Can’t Anybody Take a Joke?

Over the last few days, former President Obama recorded a video send-off to retiring Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade. In this little ditty, Obama joked that he had to give up a career he loved. Of course, people thought, “Yeah, you gave up being president.” Then he added that he didn’t really have a choice. “Yeah, the Constitution and all that.” Only then did he get to the punch line: “My knees were shot so I had to give up basketball forever.”

That’s cute and imminently forgettable, but then in our current political climate nobody seems capable of judging anything as forgettable. Everything, it seems, is deadly serious and indicative of the speaker’s entire moral universe.

I saw this mentioned via an article that noted

It is common knowledge that Obama rode the bench for his high school varsity basketball team, Punahou School, in Hawaii. His hoop dreams ended early in his life.

Are you serious? I ask, because I’m pretty sure that Obama wasn’t serious. A commenter on that article opined,

Obama takes another event in honor of someone else and manages to make it about himself.

Really? Did he really? It was a joke. Although a lot of Tweets thought the video positive, @RapMuzak found it offensive:

“Really offensive”? Really? Did we mention that it was a joke. And @VeganMarine shared this gem:

Just a note @VeganMarine: Should you ever want to praise me as a class act, please don’t do it by calling someone else a “turd.” I’m sure Dirk Nowitski is moved by your support.

Here’s the bottom line, to me. We need to chill as a people. There’s not a thing wrong with the former president making a little joke video to honor the player of his choice. And there’s nothing wrong with the current president joking about something else–like perhaps saying that George Washington should have named Mt. Vernon after himself. There’s nothing wrong with either of them not making a video for a particular player.

This world is full of plenty of things that can truly upset us, things that deserve our criticism. Why would anybody get worked up about something like this?