A few days ago, the topic on BFM's "Talkback Thursday" was (I'm paraphrasing here): "How soon is too soon to joke about MH370?"
Unfortunately, most callers went off topic when they basically took potshots at the "bungling authorities" who've been responsible for some conflicting info and flip flopping. But those who stayed on the subject basically said that a tragedy is never funny, and that there is no place for humour when the grieving has yet to end.
As someone who very much appreciates humour and deploys it regularly for just about anything, here's what I think: The loss of innocent lives is NEVER funny. For example, we don't make fun of those who died in the Highland Towers incident. It's been years, but when a documentary on it was shown on History Channel, everyone still feels the shock, pain and suffering.
The Tsunami of 2004 will never be "funny". Although the word "tsunami" itself has crept into our consciousness now, and the context of which is often times, inappropriately used; there's nothing funny in how people were swept away to their deaths.
Back to MH370, it's even made harder as we're nowhere near to finding out what really happened. There is simply no closure yet, even a month after it happened. And while it's easy to type #PrayForMH370 on your keyboard, it has not gotten easier for the families of those who're involved to understand and accept this unexpected tragedy.
So really, is it THAT hard to apply common sense in this situation and determine ourselves what's appropriate and what's utterly tasteless?
I was one of those who took potshots at the bomoh and his coconuts, but that was only because I believe the bomoh himself was insulting everyone, including the passengers' families. But really, it's just best for us to shut up and actually pray for some answers (and I mean, actual praying, not praying through hashtagging).
And so, to me.... Chef Wan's Instagram post on finding a piece of debris? TASTELESS.
Hashtag similar to #PrayForMH370, like #PrayForManU? Not funny, and VERY insulting.
But the most insulting I've come across so far is the already-infamous AirAsia inflight magazine article which includes this inset...
Yes, this is indeed beyond tasteless.
The airline though has come out to apologise and say that the whole article was prepared well in advance. As someone who've worked in publishing before, I can confirm that this is true. BUT, there was ample time for the publishers to have gone through the pages again after the incident happened to ensure that nothing sensitive was published. And I sure do hope that this was indeed written well in advance, as a potshot like this, if done intentionally, actually borders on being criminal.
I remember an incident when I was still editing FHM (Malaysia). Now, FHM is a magazine that takes the piss out of everything. Yet, when the Australia edition published some so-called "funny" captions on photos of people being crushed at Hillsborough in a 2002 issue, all hell broke loose. The stunt was described as "sickening" and "tasteless beyond belief", and there was no way to defend it. Personally, I myself wanted to punch the editor in the face.
And that's what people who even think about making fun of this tragedy really deserve...