There are certain things that one assumes don’t need to be said. Or even, that to say them would be insulting to the listener. For instance, telling the photographer at the wedding that they aren’t allowed to get between me (the officiant) and the couple during the ceremony. You know, you kind of assume anyone with some common sense knows not to do that. To tell the photographer not to go there implies that you think they might. Nonetheless, I do tell photographers this, while apologizing profusely, and explaining that I say this only because I had a colleague who once had a photographer of the phot0-journalist style at a wedding laying on the ground between the couple and herself, taking photos upwards. But most photographers look aghast when I tell them this story, which is good, because it indicates that most photographers at weddings have common sense.
Another example: If you are hired to babysit for the rabbi’s family, you don’t try to proselytize the children and tell them how wonderful it is to have Jesus in your life. Just a guess, but that probably doesn’t go over well with your employer (true story–I was the child in question).
Now, I thought that I was pretty much inured to anything the American media could throw at me. I may even have said that the media couldn’t do anything so outrageous it would shock me (which may be like a Buffy character saying, “it sure has been quiet lately…”). I was wrong. I was wrong.
Another of those things that you would think go without saying? Don’t use ethnic cleansing, or participation in ethnic cleansing, as a background for a minor character in a sitcom, no matter how edgy you think you are. It’s not okay to make jokes about ethnic cleansing, even if they are supposed to fall flat. It’s certainly not okay to do it when the genocide in question happened recently enough that both perpetrators and victims still live. (There is a possible exception here for people of that ethnic population being darkly comical on the subject–viz. Springtime for Hitler in the Producers).
“Community”, a sitcom which I normally enjoy, somehow decided it was okay to create a character who loves playing war video-games, and is really good at them…because he used to massacre people in the Baltic. Not okay. Not funny. Especially not okay when this isn’t the focus of a “very special espisode”, but rather a subplot in the episode.
So, apparently the American media can do things I find shocking. I just wish they wouldn’t.