It’s all fun and games ’till…
Okay, so I had a friend ask me to talk a little bit about the basics of nuclear radiation and its effect on humans. This question specifically prompted by the tragedy that has recently occurred in Japan. And I intend to do that throughout the rest of the week, but today was…taxing (and technically it is Tuesday here now).
I just want to make a brief note about something else that has happened recently. A massive outpouring of (predominantly American) online vitriol against Japan. Ignorant and Online is doing a good job cataloging the more egregious of these. This ranges from insensitive jokes to rage filled tirades, and seems to be motivated by everything from old grudges to crazy religious theories. I had an acquaintance trying to send me his own crude jokes not two hours ago. He seemed unabashed when I politely explained that he wasn’t being witty and called me a person who prefers to cry at tragedy rather than laugh at it. I wish I did cry more, it would probably be healthier.
I can see the value in pain based physical comedy, I enjoy dark humor, and I don’t shirk away from death in my entertainment media. But to be perfectly clear: when real people begin to suffer and die, things stop being entertaining. When confronted with a tragedy, the appropriate response is to do something about it, and leave people who are more concerned with laughing or crying on the sidelines because you don’t need them getting in your way. Human suffering is not a spectator sport.
There are earthquake victims, tsunami victims, radiation victims, and a host of people without water, power, or food. Dedicated members of Japan’s SDF and international aid organizations are risking their lives to do something about it. As I write this, a skeleton force of fifty people have taken it upon themselves to wage an uncertain war pumping sea water into a nuclear complex to try and prevent more explosions, more radiation, more sickness, and more death.
This is not funny. Making a litany of (predominantly racist) jokes about this is not a way of “whistling in the dark” or a “valid method of dealing with tragedy”. Either do whatever you can to help these people (which may validly be very little, I personally can’t do much more than donate to aid organizations) and show a little bit of decorum and decency. The last thing you should do is laugh at their suffering and the work of those trying to help.