|Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857-1904)|
I am grateful that I do not suffer from Tourette's syndrome. This neurodevelopmental disorder must cause the sufferers untold misery as involuntarily they display muscular tics and/or verbal or phonic tics. It is estimated that around 1% of children of school age suffer from some form of the condition and I remember with some affection a childhood friend whose tics went crazy whenever he was stressed or nervous. His was not the most intense version of the syndrome but it blighted his life. Ron died from alcoholism in his forties.
Every summer at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival an award is given for the best new oneliner from a visiting comedian. This year that winning "joke" was delivered by Swedish comedian and children's author - Olaf Falafel. This was it:-
"I keep randomly shouting out 'Broccoli' and
'Cauliflower' - I think I might have florets".
Do you get it? There is a play upon the word "florets" which of course rhymes with "Tourette's".
I hope that I am not being oversensitive or too politically correct but I am not applauding this winning joke. It appears to be taking the piss out of an unfortunate minority who suffer from a debilitating condition that they cannot control and very much wish that they did not have. The curiously named Olaf Falafel should himself be grateful that he is not a Tourette's sufferer.
I wonder if the target of his joke had been different would it also have won acclaim? What if it had focused upon people in wheelchairs or the elderly? Maybe women or homosexuals or the homeless? What about black people or followers of the Jewish faith?
I doubt that Olaf Falafel intended any offence but accidentally he may have helped in a small way to further marginalise and poke fun at a significant minority of unfortunate people who have suffered from far too much misunderstanding and mockery through the centuries.
Link to Tourette's Action UK