Over at Caramel (Learner at Love), CARAMEL has started a new prompt. I’d like to see her prompt do well, and I had some time today to write a post, so here we go…
The prompts are called the Caramel Crunch and so far are centered around a moral question. Her question this week is here, but for your convenience I shall repeat her question.
You are out with some good friends having drinks. One of your best friends makes a joke that seems racist. Your friend doesn’t normally seem to show any attitudes that indicate racism. Do you let it pass? Or do you speak out against the offensive joke?
That’s an easy one. You say something. You don’t need to be nasty, but it needs to be clear (a) that you don’t find their comments acceptible, and (b) why. If they’re as reasonable as CARAMEL says, maybe they’ll go away and think about why you got upset? Either way, they’ll know not to speak like that in your company again.
I’ve actually experienced this. Not exactly the same, but similar. Not about race – fortunately for a white guy in the UK, it isn’t normally an issue – but picking on physical characteristics to imply that a person isn’t as good. And not with friends. There is a comedy-news programme in the UK called Have I got News For You. And, not long before he won a General Election, Boris Johnson won an election to become the leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore Prime Minister. As part of that election process, there was a series of debates among the contenders.
At the time, I followed Have I Got News For You on Facebook. The day after one of these debates, this photograph appeared:
I took a screenshot because I wanted to include the caption. I hope you can see it okay – it reads
I can lead the UK, insists man struggling to sit on stool.
The picture is of a guy called Sajid Javid. It obviously didn’t harm his career that much, as he is now Britain’s Chancellor (Finance Minister).
I complained. The implication of the caption was that Javid was sitting on the stool wrongly (no, I never knew there was a wrong way to sit on a stool, either) and that this physical characteristic made him unfit to run the country.
I am absolutely sure that running a country requires many exceptional intellectual talents, but somehow I doubt that how we sit on a stool is one of them. The particular problem here is that there is very real discrimination against physically disabled people in the UK – that their physical disability means they lack the intellect to do a particular job. So all this post did was to reinforce a stereotype.
As you might imagine, 99.9% of the responses to this complaint were this is a comedy feed – get over it. But I could see the problem, even if 99.9% of people could not. And when something is wrong, you gotta say something, don’t you?
No, I don’t follow that feed any more. I’m sure it makes no difference whatever, but I don’t want to see that nonsense when I log on.