Keeping abreast of taboo subjects
If you are trying to keep abreast of subjects about which you are not allowed to joke in any way, add breastfeeding to the list. It's getting to be a very long list. People are just waiting to be offended by any humorous reference to their particular special interest. Regular readers will remember that I have been savaged for daring to find humor in witches, mo-ped riders, the official island colors, people against eating lobsters, the TV show "Gunsmoke" and, curiously, pop singer Sheryl Crow's views on toilet paper.
The level of hostility today directed at anyone who jokes about a subject that anyone feels is sacrosanct is amazing. And if you target their topic with humor, they don't want an apology, they want you fired, whipped, tortured, and -- in the case of one deranged reader who felt poking fun at mo-peds is a capital offense -- dead. With all the hate mail this column generates, Guantanamo Bay is beginning to sound like a cozy hideaway.
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column about all the requests I get from PR agents asking me to write about their clients' products. The point was that these guys really don't want me writing about their stuff because I'll just make fun of it. Then, to prove the point, I picked out a few products I've been contacted about, like the "Bebe au Lait" breastfeeding blanket, and proceeded to make fun of them. They were just theoretical examples of how nasty I could be if I really wanted to.
The Bebe au Lait release said "Moms are often daunted away from breastfeeding in public" and this special blanket that covers the feeding baby should, I guess, "undaunt" feeding mothers. The thing is, as natural and wonderful as breastfeeding is -- and I'm a HUGE proponent and past practitioner of breastfeeding -- it tends to make some people uncomfortable when done in public. But you are not allowed to joke or say anything against breastfeeding in public, or you'll get heartwarming messages from the Angry Lactating League such as these I received:
» "I was disappointed in (your) prehistoric views towards breastfeeding in a modern society ... It was a disservice for (you) to share (your) personal prejudices with the people of Hawaii." She also suggested I find "professional mental help."
» "What you said about breastfeeding was very stupid ... making fun of breastfeeding in public is wrong ... Please help society by rewriting your opinion about it. Then I can & probably most women & good men, can like you again."
» "I won't be reading you anymore. You're (sic) views on women breastfeeding are short-sided(sic) and selfish. I can't imagine you've had kids and if you have, I feel sorry for them and your wife."
» "If you are so offended by seeing women breastfeeding, perhaps you should use the Bebe au Leit cover and place it over your head."
For the record, I want women and "good men" to like me. And I'm not offended by public breastfeeding. But we should be able to discuss the matter without everyone acting like, well, babies.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
at any book retailer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org