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Is there an actual term for the “I was only joking” defense?


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Just curious. You’ve seen it before. Someone says something wrong-headed and you call them out on it and they say some version of, “Geez, it was a joke. Lighten up, kill-joy!” 

Is there an actual term for doing this? The “haha defense”? Or something? 

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Not one word, but we refer to this Bible Verse:  (Prov 26:18-19)

18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19 is the man who deceives his neighbor
    and says, “I am only joking!”

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1 hour ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

Gaslighting?

I think gaslighting is more like, “I didn’t say that. I can’t believe that’s what you heard. Were you even listening to me?” 
 

Then you sit there thinking, am I crazy? Did I really hear that?

ETA: this can go down a deep dark hole of the offender then getting VERY angry with the victim, “I can’t believe you think I would say something like that!” Until the victim finds themselves apologizing for ever suggesting that the offender could say something like that. That’s gaslighting. 

Edited by sassenach
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17 minutes ago, sassenach said:

I think gaslighting is more like, “I didn’t say that. I can’t believe that’s what you heard. Were you even listening to me?” 
 

Then you sit there thinking, am I crazy? Did I really hear that?

ETA: this can go down a deep dark hole of the offender then getting VERY angry with the victim, “I can’t believe you think I would say something like that!” Until the victim finds themselves apologizing for ever suggesting that the offender could say something like that. That’s gaslighting. 

I think it can be gaslighting... I agree this is the more traditional definition though. I'd say the "I was only joking" thing is gaslighting when it's part of a larger pattern of minimizing and lying to make the victim think they're not seeing/experiencing what they see/experience.

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26 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I think it can be gaslighting... I agree this is the more traditional definition though. I'd say the "I was only joking" thing is gaslighting when it's part of a larger pattern of minimizing and lying to make the victim think they're not seeing/experiencing what they see/experience.

The sense I was thinking of is more: the person is too arrogant or insecure or whatever to realize or own up that what they said was wrong, so they “cover” it by making you the defective person since you obviously “can’t take a joke.” 

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My first thought was something like “turtling”.  Like in hockey when a player provokes and antagonizes all game and then “crawls back into his shell” when the other team’s tough guy comes after him for it.

I usually hear the “can’t you take a joke?” phrase meant literally, when I’ve snapped at someone for something that is personally annoying or obnoxious but not offensive.  The answer is still no, by the way.

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31 minutes ago, Quill said:

The sense I was thinking of is more: the person is too arrogant or insecure or whatever to realize or own up that what they said was wrong, so they “cover” it by making you the defective person since you obviously “can’t take a joke.” 

yeah, and the "sorry/not-sorry" apologies.

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47 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

my bad

they know they were in the wrong and flipped you the bird 

Are you saying that is what 'my bad' means?

I do not think it means what you think it means.

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2 minutes ago, KathyBC said:

Are you saying that is what 'my bad' means?

I do not think it means what you think it means.

I’m with you. It s inconceivable that this is what “my bad” means. 

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I’m surprised there doesn’t seem to be a real term for this. Shouldn’t it be called, like, Appeal to Levity? 

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5 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

“Many a great truth is spoken in jest.”

My dh and I say this to each other often, but when we do, it is much lighter in application.

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18 minutes ago, Quill said:

I’m surprised there doesn’t seem to be a real term for this. Shouldn’t it be called, like, Appeal to Levity? 

Make it so.

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Yup, that was a favorite line of my abusive ex-husband. To which my response was almost always, "If everybody isn't laughing, it's not funny." Didn't deter him in the least but you can't change anyone unless they want to change. Sigh.

@Corraleno That. Was. Awesome! :-D

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I was thinking about this. I feel like it's gone even further. Like, I always have seen people be Schrodinger's Douchebags (and yeah, I'm using that from now on) - even little kids. But now I see the whole idea of humor turned on people.

Example. A friend shared a thing about a Black owned business getting harassed after they were featured in a Target ad with the owned saying she wanted to encourage little Black girls to believe they could be entrepreneurs like her. I was like, geez, people are so horrible. White supremacists know their position is indefensible, so they have nothing better to do but go attack this poor random business and cry "reverse racism" for the owner wanting to encourage Black girls. A friend of hers then attacked me. You're what's wrong with America. No one can even tell a joke anymore. I was like, what are you even talking about. It's not a joke. They've been fielding hate mail and threats and people have bombed their online ratings with fake reviews - that could ruin them as a small business. He was like, people used to be funny. All in the Family was funny. Jokes are funny, etc. I was like, what in the world are you even saying!?!? My friend, who by the way, is Black, was also like, what the heck, friend. It was almost like the "we're only kidding" defense was being expanded to include anything everywhere. Like a magic umbrella for all jerks worldwide.

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Schroedinger's Douchebag is brilliant. For British use I'm havering between Schroedinger's Pillock and (ruder) Schroedinger's Wanker. I haven't thought of a version with the pleasing alliteration of the original.

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Being a jerk? Being an asshole? Wanker? Pillock?  

My favourite is being accused of having no sense of humour.  Like there is something wrong with me that I don't find sexist, racist or just revolting jokes funny.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Farrar said:

I was thinking about this. I feel like it's gone even further. Like, I always have seen people be Schrodinger's Douchebags (and yeah, I'm using that from now on) - even little kids. But now I see the whole idea of humor turned on people.

Example. A friend shared a thing about a Black owned business getting harassed after they were featured in a Target ad with the owned saying she wanted to encourage little Black girls to believe they could be entrepreneurs like her. I was like, geez, people are so horrible. White supremacists know their position is indefensible, so they have nothing better to do but go attack this poor random business and cry "reverse racism" for the owner wanting to encourage Black girls. A friend of hers then attacked me. You're what's wrong with America. No one can even tell a joke anymore. I was like, what are you even talking about. It's not a joke. They've been fielding hate mail and threats and people have bombed their online ratings with fake reviews - that could ruin them as a small business. He was like, people used to be funny. All in the Family was funny. Jokes are funny, etc. I was like, what in the world are you even saying!?!? My friend, who by the way, is Black, was also like, what the heck, friend. It was almost like the "we're only kidding" defense was being expanded to include anything everywhere. Like a magic umbrella for all jerks worldwide.

I am really sorry you had to go through that and your friend too.   How vile people are attacking the owner!!! That is not 'reverse racism' at all,  I never call it that anyway.  I was a victim of racism at 13 when I had to take a bus that went from VA through Georgetown and further on.  My orthodontics was being done by the Georgetown University Dental school.  My mom was working and my father had died that year.  Anyway, I would normally take that bus across the bridge and get out at the first stop and walk to GU.  But this particular time, the bus driver, who was Black, decided to ignore my ringing of the bell,.  I then rang the bell again after we passed the first stop and asked him politely to stop at the next stop.  He ignored me and kept driving.  The bus didn't have very many people on it but the rest of them were Black.  A very kind elderly Black lady went an rang the bell,  The bus driver stopped, but she didn't get out, just me.  

Racism is a really despicable behavior and excusing it is not much better either.

 

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7 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

Schroedinger's Douchebag is brilliant. For British use I'm havering between Schroedinger's Pillock and (ruder) Schroedinger's Wanker. I haven't thought of a version with the pleasing alliteration of the original.

The word "wanker" still makes my laugh because, at least among my American social circles, wanker isn't really used BUT I do have an American friend who has the somewhat unfortunate last name of Wanker. I still remember her telling the story of trying to make a Facebook account and being blocked from making an account and told by Facebook to use her "real name" because Facebook is all about authenticity blah blah blah... IIRC she actually had to send a photo of her driver's license into Facebook to prove that Wanker really was her real last name. lol

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28 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

The word "wanker" still makes my laugh because, at least among my American social circles, wanker isn't really used BUT I do have an American friend who has the somewhat unfortunate last name of Wanker. I still remember her telling the story of trying to make a Facebook account and being blocked from making an account and told by Facebook to use her "real name" because Facebook is all about authenticity blah blah blah... IIRC she actually had to send a photo of her driver's license into Facebook to prove that Wanker really was her real last name. lol

Oh dear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the "Appeal to Levity" pulled on me this week. I had a Scout mom "jokingly" claim that her ds was going to work on his Eagle project. Oh, no you're not, and if you do, he will not Eagle! "I was just joking!" No, no you weren't. Seeing how we're one of the hotspots of CO for contagion, even if you were joking, it wasn't a joke. 

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On 3/11/2020 at 9:27 PM, Farrar said:

I was thinking about this. I feel like it's gone even further. Like, I always have seen people be Schrodinger's Douchebags (and yeah, I'm using that from now on) - even little kids. But now I see the whole idea of humor turned on people.

Example. A friend shared a thing about a Black owned business getting harassed after they were featured in a Target ad with the owned saying she wanted to encourage little Black girls to believe they could be entrepreneurs like her. I was like, geez, people are so horrible. White supremacists know their position is indefensible, so they have nothing better to do but go attack this poor random business and cry "reverse racism" for the owner wanting to encourage Black girls. A friend of hers then attacked me. You're what's wrong with America. No one can even tell a joke anymore. I was like, what are you even talking about. It's not a joke. They've been fielding hate mail and threats and people have bombed their online ratings with fake reviews - that could ruin them as a small business. He was like, people used to be funny. All in the Family was funny. Jokes are funny, etc. I was like, what in the world are you even saying!?!? My friend, who by the way, is Black, was also like, what the heck, friend. It was almost like the "we're only kidding" defense was being expanded to include anything everywhere. Like a magic umbrella for all jerks worldwide.

 

Well there are a whole lotta people out there who never really understood that we were laughing (and cringing) *at* Archie, not *with* him. 🙄

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speaking of . . . 

I shared the meme of sasquatch winning the social distancing.  a friend replied she thought it was dh after being in quarantine.  I was surprised. I know it was supposed to be a joke..

any thoughts?

social distance champion.jpg

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@gardenmom5 well, I would assume she meant something like untidy hair/facial hair after a month (or whatever) of no grooming or hairdresser. I have seen other memes in the same vein wrt hairy legs/home-haircut disasters/fingernails needing attention. 

I don’t think she was using “Appeal to Levity.” I expect she was making a joke about ungroomed hair. 

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