No laughing matter

in Opinion by
Offensive jokes and speech can create an unsafe/uncomfortable environment, even if unintentional. (Photo/Washington Post)

After nearly 20 years of building his comedy empire and producing millions of dollars worth of content, offensive jokes in a past stand-up routine resurfaced, leading to the downfall of Kevin Hart. This past December, Hart resigned as host of the 2019 Oscars because of the ongoing controversy surrounding homophobic jokes made in his 2012 stand-up performances. The discovery of these jokes and the backlash from the public have spurred wide discussion as to whether the comments warrant such a reaction. The recognition of such humor as offensive spreads awareness of the danger of brushing off these jokes instead of directly addressing them. 

However, these jabs expand further than the world of Hollywood. In fact, hastily laughing at a joke that went a little too far can be found among peers more often than not. 

The severity of offensive jokes remains unrecognized despite its significance because, according to “The Conversation,” “by disguising expressions of prejudice in a cloak of fun and frivolity, disparagement humor, appears harmless and trivial.” The light tone of the joke distracts from the nature of the content which ultimately leads to the dismissal of these comments. Although in the moment, the gag seems acceptable and might even receive a chuckle or two, the effects of the joke, whether addressed or not, remain prevalent.

“When I react, I usually don’t laugh, but since the people around me are laughing, I feel uncomfortable expressing how I feel about the joke,” sophomore Rebecca Chiet said. 

Overall, repeated offensive jokes create a harmful environment that affects those involved, even if they choose not to say anything. They say there can’t be comedy without tragedy, but we still must put respect for others over an attempt to get a laugh.   

If a joke goes too far or repeatedly makes you feel uncomfortable, address the problem itself or leave the situation entirely. Another option is approaching your guidance counselor or a trusted adult to assist in solving the problem and creating a safer, more comfortable environment.

Zoe Persaud is a sophomore at American Heritage School with a passion for writing and a disturbing amount of knowledge about the world of internet memes. As an active member of English Honor Society and an officer in Key Club, she is excited to branch out into the world of publications. Although this is her first year on staff, she looks forward to developing her skills and working to make the Patriot Post even more iconic (if possible).

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