― Occupation?
― No, no, just visiting!

This joke is so old (but gold), that you can hardly imagine someone can be really insulted having heard it. However, the situation is different when you say it somewhere out of your homeland. Especially when you are Russian. Especially when you are in a post-Soviet country.

Regardless of nationality, some people who don’t share the same cultural memory with you just take this kind of jokes too personally. Instead of a laughter or a smile, you can receive a cold look, or even some offensive words in your address. Even if there have been already more than 20 years passed after the end of the conflict.

The ones who think that only being an aggrieved party in a particular historical period is unpleasant, I would argue that the other party (if it realized that its policy was inappropriate, or wrong, or unfair) suffers as well. Just try to put yourself into the shoes of Russians, who don’t support the governmental actions, but still have to carry a stigma of occupants, or aggressors, or even enemies.

What can we do? I think the best option is just to stay as we are, taking care of each other. And…yes, making fun of our politics. Whether you like it or not, the Soviet occupation did exist, as well as fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, two World Wars, or, going really deep into the history, a Roman Empire expansion.

I mean, unfortunately, in most of the cases we, ordinary people, can do nothing to change in politics. And it doesn’t matter if you support some actions or not, they just take place ― and that’s it. So, if we can’t do anything with that, why don’t we just laugh at it?

Yes, personally I really like politically incorrect jokes. Especially when you practice them in a multicultural company, like we have here, in Tartu. I really appreciate if my Estonian coursemates laugh when I come in the class and say to them: “Don’t you mind if I occupy this chair?” Recently, when me and my friends suddenly saw a plane flying really low over the town, my Georgian friend asked: “Aren’t these your compatriots, Kate?” And I laughed as well. International politics is politics, but we are friends, who came to Tartu from different countries to study and to party together.

You know, I think that laughter in these cases indicates a very simple thing ― that a person (or, talking in broader terms, a nation) has overcome some particular problems.

Have you ever watched True Detective series? There was an episode, when the policemen were sitting at an office, and one of them asks another one:

― Do you know how to call a black guy riding a plane?
― …?
― A pilot, you racist!

(Oh, please, don’t tell me you didn’t like this joke. I know you did. A small hint: you’ll find more such jokes in the end of the post, I hope you won’t get bored with my nerdy philosophical investigations in the middle).

One more argument in favour of politically incorrect jokes and statements ― they raise questions, set the agenda for discussions. I’d like to recall one of my favourite series South Park (I think even those who pretend not to like politically incorrect jokes appreciate it). So, there was an episode when Stan’s father sounds a word “nigger” on TV. Token, an Afro-American guy, is mad at Stan because of that. Cartman (a racist-sexist and all other -ists guy) wants to escalate a conflict into “a race war”, but after that everyone realizes that the attention paid to this Stans’ father’s mistake was just exaggerated.

I personally think that the two previous examples, meaning their appearance in mass culture, show that Americans are not afraid to talk about this issues anymore, and can discuss problems in a normal way, not claiming anyone a racist for raising such issues.

And finally, the ability of telling these jokes shows we still have a right of freedom of expression. I hope you are not annoyed with my “fictional” examples so far, but do you remember a based on real events movie The People Vs. Larry Flynt? The main character, Larry, was a publisher of an erotic (and very politically incorrect) magazine Hustler. He was brought to court because of his…not nice activity. However, I’d like to quote one sentence of his defence speech in the court: “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you”.

P.S. It would be unfair (and discriminative) to leave apart one of my favourite group of politically incorrect jokes, sexist ones. I’m sharing just a few of them. You are welcome to share the ones you like in comments.

  • As an airplane is about to crash, a female passenger jumps up frantically and announces, “If I’m going to die, I want to die feeling like a woman.” She removes all her clothing and asks, “Is there someone on this plane who is man enough to make me feel like a woman?” A man stands up, removes his shirt and says, “Here, iron this!”.
  • How do you know when a woman is about to say something smart? When she starts her sentence with, “A man once told me…”
  • A man driving a car hits a woman. Whose fault is it? The man’s. Why was he driving in the kitchen?
  • Wanna hear a joke? Women’s rights.

Laughter will save the world.

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