Thursday, January 19, 2006

PC Plod

I am fan of Michael Connelly. I have read all the Harry Bosch books and have just finished his latest, "The Lincoln Lawyer". It exposes the flaws in the adversarial system of law. An attorney's job is to give his client the best possible defense - justice is irrelevant. In fact, the lawyer would rather not hear his client's view on whether he was innocent or guilty, since he cannot tell a lie in court. He doesn't want the facts to interfere with the defense. In The Lincoln Lawyer the defendant is a real estate dealer - what we in England call an estate agent.

Now there are hundreds of jokes about lawyers. Like the one in Spielberg's Peter Pan that Robin Williams tells - I hear that lawyers are replacing rats in animal experiments; the public is less concerned when they hear of lawyers having their eyes put out or being operated on without anesthetic and they've found that it's possible to get lawyers to do things that even rats won't do.

In England those sorts of jokes are told about estate agents. When the AIDS epidemic began the New Scientist published a cartoon that showed an old man with a beard on a cloud in the sky talking to an angel having just thrown a lightening bolt down to earth. He is saying, "That's done for the homosexuals, now can we think of something worse for the estate agents?"

It raises the interesting question of who can be the butt of humor in these politically correct days. 22 years ago the left leaning New Scientist could gaily make jokes about homosexuals (or was it a joke against estate agents or a joke against God or against fundamentalist Christians and Muslims?) John Cleese takes the mickey out of the Germans in "Don't mention the war!" one of the sublime episodes of Fawlty Towers, and Yes Minister has a wonderful episode where the civil servant explains that the real reason for the British nuclear bomb was that the French have one; the French have always been the real enemy ever since 1066. Then there is the story about Italian Tanks, with 14 reverse gears and one forward gear in case they are attacked from behind.

We can no longer make jokes about Africans - there were certainly jokes about Idi Amin - it is this inhibition that allows tyrants like Robert Mugabe to thrive. Bin Laden is fair game, but we have to be careful that we don't apply the punch line against all Muslims, all Arabs, all Asians, all people with different colored skin. Ethnic jokes are out. I tell a lot of jokes against the English but then I'm English. Don't you try! I once got into trouble for telling a joke against the IRA (Irish Republican Army - nothing to do with the Inland Revenue. Now there's a target.)

Now there are lots of Jewish jokes. You can Google them if you like. I particularly like the one about the Jewish princess who asks her father if she can visit Harrods now that it's owned by an Egyptian - but then I'm only one sixteenth Jewish so I can only tell you one sixteenth of the joke.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead lawyer in the road? The skid marks in front of the snake.....