Be honest, we've all laughed at a racist joke. Depending on the circumstance, that can be fine. If it's in an environment where everyone's aware that there's no truth to any of the sentiments, and you're careful not to offend. However, you never really know who's listening, and how each person is affected.
Especially for those in the media, statements can be taken out of context, repeated and people can become offended at what they thought was meant, or said. It really is very tricky, and just beginning to think about racist jokes sucks all the humour from the situation.
Much like politicians suck all the fun from politics, gluten free sucks all the fun from bread, pokies suck all the fun from pubs, and Canterbury Bulldog players just suck.
When people laugh at racist jokes because they think they're true, that's a lot more problematic. If you point this out though, you're often told, 'Settle down mate, it's just a joke.'
It's exactly the same as anyone who has come out to defend the Canterbury Bulldog players whose comments were picked up by that Channel Nine microphone. What was said was disgusting. Sure, the players get a lot more attention because of their status, but just because you won't make the news for saying similar things, it doesn't make it any less wrong.
With racist jokes, despite the offense often caused, the person saying them usually does believe that it is just a joke. In my experience, this is because in Australia the person saying the joke is often white, and white people don't really understand what racism is, because they're never really experienced it.
I don't think it's even possible to be racist to a white person. Let's test this theory. Here's a list of racial insults for white people: cracker, skip, whitey, honky, round eye, snowflake. Is anyone offended? I don't feel offended at all.
Now think of a race that isn't white, and one insult for them. Just think it, don't say it, don't write it down, just think it. How much worse is that than every insult for a white person?
I believe there's a very good reason why you can't be racist to a white person. Being racist to someone white, it's like trying to pick on Richard Branson. If I was to give him a call and tell him that I don't think he's that great, he certainly wouldn't be all like, 'Really? Aw really? Awwwww. Well I better get to work on being a better bloke.'
No he'd say, 'How the hell did you get this phone number? Who are you? Have you got any idea what the time is here? Come on mate, Richo needs his beauty sleep.'
That's because you can't pick on people in a position of power. And at the moment, in Australian society, that's the white people.
Racism is a form of oppression, and you can't oppress the people in charge.
I'm sure in time that'll change, but I'll probably be dead by then, so I'm not that worried.
Xavier Toby - White Trash at the Melbourne Fringe, Oct 9-13 at 6.30pm.
Fringe Hub - Son of Loft, Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne, Australia.
Also appearing at Australia's newest comedy competition, The Sunday Showdown at the Portland Hotel, Cnr Russell and Little Collins, Melbourne, Australia on Oct 14 from 2pm-4.30pm.Suggest a correction