It’s only a joke!

November 15, 2005 7:55 AM

Is it though?

Mr. Kenny Sia recently joked about terrorism (post since edited), and got schooled for it by Mack Zukifli, among others.

In our current global climate, terrorism will remain a sensitive topic when ppl have died and are dying daily from it. Even more so when, due to the actions of a fanatical few, an entire group of human beings on this planet – namely Muslims (1.5 billion of them, ref. Wikipedia) are being maligned for it. So if you want to joke about it, at least do it in a balanced way. Like so …

“The American troops were going through the caves over there in Afghanistan and its unbelievable. They found fax machines, they found copiers, they found computers. I’m telling you, they found so much loot in these caves that it looked like Winona Ryder’s place.” —David Letterman

“Scientists in the United States Army have developed sandwiches that remain edible for three years. That’s worth fighting for, now isn’t it? The jihad is offering their guys 72 virgins, we give three-year-old sandwiches.” —Jay Leno

“Today President Bush has clarified his world view saying ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. Or you’re with the terrorists but you have oil [graphic shows Kuwait]. Or you’re with us but you hate us [graphic shows Egypt]. Or you’re with us, but you fund all the terrorism in the world [graphic shows Saudi Arabia]. Or you’re a hundred percent with the terrorists accept for one little guy in charge [graphic shows Pakistan]. Or you’re with us but you can’t really help us [graphic shows Iceland]. Or you’re with the terrorists with each other and against us even though you really hate each other [graphic shows Iraq and Iran].” —Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”

(All jokes referenced from here)

Even if you make the terrorists the sole butt of your joke, you can do it without sulllying the religion. Like the good folks at The Family Guy who made Osama bin Laden look like an ad-libbing buffoon with an American accent.

(watch the vid here)

That said, if you pick a sensitive topic to joke about you’d always run the risk of offending someone. This is amplified further when the words are static, and are stripped of facial expressions and tone of voice. Which is why the choice of words used is paramount online.

Think thoroughly about what you will be saying and you can avoid having to justify yourself after you’ve said it. Unlike in real life, you do have plenty of time to think before you hit “publish”.

And I feel like I’m repeating myself over and over with this – Blog Responsibly.

For further reading about the fine difference between a joke and an insult, the Poynter Institute has an excellent article here.

14 thoughts on “It’s only a joke!

  1. ~*Starryluvly*~

    Like I said in Kenny’s blog – I’m not entirely sure where I stand with regards to this issue.

    I can definitely see the humour in it. But I can also see how it can offensive. I don’t think that the insulting bit, is so much because he used Allah Akhbar. After all, many religious terms are used in vain, jihad being one of them. Even the way we say Jesus, or Oh my God.

    The issue here is, however, that Islam is being equated to terrorism. And that is not on. Yes, the ones who blew up Bali and crashed planes into the twin towers were Muslim – but that doesn’t give people the right to identify them as terrorists.

    And what exactly is a terrorist? If your idea of a terrorist is that of someone using bombs and killing innocent people – isn’t Bush guilty of that too? How about the Germans? Aren’t they terrorists too because of Aushwitz and similar concentration camps?

    (I’m not anti-anyone, but I’m just trying to prove a point)

    Seriously, we need to stop attributing a particular race/religion to terrorism. The act of terrorism is bad enough without needing to cause further discord between the different groups of people in the world.

  2. mooiness

    Totally agreed. And my stance on this is clear – these are fanatical zealots and do not represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims and they are not a true representation of Islam so why is everyone else lumped in together with them?

    And just to make a comparison, there are also Christian zealots who bombed abortion clinics in the US but no one equated Christianity with terrorism. The Oklahoma bomber was a zealot of a different sort – he’s white so how come not all white ppl are equated with terrorism? Because it’s illogical.

    I think those of us who have a big audience have a responsbility to not perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices.

  3. george

    does this ‘blog responsibly’ thing apply to everyone or just bloggers with daily hit counts of 5000 and above?

    coz i know one major blogger who failed at not perpetuating stereotypes and prejudices, yet you seem to be like a big fanboi of his.

    i’m talking about xialanxue.

  4. mooiness

    george: applies to everyone and especially those with big audiences.

    XLX and stereotypes – what is that stereotype? For example, XX called Malay ppl “fuckers” – that’s a stereotype. Kenny associated Islam with terrorism – that’s a stereotype. Name a stereotype that XLX has perpetuated.

    XLX and prejudices – yup he’s prejudiced against hypocrisy. Ok you can count me in on that one too.

    If you want to have a sensible argument, please back up your statement with at least one tangile example. I’d glady partake in that debate.

  5. ~*Starryluvly*~

    george, I think marcus is sensible enough to criticise people based on their content… not based on the number of hits they get a day.

    also, how do you know marcus is a fan of xlx? You must have been stalking marcus’ blog for quite awhile then, non? Perhaps waiting to pounce for an opportunity to make a supposedly astute observation?

  6. Kenny Sia

    Err… I don’t think I associated Islam with terrorism. Jemaah Islamiyah associated Islam with terrorism.

    C’mon man, I live in an Islamic country and I visit Muslim friends on Hari Raya. Smart people would be able to distinguish between the moderate Muslims and members of JI easily.

    But you know, there’s no point going on and on. I admit what I wrote was politically incorrect. I didn’t know until Mack pointed it out to me. It’s all over already anyway.

    If there’s anything good out of it, I actually learnt a bit more about the religion than I would have if I didn’t put that post up.

    I’ll forward you a mail I got.

  7. ~*Starryluvly*~

    kenny, I think most people know that you didn’t purposely associate islam with terrorism. It’s just that it’s easy for people to infer that based on the original pic.

    However, you’re right, all’s been said and done and the modifications have been made… so all is well again =)

  8. mooiness

    kenny: agree about the smart ppl. but i also agree with Nadia – what if some of your countless readers are not as smart as we would like them to be? What the world does not need right now is more perpetuation of “Islam = terrorism” type of caricatures no matter how harmless you think them to be.

    if you post had used your edited pic from the start, I wouldn’t have had a bone to pick with you and I’m sure Mack wouldn’t either. It’d be a parody of terrorists – plain and simple like the clip from “The Family Guy”, with no inference of religion.

    You also can’t compare ppl uttering “OMG” or “Jesus Christ!” to “Allahu Akhbar” either. Rightyfully or not, the world treats both religions very differently at this point in time.

    Having said that, I am not a political-correctness zealot but I do have the point of view that if you joke about a touchy subject, be prepared for the backlash because there would be sensitive ppl who would jump at the most obvious part of your “joke”.

  9. Anonymous

    David Letterman – “I’m telling you, they found so much loot in these caves that it looked like Winona Ryder’s place.”

    Winona Ryder and her friends won’t be happy about that.

    Jay Leno – “The jihad is offering their guys 72 virgins”

    Muslims won’t be happy about that. The 72 virgin quote is a misintepretation of the Quran.

    Tina Fey – Bush supporters, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, Pakistanis, Icelanders, Iraqis and Iranians won’t be happy about that.

  10. mooiness

    anonymous: i never said they were totally correct. I said that they were “balanced” meaning they lampoon both sides. And read my post in its entirety – I’m saying that if you choose to joke about a sensitive issue, be prepared for the backlash. If you don’t want to deal with the backlash, then choose your words correctly.

    In any case, what is your point? That because other ppl are saying bad things, that we should continue also?

  11. Lynne

    Agree with Marcus. Kenny should try his gig in NYC Grand Central Station and see if he can walk out of there alive. He needs to be much, much, much more sensitive … for his own good. Over here, words like “muslim”, “terrorists” or “terrorism” can get you killed, even tho’ it might be just a joke – of course, unless you are a TV celebrity lah. Why not just blog about your own life and not about others’?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *