Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

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Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Red Hal » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:42 am UTC

So here's a thing. Industrialist Alan Sugar sends a tweet showing a picture of a (supposedly) Chinese child crying along with the words " The kid in the middle is upset because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5." A shop owner in Liverpool takes offence and complains to the police. The tweet has now been recorded as a 'hate incident'.

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-me ... e-24421453

Now I'm really stuck here. I can see how that tweet might be seen as stereotyping, but for the life of me I can't see how it's racist, and I'm really trying. The most uncharitable interpretation I can possibly give it is "All Chinese use forced, child labour", but that's a real stretch.

Nevertheless, since the U.K. powers that be have concluded that this is 'racist' then either they are overreacting or I am missing something. Can someone please help me out here? What am I missing?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby leady » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:17 am UTC

you are correct its not racist by any sane definition, its just crass.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:31 am UTC

Really? I'd argue that negative stereotyping is very much a part of racism.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Diadem » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:39 am UTC

curtis95112 wrote:Really? I'd argue that negative stereotyping is very much a part of racism.

So you're saying you can't point at a child labourer and call them a child labourer because that's negative stereotyping? Or am I missing something here? Isn't pointing out instances of child labour a good thing?

Though reading that tweet again he's pretty much making fun of child labour, which is definitely poor taste. I still don't see the racism though?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby elasto » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:41 am UTC

Red Hal wrote:Nevertheless, since the U.K. powers that be have concluded that this is 'racist' then either they are overreacting or I am missing something. Can someone please help me out here? What am I missing?

Either you're missing something or I am. I read exactly the same story and to me they seem to have concluded it's definitely not a racist hate crime:

Merseyside Police said it had investigated a complaint but said "no criminal offences" had taken place.


I think you're reading too much into them 'recording it as a hate incident'. A hate incident is when one person reports that another person has committed a hate crime. The police recording a hate incident doesn't imply them prejudging the accused to be in the wrong. In fact, in this case they appear to have swiftly concluded the complainant is in the wrong.

If they'd concluded Sugar was in the wrong, they'd be saying they were going to speak to him. Instead they say they're going to speak to the complainant (probably to ask if they seriously want to press ahead with their complaint):

The communication has been examined by the force's specialist hate crime investigation team and at this time it has been recorded as a hate incident and no criminal offences have taken place.

Officers from the specialist team will be contacting the person who made the initial complaint to discuss this.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:45 am UTC

Looking at the tweet, it would seem that the only reason child labor was even mentioned is because the kid is Asian.
That's definitely racism.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Darryl » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:11 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:Really? I'd argue that negative stereotyping is very much a part of racism.

So you're saying you can't point at a child labourer and call them a child labourer because that's negative stereotyping? Or am I missing something here? Isn't pointing out instances of child labour a good thing?

Though reading that tweet again he's pretty much making fun of child labour, which is definitely poor taste. I still don't see the racism though?

Except that the kid in the photo probably wasn't a child laborer, and assuming they are because they're Asian is racist.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Diadem » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:37 pm UTC

Darryl wrote:
Diadem wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:Really? I'd argue that negative stereotyping is very much a part of racism.

So you're saying you can't point at a child labourer and call them a child labourer because that's negative stereotyping? Or am I missing something here? Isn't pointing out instances of child labour a good thing?

Though reading that tweet again he's pretty much making fun of child labour, which is definitely poor taste. I still don't see the racism though?

Except that the kid in the photo probably wasn't a child laborer, and assuming they are because they're Asian is racist.

Ah. Really? You are entirely right in that that changes everything, but *checks article* where does it say that?

Also, what's the point of the tweet if the child is not a child labourer? I still feel like I'm massively missing something here.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:44 pm UTC

I can see why you're confused.
The article doesn't explicitly say it, but it does link to the tweet.
My guess would be that the point is stereotypes are funny. Just another garden case of casual racism.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby morriswalters » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:46 pm UTC

What is the context? Why did he post it?

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Red Hal » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:18 pm UTC

Historical Context:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57533056-92/foxconn-admits-to-child-labor-law-breach-with-underage-intern-hires/
http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/apples-reputation-hit-poor-iphone-sales-child-labo/1736845/

It's in that context; a jibe at the iPhone5 manufacturer's (Foxconn) working practices, and this is why I am struggling with accepting the "casual racism" tag.

Foxconn did employ interns under working age, they have been brought to task in the past for their labour record, and if you accept that a businessman would absorb that as "This Chinese manufacturer employed child labour" then it is easy to understand the comment wasn't meant as derogatory toward China, the people of China or, by extension any other racial group.

Was it a wise thing to post? No. Was it racist? I ... am struggling to say yes, given the context, and especially given that the iPhone5 was specifically mentioned in the tweet. This is why I threw it open to all y'all*.





*I love this term. It is about as far away from my own vernacular as it is possible to get, but it works so well.

EDIT: This touches at the heart of whether one should be charitable in interpreting such things, "intent is magic" acknowledged.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:55 pm UTC

Wait, so pointing out that certain ethnic groups have been the victims of an abusive system is now racist?

Hey, people joking about cops disproportionately targetting black kids; shut up you racists!

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Darryl » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:41 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Wait, so pointing out that certain ethnic groups have been the victims of an abusive system is now racist?

Hey, people joking about cops disproportionately targetting black kids; shut up you racists!

Yeah, there's a difference. The way the tweet was written, the butt of the joke was the child, not FoxConn/Apple. Most jokes about police brutality make the butt of the joke the police exercising abuses of their power. Humor is supposed to take down the mighty, not degrade those already in a poor position.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:49 pm UTC

Ah, so that explains the 2000 year old classic,

"Emperor Augustus was riding his horse when he noticed a pleb that looked almost exactly like himself. So he asked the pleb 'say, did your mother happen to work at the palace when she was younger' to which the pleb replied 'no. But my father did'"

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby leady » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:19 pm UTC

Darryl wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Wait, so pointing out that certain ethnic groups have been the victims of an abusive system is now racist?

Hey, people joking about cops disproportionately targetting black kids; shut up you racists!

Yeah, there's a difference. The way the tweet was written, the butt of the joke was the child, not FoxConn/Apple. Most jokes about police brutality make the butt of the joke the police exercising abuses of their power. Humor is supposed to take down the mighty, not degrade those already in a poor position.


And this discussion is why I hate Basic Human Decency, because it generates this kind of strange extension of application

its a documented fact that chinese child labour exists and has been used in the past to make apple products. The tweet is a play on this reality, which is a bit dickish but thats all. There are no generalisations about the chinese in here - ergo it not racist

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby oxoiron » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:39 pm UTC

Am I the only person who immediately saw the tweet as an indictment of child labor systematically employed by electronics manufacturers?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby omgryebread » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:48 pm UTC

leady wrote:And this discussion is why I hate AAAHHHH THUMPY WOOBLE HARRRRRPINK!!, because it generates this kind of strange extension of application

its a documented fact that chinese child labour exists and has been used in the past to make apple products. The tweet is a play on this reality, which is a bit dickish but thats all. There are no generalisations about the chinese in here - ergo it not racist
Seriously? This isn't even a stretch to call it racist. It's a textbook definition of a generalization.

It's taking a picture of an unhappy kid and saying he's unhappy because of child labor. Nevermind that there are a ton of kids in China, most of whom are not working in a Foxconn factory, and nevermind that this kid is obviously not a child laborer. He's Chinese and unhappy, so obviously child labor.


It's pretty insulting to: the Chinese people as a whole, by insinuating every child in China is a child laborer; the kid in question, for obvious reasons; his parents, again for obvious reasons; and for actual victims of exploitative work practices, including child labor, because shit is a lot worse than being unhappy while dressed up in a watermelon.


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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:53 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:It's pretty insulting to: the Chinese people as a whole, by insinuating every child in China is a child laborer; the kid in question, for obvious reasons; his parents, again for obvious reasons; and for actual victims of exploitative work practices, including child labor, because shit is a lot worse than being unhappy while dressed up in a watermelon.

No.

Also: [lots of citations needed]
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby omgryebread » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:58 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
omgryebread wrote:It's pretty insulting to: the Chinese people as a whole, by insinuating every child in China is a child laborer; the kid in question, for obvious reasons; his parents, again for obvious reasons; and for actual victims of exploitative work practices, including child labor, because shit is a lot worse than being unhappy while dressed up in a watermelon.

No.

Also: [lots of citations needed]
...you don't see how calling someone a child laborer might be a bit offensive to their parents?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:29 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:Seriously? This isn't even a stretch to call it racist. It's a textbook definition of a generalization.


A generalization would be 'he is angly because his carcurator bloke. Because arr Chinese kids ale good at math but can't speak Engrish'. Pointing at the some groups are so routinely harmed by a system it's its own trope, is not exactly racist.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:30 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:
Роберт wrote:
omgryebread wrote:It's pretty insulting to: the Chinese people as a whole, by insinuating every child in China is a child laborer; the kid in question, for obvious reasons; his parents, again for obvious reasons; and for actual victims of exploitative work practices, including child labor, because shit is a lot worse than being unhappy while dressed up in a watermelon.

No.

Also: [lots of citations needed]
...you don't see how calling someone a child laborer might be a bit offensive to their parents?

The parents might find it offensive. They might not. Either way I don't think they will feel insulted.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:37 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:
leady wrote:And this discussion is why I hate AAAHHHH THUMPY WOOBLE HARRRRRPINK!!, because it generates this kind of strange extension of application

its a documented fact that chinese child labour exists and has been used in the past to make apple products. The tweet is a play on this reality, which is a bit dickish but thats all. There are no generalisations about the chinese in here - ergo it not racist
Seriously? This isn't even a stretch to call it racist. [snip]
You might want to, I don't know, look up what that word actually means. Because no, just no.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Arrian » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:45 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:It's taking a picture of an unhappy kid and saying he's unhappy because of child labor. Nevermind that there are a ton of kids in China, most of whom are not working in a Foxconn factory, and nevermind that this kid is obviously not a child laborer. He's Chinese and unhappy, so obviously child labor.


It's a picture of a toddler wearing a cute outfit who's behaving like a toddler. It's commenting on an event that actually took place: Foxconn using child labor. The event is identifiable from the iPhone 5 is references.

Looks like a case of rhetorical hyperbole to me. The child is 2 or 3 years old, not the kind of child laborer you'd find assembling electronics. The child is dressed up in a cute way, not the way you would picture a child laborer, or laborer of any sort. (Watermelon lederhosen? Even I think that's cute!)

The child looks asian, but the company referenced is famously Chinese. That's a reasonable association. Crass? Maybe. Not fit for polite company? Sure. Racist enough to report to the police? Only in sick society. And it's probably less exploitative and racist than most foreign aid solicitations since it's very obviously intended as hyperbole.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Derek » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:30 pm UTC

Seems like the kind of joke Cracked would make.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Red Hal » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:02 pm UTC

oxoiron wrote:Am I the only person who immediately saw the tweet as an indictment of child labor systematically employed by electronics manufacturers?
No. That was my first interpretation. Actually even after I checked my privilege that was still my interpretation hence me asking here what I'd missed.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby MartianInvader » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:04 pm UTC

To take some random cute picture of a Chinese kid wearing watermelon rind like clothing and subvert it to talk about issues in China? That's racist. The kid is not a child laborer, and the picture was clearly a "my cute kid" picture and had nothing to do with Foxconn. The ONLY reason this tweet is funny, or even makes any sense, is because of the race of the child.

I mean, if it was random picture of a cute African American kid, and the tweet said "He's crying because his master whipped him", would you say it was a legitimate criticism of the poor treatment of slaves?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Роберт » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

MartianInvader wrote:To take some random cute picture of a Chinese kid wearing watermelon rind like clothing and subvert it to talk about issues in China? That's racist. The kid is not a child laborer, and the picture was clearly a "my cute kid" picture and had nothing to do with Foxconn. The ONLY reason this tweet is funny, or even makes any sense, is because of the race of the child.

I mean, if it was random picture of a cute African American kid, and the tweet said "He's crying because his master whipped him", would you say it was a legitimate criticism of the poor treatment of slaves?

If Apple was currently making iPhones using child slave labor with black kids, and the picture said "he's crying because his master whipped him for not meeting his iPhone5 case quota", I definitely wouldn't see it as racist.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby MartianInvader » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:34 pm UTC

Soooo... reducing people to nothing more than representatives of their race is fine, as long as it's topical?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby cphite » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:42 pm UTC

Darryl wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Wait, so pointing out that certain ethnic groups have been the victims of an abusive system is now racist?

Hey, people joking about cops disproportionately targetting black kids; shut up you racists!

Yeah, there's a difference. The way the tweet was written, the butt of the joke was the child, not FoxConn/Apple. Most jokes about police brutality make the butt of the joke the police exercising abuses of their power. Humor is supposed to take down the mighty, not degrade those already in a poor position.


I see it more as a jab against FoxConn and Apple, and maybe against the lax child labor laws of China, than as a jab at the child.

And frankly, even if it was a jab at the kid, I have a hard time seeing it as hate speech... rude and ignorant perhaps, but not something that should involve law enforcement.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Red Hal » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:31 pm UTC

MartianInvader wrote:To take some random cute picture of a Chinese kid wearing watermelon rind like clothing and subvert it to talk about issues in China? That's racist. The kid is not a child laborer, and the picture was clearly a "my cute kid" picture and had nothing to do with Foxconn. The ONLY reason this tweet is funny, or even makes any sense, is because of the race of the child.

I mean, if it was random picture of a cute African American kid, and the tweet said "He's crying because his master whipped him", would you say it was a legitimate criticism of the poor treatment of slaves?
With respect, It would work almost as well with any child. The bit that makes it make sense is the child labor/iphone5 connection. In your mind's eye substitute a child of any ethnicity. I agree it works better if the child appears to be Chinese, but that's because Foxconn is a Chinese company.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Isaac Hill » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:15 pm UTC

The child is being used to represent someone of Chinese citizenship, not just Chinese heritage. It's jingoism more than racism. Either way, I'm sure Lord Sugar is due for a stern lecture from Princess Bubblegum.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Joeldi » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:27 pm UTC

It's pretty obvious to me that without context this looks very much like a racist generalisation about Chinese children, but in the context of an ongoing controversy, of which I assume Lord Sugar has been following closely, the tweet was far more reasonable.
Think about this. The statement was one criticising child labour. It would have achieved that result with a child of any nationality. But since the events were happening in Asia, an Asian child was the obvious choice for the post.

That said, there may have been more racist motivation underlying everything. I have never heard of Alan Sugar outside of this thread.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:55 am UTC

Isaac Hill wrote:The child is being used to represent someone of Chinese citizenship, not just Chinese heritage. It's jingoism more than racism. Either way, I'm sure Lord Sugar is due for a stern lecture from Princess Bubblegum.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby jseah » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:20 am UTC

Anyone have a direct link to the tweet?
It got buried under the rest of his tweets and I can't find it from the linked article.
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Cleverbeans » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:27 am UTC

jseah wrote:Anyone have a direct link to the tweet?

Yep, it's already in the thread.
curtis95112 wrote:Looking at the tweet.

See it now?
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby jseah » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:19 am UTC

Thanks for helping this poor blind forum goer. =P
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Cleverbeans » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:22 am UTC

jseah wrote:Thanks for helping this poor blind forum goer. =P

No problem. :lol:
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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:29 am UTC

oxoiron wrote:Am I the only person who immediately saw the tweet as an indictment of child labor systematically employed by electronics manufacturers?


No, that's pretty much the same point I got. Not the most hilarious of jokes, really, but the intended target seemed fairly obvious.

It seems fairly unlikely that either the teller or the audience actually believed that the kid in the picture was a child laborer, of course. Or that all chinese kids are child laborers working on iphones. That seems like a stretch.

MartianInvader wrote:To take some random cute picture of a Chinese kid wearing watermelon rind like clothing and subvert it to talk about issues in China? That's racist.


Not really. People subvert images to talk about other things all the time. It does not appear that actual deception was important here. As mentioned, this seems like pretty standard Cracked, Onion, etc fare. It is not inherently racist to use a picture to talk about another topic.

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Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby Thesh » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:46 am UTC

I think any joke that only works with one race is to some extent racist, but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong; the context is a lot more important than the content. Is it demeaning? Arguable, I would say no. Is it hateful? I would say no. Is it making fun of an ethnicity? Arguable; to me it's more of a light-hearted attack on the use of child labor.

Of course, I could be wrong; I don't know who Lord Sugar is, and I may be fallacious in assuming he is not a giant douche.
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Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Lord Sugar accused of racist tweet.

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:57 am UTC

It doesn't have to work with any race for a joke to not be racist.

It's not 'no hint of race at all' vs 'standup at the Klan lodge'. There's a grayish area, basically the line being 'would a reasonable person of the race be offended'. Because I'd like to hear what the Chinese in this forum have to say.

For instance, you can probably tell the Canoe joke in front of a Brooklynite. But not the pizza joke in front of anyone. And certainly no jokes referring to a race as annals. Unless you are going for the Aristocrats, in which case go for broke.


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