Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Too soon?

You know it's bad when you can't remember your blog's internet address...

A friend just left the following comment on the Face: "To the kid in Burger King: When you ask where I went to school and I say Virginia Tech, it's probably not a good idea to tell me you went that Halloween [six months later] as a VT shooting victim..."

My first reaction upon reading this was a Lucille Ball-inspired, "Eeeeee," as I recognized this kid's poor taste and poor judgement. But as I read the stream of comments questioning his sanity, his judgement, his parents' role, and at least one suggesting he be smacked upside the head, I began to wonder...

{insert Carrie Bradshaw voice over}

When is too soon no longer too soon? If nearly all comedy offends someone to some degree, who gets to decide what is allowed and what isn't?

Holocaust jokes? I've made 'em. Holocaust films and stories? I've balled my eyes out watching/reading them.

September 11th jokes? I've probably made one or two, but they've probably been somewhat superficial -- nothing too crude. Like earlier today when I pointed out that I was not asked for any identification and didn't have to fill out any documentation whatsoever to take a flying lesson the other day -- one in which I was allowed to take off, flew for an hour, and then made the instructor promise he wouldn't make me land. Had I been of Arab descent, this may have raised an eyebrow or two.

So back to the Virginia Tech shooting -- will it always be too soon or is that just for Tech students and alumni? Maybe I'm not the best judge -- one of my Halloween costume options over the years has been to dress in a pink suit with a matching pink pillbox hat, with meatloaf smeared all over my chest.

Too soon?

Maybe it's a "know your audience" issue which seems to border on "white people can tell other white people racist jokes."

See -- it's always "too soon" for me on racist humor. The real stuff. The hateful stuff. Not the non-malicious laughing about stereotypical behavior -- as a lesbo I can take it and dish it out. But real racist humor? Not funny, don't want to hear it, don't want to be around it.

Well, look at me talking myself full circle. My initial reaction to the VT costume was that it was inappropriate, but then I began to think that it was just a teen boy being morbid, disrespectful, and irreverent -- something teen boys are wont to do, particularly at Halloween...

Are some things just permanently off the table? And how do we know which things?

Maybe it's like the definition of profanity: you'll know it when you see it.

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