I’ve been forwarded various versions of this story more times than I can count. I suppose folks felt that by warning me of Stephen Lewis’ newspaper column, they were protecting or supporting me, thought I should know in case I wanted to protest… or perhaps they just wanted to make clear their disapproval.
I appreciate the effort to keep me informed. (In fact – next week I plan to return the favor by forwarding you all a lot of really bad redneck/ blond/lawyer/men are stupid /women are bad drivers jokes (whichever may apply to you individually) along with a message expressing my personal outrage that people could be so narrow-minded about region of origin, hair color, career choices or gender (whichever may apply to you individually.)
However, I don’t share your outrage.
Look, I read the column. I didn’t laugh – mostly because the whole Obama/Jefferson comparison has been done to death and it wasn’t that funny the first time. Granted, the bit suggesting a local candidate originally from India pitch his campaign ideas in Southernese rubbed me the wrong way – but hell, I did the same thing to a local candidate from Jersey a few years back – which is just as bad I guess.
So, overall, no – I didn’t find this any more or less offensive than the Beverly Hillbilly spoofs about Clintons or those bad Baptist jokes that accompanied Mike Huckabee. The dumb cowboy jokes with Bush – hey, some of those were pretty funny. I’m also certain Reagan encountered his share of Hollywood jokes and Jimmy Carter was held up as a peanut-farming doofus from Dixie.
The point is humor playing upon stereotypes isn’t uncommon or new. And while I understand folks are still uncomfortable with “racial undertones”: this joke isn’t any better, worse or different than the rest of them. So, is there some special reason Obama should be exempt? Or are we allowing our discomfort to create a double standard and perhaps a situation where people self-censor to avoid violating those vague yet-to-be-determined standards of political correctness?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand folks wanting to voice their disagreement or disgust. I can even see how public opinion might have compelled school District Director Harry Gill to “express” his deep disappointment: but a trip to the supervisor’s office? And then this:
“I’m appalled,” said [Ashley] Alexander, a past president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. “I don’t find it very humorous. I was very supportive of him becoming principal of our school. I can’t believe a person in an authority position dealing directly with our youth who’s there to mold and shape them would use poor judgment.”
Seriously? No…. seriously? A man you’ve known for five years, who from what I’m hearing has been an excellent principal, is now the sum of one really bad joke he told? Are you shitting me? With friends like this – who needs enemies?
Honestly people – I think ya’ll need to get a grip and learn to keep this stuff in perspective or at least figure out how to tell the difference between a real problem and a crappy parody. Otherwise, this is going to be a long, tense four years wherein the President is treated with kid gloves. opinion columnists crack-up and get carted off to funny farms, and Saturday Night Live finally gets yanked from NBC.