Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Caricature

Wondering when it is okay to make jokes at a someone else's expense.  Is it ever ok?  I really want to know.

Someone posted on Facebook today concerning their disappointment that school was called off once again for tomorrow.  Understandable post as many people have mixed feelings about whether school should be cancelled or not.  The post generated many comments on both sides of the debate.  It was interesting to read the comments to see where people were coming from and what their thoughts were on the topic.

And then I read this:  "I started home schooling (his child's name) yesterday, already her hair and hemline are longer, neckline higher, she wishes she had 18 brothers and sisters and is hoping (his wife) becomes pregnant some time real soon, gosh darn it". 

When I read it my heart started pounding.  I get it. OK?  I get it.  He was trying to be funny.  Would I have thought this was funny at some point in my life?  Maybe.  I certainly may have.  Did I think it was funny today?  No.  In fact, it kind of bothered me.

So, what should I have done?  What would you have done?  Should I have said something or should I have just left it alone?  I don't know this gentleman at all.  I am an acquaintance with the gal who made the first post, but we don't really have many mutual friends.  So, what should I have done?

I'll tell you what I did.  I said a little prayer, took a deep breath and typed, "(his name) - wondering if you personally know any homeschooling families. I have the privilege of personally knowing many families who beautifully, creatively, and intelligently homeschool their children. I'm guessing you were trying to be funny, but that is a real mischaracterization of the majority of families who homeschool their children."

He didn't answer my query, but just replied to say that yes, he was trying to be funny.  Then someone else replied that he was.

I thought about replying again, said another little prayer, and decided that I had said enough.  I tried to plant a seed.  Maybe someone will read that and rethink making a generalization about a group of people.

It made me start to wonder if he had made a comment like that making a caricature of a family dealing with autism, depression, cancer, mental illness, speech impediments, etc. if it would have gone over so well.  Would so many people "like" a comment like that?  Would it be deemed inappropriate?  Why does it seem as though certain topics are ok to poke fun at and others are off-limits?

As a teenager I remember watching a video with my family, "Bill Cosby:  Himself."  He poked fun and exaggerated a lot of things about his family and himself.  His marriage.  His children.  Getting a cavity filled at the dentist.  Fatherhood.  He's having fun with things that he knows; things that he lives.  To me, this is a very different kind of humor than poking fun or exaggerating something of which you know very little.

Our world is filled with so many people who have made different choices from us.  We certainly aren't going to agree with what everyone has decided for themselves.  How would the world be different, though, if we tried to get to know why people made the choices they have made?  How might we speak differently if we tried to understand people even if we don't agree with what they are doing? 

Something to think about.  Or maybe not.  I'm still learning.  I'm still changing and figuring things out.  What do you think?  Do you know the right answer in this scenario?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Ephesians 4:29