Well, there you go, Naked Thoughts! Upsetting to hear for many of us, and you would not be a good member for an audience of Ringo's humor. Nor for Jackie Mason's, once he gets rolling, for that matter, if you are a good descriptor of your own sense of the absurd. Myself, I don't find Jackie Mason racist, though perhaps you do.
I have, in my recent reading, run across an interesting gloss on Moses Maimonides commentary on speech in Joel L. Kraemer's fascinating new biography of the man.
(pages 184-85, if you're interested). Maimonides suggests speech falls into five catagories: 1) Obligatory; 2) Prohibited; 3) Reprehensible; 4) Meritorious; and 5) Permissible.
I'd suggest that much of the ill feeling generated in this particular thread has come from the confusion of Prohibited and Reprehensible speech. While many of us would like to think that the joke in question is merely reprehensible, in the terms Maimonides proposes it seems more likely to fit the catagory of Prohibited, which includes "bearing false witness, lying, slandering, calumniating, and vilifying, as well as obscenity and slander." Reprehensible speech, on the other hand, "has no utility for a person and is neither obedience or disobedience to God."
Like Ringo, I have an occasional weakness for both Prohibited and Reprehensible speech. I do try, but as a 12th Century Jewish sage, I'm pretty much a flat bust.
I will keep working on it, though, as best I can. I beg some understanding, though.
Sincerely, Bob Kaven