On Offensiveness, Outrage and Shitting the Bed

Twitter and Facebook have made outrage so much easier these days. In the past, someone would do something outrageous and maybe a few hundred people would write a stern letter to the editor or ring a switch board. Or someone would say something offensive in the pub and people would get offended and react appropriately (rage, nervous laughter, resolving never to speak to that person again, eyelid spasm).

Now, shit man, you only have to be a little bit out of step with what others think, get re-tweeted by an influential anti-simpatico and it’s GET THEM! Say you are feminist BUT you don’t see what all the fuss is about FeministIssue#5 and you are in for a treat. By treat, I mean, a few hours of being “shouted” at by people you don’t know.

Oh well, we’re all working out where all the new lines are. What an exciting time.

Spare a thought for the social media “jokers”, who have been sent down or given fines for what they have said (in the UK). I can think of a handful off the top of my head. The guy who made a joke about blowing up an airport because he was frustrated that he couldn’t visit his girlfriend. The guy who joked while drunk about having a riot in his town and then deleted it when he sobered up. The guy who said he hoped that soldiers would burn in hell after fighting and dying in Afghanistan (he wasn’t joking but still, it’s a bit of a hypothetical situation, considering hell doesn’t exist). The guy who made some jokes about a murdered child. The guy who made some jokes about a footballer dying after he collapsed, revolving around how the footballer was black.

Obviously, they are all people I am not sure I would get on with. From that limited information I have on them, they seem a bit socially gauche and the sort that would say “Can’t you take a joke?” after saying something that made them sound like a twat.

But they all got in trouble WITH THE LAW. Jesus. This is because they did these things on the internet. Had they done it in the street, in their homes, in the pub; society would have sorted them out in the following way:-

“You have shat the bed. No one thinks you are big or clever. Shut up now.”

Whatever happened to a good eye roll and a tut? Why do we have to call the rozzers?

Anyway, I bring it up because of something I read on twitter, which I thought merited a bit of a share with my networks.

A Danish kid put an old “joke” about the Holocaust on a sign in the supermarket he worked at. What a twat, right? I hope he gets in trouble with his boss for being a twat during working hours.

But then the joke got photographed and then shared on social media. Where SOME Danes commented on how apt, how witty, how droll the whole thing was.

An Israeli-Dane blogged it as “offensive” (fair enough, right?) and out comes the boring, same-old same-old justification.

The joke was poor. The joke wasn’t funny. The joke might hurt some people’s feelings. The people on Facebook don’t need to be punished or anything for finding it funny. But it is still her right to express

“You have shat the bed. No one thinks you are big or clever. Shut up now.”

Instead, people are all over her for not appreciating that Muslims hate Jews more. That the Danish people did a lot in WWII to save the Jews (right, that’s an interesting narrative you have there, I heard that the German ambassador warned the Danish Jews about what was going to happen, so Jewish refugees paid Danish fisherman and other sailors incredibly tasteless sums of money, considering, to get them to safety. Humanitarian, MY ARSE). That Danish humour is blah blah bloody blah and you’ll never get it because you’re a pc American blah blah blah. And “other people died in genocides and massacres, why do Jews get special treatment?” (Could it be “no one is joking about the other mass murders”, shit for brains?)

Why can’t dandroids for once just fucking say “OMG, yeah, ok, we shat the bed here. Sorry. We’ll just go over here to shut up.” ?  Or make a comment in response, showing a level of self awareness and wit?

I am not outraged. I am not particularly offended. I have heard a lot of Holocaust jokes and they’re made because humour sometimes comes from dark places. It’s not funny and it’s not clever and it’s not cool, but you know, whatever. Keep trying, guys, you’ll make the BEST genocide joke next time.

But I share this story with you because I want the world to stop thinking The Danes are these groovy, tolerant, fun loving, relaxed guys. I want the world to appreciate that there is a significant percentage of Danes who are mouth breathing, red necked, peasant scumbags.  And they are enabled by each other (and actually by some of the more groovy ones), because they don’t “get” free speech.

They don’t “get” that the flip side of being able to express yourself is that ANYONE is also allowed to call you out on what you said.

Free speech isn’t a get out of jail free card. It isn’t a guarantee that people will like you after you open your mouth. It isn’t an assurance that all bad taste jokes are edgy, funny and will go down well with all your network.

Free speech is just the right to speak your brains. If people think you are a stupid racist fuck after you do, it’s really not anyone’s fault but your own.