Just Jokes

It’s not offensive because it’s funny


By Mario Rodriguez, Staff Member

Apparently, the Holocaust is funny.

Comical. Amusing.


Once you see past the entirely insignificant number of people — eleven million, but who’s counting? — who died in the mass slaughter, the true humor of the entire situation will be revealed to you. However, the  real humor isn’t actually related to the Holocaust, but to the cold irony that you, the comedian, are uplifting the ideals that caused the Holocaust in the first place.

Sixth grade class clowns make a living off Jewish and 9/11 jokes. Just walk down the halls of a middle school and you’ll hear free commentary comparing Jews to pizza, Boy Scouts, and insects.

Junior Gabe Cweigenberg grew up hearing these comparisons.

On his first day of high school, Cweigenburg walked on the bus only to instantly be labeled and belittled.

“One kid said, ‘Hey look it’s the Jew.’ Then this other kid stood up, he was a junior, I think, and he says, ‘So you’re Jewish; I have a joke to tell you’. I said I really don’t want to hear it. He goes, ‘Well I think everyone else does.’  The joke was ‘what’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza’. I didn’t say anything. He said a pizza comes out of the oven,” said Cweigenberg.

While he watched his classmates laugh at people being burned to death in massive incinerators, Cweigenburg tried to understand how they had the capability to laugh at something so terrible.

In PhD candidate Eric Olson’s thesis paper “The Horror of Humor”, he says that, “These jokes do not merely work in a fashion that insult or belittle; they actually serve to make the butt of the joke less human in the eyes of the audience.”

Logically, it makes sense why people have to dehumanize others in order to laugh at them. Humans are normally born with a strong sense of compassion towards other humans. It is virtually impossible to laugh at death when you are emotionally linked to the object that is dying. But if the object of the joke is presented on lower level of existence, then it is easy to laugh at them. Think of it like a loophole around the programing in the mind.

There’s a reason why Adolf Hitler had to tell his soldiers that they were decedents of a superior race. It’s easy to hurt things that are not like you, things that are lesser than you. The reason humans don’t feel remorse when they kill an animal is the same reason why humans don’t feel remorse when they hurt other humans.

They simply don’t consider others as human.

Whether it is intentional or not there is always a line drawn between “us” and “them”.

“I don’t think people realize that’s its offensive. I just don’t think people realize … I guess that since it doesn’t really pertain to them. A lot of people haven’t had family members who were murdered in camps, so they don’t know how it feels. And so they can laugh at it,” said Cweigenburg.

I don’t know if the use of offensive humor is a side effect of modern ideals or if it has always been present in the basic make-up of human interaction. But regardless its origins, modern humor requires people to sacrifice humanity, both others and their own. So next time you think your friend is taking things too serously, just remember that some things are not just jokes.