Sounds like the start of a joke right? Somewhere it probably is. The question I am wondering is, should it be? Is there a difference between using humour to try and cope with something tragic and making a joke about something tragic that has nothing to do with the person making the joke?
I need to point out that I have made more than my fair share of bad taste jokes. I am not here to be judgemental. I do feel bad about making those jokes the more I think about what I see when I turn on the TV or read something on Facebook. It is something that is intriguing me more and more, but it is a sick sort of intriguement. I feel uneasy even thinking about it.
As soon as I heard about Jimmy Saville, my first thought was ‘how long will it be before the first joke comes out?’ I think it was a matter of days. Let’s think about that for just a second. Britain’s worst ever sexual offender was joked about in an alarmingly short period of time.
The same can be said for Oscar Pistorius and Bill Cosby. I do not know for certain if Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp on purpose or by accident nor do I know if the allegations against Cosby are true. I do think that if you are the family or friends of Steenkamp that it must hurt like hell every time you hear a joke about her death. If Cosby isn’t guilty, he is jokingly being referred to as a rapist on a regular basis and if he is guilty, jokes are being made about women being drugged and raped on a regular basis. Tee-fucking-hee.
If I seem angry it is because I am. I am not getting angry in a self-righteous way and saying ‘How could anyone laugh at this?’ I have laughed at this. I am simply feeling disgusted at myself for doing so. I do acknowledge that as a society we often use humour to deal with the horrors that sometimes happen. I do wonder if it is necessary to do this via The Golden Globes for instance. Is an awards shows the best place for it?
I don’t know what to make of it all. The thought that has been stuck in my head for a while is this. If you were a child that suffered the horror of being molested and whilst watching TV you saw a joke about Saville’s paedophillia, would you find it funny? Is laughter really the best medicine in this instance?
I am all for freedom of speech, but shouldn’t this freedom be treated respectfully? Just because we can say anything, does it mean we have to say anything? I think there is a choice that should at least be considered. Some people claim freedom of speech as a defence against saying anything they want to, no matter how repugnant. I am not sure I want to be like that. I hope to choose what I say with more compassion in future.
Which brings me back to something my brother once said to me. He was talking about Tommy Cooper, who is one of the funniest people I have ever seen. My brother said ‘The only person Tommy Cooper ever took the piss out of was himself.’ No vitriol and no trying to say the most offensive thing possible to get a reaction. He simply relied on actually being funny. Then he went and died on stage in the middle of an act. People thought it was part of the act and laughed as he died. He probably would have loved that and if that isn’t funnily tragic, I don’t know what is.