Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's Not a Joke

Washington Post Columnist Kathleen Parker's recent article – about the clown skit with an Obama mask at the rodeo in Missouri – used a Role Reversal that illustrates how one's perceptions can change according to her or his place on a hierarchy.

Role reversals provide us enlightening experiences; elusive hierarchies reveal themselves in an instant. When we're on the top of a hierarchy (here, race) the concerns of bottom groups can look ridiculous. But when we become the bottom group, we often see the harm of the hierarchy instantly.

Kathleen Parker writes:

"To be honest, my first reaction was: What a lot of bull. But then, as one must, I put myself in the other’s shoes. How would I feel if my face were on the clown’s mask and the arena were filled with men who cheered the beast who would trample and destroy me? 

"This is where political commentary becomes something else. Frightening. We all know what happens when the mob is empowered, especially when further emboldened by the excuse of humor. Few statements are more dishonest than 'It’s just a joke.'"