Which is all good and fine, and excellent advice to live by. But I don't know if the concept of "don't punch down" is adequately covering the problem.
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It's sort of creating a muffin top of the problem.
My thinking is that "don't punch down" fails to account for the number of very funny, very successful jokes that have been told about people weaker than whoever was telling the joke. Stand-up comics have mocked their ex-lovers for decades, a group of people who generally aren't capable of fighting back. Minimum wage employees are also frequently the target of jokes should they happen to provide anything less than exceptional service to some comedian trying to pad out his set.
"HOW DARE YOU MISSPELL MY NAME. THE PEOPLE OF THE CHUCKLE DEPOSITORY WILL HEAR OF THIS."
So if that doesn't quite cover the problem, if indeed we can punch down on occasion, what are the real rules?