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QOTD May. 7th, 2002 04:44 pm
"Racist jokes are great a safety valve. They help us get rid of Tory politicians." - Ivor Dembina

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1972000/1972565.stm

From: sashajwolf
Date: May 7th, 2002 - 09:27 am (Link)
Hmm. I hadn't seen an article before that explained what she actually said. I'd call that joke ill-judged, but I wouldn't call it racist.

I disagree with the article's comment that to find it funny one would have to actually believe there were too many Pakistanis in England: it's more that one has to believe that some Englishmen believe there are too many Pakistanis in England. Now, I think that belief is mistaken, but I can't deny that some people do hold it. And if you look at the structure of the joke, it's actually a pattern of people stupidly throwing away things that are *valuable*, so the joke is actually on the racist.
From: booklectic
Date: May 7th, 2002 - 10:01 am (Link)
I do see your point, but I still can't believe any politician would actually tell that joke - it seems so obvious that it would end one's career. (Which is not at all in contradiction with your point, of course.) In a climate where even the BNP are trying to pretend they're not racist. I can only assume she wanted to leave politics for reasons of her own...
From: djm4
Date: May 7th, 2002 - 10:55 am (Link)
Yes, it's certainly possible to see the joke as a joke about how stupid English people are. In this respect it's like the joke that did the rounds when I was at college in which two men say to each other:

"How do you make a woman come?"
"Who cares?"

...which is either a joke on how women are basically somthing for men to wank into, or on how stupidly self-centered the men are, depending on how you look at it.

I wouldn't sack anyone for telling either joke, but I they wouldn't exactly go up in my estimation.

I'm also not sure about the 'throwing away something valuable' point. The structure of the joke relies on them throwing away something that's not valuable to them because it's so common/easily replaceable, but on which other people might place value. I'm not sure I'm too comfortable with Pakistanis being placed in a category of 'not valuable to the English because there are so many of them', which is what the structure of the joke implies to me.

From: ajva
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 01:39 am (Link)
Well, I reckon there's jokes you can tell in private and jokes you can tell in public, and a politician's job is to know the difference.
From: djm4
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 02:00 am (Link)
I'm not sure I know the difference myself (but then I'd make a crap politician). What do you see as the difference?
From: ajva
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 02:06 am (Link)
Oh well, nothing complicated. I just mean that it's OK for you to tell the making women come/who cares joke in private because we all know you have respect for women and so we know we can read the joke without offence. Someone who didn't know you could not be expected to know that. Many of my friends tell sexist/racist/homophobic jokes in private and they're damn funny. But you wouldn't necessarily tell them to someone you'd just met on a train. A politician should have the nous to know that. Especially when the BNP are on the march, as has already been pointed out.
From: djm4
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 02:20 am (Link)
Ah, thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I myself don't often say things in private that I wouldn't say in public (f'rinstance, I don't usually make friends-only posts), and when I do, it's usually for reasons of privacy rather than because of the context. As a result, it's an area where I'm rather unsure of what people's boundaries are, while being well aware that they have them and are entitled to them.

Call it odd wiring on my part.
From: booklectic
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 02:08 am (Link)

From a politician's point of view, I'd say anything the media could conceivably find out about counts as public. So if I were in politics, I wouldn't tell any jokes that could be construed as racist, at all, ever, to anyone. (Of course, I don't tell them now, anyway, but that's just because I've never found a racist joke funny.)
From: sashajwolf
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 02:02 am (Link)
I think the joke assumes that the audience knows that in reality a Cuban or Japanese would not normally throw away either a cigar or a camera, and therefore implies that the people in the first two example are nutters, and therefore that the English person in the third example is also a nutter :-)
From: ciphergoth
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 03:06 am (Link)
This seems generous to a fault...
From: sashajwolf
Date: May 8th, 2002 - 03:55 am (Link)
Blame it on an overdose of lit crit in my high school education ;-)