Posted by: Mervyn | 2005/12/01


Hi Doc,

Just got home from being out... Today, one of my longest running friends hurt me...well... if that is the best way to describe it.

Im a young jewish guy...with some christian friends... and as people are...tend to throw some comments my a jokingly fashion... type thing... ive always been the minority!

But tonight, my friend called me a fckin jew... in the context... it was a joke... However, I did take offence...

It's the first time i've ever told a friend where to get off the bus... it took me a while to decide what to say...

I said to him.. if you ever say FJ again... ill consider our friendship over... Did I take it too far? Should I have kept quiet?

I have the utmost respect for my friends... but the line must be drawn somewhere to determine when a joke is not a joke...

I did leave the club...but my friend phoned me back to apologise... and said I must come back... I did... but the friendship has now changed... all im going to be now is the FJ.

What advice do you have? Should I carry on and just ignore it or what?

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Our expert says:
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Hello Mervyn,
Obviously by 11.18 at night I have long since left the Computer in the office ! Congratulations on handling the event well. I don't see how "FJ" could EVER be considered amusing or relevant to any actually funny joke. And while all gropups in society tend to have jokes they tell about themselves ( Scots tell jokes about mean Scotsmen , and so on ) the same joke, when told by someone NOT a member of the target group, is not funny and considered lousy bad manners.
You say you have the utmost respect for your friends ? Good for you. But this guy failed to show the utmost respect for you. OK, he probably didn't intend to be hurtful or offensive, but he was, and you were perfectly right to be upset by it. If human rights and religious / ethnic tolerance is to mean anything, we need to stand up for such rights, too. It's good that he apologised --- only you will know how sincere he was. Maybe you need a quiet chat with your friend now, to clear the air, to explain how hurtful that comment was --- and there are surely equivalents which he would have found just as hurtful. And then the test will be whether he thereafter shows grace, respect, and sensitivity to your feelings, or not.
Y describes rather wll how minorities of all kinds can feel coerced into laughing along rather than reminding careless jokers that some things are not funny.
Well done ; talk it over with him, and if, in your judgement he shows understanding and remorse, give him another chance

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Our users say:
Posted by: waterblom | 2005/12/02

Good for you and if there is a next time, let him take a leap. Such remarks are never funny and a sign of insecurity.
To call it good natured banter is a lot of nonsense.

Reply to waterblom
Posted by: Y | 2005/12/02

I agree fully with ...

Perhaps, if your friendship has been strong up until now, then give him the benefit of the doubt and talk about it instead of turning your back on him.

Again, agreeing with ..., I don't participate in the banter because the line is so fine and because it is usually the minorities who are marginalised and because most times, the comments are made in a joking way, but are actually offensive. Just because something is said in banter or jest does not make it okay and I refuse to laugh and play along just to be in with the rest. Most times you find yourself forced to laugh along because you have no choice - they'll tell you "why can't you take a joke?".

I personally have had friends who have made jokes to me about my religion. But then it made me think that they seem to be okay with who I am and my religion, but their continuous comments and purported "jokes" indicate a sensitivity or increased consciousness on their part to the fact that I am of a particular religion. It put me off them completely. Of course, I have friends of different religions and they accept me as I am, just as I do them.

Reply to Y
Posted by: Mervyn | 2005/12/02


Yeah, that's what I feel... I have taken some jokes before... just the FJ... that pissed me off...I suppose it is now known...

Thanks for the advice!


Reply to Mervyn
Posted by: been there | 2005/12/02

Hi Mervyn

I too would take offence whether or not I take my religion/creed/race seriously.
I have a friend who like calling me a bushy ----- not nice.
So i spoke to her and politely asked to not do so, she once did it in front of her family and they all laughed i nicely turned around and asked her to stop behaving like a koolie mate!!!!! Got in my car and left......... She coudl not understand why i was hurt. Surfice to say the friendship is over.

Reply to been there
Posted by: Buzz | 2005/12/02

I agree with ...

I'm sure he didn't mean to offend you, and now he knows how you feel about a remark like that. At least he apologised, which says that he values you as his friend. When things have calmed down, tell him that you don't appreciate this kind of comment, that it makes you feel ostrasized and you'd rather him not make these comments again, as it's hurtful.

I'm sure he will oblige.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: ... | 2005/12/01

We tend to have lots of religious and racial banter in our offices, and I hear lots of people teasing others and making jokes, but I know that that line is a very fine line and so, I don't ever go there... it's hard to know exactly when someone will be offended...

But, what is interesting in your post is that you seem to have accepted this banter before, but today it was hurtful... was it the F in front of the "Jew" that angered / hurt you, or was it the context in which it was said... or possibly you haven't ever really accepted it, and tonight you weren't able to contain the hurt you often feel when remarks are made.

I don't think you have taken it too far at all though... your friend's word hurt your feelings, and you have every right to tell him that...

If this friendship has always been a good solid friendship and you have never before expressed your hurt about those types of remarks then I think you should perhaps consider talking to him about how you felt and from his response you might be able to guage whether he is genuinely remorseful... perhaps he didn't ever really stop to think about what the remarks meant to you...

I don't think you should just totally ignore it, unless you feel that his apology was genuine and that he really understands why you felt hurt.

Reply to ...

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