Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dark Jokes

I'm very touched by this article about Wendy Harmer apologizing to Lindy-Chamberlain-Creighton.  

Wendy Harmer is a comedian, and for part of her routine, she poked fun at the Chamberlain family's tragedy. And she implied that Lindy was guilty of her baby's murder. 

Now Lindy has been declared innocent by an Australian coroner.  Harmer gave a public apology.   She says sorry for her own actions and also expresses sympathy for what the family has endured. It's very nice.

I also like what she says ABOUT her actions and the apology.  In pursuit of a laugh, I too carried a burning stick. 

Harmer isn't the only one out there owing Lindy an apology.  Harmer guesses that there are millions of other Australians who also owe apologies.  I'd say there are millions of people around the world.

I have questions floating in my mind right now.

1. Am I one of the millions?   Did I make jokes about a baby dying?   Did I laugh at jokes?   I can't remember doing so, but my memory is not always reliable.    I hope I didn't.  And if I did, I hope it was back when I was ignorant...when I didn't know much of the story.   I'm guessing (and hoping) that once I knew more of the story, I had more compassion.  

2. Should the apologies have come sooner?  Was validation from a coroner needed before people came forward to say sorry?  Back before it was decided that dingoes do indeed harm humans sometimes, was it okay to make fun of the whole thing?  

If Lindy wasn't labeled as innocent, would it be okay to go back to making fun of the whole thing? 

3. What does this say about humor, especially dark humor?   I don't know if I've joked about the Chamberlain story, or if I've laughed about it.   But I'm pretty sure I've made jokes about other tragedies, and I've definitely laughed at other people's jokes.

Is this wrong?  Or is it just part of human nature?   Is it just our way of dealing with scary strange things?

Should we stop all of it?  Should we stop some of it? 

Is there a line we shouldn't cross? 

Or should we just accept that if we die (or are injured) in a bizarre way, people are going to joke about it?

I like jokes.  I like dark jokes.  So it's hard for me to suggest we stop all of it.

I'm wanting to say let's keep joking, but be sensitive towards other people's feelings. It's hard, though.  Because almost every joke out there is going to offend SOMEBODY.   Sometimes it's because our jokes are very offensive. Other times it's because the listener is very sensitive.  Sometimes they're sensitive to the joke for a very valid personal reason.  

I'm thinking.....

Maybe it's less about dark humor and more about the burning stick that Wendy Harmer mentioned. 

Should so much hatred be directed towards someone when there's no proof of their guilt?  Should we all gang up on them? Should we find so much pleasure in ganging up on them?

And even if they are guilty, is it okay then to gang up on them and be hateful?  Maybe it is...to some small degree.

I think there comes a point, though, when we revel in the hatred of villains because it distracts us from thinking of our own faults.