It was incredibly awkward. We were at a family friend’s funeral. While making small talk with the deceased’s son, it came up that I was an attorney. The deceased’s grandson suddenly covered his throat dramatically declaring “please don’t suck my blood!”
It was his attempt at a lawyer joke. And I wasn’t the only one who laughed awkwardly. It was horrible timing as we stood a few feet from his grandma’s corpse.
Don’t get me wrong: we all need to lighten up a little bit. We should be able to laugh at ourselves and joke around. We don’t need to get offended at every little thing. We need thicker skin. But time and place is important. And sometimes jokes just aren’t appropriate.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue learned this lesson the hard way.
Perdue was speaking at a farm show in Minnesota when he dropped his ill-advised joke:
I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania. He said, “what do you call two farmers in a basement?” I said, “I don’t know, what do you call them?” He said, “a whine cellar!”
Farmers in the audience reportedly booed, though a couple people awkwardly laughed. Cringe.
I’m sure Perdue hears his fair share of “whining.” But it’s no surprise that farmers want the Trump administration to hear them. We’re literally teetering on the brink of an economic collapse. We have family farms losing everything. And suicide among farmers is increasing.
It’s safe to say this is legitimate whining. Perdue is supposed to be our advocate within the federal government. It’s kinda his job to look out for us and listen to what’s happening in U.S. agriculture. And the only way we can do that is by talking to him and his staff.
To be fair Secretary Perdue has an unenviable position. He daily interacts with the crowd most hurt by his boss’ trade war with China (however justified). The farm economy continues to decline. And 2019 will go down as one of the hardest for farmers.
I generally have a favorable opinion of Perdue. I’m willing, and probably most farmers are willing, to overlook a stupid joke like this. He usually does listen, having done several tours around the country to meet with farmers. And he’s done a lot to get our message to the White House and to advocate for U.S. agriculture.
But maybe he should let the comedians make the funnies from now on.