The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Humor offends some and amuses others

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, November 3, 2005

In response to the letters from comedians and other students defending the jokes made during a stand-up show, we would like to express our disappointment in approval for jokes that were clearly offensive.

Will Seath’s joke about black students of Notre Dame being able to sit in the front of the dining hall diminishes the significance of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Jim Crow laws mandated segregation on busing as a way of making blacks feel inferior to their white counterparts. Parks’ actions were a means of demanding her rights as a human being and an equal citizen, something that should not be made light of by a tasteless joke. Seath also made another joke he failed to mention in his letter which asks why sitting in the back was a problem considering it is where all of the cool people sit. Perhaps for blacks during the Jim Crow era, sitting in the back lost its “cool” appeal when they were forced to sit or stand uncomfortably in the back of the bus when seats were available toward the front.

Brian Berry, another comedian who performed, came to the defense of Seath in his Oct. 31 Letter to the Editor, “Missing the Point.” Berry had a joke in which he mentioned the taboo word “nigger.” He justified it as an attempt to show the growing numbness towards an offensive word. However, this word has not become numb by any means when some still refer to blacks as “niggas” in a demeaning way.

The jokes made by Berry and Seath were a display of insensitivity and a lack of consideration for minority students at Notre Dame. Parks had not yet been laid to rest when these comedians attempted to make jokes about her efforts and used a word she had more than likely been called numerously. Too often minorities on this campus are forced to remain silent about incidents involving race because they are often convinced by some of their peers as overreacting. But there is no justification for these comments and we will not be convinced otherwise.

Lauren Prease

Vice President

Notre Dame Chapter of the NAACP

Nov. 3