This lady came up to me the other day.

She was quite – well – big.

She was large.

She’d overheard me talking about bigger women.

And I’d, apparently, used the word ‘fat’ as a descriptive term.

She said to me,

I heard you talking about bigger women.

And you used the word ‘fat’.

You shouldn’t say that.

It’s ‘fattist’.

I glanced over at the lady and, noticing that she herself was quite large responded:

Fattist?

I’m not the fattist.

You’re the fattest.

Now; that didn’t happen.

Because it’s a joke.

Written by Jimmy Carr.

But it’s still quite funny.

At least – I think it is?

The Line.

There are a set of words that I avoid.

A set of words that describe approach, attitude and mindset.

These words include:

  • Nasty
  • Bitter
  • Cruel
  • Bullying

Anything said or done that is driven by one of these things or similar is, I think, wrong.

Because of the intent.

However even if there is no bad intent then, sometimes, something can still be wrong.

The wrong side of The Line.

The line of what is, and what is not, acceptable.

Tricky. 

It’s tricky though.

Because I happen to think that Jimmy Carr’s ‘fattist’ joke is the right side of The Line.

I think it’s fine.

But you know what, would I tell that joke to a larger lady that I didn’t know that well?

No.

I wouldn’t.

So maybe, in actual fact, this joke is the wrong side of the line after all?

This is very confusing.

Is the rule (something like) if you wouldn’t say something to anyone, any time then it’s the wrong side of the line by definition?

Or – as an adult – can I use my discretion?

Or – because I may use discretion yet the person I tell my joke to may not – does that mean that I shouldn’t tell the joke?

For fear that it will be retold inappropriately.

Hmmm.

I am not sure what the answer is.

I don’t want to say nothing at all.

I love creativity in all things.

Including writing and storytelling.

Free flowing picture painting to make people smile or cry or think.

So, for now, I’ll avoid those words I mentioned earlier and carry on telling stories.

Conscious that, I think, stories that sit on or around The Line are very often the best stories of all.

2 Comments

  1. If there is a line, it belongs to someone else. Mine is in the distance, a long way from wherever I am. I believe that there is nothing that can’t be made a joke of. Some jokes are at the edge of taste. Others make us question our own preconceptions and the way we respond to the world. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be made. Humour is meant to be provocative, it can be clever, it can be cruel – as a species, we have the potential to be both, so I don’t see a reason why humour needs to be sanitised – to just be dumb and kind – so that everyone can understand it and no one takes offence.

    I like punning geniuses like Milton Jones and Time Vine. I also adore ferociously near the knuckle humour about performing fellatio on The Devil or cancer that spewed from the mouth of Bill Hicks.

    However, context and intent are important. There is a time and a place.

    • Michael Owen

      Thanks Shaughn.

      I remain really pleased that you take the time to add things here.

      People do read comments and conversations.

      So thank you.

      I wince at some things that I hear. In humorous contexts. But still enjoy.

      I think it tickles the same part of my brain that is tickled when I (used to) go on rollercoasters.

      It’s awful!

      Or risky.

      Or shocking.

      Or all of the above.

      And I quite like all that.

      I like the cut and the thrust of strong opinions and ideas and stories.

      And I like to learn what some people think is funny and what others don’t.

      And yes – timing and context are important I agree.

      For example my grandma wouldn’t like some of the jokes I’d share with you Shaughn.

      Talking of my grandma – I sometimes wonder if she is alone and falls over, does she make a noise?

      I don’t actually.

      She’s dead.

      (Not true. It’s a Jimmy Carr joke. Again).

      See you!

      M.

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