No Humor Permitted

Don’t tell me to be nice,
Because I’m bleeding from my eyes.
I’m seeing red, but I’ve only cried blood once or twice.
Nathan Davis, “Eye For An Eye”, from the album Out of My Skin

The blog is called  “Ink Trekker.” The owner blogs about a lot of stuff, but often about the ongoing saga that is Bob Jones University. He’s also a pretty accomplished cartoonist.

“Apparently, he did not have a Reading Buddy.”

In the wake of the GRACE report being released day before yesterday (good golly, was it only two days ago?), Greg did a simply hilarious page poking fun at GRACE’s recommendation that people find a person to read the report with them, to avoid emotional distress.  Here’s an example. The reason this is funny to him (and to me) is that the report is 300 pages and very heavily footnoted in teensy type, so good luck finding somebody who wants to endure all that with you.  I don’t even want to read it all when I’m alone.

At any rate, that led to some commentary, some of it serious, and some of it a little snarky, as comments on blogs are wont to be. And then somebody wrote this:


The comment went on at length, so I refer you to it if you want to read it all.  It’s the last comment on the article, because Greg closed them at that point, as is his right to do. I’ll add a few snippets as I comment about it.

There is nothing wrong with her opener.  It’s fine. But the comment sort of goes on and on, and gets increasingly strident and preachy. She explains all about going to be interviewed by the GRACE team, and how emotional it all was for her, and how she had to have counseling for a year afterward.

So, seeing the cartoons about “reading buddies,” and reading your criticisms of the process, the report, and the conclusions is hurtful. I realize that it might seem like everyone involved in this has an agenda, but that’s not true. I can only speak for myself, but I was asked by the University to share my experiences, I did, and it was not easy.

Some more stuff continues and then she ends like this:

I’m still digesting it. But, my only purpose in writing this comment is to ask you to please be sensitive. Stumbling across this page today was hurtful. I feel like you have made fun of my pain. I realize I probably don’t understand all the history that you all seem to know. But just please be aware that the response of those who read the report matters to those of us who shared our stories. Don’t let your response be one of mocking.

I want to talk about all this a little bit.

First, I, along with Greg and probably most of the other folks who were commenting on that page are former BJU students. This GRACE Interviewee has no idea of our history. She even says so. She “doesn’t understand all the history that you all seem to know.”

Well, here you go. There’s some history. That’s just a little.

For all our GRACE interviewee knows, everyone who commented on that page was also a GRACE interviewee.  How would she know one way or another? Odd, how she just jumped in with her “admonishment” without knowing who she’s talking to.

The thing Greg was making fun of was the statement made by GRACE prior to the release of the report. Not the report itself. And it was a specific part of the statement – the part about not reading it alone if you’re sensitive to this stuff. That’s not the same thing as making fun of the “people involved in the investigations,” unless you’re including the person who wrote that particular line, in which case, I plead guilty.

This person says:

But I was still very anxious about the report being released. I don’t know how to adequately express this, besides to say that it was a very difficult thing.

Everyone was, my dear. Everyone was. I hardly care what happens to BJU, and I was a little bit, well, not anxious, but interested. The prospect of this report has engendered commentary running to many thousands of words, hours and hours of discussion, a full-fledged war complete with verbal darts and nonexistent shiny badges, and not a little angst. Anybody remember this?


I would suggest that probably this person, “Grace Interviewee,” should not choose any sort of career in the health care industry, most especially not working in an emergency room, or an operating suite, or an intensive care unit.


If you, “Grace Interviewee,” thought that a few little cartoons and chuckles about “reading buddies” was bad, you’ve obviously never heard the gallows humor that goes on among medical staff in stressful situations.

Nobody thinks it’s bad or horrible. Everyone understands that it is a stress reducer. Tasteless? Often. Something one wouldn’t wish for the patient’s family to hear? Absolutely not. But good for the staff to be able to express it? Yes, it is.

Life, in case you’re unaware of it, involves the opportunity to make choices. Lots of them.


We lost our son in 2006 to accidental methadone toxicity. It was the single worst thing that has ever happened to either of us, and something from which we will never fully recover. In the eight years that have passed since then, I still wrestle from time to time with memories and incidents and stuff that opens the wound and I realize suddenly that I’m still bleeding. I’ve “cried blood,” as he wrote, more than “once or twice.” More like daily.

Sometimes the littlest things set one of us off. We can’t always anticipate it.

However, there are some things that are certain to bother me. I do not buy novels that involve graphic descriptions of autopsies. I especially would not enjoy seeing a comedy skit involving anything to do with an autopsy.

Nor do I enjoy novels or television programs about drug abuse, or drug overdoses or anything related. I don’t want to see them, and I make an effort not to do so.

Occasionally, I screw up and find myself in a situation where something is occurring that is going to really get me upset. When I do, I extricate myself as rapidly and as unobtrusively as possible.

It is not the whole world’s fault that my son died. Hell, it’s not even my son’s fault that he died. It was an accident.

What I do not do is tell anyone who happens to write a novel that bothers me, or produce a television program that bothers me, or post photos of the happy family gathering on Facebook (they bother me too) that they are somehow being insensitive and shouldn’t do that. If somebody makes a joke that cuts a little too close, I know that it’s not personal, that they have no idea it bothers me, and that even if they did, I do not want to live in a situation where people have to walk on eggs around me for fear of offending me.

My particular sensitivity is my problem. It’s not anyone else’s. I deal with it, and do so quite well, I think, for the most part, and when I don’t, you won’t know about it.

Abuse victims didn’t choose to be abused. I understand that.

But beyond that, everything is a choice. Reading the GRACE report is a choice. You can either do so, or not.  Your choice. You can choose to do so with a reading buddy or alone. You can read some of it and not all of it.

And visiting somebody’s blog and reading all the way down through about 15 comments is also a choice.

Stumbling across this page today was hurtful.

Yeah, well, I’m trying to figure out how one “stumbles” across a blog. There’s only two ways I can think of that you might find it.

One is via a Google search. Of course, that’s not “stumbling.”  That’s “seeking and finding.”  Cease doing that, and your problem disappears.


The other is if somebody posted a link on social media someplace and you followed the link. In that case, as soon as you realized the content was “hurtful,” there’s a really easy solution. On my browser, it looks like this. Upper right-hand corner. Click. Your problem disappears.

Free speech is not universal, of course. Some societies legislate against hate speech, for instance. But making a joke about Boz thinking people should read a 300-page document (that’s about the size of a book) with a “reading buddy,” or joking about them recommending a memorial be built is not hate speech. It’s just a joke.

You were hurt in some way, “Grace Interviewee.” I’m very sorry. I’m very sorry that anyone is ever hurt, but people are every day, in lots of ways. Your pain is bad, I’m quite certain, but it’s not the paramount thing in the universe. My pain hurts like hell sometimes, but it’s not the paramount thing in the universe either.

And I would never ask anyone to watch their speech, or curb their jokes, or not to enjoy their families, or not to be proud of their children just because my eyes are bleeding.



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