"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
It has been a long time, and maybe today's youth do not know this oldie (possibly because there are not the typically face-to-face interactions of long ago), but it's not true! Words hurt! Words can lift people up and just as quickly cut people down. Maybe even more so.
When people say nasty things and get defensive that the person upset is "too sensitive," this says much more about the speaker's sensitivity than that of the receiver. Discounting someone's feelings is not okay. People are allowed to have them.
Just because someone's words do not hurt you does not discount the feelings of another. And do not give me the "I'm so sick of political correctness" speech. Being mean is being mean; there isn't any politics about it. There are a billion words. If something is genuinely hurtful to a person or group, I am sure there is a word you can use that isn't hurtful. But beyond specific words, saying things to people (or about people) that cut them down is just another form of bullying. Typically, I have found that the person who speaks unkindly is suffering from self-esteem issues. That being said, it still does not excuse them for their bad behavior.
If everyone lived by, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," life for everyone would be so much better. Being nice doesn't cost anything, but being mean could cost someone their life. No one can ever know someone else's whole story. Why be mean? What do you gain from putting someone else down?
Sometimes people will say something mean and pass it off as "it was just a joke." Allow me a side note here, unless you are a comedian performing for an audience, maybe you need to "read the room" before telling an offensive joke? See a comedian has a certain reputation and if someone finds them offensive then they can choose not to go to their shows or watch a program they are on.
Ricky Gervais recently tweeted:
Please stop saying "You can't joke about anything anymore". You can. You can joke about whatever [...] you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a [care] or not. And so on. It's a good system.
It is a good system. But remember this, being a comedian is a profession. There are different styles, and there are good ones and bad ones. Whether a comedian is good or bad is subjective, just like art or music or nearly anything. There are comedians I do not find funny, while close friends do. There are comedians that some find offensive. You can choose to see their shows or not. I was never a fan of Sam Kinison. His delivery is not something I enjoy even in the slightest; however, I have friends that think he was one of the best. I chose not to watch him or go to his shows.
I'm not saying only comedians can make off-color jokes. Suppose you decide to make a joke or even use a comedian's material that someone may not like. In that case, as I said before, "read the room," and be honest about why you want to tell that joke. Be aware of your surroundings. Are you telling the joke because you think other's will find it funny as well? Or are you telling the joke to gain attention or be hurtful? If you aren't sharing to ensue laughter, then maybe abstain from telling it.
If your intentions were genuine and you read the room wrong, someone was offended or didn't like your joke, then, like Rick Gervais said, "it's up to you whether you give a [care] or not." If you hide behind the joke to belittle someone, you probably only cared to be mean.
Being aware of what we say and how we say it (jokes or otherwise) around others isn't being "politically correct"; it's kind. When given a choice, and we always have the choice, choose to be kind.
Love Always; Smile Often