A friend wrote to me saying that he had recently been called out for saying something offensive and had his eyes opened by an article. He told me I should definitely read it.
The moment I'm not finding a new way to perceive something is the moment I've stopped growing as a person and I don't want to stop growing as a person. I was ready and looking forward to having my eyes opened, so of course I read the article and instead it swayed me in the opposite direction.
The article is called "Don’t Be So Sensitive: Derailing Important Conversations" by Ailanthus-altissima and the opening reads
"I’m pretty sure all of us have been told at one point or another, after taking down someone who perpetuates any one of a sea of -isms, “Don’t be so sensitive.” When I was a kid, that cowed me. I was afraid of being perceived as weak and hysterical (ah, internalized misogyny!), and as everyone well knows, sensitive is but one step down the dangerous path of unchecked (and feminine!) emotion.
But now when someone tells me, “Don’t be so sensitive,” my reaction is to ask, “Why?” What do I gain from being less sensitive, apart from an increased tolerance for TMZ commenters? I can see where someone benefits – their egregious displays of racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism remain unchecked. They can remain comfortable in an environment that is uncomfortable for everyone who isn’t them. They can control the dialogue.
But me? I gain nothing.
Maybe this will be easier with examples.
When someone tells a rape joke and then tells you to “Stop being so sensitive,” they’re telling you that violence against women is not a big deal. They’re telling you that women are a punchline.
That is not OK."
It continues to repeat the second to last paragraph for the rest of the article but exchanging out rape for a different subject. This article is fantastic because its going to make it very easy to explain what is wrong with people speaking out against comedians who have been attacked for the subjects that they are speaking about instead of their messages.
The subject of a joke is not the joke. The approach to the subject of the joke is the joke. In fact every joke is a combination of multiple subjects, so it is impossible to describe the joke by calling it a (blank) joke.
"when someone tells me, “Don’t be so sensitive,” my reaction is to ask, “Why?” What do I gain from being less sensitive"
You gain objectivity, you gain rational thought without the influence of emotional ties.
"When someone tells a rape joke and then tells you to “Stop being so sensitive,” they’re telling you that violence against women is not a big deal. They’re telling you that women are a punchline."
And this is the problem right here. You've just put a blanket clause over an art form as determined by its subject. Comedy is as diverse as music, it would be like saying that because an F sharp sounds bad in one song that it will never sound good in any song. It depends on the song, it depends on the notes that are surrounding that F sharp.
Here's a Joke by Erik Cribley(@erikcribley, erikcribley.com)
"A goldfish has a three second memory.
A goldfish has a three second memory.
It's also kind of tragic, because I keep having to tell my goldfish about 9/11.
Every time he says "he'll never forget"... but every goddamn time."
This is a joke about 9/11. Actually it's a joke about a goldfish combined with 9/11's patriotic slogan, but if you wanted to, you could still reduce it to a "9/11 joke". You could see the numbers 9/11, clench up emotionally because it was a tragedy, and ignore the rest of the content.
Some jokes are insensitive because they are about a tragedy. They only play on the idea of the tragedy and a reference to part of it.
"What type of pizza did the Twin Towers order on 9/11?
Yes, two planes hit the World Trade Center. Do we need that event to show us that plain and plane sound the same? Nope, its just needlessly throwing in a reference to a tragedy, it's insensitive.
There is a difference between using a subject to make fun of something and making fun of a subject.
"I’m pretty sure all of us have been told at one point or another, after taking down someone who perpetuates any one of a sea of -isms, “Don’t be so sensitive.”
How did you "take them down"? Did you tell them they can't speak about it?
Comedians are critical thinkers. They take something you already know and teach you to look at it differently. If they do it properly, you laugh. It's like a reward system for learning. Please don't impede that because you are looking at the ideas by themselves or because you are taking your own road to connect them.
Sensitivity is about being aware of everything, hyper sensitivity is about being blind to everything except the things that upset you.
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