I had a talk recently with someone who lives out of Ireland, like I do, but hails from Galway, like I do, about how she feels when someone starts to tell the typical “Irishman” jokes. You know the kind of jokes I mean; Irishmen are stupid, dense etc. Are these jokes racist? Should we just laugh them off?
The Italians have Carabinieri jokes, the Americans have their redneck jokes, the English have their Irishman jokes, as well as Scotsman, and Welshman jokes. So should we just laugh along when we hear these jokes and not be offended?
It is a matter of how many Irishman jokes I hear from the same person, if this seems to be a habit, a pattern. They hear my Irish accent and the jokes start coming, then I actually have some pity for the person telling the jokes. I consider that person ignorant. One or two jokes, fine, they’re just jokes, but if it goes on and on the person telling the jokes is revealing their own ignorance and race insensitivity.
An ignorant person will not grasp the concept that their ethnic insensitivity is a turn off to intelligent people. And I don’t take these jokes personally at all, chances are the person telling the jokes isn’t just racist towards the Irish, but other nationalities too.
Don’t get me wrong, I think political correctness can be taken too far sometimes. Political correctness shouldn’t hamper comedy or hinder it in anyway, so long as the humor is done in a satirical way…Ricky Gervais is excellent at this, as is Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Watch Brendan Gleeson in The Guard, a brilliant satirical portrayal of a stereotypical Irish man.
However, there is a time and a place for politically incorrect jokes, which the typical Irishman jokes are. And this is where the water gets a little murky. When is the right time and where is the right place?
In Irish Central’s August 22, 2012 article, Irishman wins cash settlement for “Paddy” jokes told by comedians on cruise ships, a comedian tells holiday makers on board a cruise numerous Irishman jokes and the cruise line got sued for the comedians “offensive” jokes.
I wonder if the comedian had told more jokes about the English, Welsh, Scots and Rednecks to create diversity in the act would he have gotten into trouble then? Let’s face it, every nation gets stereotyped. Every county in Ireland is stereotyped. So what makes it alright for Irish to tell jokes about the Irish, but politically incorrect for other nationalities to do it? Because we are certain it is not a character assault when it comes from one of our own, but not sure when it comes from another ethnic group.
So if you’re going to tell me an Irishman joke, be sure to follow it up with a joke about your own ethnicity, or else I’ll just write you off as a racist and a bigot, and it will be our last conversation.