Editorial: Yet another joke told too soon

Since the first midsummer case of Ebola was diagnosed in Africa, tensions have risen around the globe. Governments consoled citizens, scientists researched the virus and medical teams prepared for possible infections.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the somewhat controlled chaos, journalists maintained ever-watchful eyes on the epidemic. This loyal and informative work proved dangerous, however, when an American freelance photographer, 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo, contracted the virus while working with a broadcasting team in Liberia. Mukpo was placed in the care of a special health team and was last reported to be recovering slowly.

Back on the United States home front, talk of the virus’ possible manifestation on American soil has caused sudden commotion as citizens across the nation are now running to physicians following every sneeze, fearing an unknown contraction of the virus. But perhaps an even worse symptom of Ebola is one that is not physically noticeable, as it is more a cerebral issue than a corporeal one. Simply put, there seems to be a severe lack of etiquette and taste among many citizens.

The immature and unintelligent smartphone app, Yik Yak — which allows users to anonymously post demeaning or disrespectful statements without fear of being caught (for now) — has become a marketplace for unsavory comments regarding the Ebola virus. Much like the “your Mom” and “that’s what she said” jokes that frothed to and fro in years past, these new Ebola jokes have gone viral — and it is not funny.

Since the initial case was reported in the summer months, the Ebola virus has caused the deaths of more than 4,000 of its victims. The agonies of those unfortunate enough to contract the virus are indescribable, and the suffering of the victim’s families are no less difficult. To laughingly type out a gag about a killer virus currently rampaging through third-world countries is no better than cracking a Holocaust joke.

That being said, whether anyone witnesses you cracking a merciless, unfeeling joke or otherwise, just know this — karma is not exactly the friendliest neighbor on the block. The best way to avoid a visit from ricocheted karma is to simply not perform the questionable deed in the first place. After all, imagine yourself in the situation of an Ebola victim. Would you want others to be cracking jokes about your suffering?

It will always be too soon.