It’s a fundraiser for a charity in a poor country. The gig is a great idea and we support it every year. We toss money in the bucket, all in a good cause and tonight is no different.
There’s a support act, a talented young lad, and after that, we’ve been led to believe, a well-known comedian. The support act finish their set and a short, fat, bald person with tattoos steps on the stage. He makes a joke about some celebrity having an abortion and I do a double-take.
Did he really say that?
Strangely, many of the women present laugh, perhaps nervously.
I glance at my friends. Did he really say that?
This person on the stage is here to raise money for a charity in a foreign country, but now he’s telling jokes about foreigners. He’s telling jokes about immigrants. He’s telling hateful stories about black people, about Pakistanis, tired formula-stories memorised from some pamphlet he bought in a junk-shop.
What’s most horrifying?
This: the crowd are laughing at the ignorant venom being spewed out by this fool. A crowd who would consider themselves right on and cool are laughing at this man’s pre-packaged hatred.
I’m no better. Do I stand up and shout him off the stage?
I do not.
Because, once again, as so many times in my life, I’m rendered speechless in the face of flagrant stupidity and bigotry. I cannot believe I’m hearing this shit, and I’m even more flabbergasted that a crowd of people who ought to have at least one brain between them are supporting this cretin.
Even some of the bar staff are laughing.
I begin to wonder: is this how it started back in the 1930s, in Germany? Did civilised people squirm and laugh politely as thugs made jokes about minorities? Is that how it starts?
More shame on the cool, right-on crowd. This man clearly hasn’t the capability to hold two simultaneous ideas within his little tattooed cranium, but this crowd are well-equipped to know better.
Shame on them for laughing. They know who they are and so do I.