I am a loyal “Disclaimer” reader, but several things recently have really bothered me about their page in the Xpress. I understand the comedic license needed to be able to produce a satirical paper, and I appreciate the fine line that writers for the “Disclaimer” have to walk. I do, however, think that they repeatedly cross that line with cracks at homeless people and also a piece from a while back about a Mexican woman working at a chicken-gutting plant. Here is my explanation of why these issues are different from other things they make fun of:
In our culture, it is always safe to make fun of rich people, white people and men because these are the people who hold the power. It is touchy to make fun of minorities and disabled people. Some people say, “I make fun of everybody,” but that doesn’t really justify it. For a bunch of young, middle-class white people (mostly men) to sit around and laugh at homeless people and poor immigrants is pretty shameful. Allow me to illustrate this argument:
Imagine working at a chicken-processing plant every day, all day, for minimum wage or less, and constantly living in fear of being caught and deported, while you struggle to support your children with food, clothing and shelter and to seek services you are not supposed to have access to as an illegal immigrant—such as health care in a country where you don’t speak the language and are racially discriminated against. Now, imagine you are a war veteran with mental problems that have led you into a drug addiction that has made you homeless. You spend every day in the street trying to make ends meet while you are discriminated against by townspeople and harassed by the cops. Now imagine you are a young middle-class white person living in Asheville hanging out with all your friends and writing a funny newspaper. Someone thinks up the idea of writing an article about the homeless or Mexicans and you all sit around and laugh and laugh. Then you go out for drinks and retire to your comfortable homes or apartments for a good night’s rest.
In a country in which so many things are wrong and are in need of criticism, it is problematic to make fun of people who have the lowest status in our society. It reflects ignorant privilege on behalf of the “Disclaimer” team and a lack of understanding of the gravity of political plagues facing our nation and our town. Furthermore, saying “I wasn’t making fun of immigrants, I was making fun of the unfair way they’re treated” is a cop-out. “Disclaimer” articles often do not approach the issue in this way, and if they’re interested in doing so, they need to try harder.
— Katie Morris