Friday, February 13, 2009

The proper response to a racist joke.

I need your advice about what I should have done. Earlier tonight I called at a Montgomeryshire public house. There was quite a gang there, and even though it was early, a fairly boisterous atmosphere prevailed. Then one of the group read out a poem, which was racist in tone. Mildly so, but definitely racist. Its telling resulted in some general amusement. No-one, including me was at all offended - at least as far as I could see. I find this sort of thing is a fairly common occurance. But not everywhere. We're hosting a dinner party at home tomorrow night, where I will be astounded if anyone makes a racist comment.

I should record that I do not think the poem reciter is at all racist. (And I do know what real racists sound like). But I do not think the poem would have been recited if a Pakistani had been present, and I would have been offended if anyone of Asian origin had been. I wasn't sure how to react. What I did was smile in a non-noticeable sort of way, come up with a follow up joke based on us being lucky that we weren't in the BBC's Green Room - which led to some comments about whether Carol Thatcher should have been sacked for her reference to the French tennis player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and move the conversation on to less contentious matters. I need you to tell me how you think I should have reacted.

9 comments:

Simon Dyda said...

You should have thrown a hissy-fit, Glyn. Or got out a harmonica and started tap dancing.

Alistair Barber said...

Glyn said:

.... and I would have been offended if anyone of Asian origin had been (there).

Careful Glyn, that sounds a bit iffy.

How can you adopt such a double standard?

A true 'full-time' non-racist would have told the joke teller to 'button it' with that type of racist sh*t.

Of course, any objectors to that point of view may need to be 'dealt' with.

Surely you can't justify or tolerate that sort of joke, whether or not you are in the presence of a person of different race or not?

The same must be said of jokes about 'spastics', 'nutters' or any others that are not in a position to defend themselves against pejorative 'jokes'.

I don't doubt your sincerity for a moment and would respectfully suggest that you may have been drawn into approval of the joke at the time of telling precisely because of the absence of an 'ethnic' person.

Nevertheless, the very fact that you have posted on this subject and have questioned your own attitude indicates to me that you may be a mere hairsbreadth from becoming a 'full-time' anti-racist in your own right.

Not far to go now.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

I am very concerned about the malignant spread of political correctness into a daily lives. There is a World of difference between jokes and violent threatening behaviour. What's next? Thought police and 1984 style Big Brother (whoops, already there I think). Of course you should feel free to make your opinions known if you were offended, but equally given a big belly laugh if you found it funny. I don't think you should've said anything unless YOU were personally offended.

Glyn Davies said...

Simon - I'll remember next time.

Alistair - But this is the point I was in part making. There is a double standard that applies - and on a wide scale. The poem reciter would not have recited if he felt that he might cause offence. If I had taken your advice, the only course open to me would have been to leave - which I probably would have done if I'd thought there was any genuine racism behind it. And after I'd left there would have been a spate of such jokes. Anyway, thanks for the advice.

Glyn Davies said...

Roman - I wasn't offended, but I did feel it was wrong and steered the conversation in another direction. A few years ago, such jokes would have seemed acceptable, but the meaning of words is changing all the time.

Alistair Barber said...

In terms of plain old courtesy and respect, I wonder what the attitude of the audience would have been if, say for instance, the performer chose to recite "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief...." and then proceeded to recite further about the 'funny' way that Welsh people speak.

Could have been an interesting evening all round.

Alistair Barber said...

Roman Jones esq.

I have been known amongst my friends and family as a bit of a jokester and can see the funny side of even the most serious matters.

However, I know when to keep my 'humour' to myself

How would you feel if I made up a joke about the sexual proclivities of your Mother or some such other offensive and personal material?

A good example is the recent Johnathon Ross/Russell Brand incident.

Do you have a daughter or granddaughter? I'm sure that I could come up with something that others would find to be funny

I'm pretty sure that I would deeply offend you and I would, deservedly, expect a less than friendly response from you.

This has got nothing to do with political correctness, it's simply a case of avoiding the creation of offence by employing common human decency and respect for our fellows.

BTW, have you heard the one about the.......... No, I'd better not.

Anonymous said...

Glyn> you should have declared with incandescent rage that you are single and married at the same time, then fallen on your back like the proverbial Norwegian Blue.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

Anon - If someone was insulting me or my family personally, then I would and should respond (as I said to Glyn - if YOU were offended, complain) but you do not need to defend non-related third parties who are not even there! The fact that such a joke was ok a few years ago, but not now doesn't mean human niceties have improved in the last few years, but that state sponsored political correctness has grown.