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3.22.2011

Bigotry is no joke

At the supper table last night, Tio told us something he and his friends thougth was funny. They wondered "What if you were allergic to gay people?" and thought that was hilarious. Tish and I came down hard and fast on that one, telling him that it was a bigoted remark. He didn't see that. He just thought it was funny.
I asked, "What if you said you were 'allergic to black people'. Would that be racist?"
"I guess so."
"Or women?"
"I suppose."
As part of our advanced academic work, I've been assigning some writing every night. Last night, I asked him to write about why this is discrimination. After our discussion, he wrote that suggesting 'being allergic' to group of people was equating them with animals or disease and that that meant they were inferior. He concluded that the only reason he thought it might be true was because it was funny.

We all have a long way to go with discrimination in this country. I remember when I was young and thought that anything humorous was fair game. But just "because it was funny" covers a multitude of sins. Humor really isn't the great equalizer. Like sarcasm and teasing and cliquish slurs, bigotry under the umbrella of "it was just a joke, man," is an empty excuse. Sure, we can be too PC but maybe we need to make sure our kids understand the difference.