Not a good Valentine’s Day for the Blade Runner.

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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65 Responses

  1. Avatar zic says:

    Today is Valentine’s Day. The day of love.

    And the Day of One Billion Rising.

    Women around the world demonstrating to end the violence against women.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It takes men.

    I don’t like much about my state’s governor, but on this, he and I see eye to eye. Here’s a bit from the State of the State address he gave last week:
    I honestly and truthfully believe, having been one that was brought up in an environment of domestic violence — it was very close to home. I was not the spouse, but I was a child.

    And I really believe, that we need to do something about it. I think that half of the homicides in this state, are due to domestic violence. And that, we all agree, no matter what we’re from, that that’s unacceptable.

    This evening, I talked a lot about family and about the American Dream. Well frankly, Domestic violence is Family violence.

    It’s a heinous crime, and we need to stand up. We, the men in this room, need to stand up and shout loud and clear, that we are going to protect our women and children.


    I’m going to add the rest of this part of his address, because he addresses gun control; and given how far to the right this governor is, this surprised me. I think it stands in stark contrast to the idiotic things we hear so many conservatives saying:

    One of the big issues in domestic violence is having the abusers give up their guns.

    Unfortunately, the enforcement is very deficient.

    Because all law enforcement has to their disposal is asking whether or not you gave your guns up.

    And many people will say, well, you have to get a background check. Unfortunately, when you get a background check, they don’t record that you bought the gun. And so we need to do something about getting guns away from abusers.

    I am going to be signing an executive order tomorrow that’s creating a task force to address this specific issue.

    Curbing domestic violence I take very seriously.

    Thank you, Governor LePage. I hope other governor’s, other men, follow your example.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I was just about to write on this myself and saw you beat me to the joke.

    So instead, I’ll point out that the first three lines resulting from a Bing image search for the term “disgraced hero” reveals (in order): Lance Armstrong, Hulk Hogan, Pete Rose, Chen Guangming, Lance Armstrong again, Mark McGwire, the crew of HMS Titanic as portrayed in the James Cameron movie, Brett Favre, Tiger Woods, Joe Paterno, O.J. Simpson, Lance Armstrong again, Alfred Dreyfus, and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

    I guess it’s a little bit too soon for Pistorius to qualify.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:


    Maybe I’m just being a prude, but I find your joke to be in poor taste.

    Pistorius’s physical self should not factor into our response to his actions. Nor should his actions factor into our response to his physical self.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kazzy says:

      The joke was in poor taste, yes.

      It’s kind of the point. Email me if you want to hear my justification.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Can you shoot me one? I’d have to dig through old emails to find yours, I think. You can email me at the address associated with this comment.

        Or, if you are comfortable, it might be something discussing here in the threads. It’d be interesting to hear different perspectives on the matter. Of course, it is your thread, your comment, and your thought process, so the decision is yours.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

      In fairness, Kazzy, you should include me in your expression of distaste. I was on my way to making (essentially) the same joke — Nob was just a bit quicker about it than I was.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Similarly, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. As I said to Nob in a private email, I know the both of you well enough to know you’re no a bunch of neanderthals who take pleasure in mocking the disabled, so I’d like to hear more about your thought process. (I stop short of prefacing my comments with “With all due respect” because that just seems like a way to avoid taking responsibility for subsequently being disrespectful, but I do approach you both here and always as respected friends.)

        To flesh out my thoughts, I doubt we would have considered it appropriate to make fun of Pistorius’s disabilities last week. And even if he is indeed guilty of the murder, it doesn’t seem any more appropriate to do so. There is a lot of criticism that can be leveled at him, but I don’t think any of it should be directed at his physical status.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

          In sobriety your position is unassailable, Kazzy. The humorous element of the joke derives in large measure from its tastelessness and breach of decorum. The impulse is to combine clever and shocking and find humor there. The humor, in turn, helps assuage the disappointment and grief of seeing yet another hero disgraced. It is in part because we’ve admired Pistorious so that we see this terrible event as more shocking than other deaths and humor, even tasteless humor like the joke in question, is a balm on that shock.Report

          • Avatar M.A. in reply to Burt Likko says:

            You are far more eloquent than I was in explaining this.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Seeing a hero disgraced.

            He’s still a hero, Burt. The accomplishments as an athlete still stand.

            But at the same time, he was also an abuser. There’s a history.

            People can be both good and bad; the bad he did doesn’t undo the greatness he achieved. It only changes our view. We would live easier in this world if there was room for imperfection in our heros, room for humanity. It would, just maybe, make a little space for them to seek help for their troubles.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I had a TON of foot puns at the ready. It was only zic’s comment that made see another side of it.

        I hope there is room for both approaches. I think humor is really, really valuable, to relieve individual and group tension (and hey, sometimes even to provide insight on the topic!), and nobody likes being scolded. But zic and Kazzy aren’t wrong to see another side to the whole thing.

        Maybe on any sensitive topic we need two threads – one to treat the subject (mostly) seriously, and one for the wags and punners to go nuts (y’all will know where to usually find me).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

          I’m curious what the “tension” is. Is it in dealing with a “fallen hero”?Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

            Just general tension, in the individual and cumulatively the group. The tension of modern 21st-century life. The tension of trying to get along with other people who all hold very different views and approaches and personalities and histories. The tension of trying to get through the day and get the bills paid and the kids where they need to go and the food on the table, and keeping the id mostly chained while so doing.

            The tension of trying to remain (or at least appear) professional, and grown-up, and collegial, and serious, and sane in the face of a job, or people, or a world, that is often none of these things.

            If we didn’t laugh, we’d kill somebody ourselves.

            Being told what is “appropriate” to joke about, and what isn’t, is more tension-inducing than tension-relieving. Having to examine from all angles every random joke or dumb pun that crosses your brain, before you say it out loud, is enervating.

            As is people laughing about something that you personally don’t think is funny, when examined from a different angle.

            But I’d rather live with the latter than the former, personally.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

              I see. But how much tension is reduced for people with disabilities when they see other people with disabilities mocked for having those disabilities?Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, I guess I’d let them say, themselves. And I imagine that they might have difficulty coming to a group consensus.

                I also don’t think saying the word “leg” inherently mocks a person without one. Mocking implies a that a person, or a group is the *object* or punchline of the humor.

                In this case, it’s not; it’s wordplay, “leg to stand on” being a colloquialism, and a news item featuring a person without legs the “setup” – not the “punchline”.

                It of course would be different if Mr. Pistorious, or someone else sans legs, were here; but they’re not (AFAIK); that would just be common courtesy then.

                I think continually finding a “target” in every joke or pun is a mistake. Jokes and speech aren’t always weapons, though they can be.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                Do you see the Pandora’s Box that opens? If “leg” jokes are okay so long as everyone here has both of theirs, but would not be otherwise, are racial jokes okay so long as everyone is of the same, non-targeted race? Consider this joke, which I’d chalk up as the same time of “wordplay” but with a racial bend…

                Why are black people so tall?
                Because they’re negroes (Knee grows).

                Would that be okay to say here if everyone was white?

                I would also point out that, in my anecdotal experience, there are ways in which some people with disabilities/special needs identify with one another even when their needs are not the same. So we wouldn’t necessarily need a person without his/her legs here to risk a breach of common courtesy; I think that other members of the disabled/special needs community might speak up (and rightfully so, in my opinion).

                And please note I’m not trying to be the funny police. My objection to the joke was predicated upon the notion that Nob was making it because Pistorius was being accused of something as grizzly as murdering his girlfriend, and that somehow now made his physical self fair game for humor where previously it was not. If you would make that joke about Pistorius all the same before or after the news broke, I think that changes things. But if the thinking is that, “Well, since he is a murderer, I can say whatever I want,” I think it becomes really problematic, really quickly.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                I maintain that he’s not being mocked for his disability. But even if I believed he were – if we can’t mock murderers, who can we mock? What’s the transitive property there? If I make fun of Hitler’s short stature, am I inherently mocking all short people?

                Regarding the “knee grows” joke (leaving aside whether or not the word *itself* is offensive, since I believe it is to most, but I want to keep apples-to-apples, and “leg” is not an offensive word) – assuming the word itself is not inherently offensive, I see nothing inherently wrong with the joke.

                Again, it’s wordplay, with homonyms this time; it implies nothing unpleasant or inferior about black people, either in general or in particular. So there’s nothing “mocking” about its use of a silly pun to “explain” a statistical fact. I do believe black people may be taller, on average, than Caucasians or Asians.

                Would I not say such a joke in mixed company? Maybe (depends on how well I know the group, and whether I think the joke is funny and think they will too) but if I don’t it’s out of common courtesy and fear of misunderstanding, more than any concern with its actual content.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                Mocking Hitler’s height accomplishes what, exactly? That is possibly the LEAST objectionable thing about him. It is sort of like when people go after politicians and instead of attacking that which is attack worthy, they attack stupid things like their ears or their accent or how they utilize a water bottle. All it REALLY does is make the critic look silly.

                I think we should be able to mock or deride murderers for being murderers. But that doesn’t make previously unmockworthy aspects of them mockworthy. Mocking a murderer’s bald head implies that their is something mockworthy about being bald, but because we don’t want to offend good, decent, non-murdering people, we simply don’t do it.

                And, I do agree with you that Nob was not intending to mock Pisotrius for being an amputee or amputees in general. But I did think the joke was in poor taste and risked setting this thread up as one where people were just teeing off on the disabled or at least the perception that this was the type of place where this went on.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

                Kazzy, suppose there’s a situation where Obama is presumptively informed of a certain state of affairs and claims that he’s never heard about it. If someone were to say “that’s unbelievable, I mean, have you seen the ears on that guy?” the joke isn’t necessarily making fun of anything about Obama. It’s a joke, instead of a silly comment, because Obama has big ears that are frequently caricatured.

                Is Nob’s Pistorius joke an example of that type of humor? Well, maybe. It’s entirely obvious that Pistorius lost his legs and is famous for running on metal blades. I don’t see why a joke including that state of affairs is somehow tasteless or offensive simply because he’s disabled.

                It reminds me of a recent post in which a disabled person was lamenting the use of the term “hero” to refer to folks who participate in the paralympics because the use of that term highlighted the disability rather than normalized it. Criticizing Nob’s joke is the reversie of the same complaint. If we are to view Pistorius as a normal person – normalize both him and his disability – then jokes about his anatomy are fair game. At least to the degree jokes about anyone elses anatomy are fair game, it seems to me.Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to Glyph says:

              Being told what is “appropriate” to joke about, and what isn’t, is more tension-inducing than tension-relieving.

              I seem to remember a time a few months ago when you took me to task for making a joke you found inappropriate, and it certainly didn’t involve disrespect to a dead woman. Glad to see you’ve expanded your horizons since then.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Glyph says:

          I had a whole horsepower worth (30,000 foot-puns per minute.)Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to MikeSchilling says:

            I wish you’d use them.

            It’s obviously more important to be funny and defend the right to be armed and dangerous. And that really is a joke. Women everywhere are laughing. I’m laughing at myself right now, for even bothering to point out something that I knew to be a wet blanket.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Kazzy says:

      Well, since the topic has been broached, I will admit it seems a bit too soon to me.Report

  4. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    The post was intended, as much as a critique on the meta-commentary that tends to follow sports related violence news pieces. (See everything from DeadSpin to ESPN on how horribly they treat these subjects)

    At the same time, an uncomfortable laugh at the expense of a(n alleged) perpetrator of violence in a domestic situation makes it more bearable.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    So I have a design coming out in a book later this year, a collection of post-apocalyptic designs. The editor has asked for favorite fiction/movies to include in an appendix; and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Bladerunner were on my list.

    She just asked me to write a brief review.

    Sigh. Life keeps me on my feet.

    /yes, humor is important. And when it offends others, that’s a good place for introspection, for growth.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to zic says:

      My first thought was from Terminator instead of Blade Runner. “She was dating a super-human cyborg. Those relationships always end in a hail of gunfire, or worse.”Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I’m not saying this sill amuse anyone but me, but I heard a discussion of this case on the radio on my drive home, and I whistled this all the way through it.Report