Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Target vs. The Subject Of A Joke

 I've seen Ricky Gervais make this point more than once in the last year. There is no offense given in making any person or group the subject of a joke. None should be taken. The offense comes in making some person or group the target of a joke. Making someone the target of a joke is at least unkind, probably vicious, and almost certainly in bad taste.

Unless, I might add, the target of the joke is aristocrats. Have at those bastards, they've been asking for it for thousands of years. Choose your targets with care, and err on the side of kindness.

To prove the point, Ricky told a couple of Holocaust jokes. Both jokes were rather funny, and in neither joke were the Jewish people held up to any ridicule or mockery. They weren't the target of either joke. Nobody needles an audience with as much devilish glee as Ricky does. “Too soon?”

Here is a joke that I read in the Christian Science Monitor about twenty-five years ago. Good or bad, it must have made quite an impression on me if I can remember it after all of that time.

The setting is Moscow in the 1970s. On a small side street, there is a sad looking shop, displaying no goods. The sign atop the front window says, “Cheese Shop.” No one pays attention, until a man inside the shop puts a sign in the window that says, “Cheese Today.”

A line immediately begins to form outside the door to the shop. People begin to gather in ones and twos. The man who put the sign in the window comes out and addresses the growing line. “Please maintain good order. We will be receiving cheese for sale today.” He goes back inside, but the people on the line are encouraged. The day is turning dark and cold, but they are happy. Imagine! Cheese!

After another hour, the man steps out again. There are almost four dozen people on the line by now. “Listen carefully! We will be getting cheese today, but not enough for everybody. We must make the line shorter.” He takes a deep breath, and speaking with great authority, he says, “will all of the Jews please leave the line.” Three or four people lower their heads in disappointment and dejectedly walk away from the shop.

The day continues in this way. Every hour or so, the man comes out and tries again to reduce the number of people on the line. “. . . anybody who is not a Soviet citizen, please leave the line,” then, “anyone who is not a member of the Communist Party,” then, “anybody who is not a veteran of the Great Patriotic War,” then, “anyone who does not have an official license to live in the city of Moscow,” then, “anyone who was not wounded in the Great Patriotic War,” and so forth. All day this pattern is repeated. Every time he steps out to address the line, the man assures the few that remain, “we will have cheese today, please be patient.”

The day has been very long, and very cold. It is almost winter, and the sun is setting, leaving only two old men on the line. One is using crutches to hold himself up on his one remaining leg. They are not Jews, they are members of the Communist Party, they proudly display the badge attesting to their grievous wounds from the war, they have all of the paperwork that they need to prove that they are entitled to make purchases in this shop. Finally, the man comes out to greet them. He seems crestfallen.

I am deeply ashamed to tell you, comrades, but we will not be getting any cheese today.” He turns, head hanging, and returns to the shop.

One of the old soldiers turns to the other and says, “see? Those fucking Jews always get the best of everything.”

Quiz time! Who or what is the target of this joke?

Big reveal: antisemitism!

And, I suppose, those awful Soviets, the worst vampire cult to ever sink its teeth into an entire group of countries.

1 comment:

sandy denicker said...

You have many good qualities a good wit to make it fun, yet you made it a point that being defiant in your political and religious outlook is a strong statement against what we are to believe is true. Your movies are so not this type of thinking. Just simple, not much to think about. Your other world is at war with you. you too are an emotional mess.==lol your love of your students shows you have a standard to help the young and mindless find a solution to their problem in your thinking.Ok your good to go now