I am Canadian born so I got a dose of the sarcasm and humor that anglo-saxon roots bring with it. I am ok with joking around. My self confidence stands up under all kinds of teasing. Some people know how to pull off a good dig and can take them back in stride. Though, I am the kind of person who feels there is a line.
There is a kind of immature sarcastic insult that can be endured, tolerated but is eventually nothing more than haranguing or harassment.
When you know you are respected and accepted by your peers, jokes and sarcasm have a context that is truly not painful or insulting. I think as a (one time) Canadian I have a wonderful personality feature called openness. There is a friendly park surrounding my soul, with few to no barriers. One could say there is a symbolic boundary over which people can easily step into my friend-space and interact with my world. Sometimes people misbehave and have to be escorted to the edge of my friend-space and banned or sent on a break. Mostly, though, I am patient, tolerant and accepting. I sincerely desire to know the features of another persons personality and life and to see the good in them. I usually try to have enough respect and decency for others not to attack them personally or place insulting hurtful labels on them.
My goat can be easy to get, it's right over a short wall on my property. I expect people to respect me and what is mine as I offer the same to them. I honestly don't know the proper way to deal with people who don't live by the same social contract. I just want to be treated properly and I agree to do the same for others.
I heard about the Canadian (NATO) forces taking over in Afghanistan. Though soldiers, they intuitively wanted to show restraint against their fellow men. As one of the Canadian soldiers said when interviewed about the first encounter, "We got our noses bloodied". So they recommitted themselves to go after the Taliban tribal fighters and terrorists with full force. They should have known, but at the same time, these are the kind of people they are. Like other Canadians before them in the World Wars, they will get the job done and be on the victorious side.
Occasionally my inherent benefit of the doubt is offered to the wrong kind of person. Perhaps their insecurities clash with my own or they regard my openness as weakness. Maybe they are attracted to the same women, you know, like we are Moose or Elephant Seals in competition.
It doesn't come naturally to me to use a credible threat or even an implied one to deter someone from annoying me. If I am to the point of saying I'll do something, I just might. So I don't go there. All I can do is show my displeasure, state my disagreement. Sometimes that makes it seem like I can no longer be joked with, teased or insulted. That's unfortunate. It's all about the spirit of the thing. It is easy to pick out other's vulnerabilities or fears and play on them. It's just not nice.
I think some of the fittest humans evolved being nice. I think it takes highly adapted intelligence to make love not war.
I don't want a society where violence is the path to respect. That doesn't seem to be in harmony with the rule of law or any other high minded human ideal.
Now, when I speak of haranguing I don't just mean..."Hey Jerk". I am talking about things that amount to possible life-ruining besmirchment of character that in the first place were never true. When these kinds of labels are used even for humor, it can anger and dismay the target of these, greatly reducing happiness. It becomes an honor issue. Just desserts must be eaten, but dishonoring someone makes it gauntlet dropping time.
I still am too nice and Canadian to really stand up in the right way. Another powerful thing to do would be not to dignify insults with a response. I have yet to be secure enough and of a magnitude of character where I can get that done properly either. So I settle with getting pissed off and using a few stern words. That alienates people...I can feel it happen.
There are people around me that I know have heard how annoyed I can get when I was unfairly prodded and insulted. I am sure that they never hear a balanced view. It is clear I cannot interact with some people in the same way I once could, because they heard my character portrayed by the very person who got on my nerves.
I am a grown man and I feel like I am still in junior high.
My achilles heel is that I see bullies as people who are just as insecure and lonely as I sometimes feel. I can't dehumanize them. So I muddle on not handling them exactly right. Oh well, all I can do is be me and hope that others will get to know me instead of just stopping at the insults, labels and the outburst.