Offensive does not equal funny


The infamous offensive tweet from ex PR representative for InterActiveCorp, Justine Sacco, that was supposed to be a harmless joke.

Everything that is considered to be humorous is not always so funny. Sometimes humor can be highly offensive.

Recently, the University of California, San Diego’s independent newspaper published a column on the “Top 5 Things Rape Has Been Up To Lately.” At No. 2, The Koala noted that rape was “giving men in the Islamic world another reason to throw rocks at girls until they die.”

The excuse for this clearly sexist, misogynistic, racist, islamophobic trash talking is what some people would call humor. However, there is a way to be funny without being crude, graphic or offensive. Spiteful commentary placed on innocent people’s images through social media is repugnant and unnecessary. Hiding behind a veil of “humor” is no excuse for insult and disrespect.

Comedians originally told innocent truthful opinions to make people laugh. At some point comedy took a turn for the worse, and comedians such as Richard Pryor and George Carlin were so foul-mouthed and derogatory that people began to favor dark humor.

Animated adult TV shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy” have hundreds of jokes purposefully designed in bad taste that encourage people to emulate negative social behavior. The reasoning behind the obnoxiousness is a “powerful message” to be conveyed in between the lines using the offensive humor as a medium. Often times, the bigger picture can be recognized through the jokes but the belligerence is unneeded.

While some people may be accused of being “too uptight” to laugh at certain jokes, a lot of the subjects should never be seen in a humorous light. Vulgarity about race or sexual orientation, jokes about rape and abortion, making fun of disabilities and bad-mouthing people’s cultures are all examples of bad taste.

There is no way to make one of the most inhumane and vile acts one can commit, rape, into a subject of humor. No one should be laughing at a homophobic joke when people are literally getting placed in prison for over a decade and slaughtered in Uganda for being gay. Slavery and the Holocaust are no laughing matter.

Using satire is different than provoking aggressive reactions by offensively pushing the social envelope.

If it is risqué to tell this joke to a boss in a job interview, then it isn’t something that should be told. People have feelings and take pride in their culture, beliefs or identities and to make fun of them is rude.

Ex PR representative for InterActiveCorp, Justine Sacco, tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding I’m white!” on her Twitter Dec. 28, 2013 and was fired immediately for this comment.

As ignorant, racist and offensive this comment was, she thought it was harmless and actually funny. It is rude and shows bad character when as a PR representative, she more than likely has people she works with that would be offended by this joke.

Survivors of tragedies such as rape or an accident that has left them disabled have to live with social stigma, stress and psychological trauma of the events that happened to them for the rest of their lives. To joke about their pain is showing a complete lack of compassion and empathy, which is absolutely inhumane.

Humor is supposed to make us laugh and uplift people, not make a person or group of people a subject of mock and ridicule. Being funny does not require someone to be offended in the process. While some would say that people who do so are outspoken, it just shows that those people are insensitive.

Everyone has their fair share of subjects they find humorous that someone else may find offensive. Everyone is entitled to their own sense of humor. However, if someone has to suffer in order for a joke to be funny, then that form of comedy is wrong.