Is This Funny?

starryeyes

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This Blogger, David Plotz, has blogged about the Bible and he mentions Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a way that some might find offensive:

But does this satisfy Moses? Of course not. He complains: "What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me?" So, God tries the David Blaine route, turning Moses' rod into a snake. He causes white scales to appear and disappear on Moses' hand. Moses now moans that he can't go because he's a poor speaker, "slow of speech and slow of tongue." God would have smitten any other human who tried Him so, but He merely rebukes Moses: "Who gives a man speech? … Is it not I, the Lord?" This doesn't deter the vexatious prophet. If he lived in the 21st century, this is the point when Moses would be showing God two doctors' notes diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome. Instead he counters, "Please, O Lord, make someone else Your agent." After all this whining and rebuffing, the Lord has had enough: He finally "became angry with Moses."
David's an interesting blogger who makes good points about the Bible. I realize he just meant this in a humorous way but I think we might want to try to get people to change their blogs etc... when they use CFS in humor like this. Clearly, they don't understand what we're up against. What do you all think? He encourages comments.

link:

http://www.slate.com/id/2143176/entry/2143177/

David's email:

plotzd@slate.com
 

starryeyes

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That's a good litmus test Knackered, thanks. :)

If he lived in the 21st century, this is the point when Moses would be showing God two doctors' notes diagnosing AIDS.
Well, no.. that doesn't get a laugh from me. It gets a "what the heck?" Equally so with MS.

It all goes back to our stupid name, doesn't it? I wrote him and asked him nicely to remove this joke from his blog. One step at a time, right?
 

Navid

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unfunny joke

hi

thanks for bringing this to our attention. i sent a note to the blogger also. it's this type of snide comment that keeps the disease in the joke sphere rather than being treated as a serious ailment.

regards, lisag
 

Esther12

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Replace CFS with AIDS and see if it gets a laugh.
Doesn't really work when there's a diagnostic test.

"If he lived in the 21st century, this is the point when Moses would be claiming he needed time off work to recover from being 'raped'." might be closer. That would get some laughs!
 

Wayne

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David Plotz Denigrating Comments on CFS

What do you all think? He encourages comments.
Hi Teejkay,

I was feeling pretty even-keeled this morning until I saw David Plotz's comment about CFS. It upset me and I did send him an e-mail. It may have been a little harsh, but perhaps he needs to hear some things in a clear and unambiguous manner.

Wayne
.....................................................

My e-mail to David Plotz

Do you have any idea how ignorant and mean-spirited this comment is? Do you realize how much credibility you lose as well?

Was this supposed to be some kind of joke? Do you make similar jokes about people with other major neurological diseases like Parkinsons, ALS, MS, etc.? Or people with cancer, AIDs, etc.?

My goodness, what were you thinking????????
 
K

Katie

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Doesn't really work when there's a diagnostic test.

"If he lived in the 21st century, this is the point when Moses would be claiming he needed time off work to recover from being 'raped'." might be closer. That would get some laughs!
What the...?

Esther, how on earth do you equate that horrendous crime with CFS? I don't understand the leap you made and I'm quite shocked that you suggested it as comparable. The only way I can make the leap is if you posit CFS as an illness as a result of an awful trauma, like PTSD.
 

Samuel

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Choose your enemies

Let's remember who our enemies are. I wrote to him in no uncertain terms, but once educated, bloggers at Slate can be powerful allies.
 
K

Katie

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Esther was clearly being sarcastic. :/
Yeah, most sarcastic comments don't usually touch on rape and ME. It wasn't clear to me, especially as he/she qualified her reasoning with the diagnostic comment. Anyway, it doesn't need making a mountain out of, I think it just took me off gaurd.
 

Esther12

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Yeah, most sarcastic comments don't usually touch on rape and ME. It wasn't clear to me, especially as he/she qualified her reasoning with the diagnostic comment. Anyway, it doesn't need making a mountain out of, I think it just took me off gaurd.
Rape, ME and AIDS!

I was saying that the joke wouldn't work with AIDS. The joke's dependant on it being a claim which is difficult to verify (not that I want to get into the technichalities here!) - but for the point made by Knackered it's also required to be something which is not seen as fit for comedy in the way in which CFS so widely is.

I didn't mean to take you by surprise.
 
K

Katie

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Rape, ME and AIDS!

I was saying that the joke wouldn't work with AIDS. The joke's dependant on it being a claim which is difficult to verify (not that I want to get into the technichalities here!) - but for the point made by Knackered it's also required to be something which is not seen as fit for comedy in the way in which CFS so widely is.

I didn't mean to take you by surprise.
I kinda get it now. It's weird what's fair game in comedy and what isn't, George Carlin was one to push the boundaries in that way and he was brilliant (I now pray to Joe Pesci ;) ) It's also weird, that when ME over here has been spoken about derogatively, it's usually been in a blaming and angry fashion, I've not seen it often used in jokes here but then I did a good job on my own personal media blackout on ME matters for a good long while. Now my media blackouts include Jordan and Peter, the recent snow (it's just snow, why the rolling news coverage?), any political speech that includes the buzzwords "broken society" and "aspiration" it all makes my brain bleed through my eyes and think that Jeremy Kyle is a reasonable example of living. The last sentence will have made little sense to most folk outside the UK.
 

joyscobby

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I kinda get it now. It's weird what's fair game in comedy and what isn't, George Carlin was one to push the boundaries in that way and he was brilliant (I now pray to Joe Pesci ;) ) It's also weird, that when ME over here has been spoken about derogatively, it's usually been in a blaming and angry fashion, I've not seen it often used in jokes here but then I did a good job on my own personal media blackout on ME matters for a good long while. Now my media blackouts include Jordan and Peter, the recent snow (it's just snow, why the rolling news coverage?), any political speech that includes the buzzwords "broken society" and "aspiration" it all makes my brain bleed through my eyes and think that Jeremy Kyle is a reasonable example of living. The last sentence will have made little sense to most folk outside the UK.
Jeremy Kyle is like Gerry Springer, forgot her name but a two females did similar here and over in US but worse than that. He is the worst. It has to be seen to be believed. Expliotation of peoples problems with him takeing the moralistic high ground for the sake of entertainment
 

ixchelkali

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No, not funny. Only humorous to those who believe "everybody knows" that people with chronic fatigue syndrome are just whining malingerers. Just an example of insensitivity and ignorance, probably at least in part to the #@% stupid name given to this disease.
 

Dainty

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Hey everyone...

While I agree the statement made is quite ignorant of him and offensive to us, I'd recommend we keep in mind the fact that this blog entry was written 3 1/2 years ago and therefore the author may not have it fresh in his memory. I recommend that any feedback given be done in the spirit of "I am sure you have learned more facts about this truly debilitating health condition and realize how offensive your statement appeared to those who suffer from it." People tend to be more open to criticism when you indicate that you're giving them the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps the outpouring of our responses might cause him to consider doing a bit of research.
 
D

DysautonomiaXMRV

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Professor Peter White recently said (laughing) Senile Dementia, then Neuresthenia.

Which is actually offensive to people with Dementia and the label CFS.

It's quite incredible just how nasty people are, who are paid to look after us.

There is apparently no end, (if you're a doctor) to this nonsense.

They realise as we are physically and mentally vulnerable (anxiety/stress making diease worse)
we cannot protest. Always pick on the vulnerable is their motto. The vulnerable have little to no defence.
Easy target.
 

starryeyes

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True Dys and Daisy I agree, I wrote a nice email explaining that we don't find jokes like that funny and that CFS is a serious illness and I asked him to remove the joke. It wouldn't actually affect his Blog to do so at all. It was an odd side-comment and had nothing to do with the Bible or Moses or even the event.
 
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I emailed him with links both to Sophie Mirza's mother's site and the youtube video of Ean Proctor talking about the abuse he suffered from medical workers and social workers as a paralysed child; he hasn't replied.
 

Dainty

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Has no one else received a reply?

Here was my email to him:

Dear Mr. Plotz,

I hear that by now you have received at least a couple other emails on the topic of your quip on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from a blog post several years back titled "The Complete Book of Exodus". Though I would trust that by now you have learned enough facts about this truly debilitating illness to realize how poorly your joke came across for those who suffer from it (along with their caretakers and doctors) I thought it worthwhile to give you my feedback. For reference, I am quoting the section in question with the offending statement in bold:

"Moses now moans that he can't go because he's a poor speaker, "slow of speech and slow of tongue." God would have smitten any other human who tried Him so, but He merely rebukes Moses: "Who gives a man speech? … Is it not I, the Lord?" This doesn't deter the vexatious prophet. If he lived in the 21st century, this is the point when Moses would be showing God two doctors' notes diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome."

Now I agree, "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" is just about the wimpiest name possible, and that makes it an easy target for those who want to get a laugh at the expense of a pathetic-sounding illness that, for all the audience knows, is just an excuse for laziness. Instead, your readers might be interested to know that Dr. Nancy G. Klimas, who works closely with both CFS and HIV, recently indicated that if she had to choose she'd rather have HIV due to the relative ease of symptoms compared to CFS:

"...I hope you are not saying that C.F.S. patients are not as ill as H.I.V. patients. My H.I.V. patients for the most part are hale and hearty thanks to three decades of intense and excellent research and billions of dollars invested. Many of my C.F.S. patients, on the other hand, are terribly ill and unable to work or participate in the care of their families.

I split my clinical time between the two illnesses, and I can tell you if I had to choose between the two illnesses (in 2009) I would rather have H.I.V."


When an M.D. who's intimately acquainted with both illnesses states that she personally would find HIV preferable to CFS in regard to symptoms, that ought to be a clear indication that CFS sufferers genuinely do experience very real physical symptoms that cause considerable agony and disability. That's no laughing matter.

How severe is the fatigue we're talking about? A recent study by Dr. Allan Light established an indication by measuring levels of receptor activity in those responsible for fatigue and for pain. Here is what he found:

"Beginning at 30 minutes after exercise and continuing at eight, 24 and 48 hours after exercise, CFS patients showed increases of the P type of ion channel receptor activity up to four times its pre-exercise level while healthy subjects showed no increase at all. These receptors seemed especially sensitive to fatigue. The graph of the results is incredible; with CFS patients, receptor activity skyrockets while the healthy controls' results stay essentially at zero.

The activity of a receptor called Type A that’s been implicated in pain doubled in ME/CFS patients who also had FM and showed no increase in healthy subjects at all. Sympathetic nervous system (adrenergic) receptors that detect SNS activity were increased 2-6 times.

How active are these receptors? These sensors, not surprisingly, get really active in marathon runners but they still "never got as active in marathoners (after a 26-mile run ) as they did in ME/CFS/FM patients (after a mild 15-minute exercise period)."


In other words, CFS patients are not just making excuses; after a short amount of light exercise they actually feel symptoms of extreme exhaustion and pain comparable to or even possibly exceeding what a marathon runner experiences after a race.

There is much, much more information out there on the subject of CFS, but I am going to have to stop here. You see, I have CFS, and if I expend too much energy now I won't have enough left to fix my next meal, and I'd instead have to ask my caretaker to do that for me. Like all other CFS patients I know I prefer to do as much as I can without help.

I understand that you meant no harm by the quip, which is why I am hopeful that you will quickly resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all.

Thank you for reading; I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,
[Dainty]
I received the following reply two minutes after my message was sent:

[Dainty]
Thanks for the note, and I’m sorry that the joke offends you and others. I’m afraid I am not going to change it.
David
While I am, of course, disappointed, I have to remember that it was written years ago and he is now the editor Slate's webzine, so it's a huge job and I'm sure he hears these sorts of comments on various subjects on a daily basis. I believe our comments would have been more effective if we had written when it first came out; as it stands, hopefully he'll keep the incident in mind when it comes to future references to CFS by Slate magazine.