I like a good joke as much as the next loser. Of course, usually I am the next loser.
I ask you to consider the image on the right. Is it funny? This picture came up in an image search for the word “humor.” That means somebody out there thinks it is funny.
Humor is a lot like beauty, I think, in that it’s in the eye of the beholder. If your mother is currently in the back of the morgue with her ice cold dead body lying rigor mortis on a slab, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you might not think the sign is so funny. For the rest of us, however, the sign might be funny as fucking hell!
There’s one crucial ingredient about jokes and humor. Do you know what it is? Think hard. This isn’t a trick question.
Oh yeah. The shit has to be funny. Humor without funny isn’t humor at all. I know all about this. Not because I’m funny but because I strive for it and fail. That makes me a freakin’ expert.
But you know what’s way worse than not being funny? It’s using your non-funny as an lame excuse to attempt to get away with being an ass. Case in point: Willard “Mitt” Romney.
Why isn’t saying “It’s just a joke” a valid defense for spewing just about any old bullshit you want? I’m about to tell you why.
- The Romney campaign portrays itself as taking the high road in 2012 presidential politics. It frequently plays the wounded hero to Obama’s vicious attacks. It pretends that it is somehow above all that. It’s a little tiresome and pathetic but I guess that’s the image the campaign wants to project.
- Romney has said repeatedly that he thinks Obama was born in the United States and that it’s a non-issue in this race. In fact, according to Romney himself, he’s said so “30 times” and was willing to say it yet again to a reporter just the other day. By Romney’s reckoning that’s a total of 31 times now.
- The other day, while in the great state of Wisconsin, Romney said, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.” It was a clear swipe at the birther controversy that has dogged (no pun intended) Obama since the invention of tinfoil hats. In a related story, energy from your cell phone call also cook popcorn.
- The Romney campaign then claimed that Mitt was only “joking.” The head of the GOP even went as far to say that the “joke fell flat.” Thankfully someone knows how to spot real humor.
To get to the heart of this matter, let’s examine the statement first as a “joke.” Of course, as such, it is totally devoid of any comedic value. Yet people in attendance when Romney uttered the statement responded with cheers.
Hypothesis: They were not responding to the statement as humor. Ya think?!?
If not humor, what then? Well, it could be viewed as a crass political grab at certain segments of his potential base. Sort of a “nod nod wink wink” thing to make them feel like he’s on their side in spite of the 30 times he’s claimed a contrary position.
That would be diabolical and calculated, right?
But then, afterwards, Romney claimed it was only a joke. When does this guy ever stand up and mean what he says? Geez. Or own up to it.
So now we’re supposed to believe that Romney doesn’t mean what he says? Or that he does? And if there is outcry that comes later then it will be claimed to be merely a joke? What is the truth? The statements made before the joke, during the joke, or after the joke? Something tells me that what a man stands for isn’t supposed to be quite this mysterious. Don’t forget that Romney was taking the high road the 30 times he previously disavowed the birther position. At least until he made a joke out of it.
Here’s the thing: It’s chickenshit to float something gutless and then, once caught with your hand in the cookie jar, fall back on the position that it was “only a joke.” That’s the last refuge of the non-courageous and those without honor.
“Hey, Bob. Thanks for having me over for dinner. Your wife sure is a fat ugly cow and she can’t cook, either. She must be very GIB.”
“Why you sonofabitch!”
“Hey, chill out, Bob! What’s the matter, pal? Can’t you take a joke? Don’t be so friggin’ uptight! Man, you are one pathetic loser.”
Who would you side with in this wee example? Bob the Jokemeister or the aggrieved husband defending his wife’s honor?
The point is simple: You can use the “it’s only a joke” card to get out of what you say. Words have meaning. The intent still matters regardless of what you attempt after the fact to try to shield yourself from criticism and still lay claim to your piece of the holier-than-thou high ground.
What if Obama started his comedian career by telling “jokes” about certain things about what Romney might believe? Mere words would no doubt be insufficient to describe the volume of the conniption from the Romney campaign and those on the right.
I don’t think anyone wants to open a door where “it’s only a joke” becomes a get-out-of-jail-free card for just about anything you want to say. What a world that would be. Just imagine, no more limits on your mouth! No more need for things like personal responsibility and such.
And, for the record, I’m not saying everything out of Obama’s mouth passes muster, either. I just find the “it’s only a joke” bit particularly offensive, and I have for a long, long time. I think I originally wrote a piece about this sort of thing over a decade ago.
Either you’re an adult and you mean what you say and stand behind it or you are some kind of slithering thing with no honor at all.
And it wasn’t funny as joke, either.
P.S. Stay off the body bags, Romney!