There’s always been folk making jokes about terrible and tragic events. I’ve long assumed we all know someone like that – but maybe I’m just blessed. Despite working hard to be conscious of my words, and doing my best to avoid causing hurt, I can’t say that I’m politically correct at heart. While believing there are subjects which really aren’t funny, I always seem to have known people who know how to make me laugh – despite the inappropriate nature of the subject matter.
I was reminded of that fact when I received a joke about George Floyd shortly after his tragic killing, rapidly followed by the message “too soon?” And I’ll admit I was torn. I didn’t find it funny, but I know my friend is not racist, just as I know he’s not a misogynist, sexist or any other form of -ist … He is, however, irreverent, and has been able to make me laugh with inappropriate comments for many a year – even if not on this occasion.
I long ago accepted that my line is a personal one. Not personal just in regard to subject matter, but in regard to the teller. Things I find funny in the mouth of one person, I do not find funny in the mouth of another. For me, intent matters. Intent behind the words and the actions. And the only way you can judge intent is by knowing the individual concerned. And although that’s not terribly fair … it is honest.
I’ve been accused of allowing my friends a leeway I wouldn’t give to a stranger, and while that’s true, I can also hold them to a higher standard. I probably expect more from them, so can be left sad and disappointed to a far greater degree by the actions of a friend than a mere acquaintance. But isn’t that the nature of friendship?
Where’s your line? And is it different for different people – or am I just odd like that?
© Debra Carey, 2020