Flickr photo by Hoboken CondosThere are certain times that jokes, however innocent, however funny, can get us into heaps of trouble. You can't make a bomb joke when you're going throught the security check at the airport. Those people do not have a sense of humor about bombs. And you should never joke to your insurance company about taking a safe driving class on your blackberry while driving. (That's a little something my husband found out the other day.)
You also can't make jokes about killing people -- at least, important people.
After the health care reform bill was passed into law, people called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's death. No one thought that was funny (or at least no one laughed publicly). One guy was even arrested by the FBI, but he did a bit more than joke: Gregory Giusti made dozens of threatening phone calls to Nancy Pelosi's home and office. Creepy.
Another man, Norman Leboon, 33, was arrested and charged with threatening to kill House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and his family. Leboon threatened Cantor via a YouTube video. I'd have to vote not-so-funny on that one too, particularly if you were the recipient of the threats.
Just last week, teachers in New Jersey sent out a memo making a joke about the death of Chris Christie, their governor. It read, in part:
"Dear Lord … this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. … I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
No one has been arrested. The teachers union stated it was a joke and has made a formal apology. Christie says he's not so sure it was a joke.
On this one, I vote obviously a joke (whether you think it's funny or not is a different question). The teachers union might not like Christie, but I don't think they were conspiring to kill him.
What do you think? Is it ever funny to joke about a politician's death? Does it matter who's making the joke, or where and how they make it?