ForumTouchy Subjects ► Dark Humor
Dark humor is a double edged sword. For some it's a comedic mental relief while for others it is salt in the wound.

Awfully Funny

I was reading this article and dwelling on my past. My lack of social skills was gravey damaging when paired with my sense of humor. I've since kept most of my opinions, experiences and humor private; only allowing a select few friends see that side of me. I have a few questions which may not have clear answers.

What does enjoying dark humor indicate about one's morals, character, intelligence and personality?

What are the ethical boundaries of dark humor?

What about freedom of speech vs. psychology harm and abuse? In other words, the where should the law stand on it?

Apparently there are several pros and cons and I'm not sure what to make of it.
  
> What does enjoying dark humor indicate about one's morals, character, intelligence and personality?

Not much, in my opinion.

> What are the ethical boundaries of dark humor?

I'm not sure there's any universal boundary. You have to know your audience and avoid jokes that are likely to hurt. The smaller and more intimate the group, the farther you can safely push the envelope. Comedians and the like can also push the boundary as long as the audience knows what they're signing up for.

> What about freedom of speech vs. psychology harm and abuse? In other words, the where should the law stand on it?

I'm a fan of the imminent lawless action standard. Speech that is merely offensive or hurtful should not be regulated, in general.
  
I agree with your legal stance but I'm not sure dark humor says nothing about one's character. Sometimes it's at the expense of other people who are distant from ourselves socially. That leads to similar behavior as a bully. Of course, dark humor can also be a harmless coping mechanism.

Maybe this should seem obvious but I've struggled with how I conduct myself around certain people. In some groups, dark humor is welcomed and encouraged. In others, it's seen as shameful, harmful, crude or depending on the nature of the joke, a personal attack.

For example, the scenario used in the article,

"One of these scenarios involved a young girl who knows that her father has lost his job and that her family is having money problems. In response, the girl decides to sell her virginity on eBay. About 78 percent of study participants found that behavior “wrong,” but 45 percent still said it made them laugh. In the paired scenario, the same girl responds to this crisis by selling her jewelry on eBay. Virtually no test participants considered this behavior a violation — but none considered it funny either. Simply put, people were much more likely to find a situation funny if it simultaneously threatened their conventional notions without striking them as too severe."

If something similar happened to someone you care about and a person made a joke about it, that would probably hurt you. However, to someone distant from any event like that, it could be funny. There's an unclear line depending on an audience. Even comedians come under fire constantly for jokes since they become public. You can't simply ask people who have suffered not to be upset by jokes that are funny because they are dark. Dark humor is funny because it violates a moral standard.
  
The reason people find that funny is the absurdity of prostitution on eBay, not the fact that she had to sell her body. It's not at all absurd to sell jewelry on eBay, it's very commonplace, that's why it's not funny. The primary difference isn't that one is darker than the other.
  
It seems like you're conflating absurdity and dark humor. Humor can be absurd and not dark. Dark humor violates people's sense of morality on some level. In this instance, it's the sacredness of female virginity and the wrongness of prostitution.
  
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