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Punchlines that Hurt

The United States is said to be a nation of diversity that welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds.

Lately, given our national discourse, the ideology of our nation is being tested, even in our own community.

A recent campus event ran on January 11th by a local non-profit, Hometown Heroes, honored four individuals, including University President Grey Dimenna, Esq., for work they have done to support people in the local community.

At the event, those people being honored were acknowledged for all the good they have done along with students and employees of the University being praised for the various ways they give back.

Among all the honors, there were numerous attempts at humor that were disrespectful of minority groups as well as various other nationalities.

Dimenna sent out an email stating that the comments made at the event were “inconsistent with the values of Monmouth University and hamper our efforts to foster an inclusive environment at Monmouth.”

One editor reacted, “I do believe that the student body, faculty and staff are consistent with values of Monmouth because I have never felt uncomfortable on campus and I feel that there is an overall inclusive atmosphere.”

In the aftermath of this event, we now question whether society has become easily offended by jokes or if overall, minority groups have too often become the punch line of a joke.

One editor argued, “Personally, I do believe that society is easily offended. I think people are now more conscious of how they are perceived by others and how they categorize people into groups based on ethnicity, skin color, religion, etc. That being said, I feel as though there has been a move towards becoming more politically correct to avoid making offensive comments. In the wake of this movement, I think there has been a heightened sensitivity toward jokes or comments that employ the use of stereotypes.”

Multiple editors agreed that comedians use minorities and stereotypes as a bad outdated punch line.

One editor said, “Using stereotypes makes for easier production of material for stand-up comedians since the punch lines are easily delivered to the audience without fear that someone will miss the joke.”

In essence, this can be seen as a cop-out joke tactic and can lead to an audience that is offended.

One editor shared, “As a minority, there have been several times where I’ve been told a joke that crosses the line, even when it was not meant to be outright offensive to me personally. Jokes about my race, ethnicity, and religion are not uncommon, and they just end up making things uncomfortable and tense.”

Jokes using minorities or stereotypes as a punch lines have the power to make people uneasy even when they are not the brunt of the joke. An editor said even when the joke is, “not against me personally, but for others; it can get uncomfortable when people make dark/questionable jokes because there’s definitely a fine line.”

With a U.S. President who crosses that fine line daily, if not on Twitter, on national television making remarks about immigration of minorities, it is important we keep in mind our values, both Monmouth-rooted and personally.

An editor reassured that they think Monmouth promotes “diversity and tolerance, we have a responsibility to digest these national issues and connect them back to how we can create a better environment for each other.

It’s important to allow others to express concern in a safe and productive environment.”