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Joking about dead babies lacks taste

Q: “What’s funnier than 10 dead babies nailed to a tree?”

A: “One dead baby nailed to 10 trees.”

For some of you, this brings a smile to your face, and to others you must be just disgusted that I put that joke into print. Ah, the controversy of dead baby jokes.

Personally, I had never heard of “dead baby” jokes until recently, and my first thought was “take notes, dear, this is an opinion article if ever I saw one!”

I was, and still am in some ways, downright confused about how these jokes are funny. After all, there is nothing more sacred and wonderful than a beautiful little baby, and hopefully no one would laugh if they found a mutilated baby nailed to a tree. (My God, hopefully!)

Yet, when a dead baby joke is told, many people laugh, chuckle lightly or at least half-smile.

But, why? Why do people find it funny when it’s so obviously perverted?

In a search for the answer, I went to Yahoo, and “dead baby jokes” had 812,000 Web pages in the results. Oh great! One of them must have a reason why people laugh at dead baby jokes, which in itself is a horrific, horrific image.

The first 20 sites I entered were full of jokes, but not one with an explanation except, “I never claimed to have a healthy sense of humor, and this is as obscene as you get.”

Finally, after much searching and scrapping through sickening joke after sickening joke, I found an explanation. An article by Dr. Ben Jarvis, “Toward an Advanced Theory of Comedy,” explained it in this way:

“There are three iron laws of comedy: 1. Nothing is sacred. 2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. 3. You can never take a joke too far … Everything can be made into a joke, the more upsetting and disturbing, the funnier.”

Therefore, according to this theory, true comedy holds nothing sacred, even dead babies. This would include war injuries, the Holocaust, racial issues, slavery, death, pain, abortion and anything else.

So, people find these jokes funny because they’re obscene. When people leave the room in tears, this means comedic victory.

Needless to say, the person crying doesn’t find it funny. This person must have held a baby before. They must have kissed his/her nose, made he/she squeal with laughter and seen one toddle towards them with arms open wide.

I can’t see any parents, child care workers, aunts, uncles, or older brothers and sisters finding these jokes funny, because they have faces to unconsciously put onto the subject of the jokes.

I know, because my own reaction had been to picture my nephews nailed to a tree, which left me outraged and curled into a fetal position with tears falling down my face.

If my reaction makes me seem like an uptight finger-pointer whose only joy in life is sucking the fun out of other people’s, I’m fine with that. I know how much I love to have fun, how much I laugh every day, and I don’t need anyone’s confirmation or negation of my sense of humor.

However, I can’t help but find these jokes dangerous.

A baby is a pure, wonderful thing, and anything that contaminates it and turns it into an object of mockery is a form of disrespect.

Regardless of any man-made comedic rules, there are many things on this earth that are sacred, and I choose to hold them as such.

I’m afraid that vulgar, crude comedy will desensitize us to the right and wrong of the world we live in.

What do we see when the news shows pictures of dead bodies, dead children, yes, even dead babies in Iraq?

I see a shocking, horrific situation, and a multitude of souls lost. A comedian sees material.

Q: “What’s red, brown and bubbly?”

A: “A dead baby in the microwave.”

What do you feel when you read this? If your feelings include anything outside of revulsion and disgust, then you’ve just proved my point.

Am I just a bleeding heart? Yes, because that’s the decent thing to be.

We are in danger of losing our ability to bleed, to feel, to experience.

Punch-lines should not have that kind of power over us.

E-mail Jessica with comments at [email protected].

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