Posted by: Rael Kalley | November 17, 2012

172. Some jokes aren’t.

For most of my life I have been told that I have a keen sense of humour, albeit a dry one.

On those many occasions when my feeble attempts at humor have fallen flat I’ve attributed the cause to two obvious and irrefutable facts:

  1. My humor is cerebral.
  2. My audience is not.

You do, of course, agree with me don’t you?

A few days ago while having lunch with a friend the subject of humour came up. My friend Bill made a profound statement. He said, “The first rule of humour is that it must be funny.”

Earlier this week a member of our local football team, the Calgary Stampeders, having appointed himself the first Twit of Twitter, posted this Einstein-like statement, “I just bought OJ’s gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole.”

His tweets sparked a high level of outrage in the community and he was paraded in front of the local TV cameras to explain his actions.

His appearance was spread over two nights worth of evening news. The first evening he was somewhat contrite and not quite sure of the need to apologize. On evening number two he offered up a sincere apology, along with a donation to the local women’s emergency shelter.

I suspect his day two apology resulted from a less than pleasant conversation with the Stampeder’s management.

I do not know this man and I cannot speak to his character. I want to believe that his sole intention in penning that tweet was to be funny and that he spent little time thinking about what he was doing. Lord knows, we’ve always been guilt of stupid, mindless acts.

Perhaps he considers himself a natural successor to Seinfeld.

I would like though, the opportunity to ask him one question.

The question I would like to pose to him, or for that matter to anyone who found anything funny in that tweet, is to point out to me the humorous parts of the horrific events that occurred on the night he was referring to all those many years ago.

That night a man and a woman were brutally attacked, stabbed multiple times and left to die. It is likely their final words were to beg for their lives and their final moments of consciousness must have been filled with unimaginable terror and indescribable agony.

And within all this horror lies something funny?

I think not.

I guess my first sentence above is wrong – I don’t have a sense of humor at all. I find a comment like the one he tweeted to be contemptible and I see no humor in any topic that addresses the suffering of others.

I fully understand that humor rests firmly in the head of the beholder and what may be uproariously funny to me (my jokes) may not be in the least bit funny to you (my jokes).

But surely there are some universalities surround humor. And surely we can all agree that there is nothing funny about the events that led to the deaths of those two people.

In the course of my job I have worked with people who were victims of domestic violence and as I listened to their stories I never once felt the urge to laugh.

As some of them described the pain, the torment, the brutality of those periods in their lives it was apparent to me that while most of their physical scars had long healed the emotional scars would never leave them.

I apologize if today’s blog feels like a lecture. It is never been my intention to moralize. We have frequently discussed the point that the experiences in our lives have only the meanings we place upon them and the other day when I first read the newspaper article about this unfortunate tweet the only meaning that seemed to be available to me was an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

That feeling of sadness resulted not just from the memory of the events of that night but from realization of the sad fact that even today, as hard as it is to believe, there are still people out there who think there is something funny about the suffering of others.

I am sure this man has learned a valuable lesson that will serve him well in the future. Unfortunately I know that there are still many others who have yet to learn that lesson.

Listening to the car radio while driving around the city this week, most callers expressed their disgust at this tweet or their disappointment in the tweeter.

One caller though strongly disagreed. He said people were overreacting, that is was just a joke and that they should “get over it.”

Do you think I am overreacting?

Till we read again.

P.S. Join me on Facebook and let me know what you think about this post.


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