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Who Can Joke About Whom?

Kathryn Jean Lopez, defending Dick Cheney: If you're from red America, it's OK to make jokes about inbred Appalachian hicks, right!?

Honest question. I'm from New York City so I have no idea. If you're from Wyoming, you can make jokes about West Virginia, can't you? I know a New Yorker absolutely can't make jokes about West Virginia. And I know a West Virginian can make jokes about a New Yorker. But if you're from Wyoming, aren't you--if you're name isn't Cheney, at least--part of the normal-American club and it's all good?

I'm impressed by the mental gymnastics it takes to believe that citizens of one's own hometown aren't part of the "normal-American club." That's the real condescenion here: New Yorkers are tough and don't mind if people make jokes about them, but we mustn't offend those earnest, simple-minded West Virginians! Grow up, people. Why can't we just agree that all regional stereotypes are terrific and should be strongly encouraged?

--Josh Patashnik