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Humour bypass

Okay. If you insist.

Okay. If you insist.

Constructive criticism is a very good thing because, when delivered correctly, it makes you rethink your beliefs and opinions and sometimes even your values; it's the engine of change ...

I've copped a lot of criticism on this blog over the years - some of it just hilariously disrespectful, some a tad scary, some barely literate, but most of it well thought out and valuable.

It's also led me to re-evaluate my thoughts about topics as diverse as rugby union (well, sort of), the burqa, feminism and the capitalisation of the word "Indigenous".

However, there are few groups out there that seem incapable of debate, bent as they are under monstrous inferiority complexes and, whatever you write about them, you're bound to be flooded with hate mail and profane tweets.

It's nigh impossible to fairly weigh someone's dissenting opinion when they start their defence with the words "you c---" or "f---wit", but it seems this is the province of people without a counter-argument.

As writer Christopher Hitchens once said of debates: "I always think it's a sign of victory when they move on to the ad hominem."

Me? I think it's a sign of a critic being absolutely bloody spot-on when a person or group can't laugh at a barb, like:


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald about cyclists. Admittedly, it was a long-hanging-fruit piece because a lot of people don't like cyclists, which everybody but cyclists seems to understand.

You can read the piece here, but the main thrust of the column is that cycling is the new golf, with the "same grim-faced, entitled white men who used to plague golf courses" now smugly telling you they've shrunk their carbon footprint since they traded in the Beemer for two wheels.

Again, it's low-hanging fruit; I don't seriously believe every cyclist is like this, but in the weeks since publication I've received hundreds of tweets from outraged cyclists calling for my sacking, as well as crowning me with delightful honorifics such as arsehole, muppet, dickhead, grub, moron and the above-mentioned c--- and f---wit.

To my mind, the true mark of the humourless is when they mistake criticism as some kind of call to war against them. Time and again on Twitter I was told I had incited people to hurt cyclists because I'd made some (admittedly lame) jokes at their expense, which must make stand-up comedians mass murderers.

I would never encourage or condone the injuring of a cyclist, nor anybody attempting to use a vehicle to intimidate them on the road.

However, cyclists need to realise that just because they've chosen a high-risk sport doesn't make the rest of us culpable in their deaths and maiming if we choose to laugh about their stupid clothes. 

Two weeks ago, I only half thought cyclists were uptight, humourless wankers. Now I know it's true.


If the emails I've received over the years from fatties are to be believed, nine out of 10 overweight people have some kind of congenital glandular/thyroid/lymph problem utterly divorced from them stuffing crap in their mouths.

Now that I AM ALSO a fat person, I see the feeble-mindedness behind this line of defence because I also know why I have put on 10 kilograms and it goes like this: I eat too much, drink too much and don't exercise enough.

But, hey, let's waste our breath promoting idiocy like some of the tranches of fat-acceptance, rather than healthy eating and moving our bodies as they were designed to do over millions of years.

As my fellow blogger John Birmingham, who's also felt the wrath of fatties, told me: "There's two elements to fat-acceptance. A quite reasonable demand that fat people not be abused because theyre fat. Fair enough. That's just good manners. And then there's the batshit crazy jihad against medical science, insisting that obesity is not a health issue. That's the sort of delusion that kills people."


Maybe it's because they used to get beaten up as kids, or they jack too much HGH and steroids, but body-builders are a very aggressive lot when criticised about their obvious vanity and egocentricity.

Notice here, fatties, that I can give it to both sides, i.e, people who are so completely devoid of care for their persons they collapse into obesity, as well as tools who spend two hours a day staring into a mirror and try to pass off narcissism as "healthy living".

Body builders and their ilk are the only people who have threatened to hurt my family and wished ill-health (and worse) on my daughter. Classy guys.


I know some lovely vegans. I've eaten at their houses and it's been yummy. I didn't even bring a lamb chop with me and demand they grill it. I respected their beliefs.

If you're a vegan, I expect the same courtesies to apply.

I do not need to be lectured and hectored about my decision to eat meat, nor do I need to be told I'm an environmental vandal. It's rude and it's not true.

Many vegans, however, react to any criticism of their militancy with extremely nasty words, again resorting to ad hominem insults.

Until I wrote a piece about body builders, vegans were the only people who had sent me death threats.

So, that's my small and heartfelt list of the most humourless sub-groups in our society - now watch me fall in love with a bodybuilding, vegan, cyclist who campaigns for plus size models to be used in magazine shoots.

Feel free to add your "most humourless group" to this list. And play nice, or your comments won't be published.


I'll be doing a short talk and Q and A this week, Thursday night, September 22 at Dymocks, 428 George Steeet, Sydney at 6pm. If you'd like to come along, please go here.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.

106 comments so far

  • Tosh, you're just jealous 'cos my bicycle is rockin'.

    Date and time
    September 19, 2011, 5:42PM
    • "vegans were the only people who had sent me death threats" THAT is hilarious.

      "Feel free to add your "most humourless group" to this list. And play nice, or your comments won't be published."

      That's going to get very close to "aw, you just can't take a joke" territory.

      It's not a coherent group, but I would nominate people who don't understand that few people share their obsession. So they're at a party, somebody makes an off-hand humourous comment, and they spend the next two hours lecturing people on the REAL dietary practices of post-roman celtic tribes. Seriously guys; nobody cares.

      Oh, and am I obligated to say "feminists"? Is there a law that _someone_ has to claim they don't have a sense of humour?

      Date and time
      September 19, 2011, 5:50PM
      • What about nerds? I feel left out. I supposed we've copped enough already.

        I'll vote for 2GB listening, ACA watching baby boomers as my most humourless group.

        Yeah I kind of feel sorry for fat people that you can't eat as much as a footballer and do zero exercise and expect not to be fat. Eating is pretty good.

        Date and time
        September 19, 2011, 5:54PM
        • For some reason I find it hilarious when people take your posts so personally. It's a blog! It's even better when they don't read the full article and they get the wrong end of the stick.

          I don't always agree with your view but at least it's interesting and it generates discussion.

          Perhaps people go for the personal attack because they can't articulate why they disagree. All they know is that they are offended or feel misunderstood and want to retaliate somehow. Maybe they're just stupid (very judgy of me I know).

          Might try to stop by for a bit of the Q&A on Thursday.

          Date and time
          September 19, 2011, 5:56PM
          • Picking on fat people, or even just singling them out for chastising just seems like picking on easy targets to me, to make yourself feel superior. Anyone who has armoured their body up with loads of fat seems to me to have some very hard to hide emotional issues going down and they don't need someone being flippant about their predicament. (Some joking here and there, ok - but not complete simplification of what they face). Those kinds of attitudes create ridiculous shows like the Biggest Loser where they drive people to the brink of heart attack, make out we can all live in a daily boot camp scenario, encourage them to pin their entire self-esteem on their weight, and then abandon them altogether once the cameras have stopped rolling. There surely has to be something congenitally wrong with many people who become obese....I know I can be a major pig with food, don't exercise enough, but my body just won't go there (obesity) - thankfully.

            Anyway, anyway....humourlessness? Anyone who has become self-righteous about their contribution on one front or another can slip into it. I do like a good vegan joke, only because I'm surrounded by vegans nowadays..and the implication that they are saving the world, whilst you are bringing it down simply with your 3 meals a day is a bit hard to accept.

            pinky tuscadero
            Date and time
            September 19, 2011, 6:01PM
            • Meat eaters.
              There, I said it. I've never heard a vego or vegan lecture someone, and I've known many, but if the word 'vegetarian', or especially 'vegan' is even uttered, there's always at least one meat eater who goes on the offensive with a pre-emptive strike against this imagined attack on their meat lovin' ways.
              They're so defensive!
              They're now even resorting to scientific arguments, to the point where I looked them up.
              (They're not even true. Our teeth aren't designed to eat meat. Carnivores have less teeth and more fangs. Our intestines aren't designed to digest meat. Carnivores have much shorter intestines.)
              In my experience, meat eaters are way more humourless and defensive than those pesky plant munchers.

              Date and time
              September 19, 2011, 6:25PM
              • @ mean almost everyone? As long as you don't generalised about 80% of the worlds population.

                "never heard a vego or vegan lecture someone"......are you kidding!!!!

                Date and time
                August 31, 2012, 1:02PM
            • The "guys who share their obsession with foreign women on any blog about relationships" people that emerge from time to time. Usually on the other Sam's blog. They are dudes.

              Being a guy whose surname ends with a sound phonetically similar to what'll cause a scratch, I know a lot of foreign and, pacifically when you're talking about easter europe, to say that they inhabit a higher plane of morality is as funny as the idea that your personality is more loveable than your passport.

              True story - I worked in a kitchen where the head chef was bragging about his Thai 'fiance'. One thing he mentioned to the other chefs was 'Thai girls are naturally hairless'. This was told in a story to me, I observed that 'twelve year olds are often hairless' - that comment was relayed back to him, I stopped getting shifts. Humourless indeed.

              Can we include 'foodies'? I hate foodies. The existence of foodies in this world caused my local pub to be ruined. The place used to be dark, disgusting, dirty and full of degenerates downing dozens of drinks. I loved it. Now it has a bright colour scheme that makes my eyes want to vomit and three generations of mediocre suburbanites living through mortgage hell hanging around, being awful at life.

              hired goon
              i am back, i guess.
              Date and time
              September 19, 2011, 6:49PM
              • Parents.

                Not all of 'em, of course. But there IS a subgroup of people who have some sort of severe humour malfunction upon becoming parents. Suddenly, if their kid stands up in the middle of a restaurant and screams its head off for ten minutes it's 'OMG, so hilarious!'.

                But for some reason, it's not equally hilarious if you reference kids as 'crotch-fruit', 'womb-parasites' or 'f*ck-trophies'.

                (I feel obligated to add that I learned two of those nicknames from parents who clearly fall into the other category).

                Date and time
                September 19, 2011, 7:20PM
                • Sam, you can do better than this. A lot better.

                  I've been reading your blog since day one and there have been many occasions where you have taken the opportunity to have a swipe at vegetarians and vegans in particular. You also rarely bother with any connection between your dig at vegetarians/vegans and your topic. Unless your topic is one long lecture at vegetarians about why they're wrong (linked above) Hmm, someone is guilty of exactly what they complain about.

                  It's funny, I was a meat eater for 35 years and was never once lectured by a vegetarian or vegan. Since I became a vegetarian in 2006, I have lost count of the number of lectures I've received from meat eaters telling me why I'm wrong to not eat meat. I never say anything about being a vegetarian unless asked and then only explain my own personal reasons for making my decision.

                  Did a vegetarian slight you in some way in the past? Or, being a wanker, do you hang around too many other wankers, herbivourous, carnivorous and omnivorous? Maybe it's just a wanker thing?

                  But surely you can't complain when you regularly bait people and then they bite back? All part of the rough and tumble of a public blog, mate!

                  Anyhow, like I said, you can do a lot better than this whinge. You're a writer. Write. Me? I'll go and get some cheese and crackers to go along with your whine.

                  Date and time
                  September 19, 2011, 7:57PM

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