Opinions

Gingers getting kicked - why do people take jokes so seriously?

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Our generation is slowly becoming more and more sensitive about each other's feelings. In our day and age, political correctness is a must to avoid offending anyone. We have established laws to protect each other from the lethal smoke of cigarettes, enforced helmets and vast arrays of safety gear on most vehicles and have laws in effect to prevent unnecessary profanity.

The unfortunate part of this sensitivity is that, although in good faith, it can become a burden and a useless endeavour. Being politically correct about everything is quite a hard thing to do; referring to a black person as an "African-American" isn't entirely correct-- not all black people are from Africa, neither are they always American.

So when South Park produced an episode named "Ginger Kids" in 2005, which inspired a Facebook group naming Nov. 20 National Kick a Ginger Day, our population reacted strongly. The joke was taken by some as a full-force bullying holiday. Anti-bullying advocate Rob Frenette was shocked when he found out about the group.

"We are very taken back that students would pick a certain group of people to harass due to their hair colour," he told CTV News from New Brunswick.

Although it seems like the kids who created the Facebook group, (one a 14-year-old) were out to bully for all it's worth, they were actually just continuing the joke. The South Park episode was actually a satire of bullies and demonstrated that everyone should be accepted. But, of the people to hear of this event or join in, a few actually took it seriously. This is the problem. If people could take a joke and understand that kids are more likely to be hurt by falling down than by a joking kick, we would realize that this is actually a pretty ridiculous thing to get all fussed up about. But with all our fear in offending someone, our senses of humour have become lost in the blur of correction.

The majority of the members in the Facebook group knew that it was a joke and quite a few of them were ginger themselves. In this wide majority of members, one could probably guess that most of them would not advocate bullying in any other sense, say calling a kid "four-eyes" because they are wearing glasses.

So our acts to not offend anyone have ended up in a heated fervour, ending in rumours of South Park being handed a hate crime lawsuit.

Some kids did take it too far Nov. 20, but the only incidents that were brought to light all ended in minor bruising. The problem is still that people have taken this joke way too seriously and ruined it in the process.

There are Facebook groups joking about everything. One group, "I Love Seals So Much I Want to Club Them" bears the description: "This is a group for those of us who support the time-honoured tradition of killing seals. This tradition, unfortunately, comes under attack annually at the commencement of the seal hunt. Anyone expressing anti-sealing opinions will be promptly removed from the group. Then shot," which is obviously a joke. Yet, this group as well as many others like it, hasn't been featured on the news as cruel and wrong. Maybe Facebook groups are the last leg of slapstick sarcastic humour, but one should hope not. Curse the day that our collective fear of offending anyone drives our jokes into hiding on the Internet.

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Comments

Well Miss Laura Bardsley it is obvious you've never been bullied before. You completely missed the whole point. Jokes are jokes and Southpark is funny as hell. Bullying and kicking people are not. You forgot to mention the parts about the verbal abuse, the fear experienced when attacked by a group of people, not being able to defend oneself, being humiliated in public, etc, etc, etc. Really do I need to say more?

Hi,
My name is Rob I am in fact the person who commented to CTV news about this story and I will continue to fully work with other organizations and Police to make sure that the students invloved are dealt with. Bullying is bullying and what you say in this article how it's not as bad as we made it seem is totally wrong. If anyone wants to contact me directly you can at: RFrenette@bullyingcanada.ca

Perhaps I missed both Pissy Undergrad and Ms. Bardsley's point, but I just wanted to highlight something.
I am in total agreement with the fact that it seems that the over-sensitization of people is hinders the relations we have. Certainly, I have found myself feeling uncomfortable around someone of a different culture, not because I thought anything wrong with them, but because I was so concerned with offending them, I found myself speechless.

Hello pissy undergrad student. I was actually bullied when I was younger, but thank you for the assumption. What you're also missing is that I am a ginger kid, and I still think this is ridiculous. It was a joke taken too far, as I stated above in the article. I wasn't advocating bullying in my argument, please take the time to read my article and not just the title. You do need to say more, really; because your response is just an accusation that I am advocating bullying. I'm advocating that as a species, we must re-evaluate what we take seriously.

Rob Frenette: thank you for the quote in the article! Also, thank you for also not taking the time to actually understand what I'm arguing. I'm not arguing that bullying isn't as bad as it seems, I'm arguing that the concept of a 'kick a ginger day' as a freaking joke isn't as bad as it seems. Also, thank you for inspiring this article with your report to CTV!

The problem is the double-standard hypocrisy of "selective outrage," i.e. how the Pavlovian lapdogs will attack if it's about blacks, Jews, Asians or any other minority, but certain "safe prejudices" are open season-- along with knee-jerk denials of any comparison, about how these groups "weren't oppressed" etc. soley in order to remove any social protection and keep the prejudice "safe," and other blatant double-standards.

Even as a blatant example, Cartman is a "bigot" who hates everyone, but no one questions how he's a walking fat-joke in himself, and this is perfectly accepted (except in South Park's various hypocritical smears against "political correctness," which it makes freely and with no regard for consistency with other episodes where it slams prejudice and hate, exposing the series as hypocrisy hiding behind comedic license).
And in like manner, hate-speech is often disguised as "humor" in order to likewise deny responsibility, even though humor is often used for this very purpose of denying the impact of very serious messages, in order to take advantage of a minority's weaker position.
However this also becomes ridiculous when other minorities are given "protected status," on the basis of of special social favoritism and sympathy rather than recognition of equal status, hence leading to these very "safe prejudices" which give special protection to some select groups while denying it to others. Hence, one episode of South Park can claim that "white people can't know what it's like to be called the N-word," thus protecting skin-color, while another casually bashes ginger's hair and skin-color even though it's the same thing. But art imitates life, since Rush Limbaugh can do the same: he uses gingers as his personal poster-child for pro-life (claiming that women would abort babies if they knew they'd be ginger), but he gets fired from ESPN simply for claiming that announcers showed a race-bias for blacks. The hypocrisy is amazing, and only proves just how savage and arrogant that people still are-- they just don't admit it.

Laura Bardsley: So you think that the concept of a 'kick a ginger day' as a freaking joke isn't as bad as it seems.

So then you think the same goes for "kick a Jew day," or "kick a black day," or "kick an Asian day," or "kick a Latino day:" ie. it's "a freaking joke and isn't as bad as it seems." Well I'll just post this on a website that you think so, LAURA BARDSLEY!