All Joking Aside
So a man tells a joke, and years later that's what ends up in his obituary? Such is the fate that befell Nixon-era agriculture secretary, Earl L. Butz, who died Saturday.
Hey, a joke's a good way to go out; I'd love to leave 'em laughing. Unfortunately, Mr. Butz's obscene joke about African Americans was terribly offensive, and the telling of it cost him his job. The moral? Think twice, maybe thrice, before you hear yourself utter, "A man walks into a bar. . . ."
Delicate allusions to Mr. Butz's fateful jocularity were in all the obituaries, and a Rehoboth Beach reader, for one, was not pleased. "Mean-spirited and beneath your normal standards," is the way she characterized the wire-service version that ran in the Post. Alas, an obituary is not a memorial; it's a news story about a person's life, warts and all. No joke.
Posted by: PJ Geraghty | February 4, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse
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