Yes, it’s okay to make coronavirus jokes

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Micah Curtis

is a game and tech journalist from the US. Aside from writing for RT, he hosts the podcast Micah and The Hatman, and is an independent comic book writer. Follow Micah at @MindofMicahC

With the recent panic over the new coronavirus, you see different reactions come about. Fear and worry are common, but should jokes and laughter be allowed? Yes. Yes they should.

There’s been some recent outcry about coronavirus outside of the obvious sickness and death angle. People are unhappy about coronavirus humor, of all things. Public figures cracking jokes, such as the Serbian president and Prince William, have angered many. Emma Grey Ellis of Wired recently opined on whether or not it’s okay to make fun of the virus. Now why, exactly, is this sort of joke suddenly not kosher?

One particular argument has been that it perpetuates “harmful Asian stereotypes.” The mayor of Boston even invoked that when Sony announced they wouldn’t be present at the Penny Arcade Expo this year. This presents a question in response. How exactly is saying “don’t eat bats” racist? If I make an Ozzy Osborne bat-eating joke, am I suddenly racist towards the people of China?

Another invocation is the “too soon” argument – that the situation is still too terrible, indecisive and raw to joke about. But where exactly are the time limits? Can I crack a joke about the panic level of it, but not make fun of it being lethal? Who does this rule apply to? Who is writing the “too soon” rule? Do I need to write them an official request to tell the jokes?

In what world are jokes about current events not allowed? The сoronavirus, while worrying, is not nearly on the scale of some of the epidemics of the past. It isn’t beyond making fun of, and there’s certainly no malice in making jokes about bats and face masks. The fact of the matter is that some goings-on when it comes to the coronavirus are a little absurd, and humor also works as a coping mechanism whenever such tragedy strikes.

Humor is subjective by nature, and there have been enough comedians out there to find a joke that’s offensive to just about everyone. Any time a joke is told, amongst the laughter there’s always someone acting like Dana Carvey’s famous Church Lady from Saturday Night Live. The fact is that these individuals use their easily offended sensibilities to try and shut down speech. Whether you like the joke or not, jokes are speech and speech should remain free. Trying to paint it as racist or culturally insensitive is simply a tool to try and silence people whose jokes you don’t like. It’s a coward’s tactic.

The beautiful thing about freedom of speech is that freedom of association comes with it. Don’t like the joke? Don’t listen to it. People are tired of the endless whining of moral busybodies.

RT

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