By Eric Novak, columnist
The concept of humor is quite an uplifting one. It is a form of communication that exists solely to produce positive reactions among other humans. At its core, humor has no ulterior motives. It is meant to elicit happiness or laughter. No other concept in the human communication system is as pure as that of humor.

Humor can be used as a tool to cheer up a friend who is down in the dumps or to diffuse tension. It can also be used as an icebreaker for otherwise awkward conversations.

Among all of its versatile uses, humor seems to have gotten somewhat of a bad rap in certain areas.

Throughout the years, humor has acquired a muddy new guise and has often been called offensive. It seems that humor has always had its critics, whether they are critical of its intellectual value or of its supposed intention to hurt someone or something.

While intellectual value of various types of humor is always up for debate, the intent of humor is where these critics overlook its meaning.

Whether someone finds a certain joke offensive or not, to offend is not the core meaning for the joke. I believe that, when approaching humor, one should be able to look at anything with a humorous perspective, even issues that people might call taboo. This is important because I believe that humor should not be selective.

The main principle behind humor is that one should be able to poke fun at everything or one should poke fun at nothing. Why should such a fundamentally good principle of communication be limited and suffocated by the bars society places on it?

Being selective of what you are allowed to poke fun at is a restriction of our rights to free speech. Restricting someone from poking fun at something does not make the world a better place.

You don’t need to find everything funny, but don’t try to take someone’s free speech away just because you don’t agree with them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place for humor. And, like all good things, too much of it can make it stale and unappealing.

There can be inappropriate times for humor, but I don’t believe there are inappropriate forms of humor. I know this may seem unorthodox or harsh, as jokes concerning taboo issues can be perceived as very offensive. Humor is simply a way of communicating a good spirit, no matter what the subject.

I’m not saying that if someone makes a joke about something that you disapprove of you have to find it funny. Just keep an open mind.

The beautiful thing about humor is that it is as individualized as our personalities, and, with our individual personalities, there will inevitably be clashes between people.

Once we are able to joke about a certain taboo subject, we can view it through a more objective lens. And, through humor, we can reach a common bond between people and learn to coexist more peacefully.