When I  was hosting a radio program in Montreal, I freqently had on the Conservative cabinet minister, John Crosbie.  He was always  outspoken and good for a laugh.

Crosbie is now lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.  And he is in trouble for telling a joke with the premier and the cabinet present.

The joke goes like this:

Some guy calls a suicide hotline and he gets a call centre in Pakistan.  “When I  told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked  me if I  could drive a truck?”

The premier was embarrassed and the Pakistani embassy was decidedly unamused.  The politically correct came down on Crosbie like a ton of bricks.


Is there an element of humour in that joke?

What is the essential element in the joke that makes it unacceptable to the prudish?

Should Crosbie be censured?

Is this a joke?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    Suicide and suicide hotlines are not a goldmine of humour — especially to those whose lives were touched by suicide. Not everyone appreciates dark humour. As for the reference to Pakistan, it is an example of stereotypical thinking. This, I would think, would be beneath the dignity of the Queen’s representative.

    I wonder why, when I first saw your post, I thought of Rush Limbaugh. Were you friends with him, too?

  2. 2

    Yes, it’s a joke, and a bloody good one in the right context…like all other jokes. I first heard this one several years ago, at the height of two coincident kinds of events: terrorists’ driving bomb-laden trucks into crowds of innocent people and detonating them, and a raft of here-at-home protestings regarding the outsourcing of call centers to India and Pakistan, where wages are much lower, thereby causing both unemployment and unrest at home.

    However, jokes “belong” to specific audiences, sometimes, and this one did not belong where it was. I love Crosbie’s sense of humor — always have — but there are times when he chews on his shoes, and this was one of them. It was an oops moment, not done for malicious intent. Let him apologize and then let’s forget about it. We will all laugh another time at something else he says.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    No, Barbara, I am not a friend of Rush Limbaugh. He is a superb enterntainer and has an astonishing audience of 20 million listenrs. I take it you must be familar with him.

  4. 4
    SUZANNE Says:

    I laughed out loud when I read the joke.

  5. 5
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    There is — and must be — a double standard when it comes to elected officials, representatives of sacred institutions, and judges…and the rest of us. The former aren’t allowed the luxury of making “jokes” that may offend; the latter are.

    An aside: Neil alludes to Crosby’s well known history in saying the politically incorrect. If memory serves me, when he ran for the leadership of the PCs back in the 80s, he was asked about his unilingual English. He replied something to the effect that it would be more important to learn Chinese. Well, that was the end of any hope for him to become PM.

    Of course, today, if you lived in BC or Toronto, you’d probably agree with Crosby. Truth be told, French’s necessity, status, and use in Canada –even in Quebec! — exists pretty much only as a result of government decree and dictum. Left on its own, French is indeed just a folk language…even in Quebec.

  6. 6

    I am pretty sure that Mr. Crosbie intended it as a joke, not a political statement. 🙂
    He’s not a person known for finesse or good jokes.
    The politically correct-0’s should take a breather.
    There are lots of things that are not right in the world, and warrant attention.
    Mr. Crosbie’s comments- not one of them.

  7. I admit that my first reaction was a hearty laugh. Then it dawned on me that it was a good joke at the wrong place and time.
    I also remember the “Chinese” incident. These things run in the conservative family.

  8. 8
    Barbara Says:

    Neil, I only know of Rush Limbaugh from excerpts of his bombast presented in the news — fake or actual. Life is too short to give him the attention he obviously craves. My taste runs to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

  9. 9
    jim Says:

    Jokes of that ilk should be left to professional comedians where it’s a joke as well as getting a message across.

  10. 10

    Here’s a thought: Why are the bombers called “suicide” bombers?
    It’s not an act of suicide, it’s an act of murder. “Murder bombers.”

  11. 11

    Patti, they’re caled that because the bombers’ intent is always to commit suicide, and he always succeeds. He does not always succeed at taking anyone else with him. But you do make a good point — suicide is also murder…

  12. 12

    Hi Barbara,
    Last summer I tuned into a radio station and heard an interviewer talking to Rush Limbaugh. He had just gotten married and talked about his family and private life. He was very charming.
    I suspect that he’s a political entertainer, aggitator, shit disturber. He does a good job.

  13. 13
    Barbara Says:

    Littlepatti, to each his own. I find he sometimes goes overboard, is tinged with racism and sounds cruel to me. That’s not my kind of entertainment. Yes, he is an agitator and a shit disturber. That is why we have the quality of candidates for the Presidency in the Republican party. People are looking for a political entertainer and not for a wise leader. It is easier to crack wise than to be wise.

  14. 14

    “sometimes goes overboard” …Sometimes? He ALWAYS goes overboard. I really don’t like him either. There is such a variety of that style of talk show host, they all try to outwit each other. Driving north from Florida, I’ve heard them all. Rush Limbaugh is king. Thankfully, I can turn him off!

  15. 15
    jim Says:

    The way I see it, they are not trying to outwit each other, they are trying to outtwit each other. Every time Limburger talks, he subtracts from the fountain of human knowledge.

  16. 16

    out wit + out twit. Funny!

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