Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Unfunny jokes

Dear Facebook friend,

Yesterday, you "liked" an anti-immigrant joke on Facebook. The punch line was:

You're British mate, you're entitled to fuck-all! (*)

You're a perfectly pleasant and likeable person, not normally given to sharing immigrant-bashing posts. I really, sincerely hope this was a one-off and you didn't give it much thought.

Residents of the UK are entitled to all sorts of things, often taking them completely for granted. For all its faults, the UK has a good standard of living, world-class health and education institutions, and a vibrant and diverse culture. That is why I've chosen to make my home here -- instead of Canada or the USA, as I have the right to do -- and pay thousands of pounds in visa and citizenship fees for the privilege. It's curious, and a little sad, the author of this "joke" has less pride in the UK than I do.

One might protest that I am one of the "good" immigrants. This distinction is not as helpful as some appear to believe. We can all agree criminals are "bad" immigrants, but beyond that it very much depends on subjective opinion. In addition, certain politicians don't bother with these niceties when blaming "immigrants" for everything from unemployment to bad traffic on the M4.

I know the Facebook post isn't about facts or reason. It's about having a cheap laugh at the expense of immigrants. Speaking as one of them, I am not impressed.

In the old days, it was easier to indulge in a little hypocrisy. Open and honest discussion may be a virtue, but I've got plenty of other things to worry about, and my life would be simpler if I didn't know you "liked" this joke. Now it is known, I can't un-know it, and I'm writing about it because it bothers me.

Hypocrisy isn't as easy as it used to be. All of us should all bear in mind that when we "like" anything, Facebook's ever-so-helpful algorithms will push it to our friends and acquaintances, who may not have quite the same reaction as we do.

Best wishes,

Iain




* - This is why punctuation is important:
  • You're entitled to fuck-all: You're entitled to nothing.
  • You're entitled to fuck all: You're entitled to copulate with everyone.

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