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Its just a joke, right?

May 5, 2013

So over on his blog Paul Magrs, a writer of Dr Who fiction, details his run in with a transphobic asshole on facebook.

And yeah, I’m sure many of you are wondering whats the big deal, I mean the bloke just made a joke right?

Except that joke is at the expense of someone with no attempt to deflect or subvert the joke. Its what a lot of people missed when they angrily lashed out at Reginald D. Hunter’s performance at the PFA last week. A lot of Hunter’s ‘thing’ is that he takes the ‘southern american blackman’ trope and flips it on its head. But theres no hatred behind it, unlike the somewhat cynical and nihilistic jokes Frankie Boyle makes.

But I will admit a comedian known for subverting hate by using the language hate engages with, probably isn’t the ideal candidate for an evening focusing on a group of people who have barely grown out of their teenage years mentally by the time they reach 40.

Now back to the topic on hand before I got distracted. The person Magrs was engaging with saw no problem with his behavior. So what if someone gets hurt, they should just take it on the chin right?

Except the target of the jokes were those of transgender orientation. People who have been, and continue to be, subject to hatreds and stigmas ever since people in the 40s came up with this bullshit belief that the Victorians were all ‘proper’ and hated sex.

To perpetuate the belief that its ok to keep targeting people because they are an ‘other’ is disgusting, though I suppose when the current government makes no balms about targeting those who can’t fight back, we can’t expect miracles.

Now, at this point I have to concede I have a personal investment in this. Many of my friends are LGBT and I myself am bisexual (well, its more complicated than that, but thats a topic for another time). It took an act of extreme stupidity/bravery to ‘out’ myself when I was in secondary school and I suffered for it every day.

But at least I could rely on teachers to back me right? Those rational adults who had weighted up the pros and cons of life and had decided to become teachers because they felt they needed to improve childrens lives by instilling them with the love of learning and a sense of responsibility, of expanding their horizons. Right?*


I will never forget being taken to task by a teacher (who taught ethics of all things) for daring to use the word ‘bugger’ in a play. Not because it was rude and considered a swearword (though a soft one)- but because it was associated with buggery and therefore gay people and AIDS which, in their words:

“People don’t want to be reminded of on a night out at a play”

I was left literally speechless with rage.

Now, imagine that you get told this at 14, by someone you respect and look up and who in some way sets your thinking on morality.

Imagine how thats going to fuck you up for the next few years of your life, until you are 20 and spend 6 months lying in bed under a deep depression, your mind on loop about the best ways to kill yourself about 16 hours a day.

Now, imagine someone the same age as I was when I was 14 coming across ignorantbastard#1’s** comments on facebook, which promotes and normalises hate against anyone who isn’t ‘normal’.

Imagine what thats going to do to their fragile ego and sense of self worth to be told that they are evil horrible people that common society shouldn’t have to deal with on a regular basis.

So next time you think of making a joke at the expense of others, ask yourself.

How would you feel?

*I admit I was a little naive. But I was also 14, so I think I’m entitled to that.
**Ignorant shit was already taken as a username.


From → Rant, Reading, Writing

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