A reader writes:
Much as I hate to bring the room down, I think I have some perspective to add to this whole Gilbert Gottfried episode.
My sister very recently died after a prolonged battle with AML (a form of leukemia). The last week-and-a-half, when we all knew she was dying, was incredibly traumatic for everyone in the family (my sister, probably fortunately, was largely unconscious and unaware). She was only 40 and has two young children, so it was really pretty horrible all around. But through the entire agonizing mess, amidst all the weeping, we were joking with one another constantly.
I don't know how tasteless our jokes were, but we would have laughed at anything. We even made dark jokes over her dead body literally minutes after she breathed her last. It sounds sickening to say it, but that's what happened. I've never experienced anything of this sort before so I don't know if this is how it normally goes, but it felt normal and natural and not at all disrespectful to me.
So I say let people tell all the damned tasteless jokes they want and let the propriety police go to hell.