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Still Not Standing Up. Funny or Offensive?

I was planning a follow-up up post to the one of yesterday. A friend and I spoke about it and I realised that I had left a lot out. This happens a lot as there is only so much that one can say in the space of a few hundred words.
That follow up will still happen.
However, on the drive to campus I heard something that made me wonder again about standing up.
It won’t be a long tale. It made me think back to a visit to the Cape Town Holocaust Centre. It was my 3d year of German Studies and we were privileged to have a talk with a real Holocaust survivor. Her name is Miriam and she was an adolescent who walked for days in freezing conditions, scantily dressed.
She was very honest and sincere and what she said at the end really struck me. She told us that we should never let anyone stand in the way of our dreams and that we should always fight against oppression. She mentioned racist jokes and that when someone makes them we must not laugh and correct the person.
I believe that not enough of us do this. I certainly don’t. Or at least not in an assertive enough way. I’m often the one making the jokes!
What happened was similar, as Kfm morning drive DJ Ryan O Connor told a story, which I’m not sure was real or was just a way to tell his joke. He recanted how he was walking along the Pink Village in Cape Town, the gay friendly part of Green Point where the gay clubs and restaurants are located. He said that he passed a stag party and two guys approached him and said what fans they are. He thought he would stay with them and have a drink. Then they asked him for money; not just a little, but a couple of grand. He then realised that it was a PANSY scam. Get it? Like Ponzy, but the gay version.

Funny? Mildly amusing at best. What bothered me, as it often does with him is the way in which he portrays people. This time I didn’t laugh, mostly because the joke was not well told, but it made me think of the other times when I do laugh. This puts me in the wrong and I am a hypocrite for condoning it. But why must the gay guys in his stories and “jokes” always (and I mean always, as in whenever I listen) sounding like lisping, mincing flaming queens who say “HEEEY” and “doll” and “darling”?
The same applies to depictions of races in jokes. O Connor is not the only idiot. It seems a popular trend to imitate people in a convenient way according to how they think they should be depicted. Is this not reducing them to a particular type? Surely there are Asian people who can pronounce the “L” sound. Every Coloured person cannot possibly say “Aweh jy!!” and sound like a Cape Flats gangster. Every Black person can surely not sound the same as we think they do. My friends don’t.
So how do we stop this? Probably decide at the time what we think would offend us if it were us being spoken about. Or maybe try to think how it would feel if we had children and they were the ones being made fun of in this way. Always stand up.


<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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