The threat of going to Hell, because of something I said, doesn't scare me. Unless I can actually see the Devil standing next to a pyre, with a person pierced by his pitchfork and being roasted like a weenie, I'll continue to make jokes about all sorts of sensitive subjects: AIDS, Disabilities, Third-worldies*, Rape, the WTC, and your mom-- just to name a few (and believe me, this is a tiny sample of what's in my politically incorrect repertoire.)
My friends and I joke about such things as a means let off steam. SF, more so than other places, is particularly politically correct, so much so one can barely have any sort of opinion that seems to go against a very liberal culture. So my friends and I rebel. While many of my friends laugh at off color jokes a few do so and still feel uneasy. Anytime I crack a joke about cancer my friend Brent will laugh. But afterwards he has to go find a piece of wood to knock on while muttering the mantra "God forbid." In this single symbolic act he thinks cancer will stay at bay. Little does he realize I've cracked so many jokes in his house that there's no more luck left in his wood.
Like Brent, many others think they'll be stricken with whatever it is they joke about. If I crack a joke about HIV it's only a matter of time before I become the butt end of my joke-- which is probably where I'd get infected in the first place (rim shot please!) If there's any truth to this rationalization I'm going to be so riddled with illness and physical deformities only DNA tests will be able to identify me. And I bet I'll still crack jokes when I'm nothing more than a puddle of puerile petulant purulence.
Courtney is on point with me when it comes to irreverence. Often we go head-to-head. Our one-upmanship usually ends in a stalemate. Neither of us acquiesces easily-- and we can clear a room quickly, people say "you both are going to Hell!" Personally I think Courtney is more clever than I. But sometimes I can drop such a shock bomb that it is still talk about months later.
Like the time we were watching TV and a PSA against drunk driving came on. In between videos of cherubic children playing, the screen would fade to black and white text would give us information about the kids. Eventually the images of the kids were replaced by a mangled car along with the words, "Billy, Mindy and Suzie were in this car when a drunk driver hit and killed them."
I said out loud, "And pieces of them are still in the car".
Courtney could not believe it. It was so utterly loathsome to her she went into a silent shock.
It may seem creepy-- but I (and many others) deal with bad news, grief and awkwardness by making it funny. Not always, but often. It has its draw backs. Some people don't know how to take an off color joke, or don't approve of irreverence. I've been earning an interesting reputation. The other week as I was leaving an event and an acquaintance of mine introduced me to his friend:
Acquaintance: This is Eric.
Me: Nice to meet you.
Acquaintance: (deadpan) He thinks rape is funny
Acquaintances Friend: (exasperated) What?!
Me: When you say it like that it makes me sound like an asshole.
While I may very well be an asshole-- Courtney sent me this picture which sort of validates my reasons as to why I make Rape jokes
That pussy is spot-on. Plus the jokes I make are completely contextual. Outside of the joke, topics like Rape, AIDS, the WTC and the Third Worldies aren't very funny. They certainly aren't humorous when it directly effects you or someone you know and care about. These topics are often downright horrific (except disabilities-- which are always funny.)
Someone uttering the words "You're going to Hell" because someone has said or written something offensive shouldn't scare anyone. Is that the worse thing that can happen? Hell is for pussies, and according to Pat Benatar, children.
If you think you'll come down with whatever you're making fun of, like Brentie fears, well I don't think that's very logical. I don't know that any reports or statistics exist regarding a person making jokes about a disease or condition and then subsequently being afflicted. Something tells me it would be hard to track.
Just so you all know-- I've never made a joke about Evans' Syndrome. In fact, until I was diagnosed with it a few weeks ago I'd never heard of it. It's affliction that encompasses two autoimmune disorders: autoimmune hemolytic anemia and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. It's a rare condition that's sometimes seen in children. It's very rarely seen in adults. But I've won the prize. Besides, we all knew I was a rare breed. Yippee!
So has God smote me with Evans' Syndrome because my sense of humor runs dark? Is the pop culture definition of karma biting me in the ass? I doubt it. And when I think of some funny jokes-- you better believe I'll make fun of ES, like Cousin Geri did regarding her Cerebral Palsy on "The Facts of Life".
I heart Cousin Geri.
*A term brilliantly coined by Courtney for Third World inhabitants.