What really struck me is how widely opinions vary. Is it ever okay to make fun of a disability? Does having the disability give you the excuse to joke about it? Are these jokes ever even funny? A month or so back I was reading about Joan Rivers's new documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work", and it briefly touched the subject. At one of her shows, Rivers made a Helen Keller joke (which, my deafness aside, I never really found them to be particularly funny. Can't say that I'm offended by them either), and a man in the audience was outraged, yelling at her that he has a deaf child and was offended by such a joke. "The comedian tears into him, informing him her mother was deaf and howling, 'Let me tell you what comedy is about — comedy is to make everybody laugh at everything and deal with it!’" - as quoted from this site.
Most of the time, I try to not take a defensive, sensitive standpoint. More often than not, people will say things that offend people out of pure lack off knowledge, not necessarily ignorance or out of intent to harm.I am not a big fan of stand up comedians. I do believe that it can be okay to laugh at our struggles, since they certainly aren't going to go away. Here is one joke I've heard a few times regarding hearing loss, and I do think it's funny in a cheesy humor sort of way.
A concerned husband went to the doctor to talk about his wife. He said to the doctor, “I think my wife is deaf because she never hears me the first time and always asks me to repeat things.”
“Well,” the doctor replied, “go home tonight, stand about 15 feet from her, and say something. If she doesn’t reply, move 5 feet closer and say it again. Keep doing this until we get an idea about the severity of her deafness.” The husband went home and did exactly as the doctor had instructed. He started off 15 feet from his wife in the kitchen as she was chopping some vegetables.
He said, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” He heard no response. He moved 5 feet closer and asked again. No reply. He moved 5 feet closer. Still no reply. He finally got fed up and moved right behind her, about an inch away, and asked again, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
She replied, “For the fourth time, vegetable stew!” -Taken from Only Funny Jokes
As I've mentioned before, I'm Jewish. Living in Texas, people from time-to-time are shocked and as pretty strange questions. Sometimes people crack a little innocent joke, and I do sometimes find them funny. I think the key is knowing where the line between offensive and hilarious lies, and not overstepping it. (For those wondering, here is a little key of the difference between amusing and stupid. Jewish guilty mother jokes=funny. Big nose jokes= can go either way. Holocaust jokes= waaay overstepping the boundary.) When it comes to serious disabilities that I am not personally affected by, I would never dare make a joke about it. I don't think it's fair to joke when I haven't lived through the day-to-day struggles of a particular disease or disability.
I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks. Is there a time and place for these jokes? Do you think people can be too sensitive, or are others just being too ignorant?