Most people like jokes, but few like to be the butt of one. This is because jokes invariably belittle those they target through imputing to them, whether deservedly so or not, some demeaning quality or other, such as stupidity, cupidity or carnality.
In his highly instructive and amusing book, Jokes and Targets, the internationally renowned authority on humour, British sociologist Christie Davies, seeks to understand why jokes amuse us so and target those whom they do. Among the joke Davies seeks to explain are those which target dumb sexy blondes, the lascivious French, frigid Jewish wives and their shopaholic daughters and timid, sports-averse husbands, the former Soviet system, and unscrupulous American lawyers.
Being busy professionals, American lawyers might initially be inclined to dismiss the questions Davies raises as too frivolous to warrant their serious attention. They should think again, given in what a poor light jokes about them now routinely depict them where they are invariably portrayed as being venal, corrupt, money-grabbing, and dishonest. Could joke tellers be sued for group-libel, surely by now some enterprising American lawyer would have cleaned up.