2. You're never "just joking." Nobody is ever "just joking." Humor is a social act that performs a social function (always).
— Jason P. Steed (@5thCircAppeals) August 9, 2016
Jason P. Steed is getting some deserved attention for his series of tweets on Trump’s “Second Amendment remedies” *joke*. Excerpts here, stripped, for those of you whose refined sensibilities can’t deal with Twitter:
… 4. Which is to say, humor is a way we construct identity – who we are in relation to others. We use humor to form groups…
5. …and to find our individual place in or out of those groups. In short, joking/humor is one tool by which we assimilate or alienate.
6. IOW, we use humor to bring people into – or keep them out of – our social groups. This is what humor *does.* What it’s for.
9. This is why, e.g., racist “jokes” are bad. Not just because they serve to alienate certain people, but also because…
10. …they serve to assimilate the idea of racism (the idea of alienating people based on their race). And so we come to Trump.
11. A racist joke sends a message to the in-group that racism is acceptable. (If you don’t find it acceptable, you’re in the out-group.)
12. The racist joke teller might say “just joking” – but this is a *defense* to the out-group. He doesn’t have to say this to the in-group.
13. This is why we’re never “just joking.” To the in-group, no defense of the joke is needed; the idea conveyed is accepted/acceptable.
14. So, when Trump jokes about assassination or armed revolt, he’s asking the in-group to assimilate/accept that idea. That’s what jokes do.
15. And when he says “just joking,” that’s a defense offered to the out-group who was never meant to assimilate the idea in the first place.
22. But I think it’s pretty clear Trump was not engaging in some complex satirical form of humor. He was “just joking.” In the worst sense.
23. Bottom line: don’t accept “just joking” as excuse for what Trump said today. The in-group for that joke should be tiny. Like his hands.
Vox‘s Zack Beauchamp posts the whole tweetstream, adding:
… This is a broader problem with Trump’s candidacy. Even if he never makes it into the White House, it’s not clear how much damage his penchant for shattering norms against explicit racism and calls for violence is doing to American politics…