ethnic jokes

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Jul 3 16:46:29 UTC 2001

Let's not forget the acrimonious debates on this list a few years ago re.
Ebonics.  Telling ethnic jokes on one's own group to one who will
understand and accept is one thing; telling jokes in public to an anonymous
audience is quite another, and better avoided.  A local librarian told me a
"joke" about African Americans recently, and then hastened to add that "a
black friend" told it to him.  Sorry, not acceptable.  But let's extend
this prohibition to sex- and gender-based comments, which sneak in here
frequently and quite gratuitously, to wit:

I was last here a few months ago, and I'm relieved to find that the Little
Mermaid is not pregnant.

At 09:36 AM 7/3/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Here we go again.  Mr. Abate writes that he's half Italian and not offended
>by the joke.  What does that mean?  All four of my grandparents came from
>Italy, so I am more than half Italian.  I have not lost my sense of humor
>(especially when I see it!), and I am not ready to have someone tell me to
>"move on."   I am not prepared to have someone tell ethnic jokes at not only
>at my expense but also at anyone else's.
>Who and where is the moderator of this list? One can't expect intelligence
>and sensitivity from every one who subscribes, but one can expect that the
>moderator will carry out his/her duties in keeping the mal educati from
>affronting the rest of us.  The simple test for this sort of thing is to
>substitute any other ethnicity for the reference to Italians and see how far
>that joke flies.
>I have not spent my professional life trying to educate people to a more
>enlightened regard for others' ethnicity, race, religion, gender, and sexual
>orientation to have this sort of slur pop up on one of the professional
>listervs to which I subscribe, especially one devoted to language use, and
>not say anything about it.  It would be nice to think that all members of
>the list would also decry such a posting.  It might say a lot about who we
>are and what we believe in.
>Al Rosa
>Professor Alfred Rosa
>304 Old Mill
>Department of English
>University of Vermont
>Burlington, VT 05405-1140
>Phone: 802-656-4139
>Fax:      802-656-3055
>Email:   arosa at
>Web Site:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Frank Abate" <abatefr at>
>Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2001 8:38 AM
>Subject: FW: hand trucks vs dollies
> > Please, get a sense of humor, or just hit delete and move on.
> >
> > Frank Abate
> > (half Italian, and not offended)
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> > Of Ittaob at AOL.COM
> > Sent: Monday, July 02, 2001 10:04 PM
> > Subject: Re: hand trucks vs dollies
> >
> >
> > In a message dated 6/19/01 9:07:48 AM, dcamp911 at JUNO.COM writes:
> >
> > << On Mon, 18 Jun 2001 21:09:31 -0400 "Bethany K. Dumas"
> > <dumasb at UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU> writes:
> > > What do you call those vertical entities (some are very heavy-duty -
> > > for
> > > moving refrigeraors and such) that allow you to move heavy loads
> > > easily?
> >
> > Italians.
> >
> > D >>
> >
> > Am I the only one on this list who thinks this person's gratuitous swipe
> > Italians as nothing better than furniture movers has no place on the list?
> > Or
> > were the rest of you just ignoring him in the hope he would go away?
> >
> > Steve Boatti
> >
> > (a skinny Italian lawyer who has a real hard time moving heavy objects)

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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