Monday, November 17, 2003

Cheap jokes are still funny 

Here's an interesting commentary by Clarke Stallworth about a cheap shot taken at Alabama...
Alabama is always good for a cheap laugh.

If a comic is dying onstage, a joke about Alabama will revive his act. If a newspaper columnist needs a quick fix, throw an Alabama joke in to get a laugh.

It's a natural for the know-it-alls who know nothing. What astounds me is that a quality institution like the Poynter Institute would take the low road...

The Poynter Web site is ... the home of Jim Romanesko, who does a daily column about newspapers — a sort of newspaper about newspapers and television. Monday, I found this entry in the Romanesko column:

Headline: "Alabamians believe not enogh spent on education."

The headline was picked up from al.com, the Web site of The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register.

And then there was this comment, on the Poynter Institute Web site: They're probably right.

Read the rest...

I can't find where Jim Romanesko made his supposedly inappropriate comment. Maybe it's been removed from Poynter's site; maybe he never wrote it in the first place.

On the other hand, Al Kamen of The Washington Post made a similar comment...
This headline Monday from the online Alabama News [sic] was on a poll showing most people oppose a plan to cut state education spending.

"Poll: Alabamians believe not enogh spent on education."

Obviously.

Clarke Stallworth complains in his editorial that such comments are unfair. He calls the people who make such remarks "snide," "know-it-alls," and "dummy."

I've got a few names for Stallworth: "crybaby," "spoil-sport," and "over-analytical."

It's a joke, for God's sake!

I am fully capable of laughing at my own expense. No harm was was meant by these jibes. These columnists and comedians aren't using a typographical error to make a serious political argument that Alabamians are dumb. They're using it as a punchline. In an article about education in Alabama, having a misspelled word in the headline is ironic — and funny.

When Jon Stewart, as Stallworth says, "went on and on bashing Alabama when the voters turned down a brave new venture by Alabama's heroic governor, Bob Riley," he isn't singling Alabama out. He makes fun of everybody. That's the point  of The Daily Show. If you'll notice, it's not a real news program — it's on Comedy Central.

You know why people make jokes about Alabamians being dumb? Because Alabamians are dumb. The Irish are drunks, the French are rude, women are nags, gays are flamboyant, Jews are stingy, and everyone in Texas wears a 10-gallon hat.

Do people really believe those stereotypes? Yeah, they do. But, as Stallworth points out in his article, those people are the ones who're ignorant. I'm willing to believe, though, that the sort of people who read newspapers hold intelligence of a higher caliber.

Jokes about a misspelled headline aren't hurting Alabama's image. Unlike Clarke Stallworth, most people can appreciate irony.