Is it possible to support social justice and equality while also possessing a politically incorrect sense of humor?

To be fair, my "joke" was less of a joke and more a comment made in passing that was overheard, in which I mentioned that all sexes from men, to women, to transgender turtles had equal capacity to snore at night.

The intention was not to encourage anybody or discourage them. It was simply a framing device for a broad statement.

But that was less of my point. Rather, I've seen firsthand the power humor has over resolving human suffering. For example:

  • My late grandmother, who passed away a few years ago, was a survivor of nazi labor camps during world war She was rare to speak of such times, however, her favorite film was La vita è bella, an italian comedy film set in nazi Germany. She said that seeing the movie allowed her to laugh at a time in her life in which laughter had been taken from her. And I believe aided her in coming to terms with the terrors she saw. Many people call this film classless in its portrayals of nazi extermination camps as a subject of comedy.

  • Two years ago, I lived on a Lakota Sioux reservation in south Dakota. A few times times I heard the people make joking references to bad situations as "Smallpox blankets" and children referred to their walks to school as "The Trail Of Tears". It baffled me for awhile as to why they would use such offensive terminology against themselves. But I eventually had it explained that it was their way of coming to terms with their past, and that by not treating such words as tear-worthy taboos, they would someday overcome their historical implications.

  • Last year, I had the honor of visiting Rijeka, Croatia, and lived in a home with a former soldier of the Croatian army, who had fought in the balkan wars and lost both legs. He would often joke about how he was lucky (and I quote), "The serbs had not taken his balls". Other familiars of his (friends, family, former compatriots) would make these same jokes, at him, mind you, and he would laugh along. Again, he told me that his legs were long since gone, but to weep over them would not help them grow back.

I know most of these examples were examples of diegetic humor, but all did come from outside sources. These people had the opportunity to be offended, and rather chose to be empowered. To laugh along with their sufferings in alleviation instead of letting them weigh silently.

I'm not saying this is the case with all people and all situations. Some people are not ready to laugh at themselves. Some never will be, and rightly so. I'm not arguing that it's healthy to taunt and berate somebody for their sufferings. But rather that humor can (not is, but can) be a valuable form of healing for those who are able to learn to laugh a little at themselves.

/r/socialjustice101 Thread Parent