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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

A few might see the motivation behind this

I find myself wondering this morning if there is 'bad speech'

In an absolutely free and liberated word... anyone should be able to say, truly anything.

I'm not saying we should agree with anything that is said. But I feel anyone should have the freedom to say it.

I suppose then, the question becomes... where is the safe line of consequences?

We often throw 'Flag Burning' onto this heap. In the United States there are some that feel that this goes to a point of taboo while others view it as representative of the freedoms the country stands for. So who is right? You can't really ask one extreme side or the other because they have the definitive answer that they are right and the other side is wrong. Fall to extreme-extremism and you get those that will kill to defend their views. And to be honest those anti-abortionists who support the death penalty and killing doctors still confuses me a lot.

My personal view is that everyone has the right to speak and act as they Will. (Yes, stolen entirely from Liber Oz) Now... Just because you have the right to say it and the right to be inappropriate doesn't mean that the 'masses' are going to be happy with you about it. It also doesn't mean that you aren't putting yourself on the road to self destruction... but that too is inevitably your decision.

I think the entire process is actually there to help us individually learn more about ourselves and the limitations or tolerations we have. I'm not condoning hate crime; but I definitely learn more about myself and the people I want to be around based on the degree of hate speech they use with intent.

Granted, at the same time... I find myself curious at my ability to ignore vicious speech in the name of humour. The film "The Aristocrats" is an exploration into the AndyKauffmanesque style of humour which is laughing at the action of intended humour; not the humour itself. This is actually a very difficult movie for most to watch because it is a mesmerising onslaught of humour based around the speaking of taboo.

So, some people find themselves laughing uproariously at the comedic irony over issues that individually they'd never laugh at. Issues that frankly disgust them. Such is the art of comedy. To push the horrors of unreality in our face in a manner that we laugh despite ourselves.

I've posted at least a few times on my journal that the deepest mystery of theatre is the symbol behind it. The comedy/tragedy masks. Symbolised by a frown and a smile. The mystery stands as to which mask represents which half of theatre.

So what really is the line of what is appropriate comedy? We can all have personal lines. An episode of "Family Guy" has Brian the dog transported to the past. A real ass gets in his face and challenges him to a fight.

Brian Griffin: No, no, I was just being friendly.
Man: I will kick your ass anytime, anywhere!
Brian Griffin: Uh, okay. How about top of the World Trade Center, morning of September 11th, 2001, 8:00 AM?
Man: I'll be there! You think I'll forget, but I won't! [he and the woman walk away]

It is of course obvious that this episode got a lot of angry mail from the public. The episode aired in May of 2007. A few episodes later the following was made. I like to think that it was a response to the public.

Brian: Oh, please, Peter, your excuses are lamer than FDR's legs.
Meg & Peter: *gasp*
Brian: Too soon?

Humour pushes the envelope. From the song, "Everyone's a little bit racist" to just about everything Mel Brooks did in film until Spaceballs.

Certainly, I will personally admit. There are topics that offend me. Certainly, there are topics that I do not deal with well. Especially far more since becoming a parent.

So I find myself thinking today... when someone crosses the line in the name of humour. Or of free speech. The context and intent. I'll make the occasional Jewish joke. And despite what people think, I consider myself both very much Jewish and very much NOT an anti-semite. Though I'm certain there are probably far more pious Jews that would disagree with me.

So, What is the line? Is there a line?

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You know, some of the funniest Jewish jokes have been told to me by Jews.

I think the line changes from person to person. And sometimes a little jab in a bad situation can suddenly turn things around. Isaac Asimov tells the story of when his second wife Janet had a masectomy. She was rather small-breasted to begin with, but nonetheless, she was upset that one had been removed. Asimov, in his usual cheery way, said not to worry, because he said he'd probably look at her bare chest, scratch his head while squinting and say "Now which one did they remove again?" It totally broke the tension and Janet laughed louder than anyone.

I guess you just need to have the right schtick, too :-)

The line is where you draw it, my friend. And then you deal with the consequences. The end.

people could be more clear about their intent - that can take the toxicity right out of anything.

but its hard to make a good joke that way.

You are RIGHT ON about "Too soon?"

I've seen many a comic slide up to that line and try to bring it off... Margaret Cho talking about giving blow jobs to workers at the World Trade Center: "We all have to do our part!"

Sarah Silverman making Paris Hilton cry: "The jail is going to redecorate to make Paris feel like she's in more familiar surroundings, they're going to paint all the bars to look like penises."

For Seth McFarland to make a joke about the World Trade Center on his show is actually heroic, as I'm sure you know that he was scheduled to be on one of those flights. Survivor guilt, sheer PTSD, second-guessing... And it was FUNNY. Ouchie, but funny. I gasped and giggled, but I do think that my knowledge of his personal situation made it funnier!

The FDR joke set it perfectly into context... when IS too soon?

"And to be honest those anti-abortionists who support the death penalty and killing doctors still confuses me a lot." -- Andrei

I am against abortion, but still support the death penalty and mass executions. The difference is that an unborn child has never been given a chance to live. It can't be consulted, and it has done nothing wrong. In essence, it is the purest form of innocence.

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You can certainly determine that numerous people have done something wrong. For instance, I'm in favor of executing any prisoner with a sentence over fifty years. This would be a mass execution.

I think the line is variable. I think a wise person says his peace, but considers his audience at all times. If one were speaking directly to a mother who had lost a son and daughter in the World Trade Center, perhaps that joke would have been inappropriate, but for the general public on a tv show known for pushing boundaries, I think not. Fact is, those people who wrote in offended letters were LOOKING for something to be offended by, why else would they be watching Family Guy?

That show pushes my buttons sometimes, so I don't watch it. But I don't pretend they should change for me.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but its leap day so I don't have to make sense. =p

that show really pushes my buttons too. It can make me really grumpy and tired.

Yes exactly. Its not that the humor isn't there, its topical and witty, but the jokes make me mourn for how crass our society has become.

I wouldn't say there was so much a "line" but rather a complex parabolic curve that is the result of an equation too complex to enumerate here but factors in time/relevance of the reference, the joke itself, the person telling the joke, the manner in which told, the person hearing the joke, the sort of day both of them have had up until that point, and the current value of my Nigerian bank account.

When was the last time you ran into a flag burner who killed to defend hir views? I'm a bit confused by that analogy.

I do not agree with burning the flag. For heaven's sake, people, burn something else that more specifically represents your discontent (effigies of Bu$h, for instance), but not your country's symbol.

At the same time, I support people's right to burn the flag. If you make that illegal, you're dignifying the little flag-burning twerps with a kind of martyrdom by suppressing their speech. Of course, others will rally round them once this happens.

I say keep the right to burn the flag, and ignore anyone who burns one.

BTW, according to the Boy Scout Manual, disposal of the flag is supposed to be done by burning.

I think the "line" is a hypothetical myth, perpetrated by the presumed and assumed sensitivities of the majority herd mentality, preyed upon by the media, and largely ignored by people with Something Better to Think About.

There is no line. We all have the right and duty to be offended often. It's a part of learning to live and let live, and it's the heart of what makes a country free.

I support flag burning as means of expressing our understanding that what matters is the country, not the symbol. We should turn Flag Day into Flag Burning Day - maybe on the 4th of July. Loyalty oaths are un-American, certainly as part of indoctrinating kids at school. I sit in silence during the pledge of allegiance. If you need to know my allegiances, read the Constitution. (I'm always reminded of Viscardigasse alley in Munich, which became known as "Shirkers Alley" because they didn't want to salute a Nazi memorial."

Fred Phelps has the right to spew his venom, even at funerals and the bikers that collect in places to stand in front of his small family of parasites have the right idea. Anytime you hear too much free speech, the solution is to add more free speech.

Falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre - MAYBE. But the context that is was used by Justice Holmes was to throw Schenk and Debs into prison for speaking out against the draft. Not for causing resonable people to harm themseleves.

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Didn't always stop me crying, but it helped.

Grr. LJ lost my post.

What I said was: There is no line. I think we should have flag burning day instaed of flag day to celebrate our freedom from slavish devotion to symbols as opposed to devoting ourselves to keeping the country free.

Loyalty oaths are un-American. I sit in silence during the Pledge of Alleigaince. If you want to gauge my allegience read the Constitution (Whenever I hear a request to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, I think of Viscardigasse alley, "Shirkers alley" where people would go to avoid a required salute of a Nazi memorial.)

We all have the right and duty to be offended. It's how we learn to live and let live in a free country. The solution to Fred Phleps and his ilk is the group of bikers that descend on funerals and stand between him and the families he's trying to hurt. (it's the news he's courting anyway, not the famniles)

The solution to too mushc free speech is more free speech.

MAYBE a limitation on falsely shouting fire in crowded theatre, but never forget that analogy was used by Justice Holmes to imprison Schenck and Debs for speaking out against the draft during wartime. (In other words warning people not to step into the burning building in the first place)

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Didn't always stop the crying, but sometimes it did. Later on it became "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

Got it. Not lost.. just anon on my blog gets auto screened

Ah! Thanks! I read that, but it wouldn't let me go back to the original to copy it... If I'd just logged in from the start, I'd have just posted and been on my merry...

Oh goodie, then I can make cracks about Krauts and Polacks!

and any other group you want to offend - but you may find they don't *like* you very much...

...the point being, just because you are a fill-in-the-blank does not give you carte blanche to make fun of other fill-in-the-blanks.

Or is a black person appearing on stage in blackface not still offensive?

The main point being the right to say anything is more important than the offense taken.

One does get some latitude making fun of your "own" - humur is more oftenm than not the most direct way to speak the truth and get through.

Depending on the cointext, a black person in blackface might be makihng a really interesting statement. Since minstrelsy was the dominant form of entertainment in the US for 80 years, there's a lot to draw from, including blacks in blackface.

It certainly hasn't left us - whites imitating blacks is still the dominant pose of rock and roll, and of cours white rappers.

Everything is offensive to someone. I'm starting to think the trick is enjoyoing your ability to be offended.

Where is the line? I think the line lies with each individual. This is more and more a world of oversensitive people, and these oversensitives are the ones who are very vocal in the politically correct arena of media. They are the first to write to the sponsors of family guy and simpsons demanding that the advertisers pull support of those programs (anyone hear of MediaMatters?). The oversensitives are the first to call the lawyer because of the psychological duress that they have been caused because of someone's hurtful and insensitive language.

I think the answer to the question lies in the first amendment to that thing called th constitution (which is getting more and more abused every day): "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This doesn't specifically pertain to humor. But, one of my favorite quotes regarding this subject in the media comes from the great and wise bard, Howard Stern: "If you don't like it, change the channel" and don't ruin it for the rest of us.

One line I draw is along the lines of shouting "FIRE!" at a crowded movie/theater/concert when there's no fire and then a mess of folks get hurt/trampled as they flee in panic/terror. There's no excuse for this.

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