Seth McFarlane shared this on Twitter and it's a good read so I figured I'd share it here, too. As someone who has been writing comedy for a few years now, I have long subscribed to the Parker/Stone view of comedy; it's either all okay or none of it is. Comedy is and always has been a mirror for society, one with a bright, often rude light that shows off the blemishes, rosacea and acne scars our culture has and forces you to either laugh at it or get pissed that someone stuck it in your face.
For my own work, I've done an entire article on Alien Rape:http://www.cracked.com/article_18932_alien-film-franchise-based-entirely-rape.html
And have called cultures "retarded" for needlessly killing endangered species for ridiculous reasons:http://www.cracked.com/article_17504_6-species-weve-nearly-killed-off-for-retarded-reasons.html
I have suffered my share of hate mail and angry comments over them (and worse for even more ridiculous articles) but at the end of the day, it entertained and educated some people. Most who read them, I would argue.
I also got more than a few "rape isn't funny" messages from people who clearly never actually read that article, but instead saw the title and assumed I was making pop-culture Daniel Tosh jokes. And I bring him up because there is a "line" of sorts, and here it is; if you're going to go "out there" and make a joke on a subject you know is going to get people riled up, you'd better make damn sure you're being funny
South Park has made some horrific jokes in its many seasons, and every last one of them made me laugh, because I knew there were people out there watching the show and screaming in rage at their TV that they would dare to make fun of such a thing (pick your poison; pedophiles, Catholic corruption, rape, murder, the President, PETA).
Here's the thing, even with truly awful jokes (Like Daniel Tosh's. Seriously, an improvisational prodigy he is not) comedy often forces people into discussion. "Can you believe he joked about that
?" How many conversations about serious issues have been brought up as a result of an off color joke? I have no statistics but I am going to guess more than a few. Conversation is a doormat for the doorway of action. If you ignore a problem, it never goes away. if you are forced to confront it, you're uncomfortable for a while, but once it's resolved, everyone can breathe easier.
So the next time someone tells a joke, or does a sketch, or stupid song, etc and you are offended by it, ask why. Did the joke actually harm something, or did it bring up a subject you'd rather not acknowledge?
Another thing to keep in mind is that comedy is an outlet. It's not a myth that the funniest people are the most messed up. Most comedy comes from irony or absurd non sequiturs; people with problems have experiences loaded with these things.
At any rate, just some food for thought. It's easy for me to not be offended by, well, anything, since I'm a white american guy.