Talk Tuesday: Not Just A Joke…

  • I have written blog posts in the past about the impact of laughter, both the physical and emotional benefits. On the contrary, I have talked about a negative aspect of laughter as well. Well, not a direct negative of laughter itself, but rather something that is used to cause people to laugh, a joke. Jokes are supposed to lighten the mood, and make people feel better; the key word being supposed to because it doesn’t always happen that way. Sure jokes have the power to make people laugh, but they also have the power to make others sad and feel bad about themselves. If not delivered properly, as I mentioned in a previous post, jokes can marginalize people.. How do you know if a joke has gone too far? The answer is easy, if it causes emotional pain to another. I know it is impossible to please everyone, but I also know that it is possible to be aware and empathetic to other’s feelings. It can not be said enough, if you are laughing at someone, rather with them, then your joke has gone too far.
    So, what caused me to write about this topic again? Well, it is due to one word, actually, one television station, Showtime. The station airs a comedy special featuring Gary Owen, “I Agree With Myself.” The comedian repeatedly uses the word, retarded, and makes jokes about those who have intellectual disabilities, to which his cousin has. Mr. Owen is heard making jokes about his cousin’s sexuality and speech, just to name a few. Does having a family member or friend of a person with a disability, give a person the right to make insensitive jokes about a particular group? The answer is no. I would hope it would make a person more empathetic and aware of what to do and/or say. I wonder if Mr. Owen is aware of the national campaign to take retarded out of a person’s vocabulary. In an almost hour and a half, Mr. Owen managed to alienate a group of people.
    The Special Olympics are shaking their heads in disbelief and disagreement, with Mr. Owens comedy routine on this Showtime special. Board Chairman, Tim Shriver, said it perfectly when he described the comedic statements as being, “demonizing to those who are different.” The Special Olympics has created a petition to put pressure on Showtime to stop airing the special, which is running online and broadband. To view and sign the petition, visit this link

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