Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Racist jokes

There has been enough stupidity around this debate so I will not add to it, I will not lecture you about why something is or is not offensive, I just want to pose a few questions for you to consider, if you are interested in the issue of racism in comedy.

Is there a difference between someone using comedy to come to terms with the racism and discrimination that they experience vs someone who uses comedy to normalise and justify the racism that they inflict on others? or are they both just racist jokes? or are they both perfectly fine?

If you identify as a 'white Australian' and believe jokes that play on stereotypes are not offensive, do you mind that some people at home and around the globe make jokes about white Australians being racist, ignorant, uneducated and 'simple', or is that just 'in good fun' too? Does it matter that these jokes represent an actual belief that this is true? Do you think it is true? Why do you think others might think it is?

If I ridicule you by making a rude joke about your weight, or height, or lower intelligence, or family, or looks, or because I have more money than you, does it matter if I think you shouldn't be offended? or if I think that if you are offended then that is just because you are too stupid to see that it isn't really offensive? Would me thinking that make me more or less offensive or not matter?

If I tell a racist joke to a child is that wrong? What if the child is a member of the race the joke is about? Does that make a difference? What if the child isn't of that race, has never heard anything about this race and doesn''t understand the joke is based around a stereotype? Does that matter?

Now for the fun one. People are saying that if they don't mean to offend then people should not be offended...

If I throw a rock, but I don't intend for it to hit someone... or let's say I do want it to hit them, but not hard... let's just say 'I don't intend to hurt them'. Is my intent more relevant than the damage I inflict on the other person after I have hit them with a rock? or should the person who has been hurt, simply toughen up... or should they start throwing rocks back?

I don't think Australians really want a rock fight, I think some people would like to be able to keep having fun by throwing rocks at others though... but if they do then some people will start throwing rocks back... wouldn't you?

but I am sure there are some people who think that stereotypes are fun, and that no one takes them seriously... they are just jokes... Like the Tenterfield Councillor who said he didn't think Aboriginal people could be trusted to RAISE THE ABORIGINAL FLAG EACH MORNING because "they are a very undisciplined people'...

or the Government who know that because Australians believe the stereotype that Aboriginal people get free handouts, they will be able to take money out of the Aboriginal Benefits Account and use that money to purchase the leases on Aboriginal land... yes that is right, they are taking money that belongs to Aboriginal people and using it for the acquisition of town leases.

or FMG who know that because we have such a dislike and a distrust of Aboriginal people in Australia, they can make the argument that they are not going to pay money to people who own resources they want to mine because giving them money is like giving them welfare... Paying people for their resources and commodities is 'welfare'. Sorry, let me correct that, paying ABORIGINAL people for their resources and commodities is 'welfare'.

See, just harmless stereotypes and jokes... right?