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Making Fun of Tragedy -- Invitation to Write #74

For Writers:

I was in study hall when I first heard the rumor that the Space Shuttle had blown up. Was it true, we asked the teacher? And soon enough, we discovered it was. The entire school felt like a very sober place for the rest of the afternoon.

By next morning, the jokes started. Someone asked where the Challenger astronauts vacationed. The punch line: All over Florida. This was just one of the jokes, and this was 1986, way before high speed Internet made being tasteless uber-easy.

Looking back on it now, it’s amazing to me just how quickly jokes like this spread. Some of the jokes were morbidly funny, and I’m sure people used the tasteless humor just as a way to cope with the tragedy. Others probably just repeated the jokes because kids will be kids and don’t always know any better.

I honestly don’t remember anyone telling 9/11 jokes, but a quick Internet search shows that they’re out there. One 9/11 joke website even says, “After five years, you can laugh! It’s official!” What exactly are we supposed to be laughing at?

Should any subjects be “off limits” to jokes? Why or why not?

“Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable.” -- Goethe


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