Disguising Racism as Humor: Is it Wrong?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Hawkeye411, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Hawkeye411 macrumors 68000

    Hawkeye411

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    #1
    I became involved in a discussion in a thread about a recent news article. Here is a link to the thread.

    One of the posters made a joke about a persons skin color making him look like a terrorist. I commented that this kind of comment was, in my opinion, wrong and racist. The poster of the comment and a few others told me to lighten up; it was just a joke.

    I'm wondering if others feel the same way as I do or not.

    In my opinion, disguising racism as humor is simply wrong. Making a comment against this kind of humor can sometimes be difficult because we could be seen as too sensitive or serious or rude. The problem is that, if everyone remains quite, it makes it "safe" for more of this kind of "kidding" to take place. If we speak up, it makes it less safe to harass or discriminate. The more we make a stand against racism disguised as humor, the easier it will get to interrupt racist jokes or statements.

    Cheers.
    :):apple:
     
  2. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    #2
    There a quite a number of professional comedians for who a large part of their act is based on racial stereotypes, and it's funny.

    It totally depends on the context, but I do think people need to lighten up sometimes, so long as everyone gets a ribbing it's fine.
     
  3. CortexRock macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I'm inclined to agree with edesignuk... it's all about context.

    There are far too many people out there who are prepared to be morally outraged on behalf of someone else.
     
  4. TBi macrumors 68030

    TBi

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    #4
    Almost every joke in existence is based on some type of stereotyping. For example here in the real capital of ireland, Cork, we make fun of Kerrymen (people from that backwater known as Kerry). It's all in good humour and no one means it as a serious insult to people who actually live in Kerry.

    Is it rascist if you are not actually being rascist? If someone makes a joke about someone with freckles does that make him frecklist? What about making a joke about people with big noses (big-nosist?), people with glasses (glassist?).

    It's true that some people are racist and try to hide their racism through humour. However you tend to notice these people are racist anyway.

    I've made jokes about black people before, and asian people, and english people (englist?). It's just a joke. People really need to lighten up.

    People make fun of the irish all the time (Irisht?) but we generally just laugh along because we know it's (usually) all in good humour.
     
  5. ®îçhå®? macrumors 68000

    ®îçhå®?

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    #5
    I have a number of asian friends and we get on really well. All of us take the piss out of each other about the colour of other people's skin in the group and link it to stereotypes and everyone takes it light-heartedly as they know that it is a joke and no one really means it.
    It is a different story doing it to someone that you don't know and I would never do it. IT depends who you are around and how well you know them IMO as to how it is interpreted.
    And as to what TBi is saying, i totally agree, there is just a lot of banter between some communities (the English and what appears to be the rest of the world it seems!) and it doesn't mean anything, some people take it too seriously but generally, i think that it is fine
     
  6. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #6
    I generally work on the assumption that if you consider something taboo you give it power, if you mock it then you remove it's power.

    Of course if depends quite how this is done, it's fairly common for a non functioning appliance in this household to be told to "stop being gay". If the cat is out of the bag you can't force it back in, if you want to you're frankly retarded.

    Openly expressing generalised prejudice is not ok though, unless it is of course equal opportunities prejudice, I dislike religious people, but I dislike them equally whether they're Christian Jewish or Muslim. I also dislike morons, it doesn't matter if you're black white yellow or even albino if you're a douche you're a douche and I'll mock you however I damn well please purely on the basis of how much of a worthless example of the human race you are, not due to any inconsequential attribute.

    In other words: I'm not prejudice, I hate you all equally and I think political correctness is for bummers.
     
  7. NC MacGuy macrumors 603

    NC MacGuy

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    #7
    I work with two Blacks and a Puerto Rican at our 10 man company. I have Lebanese heritage on my grandfathers side. We socialize and all talk about race and do joke about it in a loving sort of way.

    I think the tone is what can be derogatory. Unfortunately, these boards and text only may inflame an otherwise joke into a full blown racist slur. The PRSI threads can get WAY too heated over nothing.
     
  8. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #8
    I'll admit that I've been told and have re-told many jokes that would probably be considered racist but I'm also half Polish ancestry, massively evident by an unpronounceable/impossible to spell last name. I've heard every Polock joke on earth at least once and have come to the conclusion that intent behind the joke matters more than the words contained within the joke.

    I know plenty of people who can tell a racially based joke and it won't phase me, or make me think they are biased in any way about race. However the same joke can be told by someone else and just by the tone of their voice and actions it will come off as completely racist.

    Who here hasn't repeated a "dumb blonde" or "stupid Polock" or "idiot from the next rival town/state" joke at some point? Are you really biased against blonde hair, Poles, or people from that city/state?

    Intent and tone are the key, not the words.

    Of course a good joke is one in which the protagonist(s) ethnicity can be changed to anything and it still works. If the joke relies on the ethnicity of the protagonist(s) then I might be more inclined to see it as being racist, mostly because it's a poor joke that relies on a certain assumption/bias about a particular race rather than a good joke that just happens to include a particular race.
     
  9. BoyBach macrumors 68040

    BoyBach

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    #9
    I guess it's down to whether you find this sort of act (NSFW) offensive or comedy?

    For me, Richard Pryor was the greatest comedian ever.
     
  10. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #10
    One of the posters made a joke about airport security's view of a persons skin color making him look like a terrorist.

    You're beating a dead horse son, if you are trying to call me a racist.

    If you would care to say it outright, in front of Black witness that I will provide, I would be pleased to engage your further on this subject.


    PS: Oh yeah, and [​IMG] too.
     
  11. NC MacGuy macrumors 603

    NC MacGuy

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    #11
    Can't you Canuck's just get along? Hug it out for Pete's sake.:D
    You need to take example from our fine displays of civility.:p
     
  12. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #12
    Everyone needs something to get the blood moving in the morning. ;)

    I am sorry for whatever situation is fueling 411's anger, but I can only respond to those situations that I am aware of.
     
  13. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

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    #13
    i think the problem here lies in the fact that you completely misunderstood the comment of said poster, even after it had been explained repeatedly.

    it wasn't a joke at the expense of the "chocolatey" traveller, it was a poke directed at the security people that allegedely stopped the traveller because he was wearing a dangerous t-shirt, whereas more likely they stopped him mainly because of the color of his skin.

    in other words, he used irony to make an anti-racist comment.
    so, yeah, light up.



    as far as the main subject of this post, by their nature, a large fraction of jokes play on all sort of stereotypes, including race-based ones.

    it is true that in general 'racist' jokes are not acceptable, but
    - not all jokes mentioning a stereotype are necessarily racist,
    - the level of their unacceptability varies, and
    - it frequently depends on context (including who is delivering the joke, the audience and so on) as others said.
     
  14. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #14
    I think your question started off on the wrong foot.

    We shouldn't confuse racism with racial humor. Racism is meant to intentionally create a negative effect upon an individual of that race.

    The remark in that thread you linked about "choclatey" was not a remark about the individual or his race, but rather the absurd means of classification and segregation that is employed by the various security agencies in the US and Europe.

    As far as I can tell, iJohnHenry wasn't attempting to denigrate the individual or his race, but was rather remarking on the way in which airport security does its job. That's hardly racist.

    Like e said, sometimes being PC can go too (as in very) far. Lighten up and have a chuckle will you? ;):)

    And for what it's worth, I'm quite chocalatey! :eek::p:D
     
  15. BoyBach macrumors 68040

    BoyBach

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    #15

    I hope that you haven't got a beard also, 'cos that'll make you a terr'rist! :eek:

    ( :D ;) )
     
  16. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #16
    I completely agree. It's not a big deal at all.
     
  17. Silver-Fox macrumors 65816

    Silver-Fox

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    #17
    Yeah one of them is Omid Djalili, i think he is one of the funniest comedians i have seen recently
     
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #18
    As others have said, context is key. Is the person making the joke trying to be hurtful or light hearted? Are they trying to degrade someone or trying to comment on society w/their comedy? Lenny Bruce's famous "Are there any n*ggers here tonight?" bit used racial and ethnic slurs not to be hateful but to try and remove the venom from the words. People like Chris Rock and Lisa Lampanelli have made careers out of racial and ethnic jokes where as Michael Richards killed his by using the word "n*gger."


    Lethal
     
  19. CHAOS STEP macrumors 6502

    CHAOS STEP

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    #19

    Try not to fall when getting off that high horse of yours.
     
  20. Hawkeye411 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Hawkeye411

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    #20
    No anger here. I was simply stating my opinion and decided to ask others by starting this thread. I never said that you were racist. I only stated that, in my opinion, comments connecting skin color and terrorism are racist. It's great to see that you are using the old "I have friends who are not white so I'm not a racist" argument ;)

    I guess I became extra sensitive to negative comments about skin color being related to terrorists or terrorism after recently seeing a documentary called A Dream in Doubt. This documentary describes how Sikh's have been persecuted in the USA post 911. It a really sad state of affairs. Any comment connecting brown skin color with terrorism can be really hurtful to many Americans etc.

    I still think that we need to be careful when someone makes a negative comment and then says that it was just a joke. In many cases, a person who feels negative about someone else will make negative comments knowing that s/he can simply say that the comment was made in jest and that s/he really didn't mean it. In fact, this is probably the most common way that a person will insult someone else. There is a huge difference between a comedian making jokes and someone making a negative comment and then stating that it was simply a joke.

    Cheers.
    :):apple:
     
  21. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #21
    Isn't that what we've all been saying?


    Lethal
     
  22. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #22
    I'm sorry, and you're certainly entitled to your point of view, but I still don't think you understand the distinction that numerous people have made in iJohnHenry's defense.

    If all comments connecting skin color and terrorism are deemed racist, then we can never have a dialog about something which does exist in entirely too many minds: precisely the idea that skin color and terrorism might indeed be linked. That idea or belief is racist. Discussion of it is not.

    People should not be assumed to be terrorists just because they have brown skin.

    That is a comment that connects terrorism and skin color. If you consider it racist, then fine, I won't continue engaging in this discussion any farther, because we don't share enough basic common ideals to have a dialog.

    If not, then by extension...

    Why do you think he's a racist? Because he's brown / Arabic / choclatey / whatever? :rolleyes:

    Oh sure, he's a terrorist -- he's brown-skinned! :rolleyes:

    Etc (notice the rolled eyes) are satirical comments that make the same poin t the first one did. They're not racist because they're specifically attempting to attack the racist agenda. They're the very opposite of racist. These comments are inherently intended to be pro-social in nature. Perhaps iJohnHenry was not so direct, but what he said was not dissimilar.

    I've never seen any evidence that racism or any kind of intolerance or prejudice was stamped out through the act of suppressing dialog (including humor) about it.

    (yes, yes, hell freezing over, me defending him)
     
  23. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    #23
    I got a nice full beard. ;)
     
  24. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #24
    Probably the most accurate view implied in this thread or "that other thread" is that there are some people who seem to work hard to find racism/sexism/homophobia in any comment made where ethnicity, gender or sexual proclivity is involved.

    Tiresome little twits, they...

    :D, 'Rat
     
  25. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #25
    There's a lot of it about.
     

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