Oscar Pistorius jokes: The funniest thing you’ll read about the killer Olympian
The bigots are happy – the Oscar Pistorius murder case has given them licence to openly despise the disabled again.
To recap: Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by her lover. She was unarmed. She might have been murdered. The runner thought the woman who shares his bed was a burglar. There was no burglar.
Parsons then lists a few jokes about Pistorius. They are all predictable and, dare it be said, lame:
John Cleese said: “Oscar’s defence will be that he was absolutely legless at the time.”
Joan Rivers said: “He doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Frankie Boyle said: “Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend must have known he was armed as those are the only limbs he’s got.”
Having listed all the jokes you might have missed, Parsons notes:
Laugh? I thought I’d never start.
But then this rubbish is not really about making you smile – no more than jokes about the thick Irish and comical black men called Chalky were meant to make you laugh back in the Seventies. It is meant to make you feel superior. It gives you permission to sneer at a group of people different from yourself.
No. Pistorius is being treated the same as any able bodied superstar accused of murdering his lover. He’s being stared at and talked about. His disability is part of this defence. He says he first went to the bathroom door without his prosthetic limbs on. Feeling vulnerable, he fired into the bathroom door.
You are no longer allowed to sneer on grounds of race. But it is open season on the disabled.
No. It’s not. People are not going around calling disabled people women killers. Pistorius is not stereotype. English boarding houses do not says “No dogs. No Disabled”. (Such signs once declared “No dogs. No Irish”). The Daily Mirror, Parsons very paper, has not portrayed leading disabled personalities as something demonic, such as it did with its front-page depicting Michael Howard, a Jewish leader of the Tory Party, as a blood-sucking monster. That work was part of a 2005 Labour Party campaign that portrayed Howard and his fellow Tory Jew Oliver Letwin as evil-looking pigs; another showed Howard as a Fagin-type emerging from the shadows like the Nazis’ Der Ewige Jude.
When you see life peer Carys Davina ‘Tanni’ Grey-Thompson, Baroness Grey-Thompson, who sits in the House of Lords, portrayed as a cursed, unnatural woman, let Parsons know. Until then, he’s using Pistorius only to burnish his own enlightened credentials. Pistorius is a famous man accused of a heinous crime. That’s why we stare.
You might think we would be beyond this kind of garbage by now. You might hope that even a bunch of clapped-out comedians desperate to revive their sagging careers would refrain from this kind of trash.
I’m no fan of Boyle’s, that Sadowitz-lite Sun columnist who picks on soft targets to deadline. But he’s successful. So too is Rivers. She’s the comic the Mirror called waaaaaay back in 2012 “The Queen of Mean” as she prepared for gig at the saggy Royal Albert Hall. The paper listed no less than 79 of her “best lines”:
Elizabeth Taylor’s so fat, she puts mayonnaise on her aspirins.
If Kate Winslet had dropped a few pounds, the Titanic would never have sunk.
Bo Derek turned down the role of Helen Keller because she couldn’t remember the lines.
The whole Michael Jackson thing was my fault. I told him to date only twenty-eight-year-olds. Who knew he would find 20 of them?
Parsons might live in the Seventies, but his paper and the Labour Party it supports bring things right up to date:
You might even think that the lessons of the most glorious Paralympics in history could possibly have sunk into the thickest of heads. For those Paralympics truly did feel like they signalled a shift in public consciousness.
They have. At their best the disabled athletes were awesome. Pistorius was so good he was able to compete with elite able-bodied athletes.
As though we had finally been made aware of what a disabled man or woman can achieve, given half a chance.
Finally? Ray Charles was blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. David Blunkettt is blind. Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf. Frida Kahlo had polio. Christy Brown had cerebral palsy. Stephen Hawking has motor neuron disease. Max Cleland, a former U.S. Senator from Georgia, is a triple amputee. We know what a disabled person can achieve. Many of us didn’t need to see the disabled playing sports to prove it.
I grew up with Muhammad Ali on the TV screen. I saw with my own eyes how one man changed hearts and minds.
To recap: Oscar Pistorius killed a woman. Muhammad Ali did not.
I grew up in a white working-class community – a world where racial prejudice was endemic and virulent. And one boxer changed that. He did not change it for everyone, and he did not eliminate prejudice, and he did not make this wicked world perfect.
A wicked world where a man killed his unarmed girlfriend? Or a wicked world where a comic makes a joke?
We looked at the disabled with different eyes – their struggles, their humanity, their diversity, their potential. But that real progress is receding now. It is not just a few past-their-sell-by-date comedians on Twitter.
So says the journalist who takes those arcane Twitter gags by stale comics and amplifies them in his column. Finally, he namechecks the actual victim, but she is only one of the fallen:
A shooting in South Africa has claimed more than the young life of Reeva Steenkamp.
The buzzword for London 2012 was legacy – the measure of what would remain after the athletes had gone home and the party was over. The legacy of 2012 was most commonly defined as the facilities that would endure, and the use that local communities would put them to. But there was always a far greater legacy – the legacy of dreams inspired in the watching billions across the world. The Olympics lit a fire in countless hearts. And the Paralympics were even more inspirational.
Nobody embodied the soaring human spirit of the Paralympics like Oscar Pistorius. Nobody changed attitudes like the Blade Runner. And even when he was showing flashes of his dark side, snarling and ungracious in defeat, somehow that did not tarnish the golden boy.
The court will decide if Oscar Pistorius killed his girlfriend by accident or premeditated murder. But we know in our hearts that the Paralympics made this world a better place.
Our collective attitude to disability changed because of those games. Because of one summer we were more enlightened, more tolerant, more human. As the village idiots on Twitter prove, those gains are now being lost. It is socially acceptable to despise the disabled again.
To recap: Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by one of the world’s most famous athletes.