The idiot ball has passed from Megyn Kelly to Justine Sacco in regards to racial stupidity. I don’t think these two women are racist, exactly. But they are racially ignorant, hence the public slip of the tongue remarks of white privilege. Berating a blogger for playing with the notion of a penguin Santa Claus, vehemently stating that Santa is JUST white, claiming Jesus is also white (categorically false), and suggesting there’s a privilege in being white in Africa concerning AIDS.
The common defense of this stupidity is the “it was a joke” line — and this is where I take issue.
You see, I never been a fan of deceit. I never liked it, I personally don’t like being lied to, or hearing lies at all. It offends me when a person is dishonest, and it offends me deeper when the lie is weak, transparent, or virtually useless. Claiming you were joking after a particular backlash, is a useless lie.
The problem with using this Minotaurian fecal matter is that for starters, it wasn’t funny. At all. Nor would it ever become funny. George Carlin? Funny. Chris Rock? Funny. There’s nothing funny about HIV rates in Africa, or the vehement notion what Santa (or Jesus) is “just” white. No one pays you as a comedian.
Second, if you think it’s comedy, you are a blithering idiot. Sure, you don’t actually think it’s funny because you more so claimed the name of comedy in defense rather than honestly trying to be funny. But let’s be clear — the fact that you said something offensive or stupid and then you want to mask the behavior with the notion that you are a tone-deaf comedian, makes you an idiot, twice.
I remember in my youth, we had mom jokes. Sometimes when you say something very vulgar about someone’s mom, anger ensues. Fights may happen. This brings me to my third point: the fact (or fiction) that it’s a joke is irrelevant, because claiming so doesn’t undo the offense. It doesn’t reverse, anything. It never has.
Fourth… let’s play devil’s advocate and suggest they genuinely were trying to be full fledged, Richard Pryors. This runaway train raises the question, “then who finds it funny?” Now, who exactly would find Sacco or Kelly funny? The few racist/racially ignorant people who defend Sacco? Or the millions of people who were reduced to a serious epidemic that’s used to stereotype an entire continent? The panelists who were in Kelly’s Santa rant? Or the millions of parents and children all over the world lacking representations of people of color in the media? The fourth point is a point of reflection: what kind of a sick person would consider this funny?
Now, it’s possible to joke about, almost anything. One satirical writer suggested Santa is definitely white due to keeping a mass of darker, unpaid workers, for example. For this type of joke to exist, an awareness or concern for slavery must exist. Awareness, concern, understanding — these are the things that both women in question, lack.
The notion that either of them have the cultural sophistication to even think about using satire, is bull. Claiming humor after a backlash is nothing more than an excuse to get off the hook, for poor decisions. So let’s cut the bull — stop using the “it’s a joke” defense, people are not stupid, it doesn’t work, it only makes you look worse. And that’s the Bigger Picture.