Wit Privilege and America’s War on the Witless

Give me laughterMark Twain once wrote, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

Wit is not always a laughing matter.  For example, the Sons of Liberty used their wits to pull off one of the most memorable practical jokes in history at the Boston Tea Party.  Also, Ben Franklin disseminated and popularized his philosophy through his bestseller, Poor Richard’s Almanac.  His witty one-liners are quoted to this day by people who’ve never even heard of the book.

Wit privilege refers to societal privileges that benefit witty people in ways that are unavailable to the witless.  It continues to be a potent force in the United States.  The witty elite use jokes and anecdotes to win elections, spread ideologies, and market their services and wares.  All too often, the witless are the butts of the jokes. They are at a severe disadvantage in virtually every area of their sad lives.

Witty people are more likeable, more popular, and have greater social status.  They tend to be cheerful, and they receive more respect and better service across the board.  From bankers to beauticians, from the police to pediatricians, from clerks to computer techs, people who provide services of any kind prefer to do business with funny people rather than the grumpy.

The witty are also considered more attractive than the witless.  That’s why comedians never have problems finding spouses, or second, or third, or fourth spouses.  A review of personal ads will inevitably show that the most desired trait for a potential date is a good sense of humor.  Nobody writes personal ads like this: “Seeking somber person to engage in serious conversation. Must hate laughter.”

Funny folks have greater freedom of expression.  In America, when you’re funny people listen.  The ability to tell a joke can make the difference between being heard and being ignored.  Funny videos are shared far more often than serious ones.  In the entertainment business, people who can make others laugh get more opportunities and are treated better than the humor-impaired.

The disparities between the witty and the witless are evident in the business world as well.  A properly delivered punchline can help a person land a job or seal a deal.  Jokes are also frequently used by the powerful to silence the witless.  The laughter emanating from corner offices may sound jovial, but it also reminds the peons in the cubicles of who is in charge.

Disparities due to wit privilege are rampant in healthcare.  People who know how to tell jokes and enjoy a good laugh live happier and healthier lives.  The witty are able to handle stress and anxiety better than the witless.  Laughter is widely regarded as the best medicine, and the witty get it for free.  The primary reason comedy isn’t part of healthcare is that they want to keep it to themselves.  Meanwhile, people who suffer from humor deficiency pay exorbitant amounts for the prescription and non-prescription drugs they need just to get through the day.

Witty people take their unearned benefits for granted.  When confronted about wit privilege, they deny that it exists or say that it’s not their fault they were born funny.  Furthermore, they have no comprehension of how different their lives would be if they ever lost their sense of humor and had to experience horrors like these:

·      The realization, after they’ve delivered a punchline, that they’ve omitted a critical part of the setup.

·      The inability to produce suitable and timely responses to offensive remarks or insults.

·      Dreaded sympathy laughter due to poor comedic timing.

The roots of wit privilege go all the way back to William Shakespeare.  In Othello, the bard wrote, “They laugh that win.”

Little has changed.  Renowned neurohumorist Karyn Buxman proclaims, “Humor is power.”

Wit privilege has had a profound and disturbing influence in the United States throughout the country’s history.   It is deplorable that humorous people have advantages over people who are not funny and who may never become funny.  People born witless are human beings entitled to the same freedoms and opportunities as the witty.

The longstanding and systemic abuses of power enabled through wit privilege are a form of discrimination which must be addressed.  In the interest of fairness and decency, if an equitable solution cannot be found, the laughter must stop.

Note: This article first appeared on June 4, 2015, in American Thinker.

Rachel Dolezal jokes: When will the laughter stop?

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When I saw the story about Rachel Dolezal being outed by her white parents, my mind went into joke mode. It was just so ironic that this lady passed as a black woman, got a full scholarship to historically black Howard University, and went on to become a leader in the NAACP and an esteemed educator on black studies. All the hypocrisy made it the perfect storm for a joke. Here’s what I came up with.

“A white woman passing as a black woman? This is the ultimate expression of white privilege. Apparently, white is the new black.”

I couldn’t help myself. The joke just came to me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. That was bad. However, I confess that I took it to the next level. I should have kept the joke to myself, but I spread it around. It seemed like too good of a joke not to share. I posted the joke on news websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter. Thousands of people liked the joke. The high I used to get from telling jokes onstage came back. People liked the joke and I was proud that I had come up with it.

A day later, I was suffering with a humor hangover. I shouldn’t have spread the joke, but I was stuck with that. I slipped and now I have to return to the first two steps of Witticists’ Anonymous. I admit that I’m addicted to my own laughter and the laughter of others. Also, I’m coming to believe, again, that it’s wrong to tell jokes that cause discomfort.

Jumping ahead a bit on the steps, I apologize to anyone who may have been hurt by my insensitive joke. Please understand that as a recovering jokester, I’m not perfect and I’m prone to slipping once in a while. However, I’m working the steps. It works if you work it. I’m getting better, one day at a time.

I promise there won’t be any Rachel Dolezal jokes.  No “Rachel Dolezal walked into a bar,” or, “Rachel Dolezal walked into a Denny’s,” or, “Rachel Dolezal walked into a Tea Party conference,” jokes from me.

No sir! I don’t care how good the jokes might be. I’m not going to do it.

Have you heard the one about the white woman who walked into a bar with a former NAACP leader? They were inseparable.

Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Remedial Sensitivity

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the cauldron of boiling water.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the cauldron of boiling water.

Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t play colleges anymore due to political correctness. Neither does Chris Rock. In an interview last year with Frank Rich of Vulture, Rock said, “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative… Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody.”

In the tradition of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin, comedians love to exercise their wit privilege by telling jokes about anything. They’re essentially wit supremacists who act as if nothing is off limits. Sometimes they push the envelope just to see how far they can go. Louis C.K., Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais, Seth McFarlane, Tracy Morgan, Amy Schumer, Dane Cook, Daniel Tosh, and Michael Richards have all been accused of going over the line in one way or another. Radio personalities Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus, and Howard Stern have also been accused of going too far with their humor.

It could happen to anyone who’s trying to be funny. For example, I myself was recently tempted to come up with a few jokes about what happened to Bruce/Caitlin Jenner’s javelin. It just seemed to me that there’s probably a man in a woman’s body somewhere who would love to have Jenner’s old javelin. It seemed to me that it could have been sold or auctioned off on Ebay. However, I realized that jokes based on those premises, which could be extremely offensive to some people, would be way over the line. Thank goodness I figured that out before it was too late.

Just because a joke is funny doesn’t mean that it has to be told or that it should be told. Funny people love their wit privilege, but it doesn’t give them the right to tell jokes that offend and hurt feelings. Comedians and others who earn their livings through humor must have sensitivity for the feelings of anyone who might be offended. They must figure out how to deliver kinder, gentler jokes that won’t hurt other people’s feelings. They simply must. If they cannot do that, the laughter must stop.

Ten signs that you might be a Wit Supremacist.

The fool will  rule!

Fools must not rule!

You might be a Wit Supremacist if…

you look down on people because of their inability to tell a joke properly.

you talk differently to witty people than you do to people who aren’t funny.

you’ve never really thought about the difference in the way funny people and witless people are treated.

you use your sense of humor to get off the hook for things that would get other people in trouble.

you’ve ever told your friends, “I have one friend who’s not funny at all.”

you’ve ever asked a witless person to speak on behalf of all witless people.

you feel uncomfortable around people who aren’t funny.

you say things like, “I can’t help it if I was born hilarious.”

you talk about other people in terms of how funny they are.

reading this list has made you uncomfortable.

Can you think of any other signs that a person is a Wit Supremacist? Make a comment.

#witprivilege #witsupremacist

The Seven Steps of Witticists Anonymous

Danny MurphyOur stories disclose how we have taken advantage of Wit Privilege and what we did to become more sensitive and fair to witless people. If you want to do likewise, then you are ready to take certain steps.

We thought we could find a funnier and more enjoyable way. Alas, we could not. Remember that we’re dealing with wit and witlessness! Half-witted measures didn’t help. Here are the steps we took to reduce the laughter:

  1. Admitted that we were addicted to our own laughter and the laughter of other people. We also admitted that we have been the beneficiaries of wit privilege, and that it gave us unfair advantages over people who aren’t funny.
  2. Came to understand that witless people are human beings who have the same rights and freedoms as witty people.
  3. Made a decision to stop using wit privilege to our own advantage.
  4. Made a list of all people we had laughed at or otherwise harmed through wit privilege.
  5. Made direct amends to the witless wherever and whenever possible.
  6. Attempted to control our wits and educate others about the detrimental effects wit privilege has on society.
  7. Promptly admitted it whenever we slipped back into cracking jokes or taking advantage of wit privilege.

#witprivilege #witsupremacist

Are you a Wit Supremacist?

It doesn't take a doctor to figure out if you have wit privilege.

It doesn’t take a doctor to figure out if you have wit privilege.

Wit supremacists normally take the privileges of their status for granted. Recognizing the unearned benefits one enjoys due to wit privilege is the first step to recovery. The following list of statements will help readers to determine whether or not they are, indeed, wit supremacists.

  1. I prefer to associate with people who tell good jokes and who laugh at my jokes.
  2. I avoid associating with people who aren’t funny.
  3. I enjoy my ability to find something to laugh at on TV at any time.
  4. I’m confident in my ability to get people’s attention by telling a joke or two.
  5. I enjoy making fun of people who don’t understand a joke.
  6. When I go to a multiplex cinema, I can always find at least one good comedy to watch.
  7. I can tell in a matter of seconds whether a new acquaintance is going to be funny.
  8. I try to protect my children from encounters with the witless.
  9. If a traffic cop pulls me over, I’m confident in my ability to develop a friendly rapport by telling a joke.
  10. I can easily find humorous greeting cards whenever I want to.
  11. I routinely win arguments with the witless simply by being humorous.
  12. I feel no need to read serious literature, engage in serious conversations, or watch serious programming on TV.
  13. My sense of humor was a key factor in getting a job or a promotion.
  14. I can always get off the hook for being late to a meeting by telling a joke.
  15. I feel comfortable in most settings because people like the way I tell jokes.

If you identify with two or more of these statements, there’s a strong possibility that you are a wit supremacist.

#witprivilege #witsupremacist

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