Can jokes in terrible taste ever be funny?: Wisecracks is clearly the work of an academic philosopher adept at teasing out fine distinctions between “offenses” and “harms” (Matthew Reisz, 6/28/24, The Critic)

Whilst mockery can be culpably cruel and often deserves to be condemned, Shoemaker notes, it can also “serve to bond those who engage in it”, work as “a kind of initiation rite” and act as “a genuine expression of affection amongst people who otherwise have trouble expressing affection”. This leads him to some uncomfortable questions about whether declaring a group such as the disabled “beyond mockery” can’t itself act as a form of exclusion. […]

It is crucial to his case that Shoemaker himself should practise what he preaches. When he was “diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer”, he recalls, he found he could cope with “a wee bit of sympathetic concern”, but what he really wanted were “emotionally detached wisecracks” from close friends on the lines of “C’mon out for a drink, you’re not dead yet.”

When he chose to treat his suffering as a joke, the last thing he needed were “empathetic” friends saying “Oh, you poor thing, that’s horrible! How can you laugh at that?” Genuine “emotional empathy in such circumstances requires, ironically, that I emotionally detach from your pain or trauma along with you”.

Indeed, although we rightly condemn people who lack all empathy for the suffering of others, Shoemaker is convinced that there is “significant underappreciated value in our sometimes empathising less with, and being more amused by, pain, suffering and misfortune. It is a powerfully effective way to cope with life’s curveballs, and it’s often the most appropriate way of responding to life’s ultimate absurdity.”

Mocking everyone and everything is liberalism.