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Minnich: Curb your sense of humor before you offend someone

If you enjoy a good belly laugh now and then you’d better get it out of your system. It won’t be long before there will be no chuckling tolerated because someone might find it offensive.

Among the growing list of things we will not tolerate in the America of 2020 is intolerance, and as long as anyone — anyone at all — is feeling misunderstood, underappreciated, oppressed, disfranchised, discriminated against or just plain disliked, there is nothing to laugh about. So stop it.

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I was going to say we need to lighten up, but someone would see that as racist.

I could say, “Man, that’s a stretch,” but someone would say that is sexist. I could say, “Well, gee whiz,” but then I remember being scolded that “gee whiz”, “heck”, “darn” and “son of a gun” are just code words for cussing. Which I think is a lot of crap, but then — well, there you go.

You can get in trouble now for just ordering lunch. Some strangers will roll their eyes and question your sensitivity if you ask for a ham sandwich.

“What have I got against pigs?”

Nothing.

“Then why eat them?”

Because I like ham.

“How can you eat something that you can pet?”

I don’t particularly want to pet a pig. I’m not looking for a relationship; I just like to eat bacon, ham, sausage.

“Monster!”

At this point I can take note that their whole-grain meal probably suffered the transformation from stalk to oven, and, by the way, do bean sprouts feel pain when they’re munched, but by this time it doesn’t matter. Not even an effort at making light of the moment will save us.

Not tolerated. Whatever makes you laugh isn’t funny. It’s hurtful to someone, somewhere.

Most humans alive today probably would be appalled at the quips of Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Jackie Mason, Jackie Gleason and the King of them all, Bob Hope.

The late Don Rickles would be inspiring one of those hashtag movements. There seems to be a new one of those every few hours.

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Ever since Lennie Bruce went live with the F-word, the definition of humor has changed. When I was a straight white Christian male kid growing up in small town America, you had to go to the local bar to hear four-letter words and dirty jokes. The really salty jokes were restricted to nightclubs and on vinyl recordings to be listened to in the privacy of your home. Humor used to be about the nuance, the double entendre, the timing and delivery of the joke; now it’s the audacity, crudity, frequency and level of vulgarity that young audiences seem to go for.

Some say humor is anger’s safety valve. We turn outrage into the ridiculous so we can laugh it off. It can be a way we learn to laugh at ourselves, and not just the butt of our jokes — no puns intended.

But we’re running out of targets.

Well, I’m here to do my part. I’m speaking out against the movement to shut up everyone who does not agree with the people who are offended by people who offend others. Or whatever.

I’m angry at all the efforts of other angry people to send ticked-off people like me to anger management.

I’ve had it up to there with tip-toeing around with nicey-nice when some people just need to hear the truth — not as they see it, but as I see it — and a lot of people agree with me. Hashtag I’m Not The Only One Who Thinks So and if you’re not in my tribe you don’t have a right to joke. Or say spiteful things on social networks.

So zip it. Not that I want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Hashtag remorse.

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