Some Navajo were less than amused by a "drunk Indians" joke made on a CBS sitcom last week. Others thought it was a good laugh.
On the Feb. 25 episode of "Mike and Molly," a show about an overweight, working-class couple, Mike's mother expressed her dislike for the state of Arizona.
"You ever been to Arizona? It's just a furnace full of drunk Indians," she said. The role is played by actress Rondi Reed.
Navajo Nation officials were offended because members of their tribe make up a large portion of the Native American population in Arizona, and many of them struggle with alcoholism.
It is not the only Native American tribe to struggle with alcoholism and the accompanying social problems.
Rates of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault all are high on many of the reservations across the country, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Justice, including on the Navajo reservation.
Many Navajo leaders attribute those statistics to the high rates of alcohol and drug abuse on tribal reservations.
"Alcoholism isn't funny. It isn't pretty," said Erny Zah, spokesman for the Office of the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation. "It's just sickening. It's awful."
Zah said an apology would be appropriate but insufficient for the offense.
Many locals who posted on a Daily Times Facebook inquiry, including some who identified themselves as Navajo, said the tribal officials' reactions were too swift and too sensitive, and advised them to "get over it."
Others were more blunt, telling them that the truth hurts, and that it is not the first group of people to be the punch line to an off-color joke.
The show airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS. Mike and Molly are played by Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy.
The show first aired in September 2010. It hit a season low in the ratings last week, according to Entertainment Weekly.
CBS representatives could not be reached for comment Monday.
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