I will refer you to my hilarious post regarding rape lemonadeJuly 13, 2012
And it’s right here.
So yeah, there’s the whole Daniel Tosh “rape joke” thing that has the Internet’s attention for the time being, and the argumentative masses of the online realm cry out for a sage to shepherd some sense into this heated yet largely-irrelevant discussion that argues way too many points at the same time and has too many misconceptions muddying already murky waters. But instead of this grand communicator of wisdom, they get us, the blog of wild fabrications and outright lies.
We’re dealing right with the source for this, the original blog post that started the story, and not bothering with any other supplementary materials. So the author of the story and her friend go out to a comedy club where Daniel Tosh is performing. They don’t know who he is, or most of the other performers on the bill (other than Dane Cook), but they decide to give ’em all a shot.
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”
First Misconception: Asking the question “Are rape jokes funny?” is the right question to ask. It’s too broad. No, the right question – or at least a more appropriate and pertinent question – is “Is your rape joke funny?” With this more focused, precise query, you can look at things like context, execution, delivery, and a whole lot of other factors and make a more informed answer. Telling a joke regarding a touchy subject like rape is like going for a very difficult dive in the Olympics, except if you fuck up you don’t get a 1.0 from the Russian judge, you get people mad at you.
The Romanian judge gives this a 9.5 for combining both the topics of “rape” and Megyn Kelly’s “pepper spray is a food product” idiocy…
Second Misconception: You are the center of the fucking universe. Read this part again: “…but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny.” She’s telling her tale as if Tosh was speaking only to her. He’s on a fucking stage doing a comedy act for an audience, not having a private heart-to-heart talk with you down by the lake about how his soul operates. When we see Bill O’Reilly say something stupid on TV, we don’t go “Fuck you, Bill, you can’t tell us what to think!” and punch our TV’s. Our reaction is usually “No, that’s wrong and we know exactly why, what’s on ESPN?”
Let’s do a little substitution of terms and show this sentence to be the crock-pot of crazy it really is.
- “But I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find Wes Anderson films funny and never have. So I didn’t appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny.”
- “But I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find sports fun and never have. So I didn’t appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them fun.”
- “But I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find beer tasty and never have. So I didn’t appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them tasty.”
Yeah… so if anyone spews a sentence close to that manner at you, duck and cover before their over-inflated sense of self suffocates you like the giant white ball from The Prisoner.
The Third Misconception – and probably the most important in this early stages of this post: stand-up comedy shows are open town hall forums for discussion. You cheer, you boo, you stay silent, you leave… those are the basic appropriate responses to live theater. You do not relay to the performer your opinions and comments during their show. That makes you a heckler. We’re going to make a safe assumption that, in the minds of stand-ups, hecklers should be banished to the deepest level of Hell. So when you heckle a comedian, you have established yourself as the worst fucking human being on the planet to them. You are Hitler incarnate. But we’ll revisit this point later in our dissection.
The author elaborates on why she took the leap from audience member to heckler…
I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.
Fourth misconception: The Laugh Factory is the place to make your moral stand against all that is anathema to your whole being. This isn’t Tianamaen Square, you’re not facing down the tanks of an oppressive and corrupt Chinese regime. This is a dickhead on a stage who said something you found very disagreeable whilst suffering the previous misconception that he was speaking directly to you and only you.
And next comes “the rape joke:”
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there.
Let’s revisit a previous point: to comedians, hecklers are the worst people on Earth and are to be held in the highest contempt. And that contempt drips with every word a comedian uses to eviscerate said heckler. At this point, the comedy is incidental, this part of the show is being driven by anger.
This is one such example that I enjoy for its purity of rage (and because Bill Hicks is awesome):
Heckling is like throwing the first punch in a fight: it doesn’t matter what happens next, it’s your fault regardless.
Which brings us to what I will argue is Misconception Five: that “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?” is a rape joke. It’s not. It’s a declaration of contempt. And for the worst person on Earth, there is no insult too brutal to deploy, no poison too venomous to spit.
I should probably add that having to basically flee while Tosh was enthusing about how hilarious it would be if I was gang-raped in that small, claustrophic room was pretty viscerally terrifying and threatening all the same, even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place. The suggestion of it is violent enough and was meant to put me in my place.
Misconception Six: Tosh threatened this girl with rape. “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?” is a threat? The only way that could possibly be a threat is if Tosh was a Rape-o-mancer who could conjure rapists from the Rape Dimension to do his rapey bidding. We’ve told people to their face that we wanted them to die in a fire, but that does not mean we’ve actually threatened to set them ablaze. Until either of those things suddenly become true due to some unfathomable glitch in the Matrix, don’t believe anyone who says Tosh threatened that woman with rape.
Sure, she may have felt threatened, but how many time have you “felt” something and been wrong about it? Something “feels” right that turns out wrong. Your “feeling” that something is amiss turns out to be nothing. Your feeling that your date to the senior prom was “The One” and then he cheats on you before leaving for university. That fuckhead in Florida George Zimmerman “felt” Trayvon Martin was a threat to his neighborhood just because Trayvon was black and wore a hoodie. Your feelings are not gospel truth and, after further review by the replay official, can be deemed as bullshit. So call this Misconception Seven: Your feelings matter.
The next two Misconceptions come from the subsequent debate in the wake of this Tosh rape joke incident.
Misconception Eight: Rape is the Worst Thing Ever. This, as with Misconception One, is looking at things the wrong way. You cannot create a Top Ten list of the worst things in the world – no one have ever agreed with the rankings on a Top Ten list. You need to create a Tier system, like your cable provider does. You have your Platinum Tier where the cream of the horrible crop reside, like rape and genocide and hate crimes. Then you can have the Gold Tier where shit is bad but it’s not rape or The Holocaust, and so one and so on down however many Tiers you want to create. This heads off the contentious – yet pointless – debates over what the worst thing ever is.
Misconception Nine is that this is a freedom of speech issue. No, the government is not being called in to suppress anyone speaking about anything, so it’s not a freedom of speech issue.
Damn, wish we had a Misconception Ten, just so we’d have a round number to end on. Uh… um… Misconception Ten: you look good in sandals. No, you don’t. You really don’t. And whoever told you you do is very wrong, or lying to you.
If anything good comes out of this discussion is that it distracted us long enough from our grand plan in the wake of the investigation results that showed Penn State University covered up child rape to protect their football program; that plan being to dress up as Pedobear, drive over to Penn State’s campus at Happy Valley, and have our picture taken with the big Joe Paterno statue. Considering Happy Valley’s location in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, there’s a good chance we would have been shot in that adventure. And then who would sporadically update this place?