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Wednesday 14 April 2010

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The Gay Blade

13th January 2009

Homophobic? Or Just Having Fun?

Posted by: Michael Stevens

What’s the dividing line between joking and offence? Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Or are there objective standards that we can measure this by?  And maybe more importantly, do we have the right to go through life without being offended?

I guess it was seeing the news report last year about a London vicar who suggested gay men have warning tattoos put on our arses that made me wonder. He explained he was joking.

I don’t find it that funny I have to say - too many echoes of the Nazis and that American politician who wanted all of living with HIV to have that tattoos on our foreheads.But I’m not sure I want to shut him up either. I do value freedom of speech very highly, even when it pisses me off.

When Elton John got hitched, that apogee of good taste and humour The Sun had a headline “Elton Takes it Up the Aisle”  - that one I actually thought was funny, I don’t think it was nastily homophobic at all.

But suggestions we should be tattooed, I’m not so sure.

Then again there was a furore a few years ago over the ads for Faggs coffee - that one didn’t really worry me.I thought there was a bit of an over-reacton to that one.

It’s too easy I think to fall into the boringly self-righteous attitude that bans anything that might be offensive. It’s a bit like the idiots who banned bullrush at school - sure you might get a few grazes and knocks but life is going to be like that - it’s good to get used to it.

How much do we want, need or deserve protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous comments by morons? Bullying is neither fun, clever, nor nice, and if you’re a vulnerable kid, or even a vulnerable adult, it’s shit and unacceptable.

However, I think we’ve also got to be able to laugh at ourselves, and with others too. It doesn’t always have to be seen as a deadly offence that demands intervention and a crisis team of counsellors to check our battered emotions. It’s drawing that line that’s so hard, but I guess it’s easiest to see it when it’s been crossed.

Tags: General

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark A. Thomson // Jan 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    As we integrate into a society which is more respectful, tolerant and caring we have to learn to distinguish between harmless fun and intentional nastiness. I for one am tired of a politically correct media protesting on my behalf. The Faggs advertisments are amusing and harmeless fun. The furore over the Christchurch pie, give me a break!! There is a great deal more to protest about.
    A few weeks ago on C4 I watched an episode of SouthPark and was horrified and deeply offended by the storyline and nothing was noted in the media. It concerned one of the main characters deliberately infecting his friends with the HIV virus to gain popularity and sympathy. Only to discover that HIV was no longer ‘fashionable’ etc. etc.
    As an HIV+ guy, yes I was angry, and deeply offended and horrified that this episode was allowed to air at all, and no I could not see the humour in the plot. The only thing that I did agree with the writers about was the general disinterest in HIV and AIDS among the general populace. Those of us who have learned to live with HIV try hard to raise awareness yet even in the LGBT community it is sometimes the butt of jokes, and we the sufferers are told to lighten up!!! That’s what I call offensive.

  • 2 Craig Young // Jan 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I consider revenge humour to be particularly pungent as a response. Simply point out the poor phobe who made it has an unfortunate hairstyle, australopithecine posture, and obviously admires
    seventies couture and (sic) style. One thing that works with personal derogatory remarks is the following bon mot:
    “Well, you’re in luck, mate. I’m only into *men*…”

    C.

  • 3 Mark A. Thomson // Jan 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Yep! Can’t agree more.
    I remember as a kid growing up in the UK whenever I didn’t like being the butt of a joke, my pa would always remind me to beware of a ‘Sense of Humour Failure’ or SHF, what we in the family whispered to each other to diffuse potentially explosive situations.
    These days a withering look and a polite put down does the trick!

  • 4 Nathanial // Jan 15, 2009 at 12:36 am

    “…that apogee of good taste and humour The Sun…”

    Apogee? As in, “the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is furthest from the earth”…? Or perhaps you meant “nadir” — “lowest level, all-time low, bottom”…?

    Sorry for being pedantic. :)

  • 5 Michael Stevens // Jan 15, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Dear Nathaniel,
    have you ever heard of irony?

  • 6 Mark A. Thomson // Jan 15, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Now now Michael! In with anger out with love!! We must forgive the grammatically challenged and try to educate them!!!!! Bless

  • 7 Doug // Jan 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I find more and more that there are alot of people out there in the world who just need to stop being so precious.

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