Stop Being Meme!


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An example of one of the many offensive memes circulating around the Internet.

Sydney Chang, Staff Writer

With the recent news of the ebola disease, people have shown different reactions to the origin and consequences of this disease. Some have expressed their apprehension at the possibility of contracting this disease while others have cracked jokes nonchalantly. Now I admit, when someone posts a funny meme about ebola on Facebook, I laugh and Like it. I mean, memes are supposed to be a source of entertainment. But then I think, just how far can these offensive jokes go and what are the consequences?

Ranker, a website that hosts online polls, posted the results of the “Worst topics to joke about” poll. Results included miscarriage, rape, burn victims, pedophilia, cancer, abortion, 9/11, and mental handicaps.

Back in July 2012, Daniel Tosh, a comedian on Comedy Central stirred up controversy for allegedly making a joke about rape. According to the original post on Tumblr about the incident, Tosh began “making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc.” The girl in the crowd shared that she was not too happy with his joke and yelled out her opinion that rape was not a joking matter. In response, Tosh bluntly said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” The girl and her friend left the building with people’s laughs trailing behind them.

Imagine being verbally harassed by a stranger who you have never met, let alone, in front of a large audience. Shock. Humiliation. Disgust. These are only some of the emotions the girl must have felt that day.

On her article about rape jokes on the Huffington Post, Meghan O’Keefe said Daniel Tosh simply “crossed the line.”

“If Tosh honestly thinks rape is funny… well, that’s his opinion. That’s his worldview. What’s disturbing is that this is a worldview that is violent and that lacks empathy. What’s even more disturbing is that he’s not some unknown comic presenting an unpopular opinion.”

Considering the conditions of our society, I agree with O’Keefe’s statement. Although offensive jokes have always existed, they have gained more exposure and become more common especially due to the technological advancements of the Internet and social media. People who have smartphones are constantly on popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Simply “liking” a picture on Facebook notifies mutual Facebook friends which means they can also view the picture. Sharing inappropriate pictures or finding offensive jokes on the web has become a more convenient and common thing.These impure pictures are exposed to the purity of people and dirty their views on ethnicities and racial cultures. The problem does not lie within the technological advances but rather the people’s constant usage of these advanced devices in everyday life.

Once during class, I overheard two students talking about a funny picture they saw on Facebook or Instagram the night before.

“Hey, man. Did you see that post with the black guy running away from the cops with a bucket of fried chicken in his hands?”

“Oh yeah, dude! That was so funny! Whoever made that meme is a genius.”

Is this really the kind of conversation that is appropriate in a classroom setting, or even in any setting at all? It is very upsetting to see and hear students joking about a sensitive topic to gain attention or start up a conversation. From my point of view, as an outsider and eavesdropper of their conversation, their conversation only proved to me how immature and ignorant these two boys are.

The severity of certain jokes are a serious issue. Over the years, these offensive jokes have evolved into stereotypes and have established themselves into the minds and moral values of society. These jokes can leave serious damage on people physically and mentally.

I’m tired of hearing people joke about ebola and any other severe disease. I’m tired of hearing people laugh over cases of sexual harassment. I’m tired of hearing the immature racist jokes that are not even funny.

Therefore I declare that people follow the golden rule: “think before you speak.”