Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick Thought: On Addendums

Recently, I was criticized - lightly but somewhat fairly - for my supposed 'selective' reading of a blog post for episode 5 of Inciting A BrewHaHa. Allegedly, and I haven't gone back to listen to the show to verify (but it really doesn't matter), I did not end the entire diatribe against Project Pagan Enough and ire over 'mainstream' pagans with two words:

I joke.

Quite simple in their syntax. There's a subject and a predicate. It's a complete sentence, and I am told that it would have changed the entire tone of the previous paragraph. In that paragraph, Project Pagan Enough is criticized as an attempt to mainstream paganism; WitchesBrewHaHa, the Pagan Hooligans, and many other high audio quality shows are derided as trying to throw how normal they are in everyone's face, and then the whole thing is ended with a heavy-handed attempt at humor by saying the blogger would put up a PPE banner if there were a banner about Project Pagan Weirdos.

So, 'I joke' was supposed to have changed all that. It was supposed to lead us to believe that those sentences were merely humor, and we should take it as such. 

But, I have a question, Rioters. How is adding the addendum of 'I joke' to a snide comment any different than saying, "God, you know you look really fat in those jeans... I'm just kidding,"? The comment is made. You said what you really thought, or at least enough to make yourself feel superior, and then you believe you can wipe it all away with 'just kidding.' This is no different. 

In Texas, growing up, women had 'Bless her heart'. If they wanted to gossip about somebody, they could say something like, "Bless her heart, that woman has gotten so fat and you know her husband is running around on her." And, of course, saying 'Bless her heart' at the beginning absolves the gossiper of anything remotely malicious. The addition comes at the beginning, however, and makes it sound like there's an air of concern rather than trite rumor mongering. 

Not that I intend to create some feud between myself and the blogger in question, but there was a reason I left out the two words 'I joke'. They didn't change a thing about that statement. If anything, they were an attempt at absolving the writer of any guilt or responsibility for the statements they made. When I say, "I'm sorry, but if you are one of those people that think Islam is a terrorist-breeding religion, then you're an idiot," I realize that is an unbelievably strong statement. It puts people off, and it, at least in one case, cost me a subscriber to the show. But, you'd better believe I'm going to stand by my statement. Yes, you can always alter your opinion and look back with regret after the fact, but don't attempt to change the tone of what you said by adding such an addendum.

In my opinion, statements such as those - Bless her heart; I joke; Just kidding - only make the comment more derisive, more snide. They ridicule and then say, "Come on, don't get upset by that. Just let me say what I want, and let's get over it so I can say some more!" Or, "You should have more backbone/not be so sensitive." They don't take away the sting of the statement any more than a Band-Aid would applied to a verbally-inflicted wound. 

But, I could be wrong. Rioters, what do you think of addendums such as these? Is it unfair of me to not have included 'I joke' in my reading of the statements? Would those two words have, indeed, changed the entire tone of the paragraph and, thus, my interpretation? Or, are those two words merely an attempt at lessening an already dealt blow? 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

9 comments:

  1. I've been the recipient of the "...just kidding" on many occasions. From a precious few people, with whom you're very close and you know they really are just kidding with you before they even say it, it's okay.
    From anyone else, it doesn't change what was said, it may as well not be there at all.

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  2. Odom of the Evil EyeOctober 28, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    I personally think the comments in question were an attempt at undermining some podcasters and call them out on the social taboo of being "normal" that exists to this blogger. Apparently being pagan means you have to belong to the "weird" crowd, which is honestly completely irrelevant to whether someone is pagan or not.

    The blogger seems to be striving for the "outcast" pagan (I'm not sure if you and Thelma covered the poor lil' persecuted outcast pagan), trying to build up the "status," if you will, of being a pagan.

    I live in Southern Mississippi, a place where you think pagans would be persecuted, and while I have run up against some stigma (from like one person) for the most part I have never been persecuted for my spiritual beliefs.

    Some people want to make being pagan a big deal, and for everyone to be "GASP OMFG ITSA PAGAN! GET THE TORCH!" but honestly, its not. The fact that the podcasters being called out for "promoting normalcy" is just an attempt to discredit the idea that you can be unpersecuted, or "normal," and still be a spiritually fulfilled pagan.

    One of the things that confuses me is why the blogger thinks that project pagan enough doesn't advocate "weirdness." From how I understand it, PPE is promoting pagan community regardless of any "weirdness" one may suffer from, not that one can suffer from weirdness.

    I joke.
    Not really, I meant it all.

    :D

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  3. I guess I am a fence sitter because I do add the just kidding or bless her heart (nope not Texan - LOL) or LOL to say something but let it be taken either/or. The statement you made didn't need it really, a person who it was directed at could take it like you were joking and brush it off or that you meant it seriously and they should re-think what they are saying. An example is where I use it is at work - I have a parent that calls every day to tell me her woes, I said one day when she said about calling me all the time and I replied 'that was why I did the pilot project for a year for the break.' after she sputtered for a bit I added just kidding. I really wasn't but knew that the message had been heard and she could save face by the just kidding. After that she eased up on the calls a bit. I guess I am saying that I do it in order to be heard but also to give the chance for saving face. I also, do not do this or use this very often at all. It took 9 years for me to finally say it to that person. Anyway, that is just my way.

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  4. I totally agree with you. If someone calls me fat, and then employs any such addendum to "ease" the statement, I slug them none the less. I kid. (No I don't.) No really, I would never hit you. (Yes I would.)

    A difference that makes no difference is no difference (Spock). Once the statement is made, it's out there, and no additional statement can take it back. It changes nothing. It's a trick of language (and psychology) to retract a statement after making it, not to mention cowardly. If someone cannot stand by their own statements, I disregard them and award them (and often the person themselves) no respect. This is not that I have never done this (I just did in my comment here), but when I do, I'm either truly kidding, or mocking the "just kidding" addendum phenomenon itself. Jokes can be made, but there is a line one must choose to stand behind.

    For instance, roasts are a fine art of comedy. It can be tricky, not everyone can do it. But like any form of humor, the comedic value lies in the truth behind the statements. So even on the roasting pulpit, you have to stand by your statements. The "just kidding" factor some think roasting is, isn't kidding, It's a challenge to not take ourselves too seriously, to laugh at ourselves. Again, it's hard to do this. It isn't a sloppy "just kidding." Professional comedians often say that in order to roast someone, you have to love them. It's the love that makes it work, because the humor lies in "you're a ridiculous horrible flawed messy human being and a bad dresser but dammit I LOVE YOU...despite the fact that you spell like cabbage."

    If you don't love them, it doesn't work. Comedians say that any negative feelings, resentments, jealousy, or bad blood between you and the "honoree" will come out in the jokes. It'll be obvious. Jokes are a kind of magic when you think about it. They bring out the truth...whether you want it to or not. You have to be honest. Roasting someone you don't love will only make it into a "oh, I'm just kidding (no I'm not)" situation. It's called insincerity. Not funny. Not honorable.

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  5. People like that suck. NO, not kidding! :p Anyone that says something negative or hateful and then says, "Just kidding!" is an asshole. They really mean it but don't want to look like the jackass they really are.

    As a person who has had a LOT of negative comments directed at me, I despise people like this. They are nasty people who have low self esteem and have to say something nasty to someone else to make themselves feel better about their worthless lives.

    No, I'm not bitter. ^^;

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  6. If you're joking, we should be able to tell it's a joke without a preface. Otherwise, you're being a jerk, and pretending not to be. "I joke" is one of those delightful phrases, like "I'm not racist/sexist/homophobic but..." that immediately indicates a lie.

    Apparently, people just don't want to accept that opposing opinions exist in the world (bless their hearts).

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  7. I don't think the addendums make any difference because it doesn't change the essential message of what the person says. Many times I have heard, "I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but..." Well, if you don't want to hurt my feelings then don't say it at all.

    As other rioters have stated above, negative comments still hurt even if there is an addendum. Why would anyone say such negative things in joking in the first place? Aren't jokes supposed to be funny? Adding in "I joke" would not have changed anything in my opinion.

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  8. I often joke around with people and say things that I don't mean, and say "kidding" or "joking" afterwards to make sure they know not to take me seriously.

    As for this particular situation, assuming they were being truthful before the "I joke" part, I think it's just the opinion of one person. It's not really worth all the drama when many others feel differently. Focus on the good stuff the others are telling you. You have a great show, as do the other podcasters. The energy is best put there instead.

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  9. In my family "Bless Your Heart" can mean anything from man, that is an ugly baby! To oh you poor stupid girl, at least you're cute. When you can't say what you really want because you don't want to be a rude, a good "bless your heart" will suffice...and let the others that understand know what you're really saying!

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