Do you ignore offensive jokes? Laugh to be one of the crowd? Protest? Laugh because it resonates with a prejudice of yours? See how these strike you?

Tip for dealing with offensive humor

Which ones evoked a small chuckle?  Which ones disgusted you? Both  responses are signs of deep-seated emotional beliefs. Offensive jokes only illustrate how prejudiced the human race is.  AND we all have our prejudicial moments. Why?

Well, as Ben Hecht said “prejudice is a raft onto which the shipwrecked mind clambers and paddles to safety.”

Or perhaps it is as  E.B White noted, ” Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

Both are true. Our brains like to keep things easy and prejudice is built on the fear that someone else is or has it better.  That someone varies and depends on who or what makes us feel less than okay.

Bad news?  Most often the fear or uncertainty about ourselves gets buried and we bask in feeling superior to others.

The good news is that once upon a time it was thought okay to be prejudiced and to feel better than some other group. So prejudices have gone underground. As Edward James Olmos notes,”We don’t have as much prejudice as we did 40 years ago, but today it is more educated.”

But here is a contrary thought by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. “To single out a particular group and say we can’t make a joke about them is almost a form of prejudice and it’s kind of patronizing.”

Final as Gallager, another comedian, notes “I need wrong to get laughs. I need a normal world so that I can be abnormal, and that’s my problem. Comedians need prejudice.”


Tip one:  Be aware of your prejudices. Thinking you are not bound by some false ideas about groups of people is delusional.  Think about early hurts in your life that started with a person who you labeled as belonging to another group.

Here’s a personal example, when I was five a red-head came up to me and for not reason I could figure out slapped me across the face and walked away. And yes, I remain a bit wary about red heads.  A personal prejudice that I own and work against.

Tip two: Talk of specific acts of specific  people.

Tip three:  When labeling behaviors think of the following six words:

  1. kind
  2. cruel
  3. dangerous
  4. thoughtless
  5. criminal
  6. evil

Some unacceptable  words can be linked. These include thoughtlessly cruel or dangerous, or criminal or evil. Offensive jokes are mostly thoughtless and cruel.

Tip four:  Know that all group labels are guilty of generalizing and generalizing is twisted thinking. Every person is unique and a blend of traits.

Tip five: When labeling a person’s behavior think how cruel, how often, to how many.  Also think balance: how kind, how often, to how many, and for what reason. Do the same with cultures.

Tip six: Remember what matters; be grateful; practice kindness; laugh; play; enjoy the good; speak out against the bad, but in thoughtful ways.  What you do and how you do it matters. This also means protesting offensive jokes. How?

  1. Don’t laugh.
  2. Raise you eyebrows and look a bit disgusted.
  3. Stay you find the joke highly offensive and are surprised if a friend is telling it.
  4. Take less offense if the teller is a comedian or cartoonist, but patronize them less.


Prejudices are learning in three ways

  1. Personal hurts that generalize to a specific group.
  2. Modeling parental prejudices.
  3. Following the crowd whether school mates, religions teachers, the media.

As always start first with examining your behavior. As your children anger school, gently dispute prejudices particularly those on the media.  During the pre-teen and teen years talk directly about prejudices. Very useful topic for family meetings.


Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring.  Thank you.




Like any coach, EFTI’s poster coaches inspire, teach, motivate, and reinforce thinking about what matters.  To use, print up in color and post there it will be seen often.  If not soon if for you, let me know and I will give it priority status.

Poster Coaches can also be used at  Family Meetings to start a discussion about what matters.


We Built This City  What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in? What do you like the least about it? If you were mayor, what would be the most important problem you’d tackle? How would you tackle it?

I love most living in the United States where you can say almost anything you want and not have your head chopped off.  What I dislike is that the freedom to say what we wants means many vent personal hurts and hatreds in way that only increase prejudice.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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