Presented for your consideration, a story in two small parts that has amused and depressed me in equal measure.
Part one is set in a small pub just off the centre of town. Present: your faithful blogger (the Brunette), two of her closest friends (the Blonde and the Redhead – there is a reason I refer to us in joke form), the Blonde’s partner and another couple that the Blondes are friendly with. I have met them both before but barely spoken to either of them.
After complaining about how quiet the pub is, the male half of this couple pulls out his phone and shows us a text message. It's a joke. A joke that he will not read aloud. Can you guess where this might be going? Blonde sees message and laughs. Redhead sees message and makes a small noise of "I do not wish to engage". Brunette sees message. Message turns out to be a variation on the old "Bus full of lawyers goes over a cliff, which is a shame because one of the seats was empty" joke, but invoking a charming racial epithet. Brunette shakes her head sadly. At this, the joker gets his back up.
Joker: Do you not think that's funny?
Joker: Do you not like jokes like that?
Joker: Why not?
Brunette: I’m not a big fan of racism.
Joker: Don't say that! People can hear you!
Brunette: That's what it is, though.
Joker: Don’t say it out loud.
Brunette: I can’t believe I'm actually being told off for not laughing at a racist joke.
Joker: Stop saying that word!
The Blonde, I should add, later interprets this exchange as me telling him off.
Part two takes place over MSN. I am, for reasons best known to myself, talking to my ex-boyfriend. I am going to switch names at this point, just to confuse you all.
Ex: I thought of you the other day. I got into a conversation about the feminist aspects of the film Aliens.
Jen: Oh dear, is my influence spreading?
Ex: I don't mind, I always liked your strong views.
Jen: Most don't. I got told off the other week for a) not laughing at a racist joke and b) referring to it as racist out loud.
Ex: Oh! I should have guessed that was you!
Jen: Beg pardon?
Ex: Was it [repeats joke]? My brother has been telling me this story about how his friend Joker was out with this girl and he told that joke and she didn't find it funny.
Not only am I apparently the only person in my ex's general acquaintance who isn't thrown into paroxysms of laughter by racism, but also the racism = not funny thing is so bizarre and incomprehensible that Joker is telling people the story and these people find it so strange that they, in turn, pass it on. "My mate told a random girl this joke and she didn’t laugh." I am amused that I'm so instantly recognisable by my strident attitudes (amused enough that I now want to get a T-shirt that says "Strident Bitch: Don't Tell Me Jokes" and I'm getting my own Strident Bitch tag), but seriously. There is nobody in the entire world that hasn't heard some variation on that joke, so there's no real humour potential in the joke itself. The only reason to tell it is to bond with your fellow pub-goers over how much [insert specialised group] suck, and don't you just hate them (in a totally nice way, of course, but they need to realise that this isn't their country), and wouldn't it be funny if they died? But don't you dare call it for what it is. It's not racist, remember, it's politically incorrect, which is all cool and edgy and shit, and don't call me a racist because that's not fair. You’re totally bullying me by using that word. Whiiiiine.
Oh, and he didn't like it when I put the dampers on his sisters-having-sex fantasy either. Hah.