By now we’ve all seen the Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Joseph Epstein (I can always remember his name because it’s like Jeffrey Epstein… and that’s not all they have in common. I’m joking! Jeez. Lighten up, kiddo.) in which he suggests a woman of great accomplishment should stop asking to be treated as such. Then there was the very predictable reaction of the paper’s editorial page editor and Fox News pretty boy (His name literally means a “piece of meat.”), Paul Gigot, claiming that they were just kidding. You know, a joke like:
Q: How many Wall Street Journal staffers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: At least two. One to screw it up and another to claim that not only is totally fine but it’s actually yourfault for failing to appreciate the darkness.
Which brings me to my point: I write jokes that often miss their targets. I am a purveyor of satire, and sometimes I offend people. But, the two things are not the same. I think most people understand the distinction. That is why it is so incredibly upsetting to see “I was just joking” as a defense for poorly thought out ideas. It gives those of us who genuinely attempt and fail at humor a bad name.
The comedic stylings of Wall Street Journal are only the most recent example of a pervasive damage control tactic. “He was just being sarcastic,” has been the administration’s go-to move to dig Trump out of a number of holes. Here’s a short list of things the President has “joked” about:
- Sexual assault
- Drinking bleach
- Dating his daughter
Better to be a misunderstood comic than a treasonous, murder-hungry, sexual predator who wants to sleep with his own daughter. But, this is not about Trump.
To be fair, the JK defense is incredibly effective. Those who don’t simply let the asinine comment slide are met with one of the GOP’s greatest all-time hits, “This is political correctness run amok!” (Chef’s kiss.) Gigot spices the mix with the latest hit that’s sadly climbing up the charts with many Democrats — identity politics. Savvy readers will of course recognized this is just a retread of their old standby, “playing the race card.” The idea being that it is somehow divisive to want respect for all people.
The real trifecta is to top off your non-apology with some paranoid delusion. Gigot suggest that if you are not with the Wall Street Journal in their backward views on women’s place in society, then you are obviously part of a vast orchestrated strategy to shut them down. I love that all conservatives think liberals are so capable of masterminding incredibly complex schemes, yet do not trust them to run the government.
The truth is
Jeffery (Kidding!) Joseph Epstein shared his opinion. He thought it was funny. “Funny” issubjective. I’ll grant you that. Humor, however, does not make one’s backward views right. “Just kidding” is not a get out of jail free card. Jokes are an expression of one’s truth. If you make a statement that is abhorrent. It is no less abhorrent if it makes your idiot friends chuckle. Yes, you have every right to share your opinions (no matter how backward) but you are not absolved of being held to account for them (no matter how funny you may think they are). And that’s no joke.