Apology demanded for jokes

The Daily Telegraph reports that a London borough is warning against mother-in-law jokes as they are “offensively sexist” and ageist.

Sigh. They should watch Southpark, if they really want to see offensive humour.

and back home, the Dom Post reports:

Islamic community leaders have written to Prime Minister John Key demanding Building Minister Maurice Williamson apologise for jokes he made about Muslims.

The Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand sent the letter more than a week ago but has yet to receive a response. At the time Mr Key played down the jokes, saying Mr Williamson was known for his humour.

President Anwar Ghani said New Zealand Muslims were “very upset” about the intolerant remarks and were happy the federation was raising it officially.

I’ve often praised the Federation, for their moderate leadership. I think they play a constructive role in NZ society.

But on this issue, I think they are being rather too precious. Let us look at the two jokes Maurice told.

The first was a joke about how it was sunni in the morning, and shiite in the afternoon.  Now the joke is very lame, but it certainly can’t be offensive. It is merely a play on how two well known sub-sets of sound.

The second was a joke aimed at both Kiwis and Muslims, saying Kiwis get stoned and committ adultery and Muslims commit adultery and then get stoned.

Now I well accept that many Muslims may have found that joke distasteful. But why? Because, there is a degree of truth to it. In Iran, a woman is facing death by stoning for adultery – underIslamic sharia law.

What is truly offensive is that is planning to do this. Not that on the other side of the world, a joke was made about it.  Should not the anger be directed at Iran for bring into disrespute by such barbaric practices?

Has the NZ Federation of Islamic Associations written to the Iranian Government urging them not to stone the woman to death? Wouldn’t that be far more productive than shooting the messenger?

There is one mildly unfortunate part of the joke – it suggests Kiwis and Muslims are two seperate groups, and of course they are not. There are many proud Kiwi Muslims. But it was a joke, not a speech. Like billboards, you can’t always be precise in a limited space, and the wording is sort of necessary for the joke.Maybe it would have been better as a joke about Australians and Iranians?

But please let us not turn our MPs into drones who are too scared to have a sense of humour.

It is good to be able to laugh at yourself. Compare these two responses to cartoons.

The response to the Danish cartoons featuring Mohammod, was death threats, violent protests, burnings etc.

Th Iranian President then decided to launch a cartoon about the Holocaust. He hoped it would show the West is hypocritical. But he was disappointed. Rather than try to stop his cartoon competition, scores and scores of Israeli and Jewish cartoonists entered it. A brilliant response, which totally undermined what the Iranian President tried to do.

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