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Source: (consider it) Thread: Girl on a cliff
Simon

Editor
# 1

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Joke submitted by CallumW:

A little girl is standing on top of a cliff, looking down at the sea and crying her eyes out. A priest approaches and says, "My child, why are you so upset?"

The little girl turns to him and says, "My mummy and daddy were in their car -- and it just rolled over the cliff and smashed on the rocks down there."

The priest slowly looks around him while unbuttoning his cassock and says, "It's just not your day, is it?"

[ 03. August 2005, 19:53: Message edited by: Simon ]

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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I found this much more offensive than other jokes on a similar subject; I think it's because the isolation of the child makes it much more threatening.

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SteveTom
Contributing Editor
# 23

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This is quite horribly dark, and I think the humour is in the very darkness - the extremity of the situation, the amoral sardonic stoniness of the priest - as much as in the wit of it.

In other words it's superb "black" humour - though that term itself may be as offensive as the joke.

I don't find it offensive. I don't believe any subject is unfit for comedy. What I find offensive in some jokes is their attitude to their subject - belittling, marginalising, demonising. None of that applies here.

It makes me wince, but doesn't make me angry.

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GeordieDownSouth
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# 4100

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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
<snip>

What I find offensive in some jokes is their attitude to their subject - belittling, marginalising, demonising. None of that applies here.

It makes me wince, but doesn't make me angry.

But it is demonising. Its part of the whole "all Priests are peadophiles" line of humour/drama.

This made my skin crawl. Reads more like a horror story than a joke.

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GreyFace
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# 4682

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I wanted to laugh. It should be funny. I've laughed at what I would say are fair sicker jokes than that.

But I find this painful. Don't quite know why. Offensive? I'm not offended at all.

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Custard
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# 5402

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Would have been worse with a boy.

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SteveTom
Contributing Editor
# 23

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quote:
Originally posted by GeordieDownSouth:
But it is demonising. Its part of the whole "all Priests are paedophiles" line of humour/drama.

Very fair point.

I wonder why I don't, subjectively, feel that way about it.

I think, for one thing, I read it as a joke about bad luck - after such an unlikely tragedy, the girl has the bad luck to make a very bad choice about which priest to confide in, what are the chances of that happening. So it's not actually implying that all priests are paedophiles, and it wouldn't work if it did.

I think also, fairly or unfairly, that I tend to feel that the Catholic church has voluntarily demonised itself on this issue, which doesn't make priests fair game, but does put it in a slightly different category from "Irishmen, black men and women are all stupid" jokes.

Or I just lack moral sensitivity.

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I saw a naked picture of me on the internet
Wearing Jesus's new snowshoes.
Well, golly gee.
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Lurker McLurker™

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# 1384

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quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
Would have been worse with a boy.

Why?

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Newman's Own
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# 420

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This joke sickened me. The image of a child whose parents have just been killed now being helpless and alone, and victimised by a paedophile, is just too horrid.

I have read various accounts on the Internet about some of the most notorious paedophilia cases involving priests (that Geoghan from Boston, for example), and many of the children who were victimised were those who had a parent who was absent or dead. The child's particular vulnerability was very clear.

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Demas*
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# 7147

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Much darker then the other paedophile priest jokes - contrast between the emphasised vulnerability of the girl and the coldness of the priest.

Very grim and dark. Not at all anarchistic - not laughing at the priest because he an authority figure but using black humour to point out that he is evil.

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Wesley J

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# 6075

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quote:
Originally posted by SteveTom:
quote:
Originally posted by GeordieDownSouth:
But it is demonising. Its part of the whole "all Priests are paedophiles" line of humour/drama.

Very fair point.

I wonder why I don't, subjectively, feel that way about it.

I think, for one thing, I read it as a joke about bad luck [...]

But then shouldn't there be a few more events leading up to the punchline? Some more mishaps which would show the absurdity of the joke? Then it might perhaps work better (though there's still the initial problem)?

In the version given, it is too short and abrupt, I feel.

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Sprocket
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# 2547

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I too found this sickening. The girl's vulnerability (and I think it would be same if there was a boy instead of a girl) and the priest's coldness combined just make me shudder.

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Adam.

Like as the
# 4991

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I don't really see how this is meant to be in any way funny. As an exercise in how sick a writer can make you feel in eight lines, I suppose it does very well. If I'd been assessing it as a piece of writing rather than as a joke I may rated it higher.

On the gender issue, somehow it feels worse with a girl. I suppose there might be a latent feeling that a boy should be able to defend himself.

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Eliab
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# 9153

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This is very black indeed. It's the only joke so far to have made me feel decidedly uncomfortable - I gave it a 3 for offensiveness despite having previously been sure that no joke could ever merit more than a 2.

Although on one level, I'd argue it that although it is the most shocking, it is the least objectionable of the paedophilia jokes we've had so far, because there's not a trace of flippancy. The teller knows that the priest is evil, and for the shock to work, the listener needs to see that as well. In the context of the story, the priest himself knows that what he is doing is unspeakably cruel. I didn't get that from any of the other jokes on the same theme. For those, I had to set aside my view of child abuse as evil for the sake of the humour, here the joke relies on that view.

Funny? Yes. I think it is, but in a very different way to the way all the other jokes so far have been or failed to be. It got a shock-laugh from me at the outset, and then a sort of horrified fascination at how cleverly that had been set up.

Much humour consists of either laughing at people for being different, or laughing at them for being the same. This joke works for me because it does both. The cold-blooded way in which the priest hears "my parents have just died" as "there are no witnesses" is at once horribly unnatural and also unsettlingly close to home.

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The Bede's American Successor

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# 5042

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quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
Would have been worse with a boy.

No it wouldn't. Period.

As it is, I am about to stop reading these jokes. Not from offense, but from "not another GD abusive priest joke." We have already plumbed this depth (not to make a pun).

Please.

Give it about a week or so before posting the next one.

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Tigerlily
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# 9782

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It makes me think more of a blurb to a horror tale than a joke.

My only response to that was wincing, not amusement.

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Fool of a Took

chock full o' nuts
# 7412

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In seminary my friends and I used to play a game we called 'least appropriate pastoral response'. It was part of how we dealt with the fact that we were being (inadequately) prepared to go out in to the world and face difficult questions to which we had no sufficient answers. There, around the cafeteria table was some comfort. No matter how badly you might step in it('it' being the spinach?) with the best of intentions, there was comfort in knowing that there was something worse that you could have said, but didn't.

The 'least appropriate pastoral responses' that got the most laughs around the table were the ones that flirted with profound crossing of boundaries and/or betrayal of trust. Because those were the 'no-go' zones. They were the things we knew we wouldn't slip up and say in real life. They were safe, so they were funny.

In the set-up of the joke I found myself identifying with the priest. What do you say to that girl? What words could possibly offer her any hope or comfort? How could the great pain of watching her parents die before her eyes be met with mere words?

I laughed at this because of how well and truly it confounds expectation. This is the mother of all least appropriate pastoral responses. It's funny because, and ONLY because, it's just not possible. No priest, no matter how twisted, could ever respond to the grief of a child that way. I need to either believe that, or get the hell out of the Church entirely. An institution with room for that man in it has no room for me.

I don't find it funny it a a joke about an evil man taking advantage of a vulnerable child in the absence of witnesses... but as a joke about the incredible insufficiency of anyone to respond to grief. I mean- honestly, what does a good priest say that makes her day any better, I ask you? The punch-line lands so unbelieveably far away the anticipated response. That's what makes it funny.

That said - we never played 'least appropriate pastoral response' around people who might ever believe we'd say those things and mean them. To anyone who has had their trust so profoundly betrayed that they could imagine this as a real conversation it's so far from funny I could cry.

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Ariel
Shipmate
# 58

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That's not a joke. That's an excerpt from someone's sexual fantasy.

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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This is so profoundly unfunny (as are most of the priest-pedophile jokes posted so far) that it makes me reflect on the first priest-pedophile joke I ever heard and how I found that it occurred at that perfect intersection of funny/offensive that made me think, "I'm going to be struck dead for laughing at this, but I can't stop laughing." Very, very few of the jokes posted here have come anywhere near that for me, which makes me want to submit that particular joke just so I can analyze it ... but after the Bede's heartfelt request for no more priest/pedophile jokes for a week, I'm not sure I can bring myself to do it.

ETA: Fool of a Took, I do see your point about the most inappropriate pastoral response. In the context of that kind of conversation, among clergy, I can sort of see how this would raise a smile. In the context of jokes the general public should find funny enough to laugh at, though, I think it's a real loser.

[ 15. July 2005, 17:53: Message edited by: TrudyTrudy (I say unto you) ]

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KenWritez
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# 3238

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Perhaps it's my twisted nature or my background as a bill collector which submerged me neck-deep in human woes, but I think this is one of the funniest jokes I've read here so far and one of the least offensive.

Yes, it's so very "black" and I love it for that. It says so much without saying much, if you get my drift, saying much more than any of the other similar jokes which came across to me as too forced and artificial.

IMO it doesn't say "all priests are pedophiles," it says "this priest is a pedophile."

I agree it would have been more pointed if it were a little boy instead of a little girl, but after thinking about it, having a little girl there masks any telegraphing of the punchline or intent of the joke.

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Papio

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# 4201

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1 for humour
5 for offence

[Projectile]

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by KenWritez:
IMO it doesn't say "all priests are pedophiles," it says "this priest is a pedophile."

I disagree completely.

It seems much more likely, to me, that the only reason the peodophile is a priest is that he is meant to represent all priests.

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Zeke
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# 3271

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Having now been told what population under what circumstances would laugh at this, I now see how it could be a joke. Before that, it was hard to believe that anyone, anywhere, would find it funny. I had to read it twice before I even saw what about it was supposed to be funny. I guess in this respect it's a little bit like the undertakers making sick jokes about dead people (a professional, ease-the-pressure sort of thing). However, that kind of joke would not be offensive to me because it doesn't involve cruelty to the living--it would never be told in front of mourners.

[ETA to add that I wondered what kind of mind would think up something like this. It made the whole thing somewhat more acceptable to me put in the context of seminarians looking for a bit of humor in all that study, which surely must be pretty tedious at times.]

I am more offended by this one, I think, than by any of the previous ones, because this particular priest is unbelievably evil and you do wonder if there is some implication that any priest at all may react that way. That makes it like the other pedo-priest jokes, very few of which I find funny at all, though I do laugh at some that are pretty sick if I haven't heard them too many times.

[ 15. July 2005, 19:49: Message edited by: Zeke ]

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No longer the Bishop of Durham
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Tubifex Maximus
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# 4874

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The needle on my barfometer went right into the red with this one. I found it totally unfunny and completely offensive. It makes me feel angry to read it.

I think what makes me feel so angry about it is the way that it seems to objectify and stereotype the priest. He is an 'it'. He is a priest therefore he is a pervert. It seems to me to be very similar to jokes that play on racial stereotypes. I can't listen to a joke like this without suspecting that they actually perform a social function, rather than an entertainment function. I always suspect that the teller is trying to find out whether the listener shares their world view. If they know they do already, then it bonds them in mutual support of that world view.

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John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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Haven't there been enough of these jokes to make a generalisation yet?

How about tagging them in the title:

"Humour depends on child sexual assault" so we can give them a miss?

It's a bit hard to know ahead of time from the title. I don't want to read or participate in analysis of any more of these, but I can't tell which ones are going to be this sort so I might give the rest of the project a miss.

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Left at the Altar

Ship's Siren
# 5077

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I find this one offensive in the extreme. It is not even remotely funny (although I have heard jokes of a similar vein that are funny: What do you give a kid who has everything? Leukemia), but this one is just off.

For a joke to be funny, I think it needs to be set up well. This one isn't.

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hatless

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# 3365

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Like many others, I found this joke unpleasant, even distressing. But not exactly offensive. I'm still waiting for a joke that disturbs my religious sensibility, that upsets my faith. Here it is my sympathy for children, even fictional ones, that is disturbed.

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Suze

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# 5639

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I'm with hatless on this one, I don't find it offensive in a "faith" sense - I find it more upsetting because of the vulnerability of the young person and the fact that someone she should be able to turn to and trust is about to abuse that trust in the worst way. Not funny at all for me.

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John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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I've been stewing over this since I read it this morning. Just unbelievable. I haven't read/participated in Hell all year and this is the first post (and I've seen some doozies) that makes me want to give you a Hell call, Custard.

quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
Would have been worse with a boy.

I'm still incredulous. This is the sort of attitude that allowed rapists to get off with light sentences if the woman they raped was not a virgin or, even lighter: a prostitute.

In what conceivable way can it be 'better' that the fictional victim is a girl and not a boy?

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John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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Ok, a tag with 'Humour depends on child sexual assault' wasn't a feasible suggestion (more part of my expression of disgust), but it would be a nice thing if ppl could have some warning of the joke contents.

Finding what causes anger and offense isn't the full thrust of the project, aiu: SoF also wants to find jokes that are funny.

How about a discreet asterisk on the title?

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starbelly
but you can call me Neil
# 25

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
Ok, a tag with 'Humour depends on child sexual assault' wasn't a feasible suggestion (more part of my expression of disgust), but it would be a nice thing if ppl could have some warning of the joke contents.

Finding what causes anger and offense isn't the full thrust of the project, aiu: SoF also wants to find jokes that are funny.

How about a discreet asterisk on the title?

Jesters hat on
We are all adults, and I think we can cope with a little offence. The point of these discussions is that we work out why offence is caused or not caused.

If you are really that offended then just feel free steer clear of this board, as we have no plans to tag the thread titles, although I will bring it up with the other hosts.

Jesters hat off

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Newman's Own
Shipmate
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quote:
Originally posted by Left at the Altar:
I have heard jokes of a similar vein that are funny: What do you give a kid who has everything? Leukemia

If I can ever begin to understand what is funny about a kid's having cancer, perhaps I could come to a vague understanding of how anyone could find the joke in the OP to be funny.... but I think that is unlikely.

I read the comments about 'least appropriate pastoral response' with interest, though not with agreement. I've sat through many an exercise in pastoral care (as the 'giver'), and can think of 'pastoral responses' that are totally inappropriate (though not evil) - enough so to be the stuff of a book. Yet I cannot see that element here. Perhaps no paedophile would say 'it's not your day,' but enough of them would trade on a child's grief and vulnerability to molest them afterward. (I can remember, as a child, that the priests would have truly been a great comfort to those in grief. I'm sure many still could be - but the memories of reading of those who were not are too chilling.)

Oddly enough, I can think of priests and religious I have known who would come out with some lame statement such as 'this is not your day,' though not with a paedophile intention. I don't know if this still is popular, but, during the 1970s, many of us learnt the technique of saying nothing just to let people talk. ("Father, I don't know what to do - my husband beats me - I'm wondering if I should leave him..." "You've had it with that inappropriate behaviour.")

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Cheers,
Elizabeth
“History as Revelation is seldom very revealing, and histories of holiness are full of holes.” - Dermot Quinn

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Calindreams
Shipmate
# 9147

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
Ok, a tag with 'Humour depends on child sexual assault' wasn't a feasible suggestion (more part of my expression of disgust), but it would be a nice thing if ppl could have some warning of the joke contents.

Finding what causes anger and offense isn't the full thrust of the project, aiu: SoF also wants to find jokes that are funny.

How about a discreet asterisk on the title?

As far as I understand, findind out what makes a religious joke offensive is precisely what this project is all about. To create a collection of funny jokes is the least of this projects concern. I don't think we should assume that the people who send their jokes in to Simon find their own submissions funny. An asterisk on certain jokes would be paradoxical to the nature of the debate. Next thing we'd have is another debate about whether the hosts have asterisked the right jokes.

[ 16. July 2005, 12:43: Message edited by: Calindreams ]

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themanwiththegingerhair
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# 9691

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If you put an asterisk against the offensive jokes then the only people who would vote on them would be the people who don't find offensive jokes offensive and then the survey would be very biased.

I heard this joke a few years ago with a tramp instead of a priest.

It is my faith that is offended it is my humanity.

Rape is not funny and never will be funny. I don't care if it is a priest or a tramp or a boy or a girl.

Posts: 28 | From: Birmingham | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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This joke could be told with a policeman or a tramp (as has been pointed out) or anybody really -- not just a priest. The offensiveness, and the "humour" so called, comes from the situation not the religious bit, which seems thrown in as an afterthought.

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Wesley J

Silly Shipmate
# 6075

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I'm afraid I don't agree, MT. In the actual context of priests and abuse it seems to me that this is the essential bit.

A policeman or to a lesser extent a tramp doing this would also be somewhat offensive - especially of course the copper, as he (like the priest) is in a position where help and support should be expected from him.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Wesley J:
I'm afraid I don't agree, MT. In the actual context of priests and abuse it seems to me that this is the essential bit.

To me the offensiveness doesn't involve the fact it's a priest at all. It's not a "priests are paedophiles" joke so much as a "taking advantage of somebody who is at a low point" joke. If it's a joke at all, of course.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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quote:
Originally posted by Calindreams:
As far as I understand, findind out what makes a religious joke offensive is precisely what this project is all about. To create a collection of funny jokes is the least of this projects concern.

Well, I guess I misunderstood the project then. [Roll Eyes]
quote:
Jokes can be sent to us until 11 August, when we'll be picking the 10 best and most provocative jokes from those submitted. A much-coveted Ned Flanders air freshener will wing its way to the people who have contributed the 10 chosen jokes!
Clearly 'best' in this context means the 10 most offensive. You will understand me thinking it meant the 10 funniest jokes, as when I see 'best' applied to jokes, I don't automatically think 'most offensive'. I suppose I should've read the fine print, which I didn't til now, seeking to clarify [Disappointed]
I knew the context was the Religious villification bill, I didn't realise the slant of the project was to present me with jokes and find which I was most offended by. My perception of participating was that I was going to be entertained. Naturally, you can imagine my enthusiasm for participating is diminished if I know that the goal is to offend me - 'cos that is not something I do for a fun time.

(See About Laugh Judgement thread where I query our roles wrt to the threads. I will continue discussion there later today).

That's ok though, and I confess to being guilty of making a conclusion of what the results will show (which is not what you want your research subjects to do, as it affects their behaviour). Which is: we are going to be presented with a range of jokes, the 10 best will be selected (by assessment of the ratings) and conclusions about the nature of 'best' will be able to be drawn - I suspected 'best' would show that the most appreciated humour transcends cheap hooks like swearing, blasphemy, crudity, cruelty etc. and that something about what makes a joke offensive would be able to be concluded along the way. I didn't realise the pool of jokes for sampling would be limited to those which have some element of offensiveness.

This isn't a whinge, more of candid thoughts regarding the project.

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Wesley J:
I'm afraid I don't agree, MT. In the actual context of priests and abuse it seems to me that this is the essential bit.

To me the offensiveness doesn't involve the fact it's a priest at all. It's not a "priests are paedophiles" joke so much as a "taking advantage of somebody who is at a low point" joke. If it's a joke at all, of course.
No, I'm with Wesley here. Why make him a priest unless it is an attempt to get at priests?

Also with Newman's Own. There is nothing funny about a child having cancer. There never was and there never will be.

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Fool of a Took

chock full o' nuts
# 7412

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quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
No, I'm with Wesley here. Why make him a priest unless it is an attempt to get at priests?

Because the joke depends on the expectation of comfort. We don't anticipate a particularly helpful response from a tramp. But it also depends on a quick word picture to evoke the idea of abuse. Whatever the truth might be, in Jokeland we get there faster with 'priest' than we do with 'policeman'.

The punch line needs a passerby from whom we expect sympathy, but still get the picture about abuse. In jokeland, 'priest' is the only guy that really works.

Hmm... not sure how I feel about that unique double identity of the priest in pop culture...

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Fool of a Took:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
No, I'm with Wesley here. Why make him a priest unless it is an attempt to get at priests?

Because the joke depends on the expectation of comfort. We don't anticipate a particularly helpful response from a tramp. But it also depends on a quick word picture to evoke the idea of abuse. Whatever the truth might be, in Jokeland we get there faster with 'priest' than we do with 'policeman'.

The punch line needs a passerby from whom we expect sympathy, but still get the picture about abuse. In jokeland, 'priest' is the only guy that really works.

Hmm... not sure how I feel about that unique double identity of the priest in pop culture...

That's actually a fair point.

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HoosierNan
Shipmate
# 91

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I see the idea that the joke depends on the idea of comfort. The first time I heard this joke, the situation was an adult woman who had been robbed, raped, her husband murdered, and she was tied naked to a bed. The male who came along was a cowboy (this joke being set in the American West of a century ago), and he responded exactly as the priest in this version.

Is the joke really saying that a man will take any opportunity to rape a female human? In that case, it is a sad commentary on the adult male. Or, at least, on how adult males are perceived.

It would be nice to think that compassion and common decency would be considered the norm.

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Codepoet

Best Bear On Board
# 5964

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That is not a joke - there is no punchline. It is just a prelude to a rape.
Not nice.

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by The Coot:
I suspected 'best' would show that the most appreciated humour transcends cheap hooks like swearing, blasphemy, crudity, cruelty etc.

This is simply your taste in jokes; it's not universal. I've been told some incredibly crude jokes that I found extremely funny.
Posts: 23261 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Oh_Susannah
Apprentice
# 9746

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I can't even call this one a joke.
I see no humour in it whatsoever.
It makes me feel ill.

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Nicolemr
Shipmate
# 28

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this hardly seems like a joke at all. like someone else on the thread said, its almost more the setup for a horror story.

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Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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This is thoroughly vile. [Projectile]

Do we really need to have any further abuse "jokes" in this project? I agree with Coot that it would be helpful to have some indicator in the title. Jokes about religion and religious concepts are one thing.

But this and the other abuse joke I saw aren't really *religious* jokes.

(Off to bleach my brain before going to bed.)

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Esmeralda

Ship's token UK Mennonite
# 582

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quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
1 for humour
5 for offence

[Projectile]

Ditto. There is no humour in this at all, but 0 wasn't an option.

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KenWritez
Shipmate
# 3238

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I really hope this joke makes the final cut. It's rung so many people's bells, there's more to it than mere words or just the situation in the joke. ISTM the joke represents something deeper in us than that, I'm just not sure what, yet.

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"The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be a shepherd." --Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by KenWritez:
I really hope this joke makes the final cut. It's rung so many people's bells, there's more to it than mere words or just the situation in the joke. ISTM the joke represents something deeper in us than that, I'm just not sure what, yet.

Mental illness?

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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