Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

If that’s so funny, how come I’m not laughing?

with 3 comments

Recently, we attended a fundraising event for a very worthy cause – the Queensland flood victims, who have been devastated by the extensive flooding that wrecked havoc across the State.  It was quite an eye opener for me….  the demographic of this event (held at a prestigious golf club in Perth) was almost exclusively middle-aged, suburban couples…. and they were white.   Very, very white. 

The MC for the event, as well as all of the entertainment, was done gratis, or by volunteers.  But it was interesting….   because the MC kicked things off by saying that he intended to offend everyone there, and if we hadn’t been offended by the end of his stint on stage, then we should see him (and presumably, he’d find some way to offend us!)   Well, I’m not so happy to say that it didn’t take him more than a couple of minutes before he had offended me!   very much so, in fact…..

What was so offensive was that he was telling the “usual” off colour jokes about all sorts of different races and ethnicities.  He paid particular attention to Somalis, Ethiopians, the Arab world in general, and Afghanis.   As he started his racist remarks, I stated quite loudly (to our table of 10), that I didn’t find what he was saying very funny at all.   Interestingly, it seemed to me that many others didn’t find it all that funny (to poke digs at various ethnic groups, etc…)…. but they still tittered… or giggled…. or laughed…..(in embarrassment?)  rather than saying something……

Part of what made  me so uncomfortable about this, was that the audience was almost 100% “white”….  not Somalian.   Not Ethiopian.  Not Arabic.  And not Afghani. 

Well, I said something… and I’m saying something here.   Jokes that poke fun at different groups are NOT funny.   They are racist.   Instead of  playing on the misconceptions and prejudices of his audience, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the MC had been able to use his humour to enlighten and educate us on the richness of the human race?

Oh – by the way – the event raised more than $50,000 for the flood victims, which was fantastic.  Well done for the organisers for putting together the event.


Written by Mar(k)

March 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Posted in Racism

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Totally agree with your comments, and well-done for saying something.

    i am in continuous receipt of racist or bigoted emails, all sent by middle-aged middle-class white (usually) males. Often wrapped up in some form of joke or humour, the result is nevertheless the demeaning of one minority group or another. As you say, sometimes the humour can actually be funny – in the way that some of the ‘blonde jokes’, ‘Irishman Englishman and American jokes’ can be but the result is usually a bitter taste in the mouth from the intent, which more often than not completely negates the humour.

    It is my standard practice to hit ‘reply to all’, and to point out the usual misconceptions, incorrect argument process, poor historical references and other such ignorant statements that usually plague such emails. It usually provokes a fairly gruff reply but it is my habit to stick to facts, and even a stupid person has trouble ignoring facts without stooping to 3rd grade tongue pointing or foot-stamping.

    With a recent email, titled “why it is impossible for Muslims to be good Australian’s”, i took the step of forwarding it to a high profile Islamic group to ask how an intelligent Muslim living in Australia would respond to the stupidity exposed in the email. No response as yet but i am hopeful of receiving one – which will then be enclosed in a ‘reply to all’ for the other email recipients.

    Unfortunately, these racist notes are usually couched around 3 or 4 facts that cast the relevant minority group in a bad light, and this is the lure that pulls the ignorant in.

    i think it is important that we all highlight such bigotry when we see it. My habit has always been to ignore such things, and tut-tut to myself at the ability of the evolutionary cycle to regurgitate Neandertals… but the flood of racist references is gaining pace, and i think it is a good thing to at least stand up and say how much we each don’t like it.


    March 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

    • thanks for your comments, Michael! Indeed, fully agree that we need to start standing up and saying something… else we risk being too complacent and become part of the problem! Always great to read your thoughts on such things….


      March 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

  2. Totally agree. Good on your Mar/Mark for saying something. How utterly outrageous. It makes my blood boil when I hear such “so called” jokes being put forward like this. I must be naive or something… it still shocks me when I hear people telling jokes or making racist remarks… I find it hard to believe that people think this way.


    March 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

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