A Reddit user shared his story about how he told a disabled person a disabled joke, and it was not well received.
According to the OP, he has intrusive thoughts that just won’t go away. He also has some disabled family members who crack jokes about their disability frequently. He is used to joking, thinking that everyone will see it as a joke and not some form of malice. One of OP’s friends introduced him to another one who had a motorcycle accident.
He lost his right leg from the knee down and his left arm from the elbow. The OP and this new friend shared a passion for tuning motorcycles. The OP’s specialty was in electrical components. The OP and his friend decided to work together on a project, and this is when things went wrong.
The OP joke was taken in bad taste…
“you were riding that new BMW S1000 I see”,
He replied, “no, I was on a Suzuki, I don’t think BMW made the s1000 when I was riding, why did you think that?”
I said, “because I heard they cost an arm and a leg”
The other friend laughed at this joke but the disabled friend left and never returned. He became mad at the other friend for laughing at his expense. The OP wanted to know if what he did was wrong.
The Masses Weigh In
Reddit users were quick to point out that OP overstepped his boundaries since he did not assess whether the joke would be insensitive to his friend before telling it.
The OP thinks that everyone will enjoy his jokes; said one user, “I don’t even know where to begin because you have this default expectation that everyone will enjoy your ‘jokes.’
Sheesh. Just apologize to him if you can. I think that’s the least you can do here.”
If the Subject of Your Joke Isn’t Laughing, the Joke Is Not Good
One user summed it up, “I’m not certain that some of you quite understand what makes an otherwise decently witty joke a “bad joke”, but situational awareness and nuance matter here. If the subject of the joke isn’t laughing, you’re just being an AH and if you’re fine with it, you should be fine with it. Not seeking validation on an open forum, but rather one of the rocks you slid out from under.”
“No one else should bear the burden of his illness. I say that as someone who’s bipolar. If I insult someone because I’m symptomatic, I have to apologize. And how is that joke an intrusive thought? He thought he was clever, his illness doesn’t enter into it,” another user pointed out.
Disabled Jokes Have Boundaries
According to one user, disabled jokes have boundaries, “It’s one thing for us disabled people to crack a joke using dark humor to cope with what we deal with, but for someone who isn’t disabled to do so is pretty insensitive and mean.”
“From a fellow disabled person…I joke about my disability all the time, my kids and boyfriend join in. I love them all, I trust them all and they all have in-depth knowledge of what my life as a disabled person is like. YTA. You are a stranger; you have yet to earn his respect and have no idea what it’s like to have his disability. For context, when I was still far less stable on my feet then I am now, I had a VP greet me in the hall by saying “look, it’s gimpy”. Not cool at all,” said a disabled user.
Use Your Discretion
“No one, and I mean NO ONE, has the right to make jokes about someone else’s trauma unless it is very clearly demonstrated or explicitly stated that it’s okay. I have friends whose traumas we have laughed about. I have others who are serious faces only. THEY get to dictate the terms of dealing with the things they have been through,” added another user.
OP’s joke was insensitive and OP lack self-awareness, said another person, “He also admits to having a psychological condition right before that, yet doesn’t seem to accept that this puts him in the ‘disabled’ category, too. This guy is full of a lack of self-awareness and social skills, in the most charitable reading of the situation.”
The Jokes Are Theirs To Tell
Another user shared a real-life story pertaining to disabled people, “Amputees often make the most hilarious jokes. But those jokes belong to them. I get that you and your friends are enjoying dark humor and it helps all of you cope. I get that. But you’re going to have to handle the fact that everybody isn’t in your group.
Your joke wasn’t funny to that guy. You don’t get to tell a person who has lost limbs that they are over-sensitive. They will be ready to make jokes when they are ready. It’s not your place to tell them how to feel. That’s what is wrong here. People go through trauma at their own pace, man.”
Hard To Know How To React
Another one quipped, “Yeah, I work at an organization that assists adults with disabilities, and man are there jokes! Some of the individuals with visual disabilities at our organization could be comedians. But their jokes are theirs to tell. I‘ve been working there 3 years and still sometimes struggle with how to react unless I know the person well.”
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved