Re: ATM - takes a village edition

1

"That's a very callous, cruel thing to write, Young Relative. I think less of you for it."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 12:57 PM
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Defriending him? I've never done it, but I'd feel justified in this case.

I'd try to keep small children away from the relative in question, and/or keep half an eye on him personally, if possible, recognizing full well that it may not be feasible and maybe there's nothing you can do. What does the questioner think of the relative's parents? I generally try to be very nonjudgmental about parenting (I said try), but, again, this makes even me wonder.

It depends on exactly how bad the kid usually is. (Remember, we're told this isn't an isolated incident.) Also how old he is, and how mature in non-empathy-related ways. (The OP says 20s, but who knows if that's specific to this case, and even if it is, a decade is a wide range.) If this comment just a tiny bit worse than usual and the kid is still fairly young, then I can imagine him growing up to be no worse than an asshole. Which is bad, of course, but, well, the world is full of them. I can also imagine the kid turning out worse, though.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 12:57 PM
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We have to talk about [young adult relative].


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:05 PM
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Flippanter is right, I think. Plain but measured words, in this case, are the best you can do. If he whines that it was intended as a joke (which he will), just tell him it wasn't funny. Don't cut him off unless you're ready to write him off, which it doesn't sound like you are.

I blame the parents, myself.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:06 PM
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I think I'd take a more sharply hostile approach, ie "Don't be an asshole." Under the comment in question, and anywhere in public that he makes that kind of comment. I wouldn't necessarily de-friend him unless you want to cut off all contact.

Outside of that, you can invite him into a conversation, under favorable circumstances, but I wouldn't expect it to go anywhere.

Favorable circumstances =
1. maybe a couple beers into Christmas vacation,
2. no one else around,
3. not face-to-face but side-by-side, and in motion - ie going for a walk, or possibly for a drive, if you're a sober driver.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:08 PM
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I think Flippanter has the right idea. There probably aren't words that will lead him to a state of sublime empathy, but that sort of direct language may well remind him that being an asshole isn't widely admired.


Posted by: extexan | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:12 PM
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I like Flip's phrasing. I can imagine being very shamed by it. Then again, if you're the kind of person who would write such a thing as the original comment, perhaps you are impervious to shaming. In which case I'm not sure there's much to be done.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:14 PM
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If the commenter who wrote in is around, I'm wondering how bad the joke was. I mean, I can't think of anything to make fun of the shooting victims for other than getting killed, and while it's juvenile and stupid, I've heard a lot of jokes in the genre (Challenger explosion jokes, say?) where I didn't think less of the teller. I've told jokes like that. Was this bad enough to really be a big deal?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:14 PM
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Need Another Seven Astronauts!

Ahh. Good times, good times.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:18 PM
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10

"What's this button do?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:19 PM
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11

"No, Bud Light!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:20 PM
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One blew right, one blew left.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:20 PM
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"You feed the dog, I'll feed the fish."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:21 PM
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Seven Up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:21 PM
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"Her Head and Shoulders was found on the beach."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:22 PM
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The kid in the OP is seeming less evil with each comment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:23 PM
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Now that we've established that Sifu, Heebie, Moby and I are terrible terrible people, well, how was this FB post different?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:23 PM
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You started it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:25 PM
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If you count back, you made a joke before I did. I just referred to them, which is morally unculpable.

I remained a decent human being until comment 11, as far as you people know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:27 PM
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The comment wasn't "need another seven astronauts"-style dark humor. It was laughing that that the gunman was able to kill a theater full of people dressed as superheroes.


Posted by: OP | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:30 PM
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Then Sifu started it. (I hadn't heard 13 before.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:30 PM
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22

Wow, I had forgotten those. I remember some middle school AIDS jokes and, digging back into the mists of time, Ethiopia jokes.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:31 PM
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23

How did everybody learn the same jokes before the internet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:32 PM
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Assuming that the FB post really was bad (as in worse than Challenger explosion jokes*), that sucks LTC. I endorse the recommendation in comment 1.

If this is all coming from him, then he may be a lost cause. But maybe he hangs out in circles where acting like an asshole is admired? In that case, a reminder that the world is bigger than his circle of jackass friends might accomplish something.

*I'm tempted to argue that a mass murder like this is less joke-able than the Challenger explosion, but I can't really come up with a coherent case for my position.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:32 PM
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20: Is that a moral difference, or a difference in what happens to strike you funny? Making fun of innocent dead people isn't automatically all right because it's the kind of 'dark humor' that clever people like.

I mean, the comment sounds tacky and unpleasant, but it also doesn't sound like anything I'd call relationship-changing unless it was the last straw.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:33 PM
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If you tell someone they've been a dick, they often dig in. I might soft pedal it and say "I get that you were making a joke, Young Relative, but I felt like it was worth pointing out to you that it's actually pretty offensive and the kind of thing you might want to think twice about before posting. You see what I'm saying, right?"

Ugh--social worker, parody thyself, I guess.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:41 PM
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I'll confess to laughing--well, a sort of amused "heh"--at someone's posted FB status mentioning another person's quip that perhaps one of the survivors was there with his parents, and seeing them killed in front of him will cause him to remake himself as a masked vigilante who will go on to fight crime, thereby at least partially redeeming this tragedy, or something along those lines. (It was phrased in a more witty fashion.) Which, yeah, seems tacky and cruel and inappropriate, and obviously it would be horrible to say that in front of anyone connected to the shooting... but I'm still not sure where the line is that makes Challenger jokes okay, and this not.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:44 PM
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(Though as far as nudging the person out of more general habits of callousness, I think Flippanter's approach in 1 is the way to go--disappointment, coupled with the clear belief that they ought to be better, that you think they're better than what they did/said. Often shaming provokes angry defensiveness, so I think it's important to have that last component.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:46 PM
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29

Seven Up.

Sprite. 'Cause they couldn't get Seven Up.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:49 PM
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A likely consequence of calling out per 1 is that the youngster defriends. Win-win!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:51 PM
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The "that's not funny" approach might not work cause that is kinda funny. Not the sort of joke you make in public and not particularly well-done (the joke in 27 is much better) but not actually unfunny.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: pause endlessly, then go in (9) | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:52 PM
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I'll cop to laughing at this related joke today on WWTDD.

Other than that, the only good news is that early reports had 14 fatalities and at least 50 injured. That count has dropped to 13 and 38, and 37 of those 38 said this was still better than when they saw 'Prometheus'. "That movie made no fucking sense whatsoever," one lady told police.

Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 1:58 PM
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30: And then the youngster will be overheard saying "I totally defriended my uncle because he complained to me about my Batman movie killings joke" by someone who emails it to a friend with a blog who posts it and where it will be the subject of a several hundred comment thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:01 PM
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34

The Onion acts quickly these days. Didn't they used to post new content only once a week?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:10 PM
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35

Darrell Issa is working on the conection to Fast and Furious as we speak.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:14 PM
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36

Different order of magnitude, but I sense that there aren't a lot of 9/11 jokes considered acceptable (about the victims, not the perpetrators- the onion did the latter quite well.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:15 PM
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37

Not exactly about the victims, but my father, almost immediately afterwards: "Architectural criticism has gone too far!"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:17 PM
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38

37 was me -- don't know where my name went.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:18 PM
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39

Isn't the major difference that the Challenger jokes aren't about implicitly blaming the victims? Dark humor, sure, but not ridiculing them -- more ridiculing something that happens to us all, though not usually in so spectacular a fashion.

I err on the side of Flip in #1 and Chris in #4. Very direct, not rhetorical at all: "That's a really hurtful thing to say. I wish you wouldn't say that." or "What a cruel thing to say. I really hope you don't actually believe that, because I'd like to think better of you."

the blunter formulation in heebie's #5 can be really good, but only if you have any preexisting moral authority with this kid -- or, alternatively, if you don't normally curse, swearing can actually be pretty effectively attention-grabbing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:24 PM
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40

"Christ, you're an asshole."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:27 PM
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36, 39.1: I dunno, I heard a repurposed Challenger joke used for 9/11 ("You know those folks who jumped out the windows? Do you know what the last thing to go through their heads was? Their feet!"--or something like that)--that's kinda ridiculing them. Though, yes, not quite to the same degree as in 20.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:40 PM
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Surely some challenger jokes are at the expense of the victims. To make up one off the top of my head "Those who can travel to space do, those who can't teach."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: pause endlessly, then go in (9) | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:50 PM
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42: Yes. I don't think the difference here is that Challenger jokes (or 9-11 jokes, or Ethiopian famine jokes, or AIDS jokes) are okay, but this kid was doing something differently horrible. I think they're all kind of terrible in the same way, but the sort of terrible thing that plenty of decent people say. My guess is that the original commenter already thought the kid was a callous asshole (which he might be, certainly) and the joke was the last straw.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:54 PM
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44

Me again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:54 PM
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45

Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that. They enjoy their so-called punishment.
Alex: You're absolutely right, sir.
Chief Guard Barnes: Shut your bleeding hole!

(Beethoven's Ninth + slides of war and napalmed kids)

You needn't take it any further, sir. You've proved to me that all this ultraviolence and killing is wrong, wrong, and terribly wrong. I've learned me lesson, sir. I've seen now what I've never seen before. I'm cured! Praise god!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:55 PM
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Also, I have but two words to say about jokes in bad taste:

The Aristocrats!

(anybody want to post or comment about the meanie stand-up whose name I seem to have mercifully forgotten)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 2:58 PM
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47

46: Too soon!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:01 PM
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48

I assume you are referring to Gilbert Gottfried.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:02 PM
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49

I'm going to make two arguments sort of weakly here, because I don't know how much I really want to stand behind them, but:

1. The odds that anyone actually involved in the Challenger disaster/Sept 11/Ethiopia overheard the jokes are very slim. In comparison, the odds that someone on Facebook who saw this comment is connected to one of the shooting victims is somewhat higher.

2. The fact that Facebook is an electronic medium makes it different to post a tasteless joke there as opposed to doing it with a group of friends in person.

As I said, not willing to argue very hard for either of these, but think they are considerations.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:13 PM
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47,48: Yup, and more.

There are obviously a lot, including Jezebel, but Jim Emerson at Scanners has a good post with tons of comments many links including the Louis CK Daily Show bit about the Tosh controversy. "And then we'll kill the Jews."

It is fascinating what we cannot joke about.

What, the assassination of the President, the violent overthrow of the gov't, and rape?

A lot of the stuff was about how to tell a Holocaust joke, the right way, not at expense of the victims but at the expense of Nazis. Jezebel went that route with rape. Very complicated, actually, and totally wrong.

Louis CK:"I abhor rape, you know, unless you really want to fuck somebody and she doesn't want to."

It depends on where you are coming from, what your audience thinks of you, the bonds and values shared, stuff like that. Gottfried's point was that "dangerous" edgy comedy among friends can strengthen bonds. When doesn't that work?

"Comedy is not fucking pretty."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:14 PM
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I was thinking somewhat along the lines of 49. Especially given how broad and "loose" so many Facebook connections are.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:17 PM
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52

I think there's also a relatability difference? When the Challenger blew up, I considered "astronauts" to be kind of like "dinosaurs" or "mummies" - not exactly fictitious, but not exactly real, either. Whereas a room full of ordinary people seeing an ordinary movie is closer to something that I might do, if I didn't hate movies.

I won't defend this very vigorously, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:18 PM
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53

Lots of great jokes in Tosh threads!

A little boy and a man are walking into a dark forest.

Boy:"These woods are scaring me."
Man:"You think you're scared? I have to walk out alone."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:19 PM
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54

if I didn't hate movies.

It's not heebie, it's the pictures that got small.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:21 PM
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And to flip sides of the argument, some mean jokes really are worse than other mean jokes -- if I were actually looking at the quoted language, I might think the comments really were ghastly. Just because there aren't clear bright-line differences doesn't mean there aren't real differences, even if they're fuzzy.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:23 PM
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56

I think Stormcrow is saying I need glasses.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:23 PM
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57

On the broader topic of the shooting, should I be depressed that my reaction to the news, aside from sadness for the victims and their families, was just "Eh, another shooting."? I just feel like I've seen enough of these types of incidents in my life time to realize that, as horrible as they are, they will lead to no change whatsoever in people's opinions regarding the role of guns in our society. The pro-gun folks will still be pro-gun, and the anti-gun folks will still be anti-gun, and guns will continue to be widely available. And so I've come to put mass shootings in the same mental category as plane crashes--horribly tragic events that just happen from time to time.

Yeah, I guess I do feel depressed that I feel this way.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:24 PM
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I remember sitting in a bar the night of OJ's freeway chase and telling my friends that the death of his wife was going to lead to numerous jokes in poor taste, and that we needed to get in on the ground floor. We were too lame, though, to come up with anything good.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:26 PM
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59

Oh, I thought I was saying that those Mom jeans make your ass look big, ... but that it's an illusion.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:27 PM
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60

"Did you hear O.J. has a new website? The address is Star Slash Slash Backslash Escape."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:28 PM
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61

What were OJ's last words to Nicole? Your waiter will be joining you shortly.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:29 PM
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62

Ah, so this the joke in poor taste amnesty thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:30 PM
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63

Where was I in 1995? I can't remember any OJ jokes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:35 PM
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"Hertz. We get you to the airport with time to kill."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:37 PM
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Oh, I thought I was saying that those Mom jeans make your ass look big, ... but that it's an illusion.

The pictures used to be too big to fit on my ass?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:37 PM
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So to the original post: How much difference does it make whether the joke was, you know, funny?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:38 PM
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57: I don't think so. Nothing's going to change from a gun restriction standpoint. The thing that could change is whether there's growing support for TSA-style pat-downs/metal detectors at movie screenings (sure, it seems like a stretch, but let's see what happens after a few copycats come along) and other large-group public gatherings. These things are a statistical blip in overall murder rates--I would rather we became inured than panic ourselves into some further restriction of our liberties.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:44 PM
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57: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but the joke was funny how, I mean funny like a clown is funny, it amuses you? It makes you laugh, it fuckin' amuses you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How was it funny?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:44 PM
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66: It makes a difference, I suppose, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any joke about it that could possibly work. That said, "The Holocaust" is the punchline of one of the funniest jokes ever. Death, tragedy, statistic blah blah blah.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:45 PM
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I'm still not sure where the line is that makes Challenger jokes okay, and this not.

Time?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:48 PM
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Don't think so -- I remember all the jokes above being right at the time of the relevant event.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:55 PM
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Nato Green has a nice riff on how we think about Hitler all wrong. He tried to wipe the Jews from the Earth but only got six million! Hitler: not a closer. "Finish your vegetables, honey. You don't wanna be a Hitler."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:57 PM
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71: Sure, I guess I was thinking more that they are much less in poor taste now than they were then.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 3:58 PM
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I'm tempted to argue that a mass murder like this is less joke-able than the Challenger explosion, but I can't really come up with a coherent case for my position.

39.1 aside, if I were going to make this argument, I'd probably lean on the misfortune vs. crime aspect. Ultimately the Challenger disaster (although resulting in specific from error and some contractor corner-cutting) signifies the random chance of life, whereas Aurora signifies that some people are horrible monsters.

But 9/11 jokes suggest no such distinction really exists. I was only in middle school for one of those events, so I can't compare the jokes that followed. I really never heard any 9/11 jokes, at least none that I could reel off a la 9-15.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:03 PM
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69: "What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?"
"The Holocaust."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:03 PM
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Incidentally, after Challenger, some reporters (IIRC from the Miami Herald, and possibly including Dave Barry) looked into it and determined that horrible jokes like that mostly originate(d) on Wall Street.

I don't really feel that I need to add anything to that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:04 PM
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75: Exactly. Cracks me up still.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:05 PM
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75:During my Tosh/feminist studies I read a whole long post analyzing exactly that form of humour, it even has a name, but I forget where. Point was, this is exactly and precisely the kind of humour Tosh was engaging in.

"The little boy chased his ball into the street...and was run over by a truck."

Not funny? Comedy is about confounding expectations.

This Recent Movie by that saint and genius, Bobcat Goldthwait, is slowly percolating to national consciousness, probably to take the heat and attention off TDKR, which would tank the entire economy with a bad open.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:13 PM
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I guess some of the 9/11 onion special issue jokes were about the event itself. Holy shit a real life jerry brick heifer film.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:15 PM
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80

Bruckheimer. Fucking autocorrect.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:16 PM
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She's built like a Jerry Brick Heifer!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:20 PM
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DVD Verdict

Even his points are lost on the public: when Frank and Roxy shoot a number of moviegoers for talking on their cell phones and engaging in rowdy behavior during a screening of a sobering war documentary, the media quickly blames the violence on the intense footage featured in the film. In the end, God Bless America is a howl of pain and anguish; blasting shotgun shells aimlessly into a tidal wave of toxic mindlessness.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:20 PM
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77: Meeeee toooooo. I wasn't sure that's what you meant!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:24 PM
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84

Or is someone a lost cause by their 20s if they haven't developed [empathy] already?

I really don't think so.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 4:55 PM
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I'd say 20... could be funny, depends on phrasing, delivery, etc., but is still almost definitely more shitty than the 9/11-Challenger-whatever jokes people are passing on here. My advice in 2 is probably an overreaction; I admit that based on the evidence we aren't actually talking about Patrick Bateman here. I still think a glib "Christ, what an asshole," would be an underreaction, though. I guess I like the sound of 5: "C,waa," plus A Serious Talk, but under non-confrontational circumstances. I dunno. Tough to figure out within 24 hours of the event.

I laughed at 27 too.

In another thread I pointed out that I thought it was remarkable how the shooter was sort of dressed up like the villain of the movie. I didn't phrase it like a joke, but there's probably the potential for one.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 5:01 PM
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The Onion acts quickly these days.

That's not really a parody, more's the pity.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 5:07 PM
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I also laughed at 53, just now. And thought Sar/ah Si/lverm/an's Aristocrats bit was the funniest part of the movie. Sigh.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 5:35 PM
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Yes, I hate it when Sar/ah vanity-googles her name and stumbles upon our site and joins in the conversation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 5:40 PM
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89

Shut up you're mean! Cry.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:09 PM
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90

I'd say 20... could be funny

20... is kind of funny.

Please don't hate me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:11 PM
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91

Do go on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:11 PM
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92

91 -> 89


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:11 PM
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93

I don't know if I would quite say funniest, but definitely the most impressive segment.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:36 PM
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Oops, where'd my quote go? 93 to 87.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:38 PM
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Goffman's concept of framing. Tasteless/dark jokes precisely because the joke is mostly that you are violating social norms/taboos of taste and/or moral decency, and part of the humor comes 1) the uncomfortableness of crossing that line and 2) the incongruency of the types of things a person normally says/values vs. the words coming out of their mouth at the time. It only works though if everyone understands that a line has been crossed and can pinpoint the incongruence. This works primarily if you know the people making the jokes and the setting in which they're made, aka, it requires hell of a lot of contextualization. Successful dark humor is often like pornography: you can't define it, but you know it when you see it. That means it's very hard to separate from actual offensiveness (i.e. something with malicious or offending intent). Print media is a notoriously poor format for most forms of dark humor/sarcasm, and public forums are also terrible. The two together is a very bad combo. At best, this was an attempt to deal with something upsetting through bad humor, but in a completely inappropriate format and which came off completely wrong. At worst, the young relative is probably a sociopath. :(


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07-20-12 6:55 PM
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A lot of the Challenger jokes were recycled from the assassination of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA to my certain knowledge. Where else they'd been, before or after, or where they actually started, I can't tell. But context is everything here.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 3:15 AM
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86: Just to clarify, I meant that the content, not the timing, of the Onion article wasn't really a parody. But that was probably obvious. But now it's super clear.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 3:45 AM
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The Challenger jokes bothered me intensely at the time, and I thought less of the people who made them. I think I heard my first Challenger joke within an hour. My reaction was probably colored by the fact that I already thought the person who made it was a potential sociopath. The point of the joke is transgression, but the fact that "ooh, I get to be transgressive" comes to someone's mind so quickly says something about them. Even a few days later and it wouldn't have bothered me as much.

Part of what was behind the Challenger jokes is that a lot of people hated McAuliffe -- she was on the Shuttle as part of a publicity stunt -- so laughing at her death was a kind of just revenge. I suspect the same thing is going on here -- the kid probably already hates the kind of people who dress up in superhero costumes and go to movies.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 4:17 AM
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but the fact that "ooh, I get to be transgressive" comes to someone's mind so quickly says something about them.

To preserve my sanity I've avoided reading any major newspaper sites with stories about this latest shooting, but in the case of previous similar tragedies, the very first comments are almost always along the lines of "This proves [my favorite hobby horse] is correct!"

It speaks to some basic failure to develop into a functional human being that when a bunch of people get killed your first reaction isn't "Holy shit, that's terrible", but instead "Oh boy! A chance to recite my talking points again!"


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 4:59 AM
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Re: the Challenger, I too remember hearing the first jokes within about an hour of the announcement.

What's interesting is that it turned out that, across the country, they were the same 3 or 4 jokes ("You feed the dog, I'll feed the fishes" is the one I remember). Given that this was pre-facebook and twitter and (for the vast majority) pre-internet and pre-cellphone, the shear speed with which the jokes spread was impressive.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 5:13 AM
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100: truly, it was the transition between the space age and the information age.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 5:22 AM
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100: the shear speed was what really messed up the shuttle


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 5:49 AM
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Just how young a young adult relative are we talking here? If it's a guy between 15-24, say, that seems like a totally normal and unremarkable reaction to an event like this. That's just how you get socialized to react. Yesterday on the train I was sitting in front of a young couple who had just flown in from AZ. We passed the Metrodome, and the young fellow said "Is that where the Vikings play? I should have brought my gun!" and his girlfriend was all "Oh, be nice!" It's just the way you're taught to react to violence. Anybody's son will do.

Also, what did Ed Gein give his girlfriend for Valentine's Day? Some farmers' fannies.

You're still well-advised not to tell jokes like that around Plainfield, apparently.

Statistics aside, I wouldn't live in suburban Denver on a bet. Them people is living in Falling Down times.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:00 AM
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Further to the above, I would probably have been/was exactly the same, except that I was lucky enough to sublimate all of my anti-social impulses into anarchist activism. Didn't always work perfectly, but it mostly kept my from harming myself or others.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:14 AM
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We're kind of dodging the underlying problem. Even if we rationalize this comment as being okay, there's still a question of "What do you do when your younger relative that you're close to has clearly grown up into a Young Shithead?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:22 AM
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Statistics aside, I wouldn't live in suburban Denver on a bet. Them people is living in Falling Down times.

I visited a childhood friend there last xmas that I hadn't seen in +10 years. There's Denver, and then full-blast American dysfunction ringing all 'round it. Spent a lot of time in the passenger side of a speeding car, trying to persuade my friend to wait until after we've passed that hairpin mountain road turn to hit the bowl.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:27 AM
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Was actually a bit tense when I heard about the shooting until I found out it wasn't my friend. Guy has a history of mental health issues, and is also getting really frustrated about his 'bad luck' with women...


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:31 AM
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When I was a kid, pretty little, I once reacted like "oh cool!" when we were watching about a plane crash on the news. My parents made it very clear that treating real people's deaths like it's a movie is evil. I've been pretty sensitive about it ever since, and even extend that sensitivity (inappropriately) to fictional representations of death. It seems to me that one is definitely going to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and it seems better to be a bit overly moved by representations of death than to be callous. Or, as I say, humorlessly, to my classes whenever teaching Swift, a dead baby joke is funny until you've seen a dead baby. (That's an over simplification, of course, and I know that victims of violence often embrace dark humor themselves; that's different from ha ha AIDS or whatever.)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:35 AM
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a dead baby joke is funny until you've seen a dead baby

What if it's in a funny outfit?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:38 AM
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Honk!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:41 AM
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108, 109: Yeah, but AMP isn't precisely a "dead baby joke" -- it's really harsh political satire, like the Onion piece on this shooting.

I get really irritated by the overuse of "tragedy" that goes on around these kinds of things. It's poor diction, and it tends to assist in the obfuscation that Chopper rightly decries. This is far too banal to be a tragedy.

Pace Bowling For Columbine, it is, I think, still an interesting question as to "why us?" Personally, I'm pretty sure it all comes back to patriarchy & white supremacy in the end. Maybe this fellow never thought about the weight of our twin founding genocides pressing down on him, but it was still there. And I'll bet he DID think about gender stuff a lot, but without the tools to figure out why he was so angry/upset/estranged.

Still, better a hundred psychopaths like this than the one who runs Coca-Cola or Monsanto or Dow Chemical.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 7:47 AM
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Pace Bowling For Columbine, it is, I think, still an interesting question as to "why us?" Personally, I'm pretty sure it all comes back to patriarchy & white supremacy in the end.

Why you indeed, then? The United States doesn't have a monopoly on historically institutionalised racism, and it most certainly doesn't have one on patriarchy.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:02 AM
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111.1: I know about satire in AMP, yes. But 19-year-olds sometimes like to take it as a dead baby joke, which is really upsetting. It's often students who want to seem impressive and ahead of the game, like, oh, only an idiot would take it seriously; it's satire. But all it does is demonstrate that they know nothing about satire. Not knowing anything about satire is fine, but it's creepy to look out at a room full of young people who are laughing at dying poor people because they think it's what I want to see. IT'S COMPLICATED.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:03 AM
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Pre-pwn't by Chris Y, as I was about to make exactly the same point in near identical language. If there's any way in which the US is distinctly _not_ unique, it's patriarchy and racism. Perhaps the genocidal occupation of your country, if that's what you had in mind, is more unique?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:11 AM
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Maybe it's all our swimming pools and movie stars, then?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:12 AM
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It's our well regulated militia.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:14 AM
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If your militia was better regulated it'd spend its time drinking by swimming pools with movie stars instead of shooting people, sure. But that only moves the question back a notch.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:16 AM
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The whole Truly Tasteless Jokes series was the samizdat of middle school.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:16 AM
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It's because Gen. Lee worn a clean uniform to Appomattox and Grant didn't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:16 AM
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||

NMM2 Alexander Cockburn

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:18 AM
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Totally OT, but I love the illustrative images on this Wikipedia article.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 8:26 AM
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I wouldn't say the US is unique in these aspects, but the genocide, relentless expansionism, substitution of universalist evangelical liberal ideology for ethnic or geographical identity combined with our incredible starting resources made for a lethal combination.

"Why can't they be like us? They can, they should, we're rich and free, everybody is the same, let's fucking help them."

Imperialism and violence are us.

Also the individualism and fanatical devotion to private personal property (including self-ownership and personal rather than social rights) over any concept of a commons shared because of shared roots is a critical factor.

Abortion was easy and cheap in Japan after WW II, but mostly for poor and working class women, who were needed as cheap labor for factories. Middle-class women were destined as homemakers and faced more obstacles in getting abortions. Rights rarely came up, and the usual patriarchal objections sneered at.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 9:24 AM
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122.5 correction

Nor "labor for factories" but as cheap and disposable labour for the bottom half of the dual economy, shops, small business, service etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 9:27 AM
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This seems wrong to laugh at.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 10:00 AM
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124. My initial reaction is that they were adults who chose freely to make prats of themselves, so yes funny; but actually, I bet there were a lot of junior cube fodder who were muscled into attending the thing against their will by their managers and then muscled into doing the fire walk crap by the same managers. There's a special circle of hell for corporate motivational speakers.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 10:09 AM
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I am at a loss, I got nothin of what I prefer to call "berserkers" rather than "spree killers," mainly because John Brunner deserves credit and readers.

Watched Sion Shono's Himizu 2011 last night. Not at all recommended to the sensitive. Some of it was filmed in the ruins of Sendai with a cast of characters who had lost everything, including family. Soundtrack was Mozart's Requiem and recorded tsunami sounds.

An attempt was made to connect the Fukushima disasters to an unrelated wave of Japanese stabbing incidents (Google if interested.) "Don't Give Up" was the message, and it transcended the trite by being directed at the disaster victims, stabbing victims, and the young men looking at knives.

Everything purposely radically undermotivated, from the kindness, generosity, dreams, love and hope to the justfuckitall suicide or homocidal impulses. But there is a Japanese tradition of underthinking action.

So I guess I am feeling sad, and maybe a way too expansive empathy, and can't hate Facebook jerks. It's all pretty scary, and God knows how we cope.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 11:03 AM
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And in the end, all of these people miss the forest for the trees. We live in an insane and violent culture. One that was founded upon mass genocide and slavery. We live in a culture that celebrates genocidal generals as "war heroes", where military training happens in schools, where kids are bred from the youngest of ages to want to go conquer and occupy foreign countries. We live in a culture where it is always easier for people to get firearms than it is to get mental health treatment; where the only answer anyone seems to have for how this situation could have been dealt with revolves around the question of firearms. None of us heard a single person that has spoken on any media outlet, including alternative outlets, that spoke about the cultures of violence that surround us, or about access to mental health care, or necessary social services. All talk was centered on firearms: whether to ban them, or make sure the state gets more.
--Denver Anarchist Black Cross
Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 9:15 PM
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Maybe it's my age or where I grew up, or I just have a faulty memory, but I was not aware of the Challenger joke genre until now and I've heard a lot of tasteless jokes about personal and collective tragedies.

In other words, those were very callous, cruel things to write, Young and Old Commenters. I think less of you for them.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-21-12 9:26 PM
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128

Maybe it's my age or where I grew up, or I just have a faulty memory, but I was not aware of the Challenger joke genre until now ...

My memory is that they were everywhere. On the other hand I don't remember any about the Columbia. Which seems a little strange but possibly I am just conflating the two events.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-22-12 7:56 AM
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