When I stopped eating meat the summer after my freshman year of college, I pretty much lived on cheese omelets and french toast. In my defense I was working at a 24-hour breakfast place and those were the options. I now occasionally eat meat, but my husband does not, and I am happy for the far greater variety offered to him these days and for the healthier eating choices that we are both able to make in restaurants.
So, I was puzzled when I read about the Red Robin ad that touted their garden burger as something for when “your teenage daughter is going through a phase.” Yikes.Talk about insulting your customers. About ten per cent of all Americans are vegetarian, and many more choose to eat less meat. Why would you make fun of them? Of us?
Then I came across another blogger’s take on the whole idea of exclusionary humor. In a wonderful post called Just a Joke: Confessions of a “Humorless Vegan” she provides one of the best analyses I have ever read on how little jokes marginalize anyone who is different and how the threat of appearing humorless keeps them (whoever they may be) from objecting.
Her solution? Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person telling the unfortunate joke, and remember that they are likely not nearly as hateful as they seem to you at this moment. She even quotes Gandhi. I love this lady.
Empathy is certainly the central part of this blog, and my heart does go pitter patter when it shows up once again. Empathy is the solution. When I stopped eating meat after my freshman year in college, I hardly ever heard the word empathy used. Now, it is the answer to rude drivers, rude relatives, and rude advertisers.
Some things never change. As society evolves, we keep finding new folks to make fun of.
Some things do change. We work together better to find ways to take the sting out of the joke. Yay us.
For more on how things change with time, visit my z2 blog here for thoughts on human trafficking and Broadway musicals. Also visit my y1 blog here for thoughts on gay psychiatrists and my hoarding disorder.