The problem with the conversation surrounding the Family Guy episode is that it presupposes that people fall into one of two categories: those who think the joke was funny because they weren’t offended by it, and those who think the joke wasn’t funny because they were. I didn’t find the joke funny, not because it was insensitive to people with Down syndrome or to Sarah Palin, but because it just wasn’t funny. Like, as a joke. Plenty of criticisms have been lobbed at Family Guy, from the quality of the animation, to its reliance on interchangeable, inorganic cutaway gags (see South Park’s two-part take down, “Cartoon Wars”) but the Palin joke is a perfect example of the show’s major shortcoming. The MacFarlane sensibility puts a premium on being offensive, and that’s fine when the jokes are soundly constructed, but too often Family Guy jokes aren’t clever or well written, they’re just shocking. To some people (me included, at times) the shock value is enough to inspire some uncomfortable tittering, but jokes like that don’t stand up to scrutiny. If you take two seconds to think about them, you realize it wasn’t that funny to begin with, and it certainly doesn’t work on a subsequent viewing, when you’re expecting it.