Jason Biggs, Challenger and coping with tragedy through humor

You may have heard Jason Biggs, associated with either American Pie by people my age or Orange is the New Black by those a little younger, got in a bit of trouble for a tweet about the Malaysia Airlines downing.

Biggs joked, “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”

Bad taste? Compare with a punchline everyone of my generation knew:

Need Another Seven Astronauts.

Remember the joke? It was viral before “viral” was a big thing. We had no Internet, but this joke and many more somehow spread after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 killed seven astronauts, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.

That was how we coped. A sense of humor has long been our psychic defense against a tragedy we cannot prevent.

So what’s changed? Why is Biggs so vilified?

Is it because these jokes were always tasteless, and it’s only with today’s social media tools that the response can come so quickly? Or are we more sensitive these days.

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