I suppose that there is no percentage in this for me but I can't help myself. Here are two bits of silliness in the news.
John Schultze, a lawyer with the Department of Transportation has, essentially, been fired because a few years ago he sent around a joke press release touting legalized prostitution as an economic development idea for Wisconsin. Among the benefits of the plan would be job opportunities for W-2 recipients. The release included the undoubtedly offensive suggestion that men who frequent prostitutes probably prefer transsexuals to transvestites.
Now, I certainly understand that prostitution is frequently exploitation of poor women and that's not funny. I suppose one might say that the the bit about transsexuals was "hetero-normative" and we certainly can't have that.
On the other hand, humor often works by being transgressive in the sense that it flips our normal assumptions about things and treats its subject differently than we normally would. Doing so doesn't mean that the humorist endorses what he jokes about. In this case, the joke was on the idea that someone would think prostitution in the Dells was a good idea.
It was all of that and an offense and against good comedic discernment to boot. But was it a firing offense? Have we really become so incapable of exercising judgment about the multiplying third rails of public conversation that we have to destroy everyone who blunders on to something that makes someone - or at least officially protected someones - uncomfortable ? Have our politicians become so focus grouped that they can't stand up for the decent thing to do? No need to answer the last one.
I don't think the joke he forwarded was very funny and I understand that sending it around at work was not the best thing to do. He deserved a reprimand.
But fire the guy? Give me a break.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin