The WPA listerv (for anybody out there who doesn't know--an email discussion list for people who direct college writing programs and, more broadly, for anybody who teaches writing at the college level) is busy with messages in which people share their "Palin" names. Apparently, there's a website where you type in your name and the site spits a "Palin" name at you. "Boulder Hockeypuck." "Igloo Moosehunt." And so on. Wacky web fun, I guess. So far only one person has complained that the political discussion veers too far from the focus of the list; I suspect more complaints will follow.
I don't find the "Palin Name Generator" offensive per se. Sure, the site jabs at the names of the candidate's children. And yes, it's another example of the non-sequitor, cultural dismissal of Palin's leisure/lifestyle/personal affinities/geographical affiliation. But offensive? Probably not. Off topic? Who cares?
Still, the whole discussion seems like an interesting articulation of community standards. The "Palin Name Generator" strikes me as a safe, middle-of-the-road kind of humor. Not too edgy. Not too biting. And if there's an implicit politics behind the site and the listserv discussion, it's a moderate-to-liberal politics. Safe.
But for the sake of argument, here's a hypothetical. What if the site poked fun at the Afrocentric names of the children of an African-American public figure? Would the site still be funny? Would the sharing of those "funny" names still meet the community standards of a moderate-to-liberal discussion site?