Denver Bar Association
November 2003
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Blondes Get Back at Lawyers



Letters to the Editor welcome at kbries@cobar.org

In the Sept 2003 president’s column, Joe Dischinger wrote: "A true lawyer joke is only as offensive as a "dumb blonde" joke; some of them are quite funny and the accuracy of the stereotype is not the point." I am not sure what he was trying to say, but he is mistaken if he thinks "dumb blonde" jokes are not harmful, inaccurate—and arguably illegal.

First, note the fact that it is rarely, if ever, a "dumb blond" (the masculine form) of such a joke. What really brought home the offensive nature of these jokes to me was a couple of recent experiences. First, a local newspaper’s feature Arts headline: "Dumb and Dumber" featuring large comic illustrations of Britney Spears and another blonde pop artist, both female.

Later, while driving my daughter’s (all-Jewish) girl school troop home from an event, it was even more clear. The girls started telling jokes to one another, but the laughter did not take on the really vicious girl-eat-girl tone until the rest of the group of curly headed, dark-haired girls started competing in telling dumb blonde jokes. My daughter and I, both blondes, were laughing at first, but then it just kept going. We fell silent at the realization that these girls were happy they could put someone down.

As a lifelong blonde, I can assure you that no one would say the stereotyped things to a dark-skinned person that they have said to me, and defended. Dumb blonde jokes are both racist and sexist, pure and simple. Yet, even those who ought to understand a racial or ethnic or national origin slur when they hear it delight in defending these jokes.

President Dischinger responds: "Nothing in the article was intended to suggest that dumb blonde jokes are inoffensive. More to the point, this member provides an example of what we all need to stop doing—falling silent. As a parent and as a school troop leader, she had a perfect opportunity to explain that humor based on hurtful stereotypes is impolite, and may be offensive and harmful."


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