It’s not every day I meet someone else who finds Nazis funny. But when I do, look out!
I have what many people would consider a warped sense of humor. Lots of people say that they have a warped sense of humor, but they are lying. They don’t really think jokes about pedophilia are funny, and they don’t think it’s appropriate to make off-color comments about Jesus. Sure, sometimes it isn’t appropriate, but there’s a difference between seriously putting forth offensive ideas as an honest opinion and mocking those ideas by elevating them to such extreme levels that they reach the point of absurdity.
It’s like that old parody advertisement in Hustler that featured a false interview with Jerry Falwell in which he admitted that his "first time" (ostensibly tasting the fake ad's fake liquor, but played on so as to mean his first time having sex) was with his mother. Drunk. In an outhouse. He sued, but the premise of the parody was so outlandish that it was clear no one could ever take it seriously and was therefore not libelous (Here's a description of the case). Thus, Larry Flynt and company were off the hook.
Of course, in everyday life, one is not often called upon to defend their most extreme jokes under threat of government-sanctioned censorship, so citing the precedent of that case after offending someone comes off as a bit pretentious and self-serving. But even if the argument isn't entirely relevant and doesn’t justify making such remarks, I still feel that the spirit of the defense holds water. At the very least, it is a handy escape from any controversy that my comments may cause and besides, if people don’t buy it and still look down on me with disgust and contempt, so be it. They're a bunch of stiffs. Maybe they're Amish.
For someone like me who occasionally has a problem censoring his thoughts and/or toning them down in front of certain audiences (read: mixed company, my parents, the clergy), it is awfully convenient to levy the blame for offensive material on those who are offended. After all, it’s not my fault if you didn’t catch the sly, satirical tone that was clearly evident in my voice when I said that the Holocaust was nothing but Jewish propaganda. I, of course, do not believe such nonsense, and I realize how insulting such a statement can be (and rightfully so) to survivors of concentration camps and Jewish people in general. If you know me at all, you know that I am only being shocking on purpose and that I mean no harm.
However, some people that don’t know me are sure to get the wrong impression from such a volatile statement, even if I were to say it standing on my head and wearing a tutu. If those people don't understand that I am not mocking the Holocaust but am instead mocking people who are so ignorant as to really believe it was just a hoax, well...too bad. It's not my responsibility to provide people with a disclaimer that delineates my point. Is it?
Of course it’s not. After all, I'm only a Satanist. Satirist, I mean, I'm only a satirist!
When I go around making comments like "This sausage is so good it tastes like God’s penis!", most people can tell from the ludicrousness of such a statement that I am just joshing around. I surely have never tasted...whoa, now I’m offending myself. The concept is just too ridiculous to take seriously. But there is always some self-righteous, bleeding heart, Bible-belt fool that is going to take offense to something like that, and suddenly I'm the bad guy! Please! It’s a free country, and I am not required to wear a sign on my chest that proclaims my propensity for offensively absurd humor. If you need your satire spelled out for you, you probably can't spell "satire" to begin with and you shouldn't be messing with it. So put your muzzle back on and go swim in the sandbox.
But, on the flip side...
Over the years, as I have matured from a teenaged backsassing troublemaker to a twentysomething wisecracking cynic, I have realized that it's a bit naïve to take no responsibility for offending someone just because I insist I'm joking. If I make a joke about the Holocaust not happening, I can be pretty sure that most people in the room will realize that I'm not serious, but what about the people that don't get it? The people that might, God forbid, agree? They do exist, ridiculous as it may seem, and making a comment that seems to align me with them benefits no one, and me least of all. I certainly don't want some bigoted jackass to think I'm on his side. But I realize the position I'm putting myself in, and I have to take the good with the bad.
Everybody has an inner imp that generates off-color comments, it's just that more often than not my imp has the mike. That's not to say that I can't control myself. Quite the contrary. I am fully aware of the effects some of my comments are going to have, and most of the time they are premeditated in spite of, or because of, such repercussions. Prim and proper bores me. But I have learned to restrain myself and show a modicum of class in appropriate circumstances. I have learned to pick and choose when and where to bring the heat. I realize that I can't just shrug my shoulders and blame it on the rain when someone is suddenly appalled if I have chosen the wrong crowd on which to argue about the possibility that Jesus was gay.
The ability to confidently make such a joke requires a lot of faith in the intelligence of my audience; if they are too dense to comprehend what I'm going for I'll end up with mud on my face. So if you're in the room when I let loose with some ignorant rant about women needing to stick to dishwashing and child-rearin' and leave the brainy stuff to men, consider it a compliment!
When I drop some ridiculous comment on a room full of unsuspecting people, I'm not trying to get lynched for the sake of my art. Usually, unless I'm half in the wrapper, I won't risk unleashing my dark side on strangers. Because whereas my friends know to swallow a caseful of Morton's when I start spewing nonsense, strangers, by definition, don’t know me enough to understand where I'm coming from. I don't think it's my responsibility to provide a saltlick when the jokes start flying, but I have at least learned not to blame Cletus for his ignorance quite as much as I used to. After all, he might come off looking like a moron, but I'll look like an asshole. And we can't have that.
Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".
ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE
more about mike julianelle
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
4.17.02 @ 9:28a
Imp. I love the word imp.
4.17.02 @ 10:21a
You guys want to start talking about prostitution again? I heard Jesus was a prostitute. Doesn't messiah mean whore?
4.17.02 @ 10:25a
No, and no.
4.17.02 @ 11:02a
You're confusing Jesus with Mary Magdelene (sp?). Puta means whore.
[Homer Simpson]Mmmm...God's penis.[/Homer Simpson]
4.17.02 @ 12:42p
Oh yeah. My bad. Thanks for clearing that up, Adam.
4.17.02 @ 1:28p
My friend Tony and I do that all the time. We just keep joking back and forth and the offensiveness just keeps building. I always wonder what the people around us think if they overhear us.
(Not like I care. Screw'em!)
4.17.02 @ 2:10p
See, your last comment, (Not like I care. Screw'em!) gets to the heart of the matter.
I agree that I don't really care, but at the same time, you can't always put the blame for being offensive on someone else's humorless shoulders. There's a line there. Not that I use it much, but still...
4.17.02 @ 3:02p
I'm not really blaming someone for being offended by what I say or write. I just don't care if I offend them or not.
4.17.02 @ 3:06p
I like lite twinkies more than regular twinkies.
4.17.02 @ 9:32p
Wasn't your subtitle a quote from Casper the Friendly Ghost?
4.18.02 @ 12:39p
Anyone named Cletus is wholly to blame for his own ignorance.
4.18.02 @ 12:41p
Wouldn't his parents be to blame, then?
4.18.02 @ 12:44p
Robert - that was pretty funny. I had to read the subtitle again. I can totally see Casper saying that. Ever notice how much he and Richie Rich look alike. I think Casper is the ghost of Richie's murdered twin brother.
That's what I think.
Regarding absolute "hick" names, I still love that there was a character on "The Dukes of Hazzard" named Cooter.
4.18.02 @ 12:46p
How about Roscoe?
I am not particularly familar with Casper. What am I missing?
4.18.02 @ 12:49p
Hard to blame your parents when you don't know which kin they are. After all, he might've married his older sister (who was actually his mother) in which case he's his own father (more or less) and a poor role model to boot. Such is life for a slack-jawed yokel.
4.18.02 @ 12:49p
And Adam, he's Congressman Cooter now, don't forget.
4.18.02 @ 12:50p
You have a vendetta against hicks, not to mention Arkansas, eh Russ?
4.18.02 @ 1:03p
Hand in glove, they are. I am a one man crusade against Redneck Nation.
4.18.02 @ 1:04p
And Vedder rules.
4.18.02 @ 3:57p
Congressman Cooter's got nothing on Representative Gopher. (Fred Grandy, D-IA)
4.18.02 @ 4:38p
"...more often than not my imp has the mike."
I can't decide if that's a typo, or a clever double entendre.
michelle von euw
4.18.02 @ 4:42p
I giggled at that line, too, Roger, reading it as an intentional double entendre.
lee anne ramsey
4.28.02 @ 8:37p
Congressman Cooter lost his seat to Newt a few years back. Now he runs a store called "cooters" which stores the largest collectiong of Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia in the world. Saw the E True Hollywood Story.
But I digress.