The traditional categorization of humor into sarcastic, farce, etc; and ranking it is not the subject of this post. What is attempted here is to find a subtle, rational norm for judging certain humor as acceptable or not. Now, the former attempt, i.e. ranking the different forms of humor (sarcastic etc) is a futile one. This is mainly due to the subjectivity involved in it – manifest in the form of preferences (I like sarcasm, someone may not), mood (when I am red, a word and you are dead) etc. To instantiate, a guy might take all kinds of imitations of his in the lightest possible vein, and yet fume over a ‘dostana’ kind of joke on his friendship with a close pal (the joke was by a girl!)
I see the deficiencies in man fit into two categories – corrigible and inherited. Inherited ones are those which can’t be helped – color, height, genetic disorders (eyes related, physical disability) etc- things about which the guy can’t do anything. Jokes on these are just cheap shots. There isn’t anything that the guy can do about the manufacturing defects. Such jokes can appear to be not so common place, but alas! I have witnessed them at the Mecca of science and technology-IIT. The corrigible ones are those which can be helped – laziness, overweight, mispronunciation, double standards etc. I find such jokes to be within the limit because mostly they should be meant in the lighter sense. Even if they are coated or drenched in contempt, they give the victim a chance to avoid such jokes in the future (you know, do the needful).
P.S: I know being over-weight can be due to genetic reasons. But I also believe that, to some extent, it can be helped. Let science prove that obesity is entirely genetic and I will push this one in to the inherited deficiencies list.