Mini-essay on negative ethnic humor


From a dialogue with a buddy on negative ethnic humor. Is some negative ethnic humor more understandable or than other negative ethnic jokes?

The whole phenomenon of ethnic humor and negative ethnic humor is a complicated one.

I could develop a long essay/analysis of negative ethnic humor and may even do so.

One of my points would be that not all negative ethnic humor is alike. Some of negative ethnic humor has a historical basis. For example, Christians, during the Middle Ages, were particularly brutal against Muslim communities. Cruel ethnic "jokes" by Muslims against "bloodthirsty Christians and Popes" would be understandable and with a basis in reality.

Cruel jokes against the retarded ("retards") however, are without any basis in reality and only reflect the cruelty of the joke teller.

Anti-Native-American jokes by a 20th Century White person would simply be cruel, however, such jokes about Indian "savages" would be more understandable if told by 18th Century White Americans who had lost relatives to Indian attacks/massacres.

Vicious jokes by Brits against IRA/Irish would be more understandable than, for example, jokes by White Americans that "the only good N-- is a dead N--."

If the negative ethnic joke is directed totally at a victim of violence, then the joke is abhorrent. For example, anti-homosexual jokes or anti-Gypsy jokes by WW-II Nazis would just be cruel. Jokes about "Mongoloid Idiots," would be mean and extremely inappropriate.

On negative jokes about Muslims... Muslims are not complete victims. Obviously, they have done things to hurt or offend non-Muslims. Muslim history and values have been more problematic than, for example, Eskimo or Scandinavian culture.

Last month the Taliban "justified" their attempt to assassinate a 14 year old Muslim girl who believed in education for girls. In short, there are, in their history, some acts/values which invite negative humor.

Another interesting (I think) point is that what Freud would say is that negative ethnic humor actually has a positive aspect to it.

Just as Greek tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy arguably help purge one of some fears, anxieties and negative urges.....negative/hostile humor releases ("catharts") hostile thoughts/impulses at a low level, which is certainly better than actually physically attacking other ethnic groups.




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