This is a joke dads have been making as long as there have been daughters who have gone on dates. And as far as I can tell, nobody thinks Feely was actually threatening the boy, yet many are reacting as though that’s what was happening.
Here is one good example:
Yes, but there’s one bright neon problem with this: Jay Feely did not act on his base instincts. He did precisely opposite of that. He took his base instincts and converted them into a joke. It was not an original joke, and not a very funny one in my estimation, but it was a joke nonetheless, and what you’re supposed to be laughing at in this particular joke is Jay Feely and those base instincts. The joke is the idea that Jay Feely feels he has to use a firearm to protect his daughter from her prom date.
In other words, Jay Feely and Chet Gresham are making the exact same point about this scenario. The difference is, Feely did it ironically, and Gresham did it sanctimoniously.
I don’t mean to pick on Gresham, because he was hardly the only person on Twitter to make this error. In fact, many people made an even more astonishing error — they understood this was a joke, yet carried on with their outrage anyway.
This sounds like a terrible experience for Debonaire Toast, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Jay Feely because again …
… the joke Feely was making?
It was at the expense of a guy like Debonaire Toast’s dad. That’s exactly the kind of idiot we’re laughing at — exactly the kind of idiot Jay Feely is not.
And if you can’t see that, I’m sorry to say you belong among all the unwashed hayseeds who laughed with Archie Bunker, unaware everybody else was laughing at him.
Maybe laughter and humor aren’t your thing. That’s fine. But some people find humor helps them process painful or uncomfortable feelings. Some people like to laugh because it’s preferable to crying, and accomplishes the same thing.
It’s the main thing humor is good for, and to say certain topics can’t be joked about because they’re serious and painful is to misunderstand what a joke is for, and to take away an ancient and effective tool for processing emotion. It would be like saying sad songs can’t have happy melodies. Serious matters aren’t just appropriate to joke about, they demand to be joked about.
Having said all that, I seriously doubt Jay Feely would have otherwise been crying over his daughter’s prom date, and I’d be surprised if he thought much about that joke at all (or about jokes in general).
But he didn’t create that joke, either. Some other dad did, long ago, when he felt a surge of base impulses flowing through his body, and found a way to tell a boy something a boy needed telling in a way that relieved some of the tension everybody involved is always feeling in these situations.
You don’t have to think this joke is funny. You don’t have to do anything at all. Nobody is under threat. Nobody has been wronged. It was just a joke. It won’t be the last.