‘I guess Charles Manson will never get the chance now to fulfill his lifelong ambition of starting a family. Oh, hang on……’
Reading online this morning about the death of Charles Manson, I immediately started thinking of a funny status to post on Facebook. This is the result, it isn’t that great, but it got me pondering dark humour and specifically the nature of offence towards dark humour within modern society. I have come under fire many times due to my offensive disposition – I have had numerous clashes and differences of opinion over some of my statuses, to the point where I have been reported and banned from Facebook. Bit annoying, but c’est la vie. Now, I need everyone to know that I am acutely aware that some of the things I say, the topics which I joke about and the things I find amusing are often highly offensive and that some people are uncomfortable with this, some might even judge me as a person based on my humour. There is no way though, as long as I have a tongue in my mouth to speak and hands to write, that I will ever stop posting or saying offensive things, which I find funny. This attitude may come across as stubborn and slightly hostile at first glance, but let me say my piece and then we can see what we see. Sound fair enough?
We live in a society today where being offended is the default stance. Anything that even remotely pushes the boundaries of political correctness is deemed offensive to someone, to the point where people are now even being ‘offended by proxy’. We have reached a point in this complete farce of perceived offensiveness where people are actually taking offence on behalf of others, as though this outward display of moral superiority somehow makes for a better class of human being. Now, I’m an intelligent person and I am fully aware that certain subjects and issues are viewed as ‘taboo’ and there are those who feel that these ‘taboo subjects’ should not be joked about or made light of. I am not ignorant to this fact, I have complete awareness of the ramifications of my humour, I have considered them and deemed them irrelevant. I am not naive to the fact that an individuals tolerance when it comes to dark humour is based largely around their own experiences and values – someone who has lost a loved one might find jokes about death offensive, for example. Many people find jokes about disabilities, dead babies, paedophilia and anything involving children highly offensive and many feel that jokes of this nature are merely ‘offensive for offensive’s sake’. Surprisingly, I agree that being offensive just to obtain that ‘shock factor’ is pointless. For it to be defendable, in my opinion, it has to be funny.
‘That joke crosses the line’
I love it when people say this to me. It’s a statement thrown around by offended parties without any real consideration for the absurdity of what they’re actually saying. Who gets to decide where the ‘line’ is placed? This imaginary line is a social construct that has no actual basis because both humour and offence are subjective issues. Should the rights of the offended eclipse the rights of the perceived offender? Of course not. Thankfully, being offended by something doesn’t and hopefully never will make you in the right (general ‘you’, but if the shoe fits make sure you lace that fucker up). I personally think 9/11 jokes are hilarious, you, however, might not and the beautiful thing about living in a democratic society of free speech is that neither of us are wrong.
I am not offended by anything, I have no ‘line’ when it comes to humour and I firmly believe that no topic should be off limits. However, I am mature enough and possess the social awareness to understand that not everyone has this attitude, but I don’t hold their narrow mindedness against them. I recognise that as an individual, I have my own individual opinions, values and beliefs, none of which I try to impose onto those that hold different ones. How refreshing it would be if those who are offended by my humour offered me the same courtesy. My humour, my morals and my character have been called into question many times. It’s pretty ironic that the people who are so quick to vilify me based on what I find funny because it doesn’t adhere to their standards and those that wish to censor dark humour all together are actually everything that I feel is wrong in society today and yet I manage to not force my opinion of them down everyone’s throats.
The very notion of censorship, in my opinion, is a slippery slope towards fascism and where the fuck is that going to lead, eh? Hitler wanted to censor certain books and pieces of art because they didn’t conform to his ideology. It’s baffling to me how people will happily follow the same path as Hitler, yet I make a Holocaust joke and suddenly I’m a monster! You can’t realistically censor jokes, words, or topics without it having a snowball effect that would be impossible to stop – homeless people find Knock Knock jokes offensive? Ban them. Orphans find Yo Mama jokes offensive? Ban them. See how fucking ludicrous that is? Surely acceptance of the fact that everyone’s ‘line’ is in a different place is a better solution? I fully accept that, yet I’m the bad person because of the jokes I make. Doesn’t make any sense, does it?
Dark humour makes people uncomfortable, in my opinion, because it highlights issues that they would otherwise like to ignore, to the point where they are more offended by the joke than they are by the issue that the joke raises. If the joke gets people thinking outside of their comfort zones, invokes discussion and highlights uncomfortable issues, then it can only be a good thing. People would benefit more from trying to better understand why something offends them rather than blindly subscribing to a societal trend of finding offence like there’s a fucking prize for it. Attitudes like this are more damaging to society than any dead baby joke will ever be.
I am a firm believer in valuing and respecting the opinions of others, even when that opinion is the polar opposite of my own. Many will think that I should be ashamed of the jokes that I make and they are perfectly entitled to have that opinion, just as I am entitled to hold the opinion that they are wrong. Neither of our opinions are based on facts, yet as the offended party, they believe that their opinion is somehow supposed to hold more value than mine. Fuck that! I will continue to express myself as I choose, just as others are free to do the same. As Hitler once said ‘dark humour is like freedom – not everybody is going to get it’.