On mean-spirited humor

WORKING WOMAN

May 10, 1992|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

A recent column about mean-spirited humor, which began ". . . it wasn't my best moment, but at least I didn't laugh . . .," brought in a surprising amount of mail -- and most of you weren't laughing, either.

From Bloomington, Ill., a reader of the Daily Pantagraph wrote: "I want to commend you on your timely column entitled 'Mean-spirited Humor Doesn't Deserve a Laugh.' Having recently experienced such 'humor,' I was elated to see you address this subject.

"What many people try to pass off as humor is in reality their way of stating what their innermost thoughts are, and since they can't be open and honest with people, they viciously attack by this method.

"Like you, I have laughed or just kept silent when this has happened to me -- a mistake on my part. We must not let people like this put us down and get the upper hand in this vicious manner!"

But a Red Oak, Texas, man wrote: "I must point out an omission in your column concerning 'humor' and the stereotyping of people via jokes. I firmly and totally agree with all that you said, but you failed to point out that male bashing sessions -- and the current trend of humor at the expense of men -- is equally inappropriate."

A Dallas, Texas, Times Herald reader wrote: "Thank you! You hit a nerve with me. I have just spent five days mentally replaying a similar scene and haven't (until now) been able to admit that I had a right to feel uncomfortable during this so-called humorous episode.

"I appreciate your putting into words what I've been unable to identify," she added. "This episode was an attack disguised as humor. I didn't like it, but went along with it to be a good sport. Not any more. I am adult enough to recognize an attack when I see one and now feel more able to deal with the next one."

But a Cambridge, Md., resident began her letter with "Lighten up, Niki! A sense of humor and a relaxed mental attitude will get you far in this world. Nobody wants to be around an uptight, hypersensitive prig.

"Nowhere is it written that you can go through life and never be offended by someone or something. I don't let something some ignorant boob says ruin my day. The problem is theirs. I don't have to make it mine."

An Omaha, Neb., reader felt I didn't go far enough, on the other hand. "People like me need to hear more about what to DO when these kinds of insulting/harassing remarks and 'jokes' come our way.

"My boss greeted me at the door this morning by telling a dumb blonde joke (I'm blonde), and I had to wonder how he'd feel if I told a short man joke (he's short) or a dumb Polish joke (he's Polish) or made a crack about men in general (he's a man . . . I think)."

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