That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

Gardai arresting protestors in Co Mayo (from the Sunday Tribune).

There is nothing as funny as the mass, knickers-in-a-twist hysteria that can grasp a nation, as they simultaneously seem to miss the point completely.

First up was the perfect storm of headlines about a recording of a Corrib Garda saying “Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you” on tape.

Cue the talking heads telling us that rape is a serious crime etcetera etcetera. Like we hadn’t noticed.

Then the swarm moved on to attack Vincent Browne, who said on his TV show last night that jokes about rape are commonplace in the lexicon of the Irish male.

Was Vincent right? Probably, but before you go running to your Twitter machine in disgust you’d do well to remember the playground jokes of your youth.

For people of my age it was mostly Ethiopians, Jews and Kerry people that bore the brunt, as such tragedies as the African famine, the Holocaust and the failure to win five in a row were mercilessly mocked.

Just as music gets worse with every passing generation, so too does humour – the taboos become fewer and fewer and the jokes get more and more crass and tasteless.

It should come as no surprise that such jokes are being made in the workplace, even if that workplace is a squad car – journalist Brian O’Connell referred to an incident on Twitter where a youngster was seen to be making jokes about it at a sporting event.

Despite the great advances in Irish culture, we are not yet a bastion of feminism. And whatever the spin, what the garda in question said was meant as a joke – there was contempt, but no threat or malice.

What is truly alarming is that there has been little debate about why the woman was arrested, when all she seemed to be doing was exercising her democratic right to peaceful protest.

Could it be that the GardaĆ­ have instructions from their political masters not to allow such peaceful protests?

Could it be that they are in effect operating as a private security firm for Shell?

Could it be that a tasteless joke made by an idiot is turning into a smokescreen, where one person’s freedom of speech is being attacked to cover up for the fact that another’s is being denied?