Saying “I’m not racist, I have Black friends” is exactly like saying “I’m not sexist, I have a wife”.
Because racism isn’t a rational attitude, my friends. Which means that you can be racist and engage in any activity, hold any opinion that contradicts your racism: having Black friends, a Black partner, a Black Nintendo; who cares.
As British people, we shouldn’t be yapping about immigrants coming into your country and not assimilating. Simply due to the fact that the entirety of continental Europe knows that wherever we settle, odds are that, within a year, our knowledge of the language won’t be advanced enough to get us a pound of grapes at the local market (conversion of Ibs into kg aside). But rest assured! This says just as much about our hypocrisy as it does about humanity in general!
In fact, I would argue that wanting to stay with people who are culturally similar to you is inherent to human beings; as it is, in essence, wanting to remain within your comfort zone. However, it is important to concede that inherent does not imply irreproachable. So, if we want immigrants to step out of that comfort zone and participate in our British society, we should try to achieve that by setting the example abroad, and by being much, much more inclusive and welcoming at home.
I’ve personally never been sure on how to take, and how to answer racist jokes. But this particular issue is a microcosm of a much bigger question, ie, what can we joke about? What is excessively provocative, and what isn’t?
As it pertains this issue, there are two reciprocal notions that separate a thigh-slapper from an insult: the intent of the one who utters the joke, and the perception of the joke that the entity towards whom the gag is directed, holds.
Unfortunately, both of these are completely subjective. On one hand, it is generally impossible – in comedy – to decipher or prove intent. In fact, some would argue that jokes deliberately delivered in a provocative manner can be the funniest ones. In addition, we must consider the fact that we live in a society where presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle. However, since comedic intent cannot be proven, this would imply that we be forced to take people at their word; which is particularly dangerous as, well, people lie.
Comedic cul-de-sac #1.
Moreover, how people react to gags is just as subjective. This idea is only exacerbated when you consider that most humour is based on some form of mockery, whether it be jests directed at individuals, or social criticism. This response to mockery is polarised, even when humour tackles the most sensitive of talking points. For instance, this particular phenomena even characterises racially charged humour. Check Facebook and Youtube, and you’ll see just as many “White people be like” as “Black people be like” videos. But, interestingly enough, when it comes to such gags, you’ll see far more outraged White people commenting “It’s ok to make jokes about White people, but as soon as you make jokes about Black people, it’s racist! #reverseracism” than any of my ebony brothers and sisters expressing our revulsion at jokes aimed at us.
But the fact is, reactions to quips on these types of topics still are at least somewhat divided. I am by no means saying that the amount of people who laugh is always equivalent to the amount of people who seethe; I’m saying that no cutoff can’t be found without flirting with dogmatism: is a gag morally wrong when 70% of people think it is? Or 80? “Who knows” is the idea that I’m attempting to convey. And even if such a societal consensus could be reached, a majority of people assessing a joke as being reprehensible does not imply that they are right in their assessment. Comedic cul-de-sac #2. Checkmate, mate.
Naturally, I do apologise for bringing forth so many comedic complications without the complementary solutions, but I will expose a guideline, that certainly will help you filter out some of your more controversial witticisms: if you’d get offended if the joke was directed at you, Tipp-Ex that one out of your brain. Ask yourself, before you make a racist joke, how would you feel if that joke was intended for your ethnicity. Ask yourself, before you banter about a personal tragedy, how would you feel if your own were the subject of such banter. And if the answer is what I presume it is, use that cerebral Tipp-Ex.
I don’t think that you need an environmental science degree to engage in a sophisticated conversation about science. But, if your knowledge of the field exclusively amounts to TEDtalks or Wikipedia; and the majority of scientists disagree with your reasoning, you better stop talking.
And, yet, in the US, a substantial amount of Republican politicians have done the exact opposite, and kept affirming that climate change is a hoax. Incidentally, this comical stubbornness makes me think of Al Franken a former comedian, most notably on SNL, turned senator, who used to say: “ You know, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”.
A good analogy of this attitude would be for you to imagine if I disagreed with the an author’s interpretation of his own book.
Moreover, it is the arguments used to explain this denial rather than the denial itself that make climate change scepticism inherently hilarious. Aside of the constant conspiracist disagreement with scientific fact, I recently learned about the growing number of Republicans who compare themselves to Galileo in their disagreement with general consensuses.
Let us examine the major differences involved that explain why Republicans are talking out of their you know whats with that asinine comparison:
- Galileo was a scientist, Republicans aren’t
- The Catholic Church weren’t scientists, and scientists are (if you hadn’t guessed)
- Geocentrism was an incredibly old, hence outdated scientific concept
Finally, incentive is the crucial difference in this issue. The Holy Roman Catholic Church endorsed 1800 year old scientific theories because these fit their interpretation of the Bible. In other words, geocentrism wasn’t based on objectivity: it was ideological. Furthermore, the Church being so politically, economically and socially dominant in 17th century society implied that it could make general consensus a view that wasn’t entirely based on rational thought.
As for incentive in climate change scepticism, the incentive to deny is on the Republicans’ side. As it pertains to this issue, money naturally has its say. In fact, I don’t think that their attitude emanates from stupidity; in fact, an article by The Guardian states that “Fossil fuel barons have invested more than $100m in Republican presidential Super Pacs”. Ted Cruz, for example, has received more than a million dollars from fossil fuel companies. 600,000 for Señor Ryan. Same for Señor Rubio. You get the point.
In a nutshell, Republicans’ using of pseudo rationality to repudiate reality is but a particularly weak façade that fails to conceal financial incentives.