Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Irish Jokes?

Channel 9's Morning Breakfast show, which is your usual 'breakfast' show fare, though preferable to any of its commercial competitors, today went into paroxysms of Irish Jokes. The whole issue of whether it's funny to make jokes about nationalities, especially jokes involving not just quirks—as most Jewish jokes tend to be—but direct reflections on the intelligence of the nation concerned, is apparently not an 'issue' at all for anybody living in the realms of those nations descended in large part by, surprise, surprise, the Brits.

I won't go into the historical reasons why the Brits chose to regard the Irish as they do; the dislike is probably mutual, and the Irish have considerably more historical reasons for—and grievances to base it on—the 'dislike' than the Brits. But I think that, once outside of Britain, in the 'colonies'—where many actually have little reason to love the 'motherland' either!—the 'cultural cringe' thing, which I blogged about not so long ago, is still sufficiently alive and well, that there's some totally brainless acceptance of the 'all-right-ness' of Irish jokerism.

Thing is though, that it's just plain offensive, and that the blindness to its offensiveness and the fact that it's happily trodden out on national TV and everybody is laughing, is actually pretty disgusting and also hypocritical.

Why should it be all right to crack Irish jokes, when it really would be considered very un-PC if one, for example, inserted another nationality into the tale.

Here's a Palestinian version of a pretty standard dumb-Irish joke. I'm using Palestinians, because in the eyes of the same people who feel no compunction about cracking Irish jokes, the Palestinians' fate at the hands of Israel and that of the Irish at the hands of the Brits have a number of suggestive parallels.

Two Palestinians walk into a coffee shop.
You'd think at least one of them would have seen it!

Of course, every nation has its pariahs. The Germans have the inhabitants of Ostfriesland (East Frisia).

Why do the seagulls in Ostfriesland fly on their backs?
So they don't have to look at the stupid Ostfriesenlanders.

That's pretty offensive, too; and Ostfriesland isn't even 'foreign' to Germany.

Well, you might think, that's just 'cultural quirks'. Gotta live and let live. And, besides, these jokes are funny, right? Right?

Well, if you think that, just take your own nationality or ethnic group, whatever it happens to be; google some jokes made about the Irish; translate the contextual terms into something pertinent to your own group—and then think about it some more, OK?

And try this for size: Don't crack the joke about an ethnic group, but about some religion. Let's face it, there's much more reason to pick on religions than on nations!

So, these two M...

Just try it. You might find yourself on the business-end of a fatwa issued for your removal from the land of the living.

So, not just are we talking 'offensive', but you gotta remember that some people are very, very easily offended; and many of them don't even need anything that would qualify as a decent 'reason' to anybody with more than two interacting braincells. The Brits and descendants of the British colonialists get away with Irish jokes only because the Irish have a sense of humor. Cultural cringe or not, if the Brits started a culture of Aussie or Kiwi jokes—not just a few here and there—with the same gusto that they did for the Irish ones, the Republican movement in both countries would almost instantly swell to avalanche proportions.

P.S.

By way of disclosure of interest: I am not Irish. But the family I married into, is. As a result, so are my children, at least in part. Meaning that, yes, Irish jokes do reflect on people I hold in high regard and more. So, I'm biased. So, sue me. So, bite me.

And consider this also:

Just because a behaviorism is a 'cultural quirk', or 'custom', or whatever you want to call it, that doesn't somehow make it OK. It just means that more people do it and accept it as OK.

Two refugees in an Afghan camp walk into a tent...

What do you do when a four-year old kid in Mogadishu throws a pin at you?

Never mind. If you haven't gotten it by now, you never will.

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