Is it possible to be impeccable with one's word while joking? This question occurred to me recently and even if it does have an answer, it seems quite complex. Working with youth, I often see the results of jokes that hurt. Even young people that are friends use mean jokes as a means of communication, but I often wonder what kind of relationships this way of relating to each other really create. A good friend and I called each other bitches in middle school and made constant jokes at each other's expense, but that friendship ended surprisingly and painfully in high school. I think that how we established our relationship had much to do with this. Many people of my generation now make jokes about things that are uncomfortable to talk about. Friends of mine have made jokes about rape, roofies, and more and I wonder what the ramifications of these jokes are. I see a problem in them because most of the people who I have asked about these types of jokes do not have personal experience with their subject matter. If someone who has an experience with rape overheard a joke like this would they be offended, hurt, uncomfortable, upset or worse? And if they were any of these things, would they be comfortable in the company of those who had made the jokes in saying something? Not always.

I have nothing against humor, I think it is important, but I do see a responsibility in being aware of what we joke about and whether that joke ends or begins a conversation. I have had some interesting conversations that have begun with jokes in poor taste. I have also had some really awful conversations with people who don't think they should have to consider others' points of view before speaking. I guess it comes down to the fact that we all have the power to speak and with this power comes responsibility. Our words can make people happy, make people laugh, but they can also hurt. They can hurt ourselves as much as others. I think of the things that I sometimes joke about, often things that have caused me pain. The process of healing that hurt definitely includes joking about it, but sometimes I find my jokes become caustic. When they get too sarcastic, I realize I am no longer using the jokes to heal, but just to cut my wound deeper. 

Things to think about, but so this doesn't get too heavy, I will end with a joke:
Q: Can a hamburger marry a hot dog?

A: Only if they have a frank relationship.