Senate Humour, satire and "taboo" subjects

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Katana_Geldar, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Well, because of that whole Zwarte Piet thing, I've pondered the idea of Dutch tolerance a bit lately - and I've come to the provisional conclusion that it's a hollow shell. It was given shape by a fairly homogenic society - the people may have come from different faiths, but they were all Dutch. We didn't have aboriginals, and we shipped off all our slaves. So when everybody's similar and there's nobody around to remind you of your own dark past, of course you can be tolerant. Or be perceived to be. With the muslim fundamentalist threat after 9/11, I guess the nation started to show its real face. And Dutch tolerance made way for Dutch arrogance.
  2. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I know nothing of this Dutch arrogance of which you speak. [face_talk_hand]

    (Though the day after we met up, I bought an NL sticker from one of those tourist stores on Prins Hendrikkade and it proudly adorns my car now! Hup Holland!)

    But it's interesting in that Islam and Muslim immigration has thrown up a considerable challenge to Western nations in general. It's almost trying to tear that tolerance down. Australia's experiencing it strongly too; we have always had a nasty undercurrent of racism here, but also been welcoming. It's hard to explain, but it's like we need to see that a new immigrant group are "alright" before we stop having issues. Asian immigration is now not only "not a thing" but a net positive to society. But "Muslim" immigration? Widespread crime (the entire southwest of Sydney is being fought over with daily shootings and stabbings being reported), a proud refusal to integrate, and a riot through Sydney in response to an American film.

    Moderate or more secular members of the Muslim community are complacent in this by not speaking out, and for the most part we indulge in a conspiracy of silence by not saying "this is a problem". We're afraid if we do, there will be reprisals - ranging from accusations of racism to the kinds of violence we've seen for too long.

    So, in breaching a taboo subject - are we right in not addressing the problems Islam faces with integration?
    Last edited by Ender Sai, Nov 10, 2013
  3. SWBob Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2003
    star 4
    I feel that there should be no limit or line when it comes to humor. I am of the mind set that anything can be funny if told in the correct way. (Carr's joke about the airplane in the video Ender Sai posted for example)

    It is entirelly up to the listener to determine if there is offense to be taken. You dont have the right to not be offended. Now the teller should(if he is a good comedian) tailor his jokes to his audience. For example you shouldnt tell a racist joke about blacks at a NAACP meeting, but it could be fine at your friends house. Not saying you shouldnt be allowed, just that it may not be the smartest idea.

    But it does need go both ways. You have to be willing to take any blowback that comes from telling a joke. If you tell a joke about Islam you should be ready for some outrage from some sects of Islam. Does that mean you should be beaten or killed or harmed in anyway? No. But when you tell offensive jokes, you should be ready for some backlash.

    That is my take on society as it is now. I wish we could live in a society where if someone gets offended, they say to themselves. "Self, you were pretty offended by that. Maybe next time we wont go see that comedian, associate with that person, go to that reasurant." But instead, we need to control the other person and how they like to speak. Punish the joke teller instead of changing the only person you can change, yourself.
  4. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    The thing that gets me about people who can't take non-offensive jokes about certain things, like religion for instance, is that it seems to highlight their own insecurities. Surely, your beliefs won't be upset by a mere joke? Bad if they are, were they that strong to begin with?
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  5. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    The problem is that jokes that are meant to be non-offensive are still sometimes offensive.

    For example, i vaguely remember joking that you - STOP RIGHT THERE.
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Nov 11, 2013
  6. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    That's not offensive, that's personal. I suppose you have never had an abusive person make you eat until you vomited?

    Get out. Now.
    Last edited by Katana_Geldar, Nov 10, 2013
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Getting a little off topic with this, but: in every one of the previous "waves" of immigration you're talking about, there was always demonisation of the immigrant group involved by those who were already here. Jack Van Tongeren's excrable wall posters ("ASIANS OUT! OR RACIAL WAR!"), for example: I remember pretty clearly through the eighties that there was a lot of quiet sympathy for his views, to the point you wonder whether he wasn't rather a boil on the national psyche, a pimple if you will of a rather disgusting undercurrent of pus in Australian life. Pauline Hanson, and John Howard to a lesser extent, also made political careers out of xenophobia. My wife's parents and my own also saw it in spades, too, being part of the post-WW2 migration wave of European immigrants. Back then it wasn't discrimination to call an Italian a dago or a wog. That, indeed, is where (crappy) films like The Wog Boy get their names from: from terms of insult thrown at that generation.

    But I'm actually optimistic on this one. I think in general there's something hypnotic about Australian laziness laid-backedness that seems to take the sting out of each of those waves of migration. Asians haven't wound up running all our industries, the Mafia (absent Griffith, NSW perhaps) doesn't run our towns. The general culture here seems to bleed out most of the harshness of those that come here. All it seems to take is two generations; by that point, the immigrant generation's family is usually speaking English and getting tanked on a Friday night with a Victoria Bitter that tastes like cow's urine along with the rest of us. I think religious fundamentalism has a hard time surviving in the Australian climate; it's too frigging hot to run sermons for three straight hours, we have more beer available, and after a while you wind up looking like and knowing you're looking like a wanker compared with everyone else around you who's sitting back and just taking in the sun and the apathy.

    I don't doubt there will be growing pains, and this generation of migration will bring with it its own small body of ********s just as the previous waves brought their own small bodies of Mafia and Triad traditions, respectively. The numbers of radical Muslim votes aren't enough to make an impact an national level any more than the numbers of radical Mafia or radical Triad votes were enough to make an impact at national level. Against that, consider the fact that Charlie Teo is Asian. Or that Anh Do is Asian and jokes about how before they fled Vietnam they fed the dog - to Granny. Or that Tina Arena and Anthony Callea are Italian. Christ, Ron Barassi was third generation Italian Australian from 1850-1860 or so. These are wonderful additional flavours to add to the white potatao we otherwise would've been without them, and in time I think you will see a similar flavour from previously fundamentalist Islamists. Just give it time.
    Katana_Geldar likes this.
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Saintheart, I do not concur with Howard as a xenophobe, given that his government presided over the best and more robust relationship with Asia that we have seen. I think the left wanted us to believe he was but in policy there's little evidence to support this.

    Little to none, in fact.

    As for the rest - I remember well the anti-Asian racism. I went to an exclusive GPS school, where plenty of rich Asian kids also went and they were perennially harassed by the white, then-majority. But we also never had the abject violence and criminality in those communities we have now. And the Aussie attitude... how's that working with B4L?
  9. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I'll bite my tongue on the Howard thing, since that's really getting off topic, but I get we don't agree on it.

    I understand what you're saying. There are similar concerns out here on the tranche of Sudanese immigrants: young men, all have seen civil wars, disenfranchised, cold and unfeeling because they've seen relatives' limbs hacked off and all that. They are disproportionately represented in the crime stats, certainly.

    But unless we've got some good, reputable and large numbers to work with I don't think it's going to really help each of us pointing out individual examples of good or bad immigrants. Criminal gangs are not confined to one ethnic background. B4L is highly unoriginal: before them we had, as I said, the Triads, and the Mafia, and the bikies, and Ned Kelly (who was a no-good Irishman, one might add). It's long experience that policing ethnic gangs is always tougher than policing white gangs -- back in the day the police used to moan about how they couldn't penetrate the Asian gangs because the communities wouldn't talk to them either, remember? Where did they all go? Organised crime is organised crime, no matter the colour of the skin perpetrating it. For my part, I like to imagine the hundreds if not thousands of law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to Australian society.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Nov 10, 2013
  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I don't disagree in principal but I'm just too swayed by anecdotal evidence to be firmly convinced we're in the "she'll be right" camp with this particular diaspora. In Sydney in particular, the majority of incidents you witness or in which friends may be involved usually involves someone of Middle Eastern descent being the antagonist who wants to resort to violence. I don't imagine it's anything more than a clash of cultures between a patriarchal and fairly rigid system at home versus a more egalitarian and liberal society at large.

    Incidentally, do we agree Julia Gillard should stop saying "misogyny" when she means "chauvinism"?
  11. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Entirely. She also needs to stop blaming the fact she got tossed from the PM's job on the fact she has a vagina. But now we're really OT...
  12. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I'd like to agree with Saintheart that these are problems that will fizzle out in time, two or three generations and they're fully assimilated. But that requires that they don't reach a certain critical mass. I think the larger a minority, the less likely it is to dissolve into the majority. Also, it helps if they're not all huddled together. And finally, but probably most importantly - we need to work on that equality thing some more. We like to think that we're there already, but we're not. I don't think the chances for Arabs to have a career in the West are as good as the chances for white people. I hear church bells every day; never once heard a sermon from a spire. Conversely, we have strict rules for the "humane" slaughter of animals, but once a year all that is thrown overboard for some halal slaughter. Fitting muslim minorities into our societies is not something that seems to be particularly well thought out.
  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Mod reminder: please refrain from saying anything personal to/about your fellow board members in this thread. The next breach will result in a ban.
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  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    For the broader topic, as far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't be a push to silence anyone for jokes you don't approve of. Now, that doesn't mean you have to support them, and I think that's totally reasonable to not personally put up with jokes you don't like. But I'd always fully support them being able to make those jokes without being silenced.

    The issue I have with people 'taking offense' is that it means the power in discourse is not coming from that someone has better evidence or makes a convincing argument, but that they are able to be upset more. And the more we give in to that as a reasonable reaction, the more power there is in being offended and that's a dangerous pathway. I think that holds for all speech, not just humour.

    I'd also say that I particularly don't like the way that people negate humour as a valid option because it's not what THEY would do. When my grandmother went in for surgery that was apparently 50-50 on if she'd come out, we joked about it, even when she was being rolled in. My family still will joke about my mom's skin cancer. I've joked about car accidents, I've joked about being shot at, I've joked at funerals. I've also joked about serious topics with people, things like racism and sexism. Sometimes, people can misinterpret that, but I'd contend the reason someone should think about making sure what they say won't offend people is because they don't want those people to be offended, not that they just don't want to get yelled at for it. I have friends I don't make certain jokes around because I know it bothers them because it's an element of not wanting to make them uncomfortable. That's all. I don't like the idea of certain people deciding it's up to them to decide what can or can not be joked about, and what reactions someone can or can not have to events.

    And I'd make the side note that the Muhammad with a bomb in his turban isn't funny, but it's not meant to be, it's meant to be commentary, and I think it does so well.
  15. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    Just remember that nobody can offend you unless you give them the power to do so. Next time you're offended by something or some one, ask yourself why you're giving them that much power over your thoughts and feelings.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    True story. I was traveling in Oslo with my family. We were on a train, and we passed a cemetery. My 80 year old Austrian father-in-law says, "hey, that's a beautiful cemetery." My mother-in-law says. "Yes, maybe we should stop and have a look around so that you can get acquainted."

    Americans tend to be shocked by this kind of gallows humor, because we all have a constitutional right to be hypersensitive about aging, death and dying and treat it like the most somber of all issues. Death may not be all that funny, per se. But yes. It is.
  17. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    I have found that Americans generally don't get self-deprecating humour. I'm not sure why.
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  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Self-deprecation is, like, what I do. Though it may just be that for some people it conflicts with the "I can be anything I want and I'm special" thing they're told repeatedly.
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  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I'm the same way. Self-deprecation is low hanging fruit for jokes because I know my flaws so well. It does conflict with the American ideal of constant, ever-vigilant self promotion.
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  20. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Outliers. Watch the British version of The Office and the American version: Americans generally don't get self-deprecating humour.
  21. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I'm American and I thought the cemetery joke was damn funny.

    My only issue with The Office is that Michael gets on my nerves.
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  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Except the Brits have raised deprecating humor to an art form that is unrivaled in the known universe, so the Office comparison is null and void. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy only has one entry when you look up "self-deprecating humor." It links to a single picture of Prince Charles.

    For the US, blame the cowboys. Rugged individualism trumps everything else in the US, and cowboys solved everything with a punch in the face as long as they got to ride away free across the plains afterwards with a six shooter strapped to their hip.

    As always, the Aussies seem to be a mixture of the US and the UK. Australia has plenty of self-deprecation to go around, but then again, there's never been a bar fight that an Aussie hasn't liked either.. Basically, Australia is what you get when you mix Ricky Gervais and John Wayne. You end up with never getting to live down Crocodile Dundee.

    Now, for ever-vigilant self promotion, look to the French. For sheer arrogant self worth, France makes the US look like the wallflowers at the school dance.
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  23. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Sure, just saying that the UK should be the yardstick here. The one nation that inspires us all to be our better selves... in the field of self-deprecating humor. Humour. Whatever. Give them a break, it's one of the few yardsticks they have left.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  24. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    It's because that when British colonialism collapsed, all the truly great yardstick plantation holding companies folded.

    Why, there was a time back in the good old days when dependable British yardsticks circled the globe. They used to say that "the Sun never set on a British yard..." Or something like that. It may have involved tying an onion on your belt and having to walk miles up hill in the snow both ways.
  25. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    Look at something like Yes, Minister. This is something that would never work in an American setting as it's basically all about old men talking about politics. Never actually doing anything political, just talking about it. The humour, the subtlety and yes,the self-deprivation...I want to go watch it again now. :)