This I Believe

Alex - Decatur, Illinois
Entered on December 14, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that laughter prevents words and ideas from having power over me. The first amendment gives us the right to address what we want, but people are often afraid to make fun of taboo subjects for fear of offending someone. This is why comedians such as Sarah Silverman and Dave Chapelle are so controversial. But what makes something taboo? People. No word is bad by itself. The way it is used makes it bad. Words aren’t hurtful; people are. Swear words can be funny, but a lot of people are offended if you use them. There are contexts in which you shouldn’t use this language, but just because I use those words doesn’t mean I am a bad person. There is nothing wrong about the words I say; only in the way I might use them. There is a difference between using a curse word to be funny and make a point and using a curse word to be hurtful to someone. But by not drawing that line, you are turning the word into something more than it is. Why give it so much power? It’s just a four-letter word.

Another example would be a tragic event. A common quote thrown around is “laughter is tragedy plus time.” So is it ok to make fun of the holocaust? Some people would say no automatically. That’s one of those taboo subjects. By saying you can’t touch the holocaust you are giving it power over you. I would like to draw a line between making fun of a tragic event and intentionally being hurtful to those involved or connected to the event. I’m not saying that no joke is in bad taste, but to say I can’t make fun of a tragic event on principle is silly. A taboo subject is something created by society, and just because society says it’s right doesn’t mean it is. Society used to say the world was flat. Just because something was traditionally done one way doesn’t mean it should continue to be done that way. We used to have slaves, but it would be silly to say we should continue to keep slaves because that’s tradition. And if I want to make fun of the concept of slavery I should be able to. If we can’t laugh at what bothers us, it will continue to bother us. If I want to free myself from this, I have to take a step back from it. If I use an obscene word to make a joke, I am emotionally disconnecting myself from that word to make if funny. By taking the negative emotion out I have made it so it has no control over me. If I’m offended by everything I hear, I am letting other people control what I think. If I let myself go a little and laugh, I will be free to form my own opinions, and I will enjoy life more. OK, so Hitler walks into a bar…