JOCELYN Chia's MH370 joke is repugnant. Her 'wisecracks' about Malaysia feed on stereotypes. Bah! But I'm sure she can climb out of the pit, if she works hard enough.
The thing is, this writer has heard jokes about almost everything. Nothing is off-limits.
People mock God, the prophets, disability, skin colour and weight... it goes on and on.
Has it always been like that? I don't know. I didn't hear many of such jokes growing up. But social media didn't exist then.
Our comedic world was small. The funnymen were far and few between. Mat Sentol and A.R. Badul come to mind. So does Tan Sri P. Ramlee.
I don't recall any of them cracking jokes about people's misfortunes.
But, the world was a larger place then; the Internet had not made a village of it yet. Perhaps much was said that offended folks, but not many heard those remarks.
So, what is it a comedian should not make fun of?
Avoid going beyond what is decent, including remarks that make light of someone's loss?
The problem with 'decency' is it means different things to individuals A and B. For example, a leader in a northern state uses a vulgar word. The response? Some laugh it off, some are repulsed.
And picture this scene. An obese man struggles to walk up a staircase. A comedian says of him: "Any bigger and maybe they can roll him up."
Is that funny? No it isn't. But there are folks who would disagree and say to this writer, "Get a life, man! And get rid of that self-righteousness".
Maybe Chia belongs to this group. Anything and anyone is fair game for a joke.
Is this the world we are living in now? Or has it always been like that, in public and private conversations?
This writer personally knows individuals who make what they think are funny remarks about the pain others endure. Sometimes, it's because they dislike those people. Sometimes, the words just roll off the tongue for no apparent reason.
So perhaps it is time for introspection. Are we like Chia? Or is Chia one of us? Is empathy only a mist in our lives, coming and going but never enduring?
Everyone, not only comedians, should think hard before milking people's sorrow to impress others. It is not only repugnant. As the MH370 joke shows, it is also cruel. Don't stay in the pit.