It's not exactly a secret that I'm a fan of All in the Family. I enjoy the various Archieism. I also enjoy insights that can be gained from the show. One insight I've been thinking over recently is the assumed joke. An assumed joke is one where the joke is never made but everyone pretends it is and has a laugh.
Archie was almost always portrayed as an ignorant bigot on the show. Normally Archie would make a comment and someone (Michael or Irene normally depending on the season) would respond "Archie how can you stand to think that way?". As a rule what Archie had said that provoked that response, was some observation about a person and a comment about a stereotype.
1. A stereotype is a statement that is normally true about a group of people, although it may not be true about a particular person belonging to that group.
2. I can't remember anyone every logically disproving why Archie shouldn't hold a particular view. He was simply demonized for his beliefs. It was assumed that everyone knew why Archie shouldn't think that way. Archie was a bigot; therefore whatever he said or thought was wrong.
If I say: "rednecks like NASCAR", I have made a pre-judgment about a group and an activity. If I come across someone who has on a set of bib-overalls, a ring from a can of Skoal in his left rear pocket, sporting a three day old growth of beard, with a Dale Earnhardt Jr. tee shirt and a straw cowboy hat on their head, and I say, "he's a redneck", have I done something wrong? What if I decide I don't want to let that person in my house? How about if I refuse to give him a job?
If you were to hear me call the man a redneck, and you asked me, "how do you know he's a red neck?". And I said "he likes NASCAR, see he's got a Dale Earnhardt Jr. tee shirt", would you be offended?
The thing is, nobody cares about a group of people we call red necks. Heck on a good day you can go into Wal Mart and see nothing but rednecks. Its not a big deal because there is no National Organization for the Advancement of Trailer Trash (NOATT). No organization, no official victim status, no special rights. No need to watch what you say about them either.
What happens if someone is part of a group that has lobbied for Special Victim Status (SVS)? Are you suddenly evil because you don't want to associate with that person? Are you guilty of a crime simply because of something you might think applies, like a stereotype? Should you go to jail for it?
Thirty years after All in the Family went off the air, we're still assuming the joke and not requiring anyone to think if its true or not. Now we call it "hate" and now its a crime, unless of course the person doesn't have SVS.