I posted the following joke on my Facebook page recently;
As you may already know, it is a sin for a Muslim male to see any woman other than his wife naked and if he does, he must commit suicide.
So on October 29th, at 10:00 GMT, all British women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists.
Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this anti-terrorist effort.
All patriotic men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their houses to demonstrate their support for the women and to prove that they are not Muslim terrorist sympathizers.
Since Islam also does not approve of alcohol, a cold 6-pack at your side is further proof of your patriotism.
The British government appreciates your efforts to root out terrorists and applauds your participation in this anti-terrorist activity.
If you don’t share this, you’re a terrorist-sympathiser
I shouldn’t have been too surprised, but a rash of stupid broke out.
The dipshittery ranged from accusations of racism and racial insensitivity, to calling me stupid. I’m going to take a minor detour from my broader point to address that "stupid" comment. I can’t think of anything dumber than a person who comes to such a conclusion based on one post you don’t like. That is the epitome of a teenie tiny little mind. And the growing desire to label people (politicians specifically) one thing based on one comment is what’s wrong with America today. FDR would never make it through a primary in America today. He, like every other fucking person on the planet, was complicated. We would never have had one of the most successful and accomplished presidents in our history, if it were up to the simple thinking that more and more Americans favor. I know that nuance is hard. And complicated people make you actually have to use your brain. Bummer.
I say this all the time to the Obama lovers and the Obama haters; stop being such a simpleton. It’s bad for our political discourse.
Now back to my bigger point. I got an email asking me to take down the joke, which I did. Not because there’s anything wrong with the joke (which is why I’m publishing it again here), but because I wanted to explain the precise nature of the "victory" won by my taking it down (and I couldn’t do that if I didn’t take it down, now could I?)
First, I want to start with addressing the joke itself. I can’t believe this needs to be explained but this is a joke about men. Not Muslim men, but all men. Actually, that’s not true. There is a subtext of broadly mocking religion. The facet of Islam that is being mocked in this joke is precisely as ludicrous as eating a cookie and believing it’s the body of Christ. Religion can be stupid. It can be lovely, but also stupid. As with people, it’s more than one thing. Every single religion on the planet has a significant stupid component. Wanna know who sees the stupid? People who believe in a different flavor of religious stupidity. If your religion can’t withstand my mockery, it’s time to revisit the veracity of your beliefs. I’m not going to get further into the religion part because again, it was a joke about men.
The next paragraph is largely copied verbatim from the reply I sent to the person asking me to take down the post.
Bad things happen when people play it fast and loose with their "outrage". I wonder when and why we stopped using our brains? Context matters, and my page advocates for equality for everyone, just about every day. I wrote a blog post about the Boston bombing that makes my position clear. I created a whole fucking category just for racism. Before throwing out accusations of racism, consider context because it’s very relevant. When Joe Biden referred to (then) senator Obama as bright, articulate, and clean, he wasn’t being a fucking racist. Wanna know how I knew? Context. He had no history of racism and since I’m not a simpleton, I considered the evidence before coming to my conclusion. If you don’t know the context, go find it. Not knowing or giving a shit about whether Bill Maher is actually a racist when listening to his jokes makes you the stupid one.
Being offended carelessly or gratuitously diminishes actually offensive behavior, just like (I make this point regularly) holocaust comparisons diminish what happened during the actual holocaust. We damage ourselves every single time we become outraged gratuitously. And we give people who are actually intolerant something to hang their hats on when we do it.
When you can’t tell the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh, you help enable Rush Limbaugh. That’s just a fact.
To be clear, this post isn’t about me and about defending myself. I didn’t do anything that warrants that. This post is about the big picture contribution that careless outrage makes to our society. When you cannot tell the difference between something that is actually racist, and something that probably isn’t, you’re helping the worst people in our society.
This is precisely the same as asserting that both political parties are the same. You enable republicans and their recalcitrance when you say that.
I think it’s pathetic that we’ve become thin skinned, short sighted, reactionary, and humorless.
I think it’s pathetic that people don’t think, research, and look at context before deciding to be offended.
I think it’s pathetic when people carelessly help those who are actually hateful by giving them cover. But Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh greatly appreciate it.
I took down my post because I want tell everyone who demanded that I do, that Rush Limbaugh thanks you for the assist.
For the sake of my currently unhealthy blood pressure level, I want to end this post on a less pissed off tone. The person who emailed me about taking the post down ultimately agreed with that I said to her, despite my less that congenial tone (sorry about that). I have all the respect in the world for her for reconsidering her position. I myself do it all the fucking time. And if I don’t reconsider my position, that’s purely a result of not having presented with a compelling point that I hadn’t already considered.
So please consider what I’ve said here and ask yourself whether your feelings of being offended are part of the problem, or part of the solution.