though it was taken by force from its original inhabitants by those white people – a basic grasp of history is a well-known joke spoiler. So if you’re going to be at the white people university, looking all… y’know… not white, then it’s fuckin’ high-larious to assault people with dangerous chemicals! Haven’t fallen out of your chair yet? The University of Texas is currently in a Supreme Court battle to reverse affirmative action policies, ensuring that students of colour never get a foothold!

I can hardly contain my mirth. What else have we got in this bag of giggles?

Senate candidate’s son jokes that Obama should be sent back to Africa

Jason Thompson, the son of former Governor and Wisconson Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, speaking this morning at a brunch attended RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that “we have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago — or Kenya.” A woman in attendance then chimed in “we are taking donations for that Kenya trip.”

GET IT?! OMG do you guys GET IT?! Back to Kenya! That’s in Africa! And the president is a black guy! And it’s funny because… I shouldn’t even have to explain it. It’s obvious why it’s funny, right? You guys? Right?

What’s the matter? You don’t think that this is funny? Why, just because it’s all based on the abuse of oppressed people? Because it’s cruel and deeply offensive? Because the jokes are built upon an edifice that manifests itself in deeply un-funny ways that result in the suffering and sometimes death of your fellow human beings?

Or maybe you just don’t get it.

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*These too can be played for laughs, as Ricky Gervais is perhaps singularly skilled at.

58 comments

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  1. 1
    Riptide

    I could just possibly see how the blackface skit might have been well-intentioned, but a nearly all-white highschool is not the appropriate venue to make such a statement, and using blackface is hardly the appropriate method. The trivialization of domestic abuse (almost always) against women is definitely worth examining critically, and even engaging adolescents in, in hopes that they’ll take it more seriously before they form the kinds of bonds that are necessary before such abuse can take place.

    But most likely it was just a bunch of privileged white kids going “hurr hurr the monkey beat a monkey woman and got away with it!”

  2. 2
    billygutter01

    Ugh.

    I hope my morning coffee can wash the taste of bile from of my mouth.

    I’d call it un-fucking-believable except that, sadly, it’s all too believable.

  3. 3
    jesse

    Putting a bunch of students in blackface is problematic enough, and very, very hard to pull off as satire in any context. Ted Danson’s attempt with Whoopi Goldberg fell flat, and those were two much more talented people attempting it.

    In that case I kind of got what they were going for — interracial relationships are still a bit fraught, and Whoopi herself noted that she wasn’t considered conventionally attractive and here she was with the white hunk-of-the-year Ted Danson.* But the whole thing ended up a mess from the get-go.

    (Looking back, I think if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle were to tackle it now, it might work, but it’s a tough one to do and I can’t think of how you’d approach it).

    I don’t trust a bunch of kids putting together what amounts to a dashed-off skit to be able to do it if two of the more talented comedians in the business can’t, even if their motives were good ones — and I don’t buy that premise either.

    The other two… ye gods. The bleach thing: holy crap, you could freaking blind someone! That’s assault by any definition! Not. Funny. At. All.

    *there’s a whole other discussion this brings up about jokes in Hollywood and stock characters that are at the expense of black women. Goldberg herself noted that she got a lot of chances to play maids and it took a lot of fighting to get anything like a romantic lead. Then there’s the fact that while she has won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress– one of a very small number of female African American actors to get one at all — the only black woman who won Best Actress was light-skinned and a former beauty contestant — I could go on, but y’all get the idea and odds are people reading here know the whole sad story already.

  4. 4
    Pyra

    … I just…

    no…

    I forget, since I kind of protect myself from most people most of the time, that shit like this actually happens…

    it’s the saddest stuff I’ve heard in a while about this country. I cried.

  5. 5
    frogmistress

    A few of my family members consider themselves to be ‘beyond’ racism and sexism. They love to make jokes at other’s expense because HUMOR! I can’t stand it. And I call them on it to the degree that they don’t really make those kind of jokes around me anymore (mostly).

    I have had countless discussions with one in particular about how the little things matter. If we allow the ‘jokes’ and the problematic words and the tiny things, we make way for the larger, more harmful actions.

    He just doesn’t see it.

  6. 6
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Yeah, no, not funny. Fucked up.

  7. 7
    baal

    These instances are horrific and cruel. I’m also saddened that these folks exist in cultural spaces that likely see nothing wrongful in the first and third acts. #2 (bleach balloons) is physically damaging and plainly criminal regardless of the actors cultural setting.

  8. 8
    No Light

    I could just possibly see how the blackface skit might have been well-intentioned

    In what way?

  9. 9
    No Light

    +1

    It’s absolutely fucking disgraceful. Talk about drowning in privilege.

  10. 10
    Crommunist

    That was my question too. Also – who the fuck cares about how it was INTENDED?

  11. 11
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    Fractally WTF. All of them. Sickening how ignorant and lacking in empathy people can be.

  12. 12
    rowanvt

    We had some kid in my World of Warcraft guild greet us with “Hey, what’s up niqqas!”… as if using Qs made it any better. When I told him such language was not condoned in our guild, he threw a fit about how it isn’t a bad word and has no negative associations anymore. Even when I told him that our guild leader is black he persisted that he had FREESPEECH and there was nothing wrong with the word and we were being babies and hypersensitive. Said guild leader let him dig the hole for a while as a lesson to all the other newbies in guild and then kicked him from the guild. People continue to astound me.

  13. 13
    Tapir

    I’m an attorney in the U.S. who handles a lot of race discrimination claims, and I see “but it was a joke!” invoked frequently as a legal defense. Sadly, it actually works in some courts.

  14. 14
    Crommunist

    it actually works in some courts

    Imagine my shock.

  15. 15
    plutosdad

    Just one correction in #2, the university is defending affirmative action. A white person who was denied admission is suing the school, and the school (and state) are defending the affirmative action program.

  16. 16
    smrnda

    My usual deal is that I think a comic can get away with a lot of supposedly offensive stuff because I knew that this person is really NOT a racist or NOT a sexist etc. But sometimes you don’t know, and I feel like I’m just watching a bigot indulge in bigotry with the idea that he can just say ‘it’s a joke!’ later.

    I tend to be very analytical about comedy, because it usually has a message behind it even if it wasn’t consciously put there. It’s kind of how if a Black scholar says “without slavery, the US would not have become a world power” he’s meaning that the US got where it was by exploiting Black people and denying them basic human rights. If Rush Limbaugh says it, it seems more like an assertion that the greatness of the US is so important that if it took slavery for us to be this great, the institution wasn’t all bad.

  17. 17
    otrame

    smrnda @12

    Your comment reminded me of what I told my grandson a while back: “There is only one good thing about slavery. If it hadn’t happened I would not have you.”

    The evil that is slavery resulted in a whole bunch of people who would otherwise have stayed in Africa coming here, enriching our culture even as they were abused and exploited. I am glad they are here now (and not only because my son married a black woman and gave me beautiful grandbabies), even if I hate how they got here.

    We can’t change that awful past, but in the name of all that is decent, can’t we PLEASE insist that that awfulness stay in the past where it belongs? I am old enough to know how much better things are for all of us, minorities and the majority, than they were when I was very young, but it’s not fucking good enough. It’s not nearly fucking good enough if any significant part of the population could think any of those events were funny.

  18. 18
    Crommunist

    The evil that is slavery resulted in a whole bunch of people who would otherwise have stayed in Africa coming here, enriching our culture even as they were abused and exploited.

    What the actual fuck is this? You do realize that voluntary immigration is a thing, right? There’s no “silver lining” here to mine, otrame. I’m sure your life would be just as great if your son had married someone whose family came to this continent by choice rather than as a result of generations of exploitation and cultural suppression and annihilation. Who knows? Maybe your kid would have moved to the bustling metropolises of Africa to study at their world-class universities and “enriched his culture” that way.

    I hope your grandson gave you nothing but side-eyes and middle fingers. I would have.

  19. 19
    mynameischeese

    My parents tell me the same thing about Hitler, like if there was no Hitler, I wouldn’t exist. But I tell them bullshit. There are a load of alternative histories where my family would have left Poland with no Hitler involved. And without slavery and colonisation, a load of Africans would have gone on their travels for the craic.

  20. 20
    Steve Schuler

    W’sup Ian!

    Not to derail here, but I followed your link to the domestic violence wikipedia article and noticed a couple of interesting things pertaining to religion and domestic violence that caught my attention.

    First this:

    “The study found that the lowest reported rates of domestic violence occurred among active conservative Protestants (2.8%) of husbands committed domestic violence, followed by those who were religiously unaffiliated (3.2%), nominal mainline Protestants (3.9%), active mainline Protestants (5.4%), and nominal conservative Protestants (7.2%).[38] Overall (including both nominal and active members), the rates among conservative Protestants and mainline Protestants were 4.8% and 4.3%, respectively.[38]”

    To break that down for you, while there was a subgroup of the Active Conservative Protestants(none of these categories were clearly defined) that had the lowest DV rate at 2.8%, the Religiously Unaffiliated had a slightly higher rate of DV at 3.2%, while the Nominal Conservative Protestants ‘won’ with a whooping DV rate of 7.2%. Also interesting is that the Combined DV rate of the Conservative Protestants (the combined average of both the Active and Nominal subgroups who represented both the highest and lowest scoring subgroups in this study) exceeded the Religiouly Unaffiliated (DV 3.2%) by 1.6% with a DV of 4.8%. That clearly puts the Religiously Unaffiliated at the low end overall for the rate of domestic violence, which supports the notion that irreligiosity can be significantly correlated (at least) with at least this preferred social outcome.

    But do not be too quick to jump to conclusions because reading further leads me to this abstract of a study titled, “Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence:

    “The authors explored the relationship between religious involvement and intimate partner violence by analyzing data from the first wave of the National Survey of Families
    and Households. They found that: (a) religious involvement is correlated with reduced levels of domestic violence; (b) levels of domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; (c) the effects of religious involvement on domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; and (d) religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence, and this protective effect is stronger for African American men and women and for Hispanic men, groups that, for a variety of reasons, experience elevated risk for this type of violence.”

    The paper can be read here:

    http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/13/11/1094.full.pdf+html

    So, as per usual, nothing is as simple as I would like for it be.

    Moving on:

    Affirmative action that involves ‘reverse discrimination’ sucks, but it probably doesn’t suck as much as not employing it. ‘Nuff said for now.

    And further still:

    I beg to differ, Ian. I watched the short video of Jason Thompson making his joke about Obama and I thought it was very funny. Not because I thought his joke was funny, but rather because I thought he was a frigging bozo politico trying to bank a little political capital on the ‘Birther’ thing, and that’s almost always good for a laugh!

    Next to last:

    Intention does matter (huge difference between ignorant buffonery and malice) and I think that you are being overly harsh on Riptide. Yes, their little skit totally sucked, but I don’t presume to know the mentality behind it although it certainly was a display of ignorance, particularly on behalf of the teachers/administrators who approved it. But consider looking on the bright side, this stunt was considered egregious enough to make national news so what does that say about us as a society?

    And last, but not least:

    You’ve already had a long, hard day and right about now I think you deserve a musical interlude to cheer you up and reviralize you (yeah I know, another of my many typos, but that one was just to funny to correct) so check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebF2Ftquf6Y&feature=related

    And if that don’t make you rock in your chair, I don’t know what will!

  21. 21
    smrnda

    I get sick of the whole ‘if X didn’t happen you wouldn’t be here today!’ I don’t like to be told to see a bright side to atrocities and human rights violations.

  22. 22
    Argle Bargle

    The classic cry of the bully when someone stands up to the bullying: “But it was a joke.”

  23. 23
    Anthony K

    Stewart Lee reverses it to criticise the hostsbigots of Top Gear.

  24. 24
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Still others (Chris Rock) point out the absurdity of the norms themselves, holding them up for scrutiny and ridicule.

    Chris Rock was very eye-opening for me some years back. He has a sketch talking about the neighborhood he lived in, which had him, Oprah, Magic Johnson, and a typical assortment of upper middle class white people. “The black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the white man can walk to.” It was my first realization (as a supremely ignorant white man in America) that all was not as it seemed from the perspective of my incredibly sheltered upbringing.

  25. 25
    Riptide

    I think it’s possible that a group of well-meaning highschool students could want to address a wide-scale social problem by using a very high-profile example, and managed to fuck up royally in their execution. But I didn’t spell it out because I *don’t* think that their intentions were relevant–nor do I think they must have been good.

  26. 26
    brucegee1962

    Regarding the blackface skit: let’s not leave their teachers out of the blame. The only way I can figure that they might have thought this was a good idea was a) they thought that they were the first people ever to think of blackface, and thought they were being awfully clever, or b) they’d been told about the minstrel shows from the 20s, but never were told why people stopped doing them. Either way, that’s a pretty darn huge hole in their education.

    Not that blaming the teachers excusing the kids in any way. I mean, come on.

  27. 27
    gabby27

    Ugh. UGGGGHHH. What passes for humor in Racist Scumfuckland is not only unfunny, it’s sick, disturbing, cruel and downright dangerous. Throwing *bleach* at people? Seriously?! I don’t want to live on this planet anymore….

    As an aside, Chris Rock is awesome. I LOVE his bit on white people and the n-word. I swear, next time I hear a white person whining about how they can’t say the n-word, I’m gonna tell them to STFU and link them to Chris Rock’s awesome answer.

  28. 28
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    I can hear the excuse now; “Oh but the bleach balloons were a humorous attempt to help cure that terrible brown-ness afflicting those poor unfortunate people. You should be thanking the generous donors.”

  29. 29
    Marcus Ranum

    You’re awesome when you focus your anger.

  30. 30
    devilsadvocate

    A good way of summing this up is, “Comedians are talented professionals. Don’t try this at home.”

  31. 31
    Crommunist

    Your randomly-generated icon is the perfect accompaniment to your comment.

  32. 32
    Andre2

    I don’t post on blogs I agree with very often,(not really sure why) but this one is worth it.
    Well said

  33. 33
    mythbri

    Otrame, that’s like pretending that we shouldn’t talk about present-day sexism because women in the past weren’t allowed to vote or own property. That’s like saying “There was one good thing that came of my great-grandmother being raped by her husband, and it’s because my grandmother wouldn’t have been born, and my mother wouldn’t have been born, and then I wouldn’t have been born.”

    It’s a pretty sick way to look at things, especially when we’re still feeling the effects of bad things that happened in the past.

  34. 34
    mythbri

    I’m paraphrasing another commenter on another blog, but I think it applies here. Intent doesn’t matter when people are being harmed.

    “If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot. If you didn’t mean to step on my foot, you need to get off my foot. If you have some kind of compulsion that causes you to step on people’s feet, then you need to avoid areas where you might inadvertently be compelled to step on my foot. If you enjoy stepping on people’s feet, then you’re an asshole who needs to get off my damn foot!”

    The harm is the same. Intent doesn’t matter.

  35. 35
    Steve Schuler

    Maybe so, mythbri, but I think that if you consider homicide, probably the ‘gold standard’ of inflicting harm, and how it is regarded legally you will find a contiuum of categories ranging from, amongst others: justified homicide, negligent homicide, and first degree murder, all being defined and determined to a large degree by intentionality. Yeah, I do think that intention matters.

  36. 36
    Crommunist

    Here, read this.

  37. 37
    mythbri

    Steve, in all those scenarios you listed, the deceased is just as dead, regardless of the “intent” that resulted in their demise.

  38. 38
    Steve Schuler

    So are you suggesting that, since ‘Intention isn’t Fucking Magic!”, that considering intent has no place in our thinking about what people do, why they do it, and what should be the consequences of what they do?

    Come on Ian, you aren’t that thick, are you?

  39. 39
    Crommunist

    You read past the title, right?

  40. 40
    Steve Schuler

    mythbri,

    Yes, those people are just as dead (the “gold standard of harm) but how the law, and hence society, treats the responsible party is very, very different. And as it should be, I think. Do you think that regardless of the circumstances, including intentionality, that all people who commit homicide should be treated the same under the law?

  41. 41
    Steve Schuler

    Ian,

    I sure did, but have you actually taken a moment to consider my examples as arguments for the validity of taking intention into account in situations outside of homicide? See my question to mythbri above and respond to it, if you’d like.

  42. 42
    Crommunist

    Intent and outcome lie along different axes. What mythbri is saying, and where I share hir assessment, is that in situations where intent is used to EXCUSE behaviour, it also seeks to dismiss the outcome. You’ll find that even people who say that intent isn’t magic (myself being among them) explain their intention when apologizing. The difference is that we also accept responsibility for the harm we cause, however inadvertent it may have been.

    To bring this home to its original context, Riptide said that the students may not have INTENDED to propagate racism. My position is that the harm caused by that spectacle is not in any way mollified, in my mind, by their honourable intentions. My outrage at their actions is not “those students are awful because they actively hate black people”. I have no way of knowing, nor do I really care, what their intention was, and thus the “but they might not have MEANT it” response is entirely unrelated to my condemnation of their actions, which was my original statement.

    You’ll also notice that even in your example, there is still a recognition that a crime has been committed. The only difference is in the level of punishment we ascribe. Since nobody here is suggesting ANY punishment – we’re just saying ‘wow this is an awful thing’ – your example of homicide is quite irrelevant to this discussion.

  43. 43
    Steve Schuler

    Ian,

    I made no claim, or even suggested, that homicide was perfectly analagous to racial insult, however the legal treatment of homicide in it’s various forms does provide a pretty potent example and argument for the validity of considering people’s intentions in various other situations. You can choose to dismiss that as irrelevant if you’d like, there is nothing I can do about that. Likewise, if you choose to view the world through a narrow viewfinder that helps feed and justify some sense of self-righteous upset that you value, there is nothing I can do to help you change that if you are not interested in changing your own mind.

  44. 44
    Crommunist

    And similarly likewise, there’s nothing I can do if you’d rather ignore my argument and instead ascribe some kind of motive to me than actually reading it.

    the legal treatment of homicide in it’s various forms does provide a pretty potent example and argument for the validity of considering people’s intentions in various other situations

    Okay let’s see if using different words will get through to you as to why you’re wrong about this.

    Nobody here is arguing that intent is meaningless in ALL contexts. We are saying instead that it is irrelevant in THIS context, because we are focused on the HARM. Even in the context of your analogy, the value of including “intent” only goes into the passing of a sentence for a crime. That is the ONLY function it serves. There are crimes, such as theft, where intention is part of the defining feature of the offence, but that is not the analogy you sought to draw. Since there is no punishment being levied on these students (or even being proposed), your analogy fails to demonstrate the effect you are arguing for, which is why it is NOT AT ALL a potent example.

  45. 45
    Steve Schuler

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but it seems that in arguing that
    ‘intentionality’ is irrelevant in this, or any other situation, is a losing proposition. But that’s, like, just my opinion, man.

  46. 46
    Steve Schuler

    I have no idea why you keep insisting there is something about this siuation that would make it exempt from considering what the intentions of the ‘perps’ were, if one is trying to give a complete assessment of the situation. Frankly, I don’t really care about what their motivations and intentions were, it’s just not that important to me that I know. But that aside, for you to determine that intentionality is only a valid consideration when some legal infraction in which the ‘perp’s’ may be subject to ‘punishment’ has occured, seems very inconsistent and irrational to me. My personal opinion of these kids is that they were ignorant asshats, but who isn’t?

  47. 47
    Crommunist

    I have no idea why you keep insisting there is something about this situation that would make it exempt from considering what the intentions of the ‘perps’ were, if one is trying to give a complete assessment of the situation

    And then, in LITERALLY the next sentence…

    Frankly, I don’t really care about what their motivations and intentions were, it’s just not that important to me that I know.

    So I guess I win?

  48. 48
    Steve Schuler

    Pretty pathetic, Ian.

    So is it all about the ‘winz’?

    If you’d read my comment for content instead of looking for ‘the winz’ you’d have noticed the statement I made that intentionality mattered if, “if one is trying to give a complete assessment of the situation.”

    Yeah, this little skit was pretty crappy, unfortunately I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the crappiest thing that happened that day.

    For you to treat Riptide poorly for even mentioning intentions wasn’t all that crappy either, in the big scheme of things.

    Intentionality does matter, how much is variable.

    Later, Dude!

  49. 49
    Crommunist

    The later the better, dude.

  50. 50
    Steve Schuler

    As you wish, Ian.

    If an echo chamber is what you want, then I’ll do my part to insure that you get it. I mean, I can understand entirely that it is much preferred by you to have your thinking and opinions go unchallenged, and I’ve no compulsion to stay where I am unwelcome.

    Adios, Amigo!

  51. 51
  52. 52
    Steve Schuler

    Wow!

    Your Awesomeness is something to behold in a gif animation. Does the car, like, represent a mobile form of an echo chamber?

    I’ll leave you in peace now.

  53. 53
    mythbri

    Steve, I don’t think you’re understanding what Crommunist is saying.

    “Intent doesn’t matter” focuses on one thing: the harm done by the action. The outcome is the same, particularly to the people who are hurt by that action, regardless of what the original intent was. Intent doesn’t mitigate that harm – all it does is factor in to how people react to the person that caused that harm. The idea of “Intent doesn’t matter” focuses solely on the harm, and not the person(s) that caused it.

  54. 54
    tbtabby

    It annoys me when people try to pass off blatantly offensive remarks as jokes. That seems to be a huge problem with humor these days: It’s easier to push people’s buttons than to amuse them, and there’s a history of censors trying to ban comedians who tell racy jokes, so people just rattle off blatantly offensive remarks disguised as jokes and dismiss any and all criticism as censorship.

  55. 55
    Timid Atheist

    I’m still trying to figure out what possible good intentions there could have been behind a bunch of white high-schoolers dawning black face in order to laugh at a black woman getting beaten by her boyfriend. There just can’t be good intentions behind such an insulting action. And the teachers who approved the skit? They should be fired or at the least reprimanded and everyone at that school should be forced to take some classes on racism.

  56. 56
    Banned Atheist

    When one is a white male living in rural Colorado, as I was until I moved to New Mexico, one hears mountains of racist/sexist/homophobic jokes. At work, after work, at the cafe, at the bar, at the park, during dinner, in the middle of the wilderness. It can happen anywhere, and it’s always a shock to the system. “Did you really just say that, thinking it was funny?” One time I had to educate a white gay couple — local ranch-owners — on why their racist humor wasn’t humorous… during dinner at someone else’s house.

    It’s always awkward to confront this so-called “humor”. ALWAYS. So it really doesn’t matter where it happens, it’s always going to be awkward — just get it over with and damn the torpedoes. I’ve never lost a job over it, and hell yeah I’ve confronted bosses over it. Damn right. Them most of all, because if you don’t confront it the first time, every time, then you’ve implicitly condoned it and you’ll never hear the end of it.

    (OTOH my Dad has lost a job over confronting racism — not necessarily racist humor, just plain racism… he worked in the oil fields as a roughneck at the time. Of course, he confronted his boss and sorta kinda poked the guy in the eye, so that’s different. Try not to get physical. :)

  57. 57
    nonviolentrage

    What, at a pep rally? If you see violence performed at a pep rally, the intent is to glorify it, for sure.

  58. 58
    nonviolentrage

    I really like this actually: a concrete social consequence (for a WoW player) that will teach him a lesson or at least challenge his entitlement, but is also completely harmless.

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