Don’t joke about planes and terrorists

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We all get email jokes, correct? Sometimes they are LOL or even ROFL but at other times, they are not and we ignore and delete. Are there jokes that are just plain taboo? Is free speech contextual or universal (widespread in some continents at least)? What happens when jokes past through censures and internet blockades? These were questions that came to mind when I receive an email below just like I would from the many distribution lists that I’m part of. As my email address is readily available, I have to be careful on who sends me what but this particular one came from someone I knew from way back so I opened it. It wasn’t spam or virus but something that I thought could be viewed as funny or disturbing. I shared this with two of my dear friends who are also bloggers to get their opinions – one liked it, the other did not.

The email goes like this…

HOW TO HANDLE AN IRRITATING SEAT-MATE ON THE PLANE:
If you are sitting next to someone who refuses to let you travel quietly, follow these instructions:
1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Start up.
4. Make sure the guy who is annoying you can see the screen.
5. Close your eyes, tilt your head up to the sky and move your lips like you are praying.
6. Then hit this link

What is your opinion of the email? Is it appropriate? Funny? Does it offend you? Is this alarming? A sign of the times? The link is hosted by a talk show host, Neal Boortz whom I am unfamiliar with but you might.

Since I talk about leadership, HR, etc here – if I bring this back to leadership and human resources policies, should there be one that reflects this type of an email? Is it even worth discussing or should it just be left to our regular self-diagnosing activity whenever we see joke emails like this? Considering how the political situation in the world, is there a need to revisit our workplace communications policies? Personally I’m all for laughter in the workplace and encourage a hearty laugh that but there are boundaries so as not to offend.

This email was an opportunity for me to bring up a potentially sensitive discussion but an important one nonetheless, so let’s have one. Post your thoughts on this here

photo by jakeshears

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