Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Comedy without Cruelty

An excellent blog from outside the disabilisphere about the current fad for comedians such as Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr to use 'humour' as a way of excusing disablist abuse.


Mike N said...

This is something that I've wondered a few times about....

I've never been able to stand the use of "Retard". Same with "Gay" as an insult - it grates when I hear them.

At the same time you often make jokes about being a cripple and - while I'm not criticising here, simply observing - it seems to me it's very much like the use of the N-- word by black people (or if referring to black people is non-PC these days then insert your word of choice here. I use it, however in a purely descriptive fashion, which has always seemed OK to me).

The point is: if you want people to stop making jokes about disabilities or using offensive terms for race, sexuality, gender, disability, age etc., then perhaps it's better to lead by example and not cite the excuse "I can say that because I am"?

Double standards are, after all, double standards, and are never going to help you attain the society you want.

or am I way of base here?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Mike N: I don't think there are any easy answers to this kind of problem, but the one thing I'm certain of is that legislating to ban certain words is the wrong direction to take.

My personal preference is that words like cripple or retard should be claimed by the disabled community and made our own in the same way words such as 'nigger' or 'gay' have been reclaimed by their communities. If a word is commonly used as a positive descriptor it loses it's power to wound.

I don't want people to stop making jokes about disabilities or disabled people, humour is an effective tool for social change. However, there's a big difference between making a joke that everyone, including the recipient finds funny, and the kind of so called humour currently being engaged in by people like Frankie Boyle.

For me, it seems too complex an issue to just describe as 'double standards' but ultimately it all comes down to intent.

Mike N said...

Oh, I totally agree that banning words is beyond pointless (and just wrong in so many ways apart from that!)

It's the concept of certain communities laying claim to specific words that I find odd: that would seem to be imbuing them with extra power rather than removing the power.

If you want to go the "de-empowering" route then (since you aren't going to stop truly hateful people from using them) wouldn't it be better if everybody started using these words in every day speech as if they were interchangeable with more PC phrases?

To cry "double standards" may be simplifying the matter, but isn't that exactly what you say you want by allowing the appropriate communities to use the words but deny usage to everybody else?

Oh, and subtle humour seems to have all but disappeared these days, more's the pity. For some reasons comedians seem to think they have to be gross, offensive or both to amuse, which is simply not true.