Originally Posted by horatio
Self-irony is indeed important. I think another purpose of seemingly insultive humour is to really connect:
About then years ago I met a guy during work, we drove together during the early shift and each morning we greeted each other with a weird insult we picked up during work. When I meet my best friend we sometimes do something similar, greet each other with some kind of half-insult.
The purpose is to signal that one is beyond this distanced politeness, that we can insult each other because we are buddies. When you have fallen in love and not realized it yet consciously something similar can happen, you tease or insult your beloved precisely in order to get out of this deadlock of distanced politeness.
I think your ethnic jokes about West Virginia work similarly. We insult each other or ourselves to signal that we are beyond political correctness (which is precisely why I cannot stand it, it is officially about tolerance but actually quite intolerant: don't come too close, get away from me, I do not really wanna connect with you unless you are a sterilized version of yourself).
Indeed. There is politeness, and then there is political correctness.
Politeness is understanding the sensitivity of the person you are speaking to, but knowing where the boundaries are with your joking, occasionally testing them, and when it's gone far enough, you'll know without any ado.
Political correctness? Well, that can be described several ways.
My way is: Political correctness is the politically correct term for the kissing of *** of people who in no way, shape, or form deserve it. And the last time I checked....nobody deserves it.
Another way, as paraphrased from a quote by a military commander:
It is the mistaken belief that one can indeed pick up a turd from the clean end.