In a column entitled "Ethnic Joke Etiquette" {op-ed, June 11}, Michael Kinsley lays down six rules "aimed at providing maximum gaiety with minimum offense." I interpret his suggestions as follows:

Rule 1. It's better to tell jokes on your own ethnic group. In other words, it's okay to express contempt for yourself and your own kind.

Rule 2. If the joke is about some other ethnic group, a good test is whether you would tell it to a friend from that group. It's okay to make thinly veiled statements of hostility against your ethnic friends occasionally to keep them in line.

Rule 3. Jokes about some groups are less offensive than jokes about others. It's okay to scapegoat some groups but not others.

Rule 4. Jokes about certain alleged traits are more offensive than jokes about others. It's okay to keep alive negative ethnic stereotypes.

Rule 5. If you tell an ethnic joke, make sure it's funny. It's okay to use humor to bring out your hidden aggressiveness toward other ethnic groups.

Rule 6. If you hear one you think is good, feel free to laugh. Examine your conscience later. It's okay to rationalize an offense against an ethnic group after the damage is done.

Perhaps it is because I have an Italian father, a Polish mother, an Irish wife, a Mormon brother, some Jewish cousins, some Jehovah's Witnesses cousins and grew up in an integrated black/white neighborhood that I have only two rules of ethnic joke etiquette:

Rule 1. I don't tell any.

Rule 2: I ask others not to tell any in my presence.

Racial and religious harmony in this world can only come about if everyone shows mutual respect for each other's background, and each ethnic joke in its own small way demonstrates a lack of such respect. -- Joseph Scafetta Jr.