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On a (Very) Minor Controversy.

3 March 2013

A minor controversy, and I mean very minor indeed, happened the other day over on twitter. You can read what happened here:

Someone joked about their career using AA’s intro: “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a ______holic.” A couple of other people thought it was insensitive, and didn’t sit right.

I’m grateful that people want to treat addiction with sensitivity. But in this case, there’s no reason to retract or apologize. No harm was done, and good may have been.

AA does not promote itself. We just try to be visible enough that people who need us can find us. As I just wrote recently, no advertisements. No lobby. No policy statement. When people make harmless jokes like this, they’re actually spreading a hopeful message:

“When people have problems with addiction, AA is where they go for help.” It’s funny because the speaker making the joke doesn’t really have an addiction and isn’t in trouble. But AA isn’t the butt of the joke. AA is being held up as a noble example of where the speaker would go to get help if they really did have a problem. The speaker is the butt of their own joke.

Surely we haven’t gone so far that we can’t praise a blameless bystanding institution while making light of ourselves?

I don’t speak for AA or for other alcoholics. But I can say this: I am not harmed or offended by such a joke. And neither is my understanding of AA. The joke says, obliquely, “If you really do need help, AA is where you get it.” And that’s a message I’m thoroughly happy to endorse.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 3 March 2013 15:31

    I have been in situations where the joke has been made. I’m not offended by it I let it go. Others have at times been offended for me and I try to say it isn’t a problem in fact if one person one day does identify with the underlying issue in the joke and reach out to AA as a result that can only be a good thing.

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