*Can't You Take A Joke, It Was Just Some Humour*-Why Romney's Birther Comment is Offensive


 

*Can't You Take A Joke, It Was Just Some Humour*-Why Romney's Birther Comment is Offensive
 


26 August 2012 at 1:27:25 PM
salon

Mitt Romney, the other day, said something that was the epitome of White Privileged Male regarding whether anyone had ever asked for his birth certificate. The implication was that people HAVE asked for President Barack Obama's birth certificate, and Obama is not a *real* American.

That's offensive enough, and probaby only appeals to those who are white and have never had to have their American identity and freedoms challenged. But I want to talk about the *humour* part of it.

A great deal of my adult life I have had to deal with men who wanted to tell some pretty filthy jokes about women and, when asked to stop, have said something to the effect of "Can't You Take a Joke?". In one instance, in a workplace cubicle environment, one man made a very offensive sexist joke that I couldn't help but hear. I have always been GLAD for the diversity training that came up after women complained or sued about being the target of sexism. If you watch "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (which is one of my favorite movies for other reasons), you'll see examples of how women were viewed in the 1960's. I distinctly recall that the point of the jokes was to reinforce that women were second class, not as good, smart, or successful as men, and needed to be kept in their place. One time at a company meeting out of town, all the men on the team went out at night for a bonding session at a strip club; think that the women should have gone too? But if she doesn't (and I'm the type that wouldn't), she is an outsider.

The issue here is whether telling jokes that demean others, place others in an *outsider* position, etc ought to be sloughed off as "Hey, It's just some humour.". A lot of women have not thought so when made the target of loutish jokes; that also includes *humourless* blacks, hispanics, chinese, gay, etc.

Some jokes are designed to make people feel powerful by dehumanising others. Racist, sexist or homophobic banter draws its lazy humour from exclusion, and in general, the worse a joke is, the smaller the circle of people likely to 'get' it. When people accuse women of inability to 'take a joke' when men humiliate, objectify or degrade us, they are absolutely right. The 'joke' wouldn't work if it were designed for us to appreciate, because that sort of humour is based on cruelty, on making men feel big and stiff at women's expense. Some jokes we are simply expected to 'take' rather like one might take a punch.

Mitt Romney is a negative divider, and worse, appeals to those who think, instead of being an American, that there are *real* Americans and *fake* Americans, and that the fake Americans shouldn't be offended by jokes lobbed at them. Ugh. And THIS is what is wrong with the Republican party.

Wasn't the FIRST time Mitt Romney made a birther joke

Update. Preibus tried to defend the "A Little Humour", showing he doesn't understand the difference between self-deprecating humour (or is pretending not to) and veiled attacks.

"Well, you know what, I think it is a nothing," Priebus said on CNN's "State of the Union." "The fact is that Mitt Romney, myself, and from the moment that I became chairman — consistently, Gov. Romney has said that this is a non-starter, Barack Obama was born in hawaii."

CNN host Candy Crowley then asked why it was even brought up, and whether it was an effort to play to the hard-line Republican base.

"Well, first of all, that is not what he was doing. He is a Michigander, and making the point that we are ahead in michigan and doing well in the battleground states, and 'I'm from michigan and I was born here.' And you know what, have we really gotten to the point where we can't have any levity at all in politics? I mean, we have gotten to a place in politics that is ridiculous, and no one can say anything that is remotely humorous. And, you know, the president makes jokes about this all of the time. He plays the — you know, he came out to correspondents dinner a year ago — and I mean, come on."

Smatta, Can't you take a joke, even when it's divisive?


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