I read the comment about the sinking of refugee boats and immediately had an uneasy feeling, a squirming just somewhere below my heart. I think I may even have flinched a bit. Just because he wrote “Sorry, too soon?” after it did not make it better. In fact, it was worse. Flippant.
He was my friend, a good friend, had been for many years, and his sense of humour was what had originally cemented our friendship, that and my appreciation of his sarcastic wit and quirky one-liners.
For this reason, for our friendship and for old time’s sake, I sat there re-reading his words, exploring them, trying to see the humour without the tastelessness. Oh, I could see how he wanted it to be understood, his intentions, but how could something so terrifying, so important, so inhumane be laughed at?
How could he joke about this?
I wondered whether he had always had this attitude towards immigrants, or if it was new, borne of some experience of which I had no knowledge. My ongoing attempt to understand.
This position I have taken, it is not the same as political correctness. There are simply certain things that should not be the subject of jokes. Suffering and cruelty are at the top of that list, whether it is in reference to people or animals. I can’t even fathom how anyone could laugh at the suffering of others, at cruelty towards living things.
My friend making a crass joke for a few laughs – at the expense of refugees who died horrible deaths in the process of trying to escape a life of persecution and torture so unspeakable – has, well, debased him in my eyes. More than that, he has added to the cruelty that was their lives.
People have a right to their opinions about immigration, though I may not agree with them, but It is never a right time to joke about the suffering of others. And our friendship is now and forever tainted by what was undoubtedly for him a passing remark aimed at garnering a few laughs.