Trigger Warning: Don’t read this if you are easily offended or don’t understand dark humor.
I’m a pretty progressive person, but there is one thing that I think many of my fellow liberals get wrong. Maybe it is because I am a former radio talk show person, but I never liked political correctness. I see it as the enemy of free speech and free expression. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that words have power and there are consequences for saying certain things, but I also think that humor – dark humor in particular – can have a healing quality to it. The down side is that dark humor sometimes is politically incorrect and taken out of context might offend the very people it seeks to heal.
Context matters. Two people can tell the exact same joke, but because of who those people are and what their intentions might be, the joke can either be funny or insulting. What politically correct liberals and hateful conservative bigots both get wrong is that they both think that context doesn’t matter and that the intention behind the words is irrelevant.
Are rape jokes funny? It depends on who is telling the joke and why. If the person telling the joke is a rape apologist and is telling the joke to insult or belittle rape victims then no it is definitely not funny. However, if the person telling the joke is doing so to show how horrible rape is and to make a rape victim laugh, then yes such a joke might actually be funny. I disagree with the belief that all rape jokes are unfunny and immoral purely because they are about rape. Context matters.
Now on to 9-11. What happened on September 11, 2001 was probably the most tragic thing that has happened in America within my lifetime. Almost 3000 people died directly because of those attacks and countless more have suffered and died indirectly from our reaction to those attacks. It is no laughing matter… except when it is.
Like everyone else in the country, I remember exactly where I was on that day. I was at work when the story broke and my boss pulled out a radio and we listened to what was going on. For me, it was very personal. I grew up right outside New York City and I have many friends and family who lived and worked in that area.
My brother was actually living a few blocks from the Twin Towers in the Village at the time. My main concern on that morning was for his safety. I called and I called to try to find out if he was okay. Phone communication into the city on that morning was difficult and social media wasn’t what it is today. It took me hours before I could get through and when I did, the first thing my brother did was tell me a joke.
Remembering that it September 11th was my birthday, he told me that he wanted to do something special for my birthday this year so he lit a couple of candles – jokingly referring to the Twin Towers. This joke was horribly offensive and makes light of the obvious tragedy that had just happened, but I laughed anyway. For me, it was a healing moment. I knew that my brother was safe and that life would go on. People will still laugh and that humor – particularly dark humor – can be a powerful tool for healing.
I will never forget that joke nor will I ever forget that day – it is after all my birthday and despite the fact that 9-11 has gone down in infamy as one of the worst tragedies in America next to Pearl Harbor, I still celebrate on this day. Fuck tragedy, it’s my birthday damn-it!
That reminds me, I just started a Patreon page so if you would like to send me a birthday present, please consider supporting my efforts by being a Patreon or by donating to Dangerous Talk with the PayPal link in the sidebar.
- Humor and Tragedy (skepticink.com)
- 9-11 and the rise of New Atheism (examiner.com)
- Faith causes terrorism (examiner.com)
- Moments of Transition (skepticink.com)