Typically narcissistic blogging.

Tosh.Rape

So, as you might discover if you are anywhere near the internet, Daniel Tosh is an asshole and the debate over whether rape jokes are funny and acceptable continues.

However, that’s not actually the issue, for me. Comedians walk, cross, leap over, smudge, and kick the line of what is appropriate—that’s their job. We don’t have to like what they are saying or doing. We don’t have to appreciate it. We don’t have to approve of it. We can say what we like about it. But what Daniel Tosh did was far worse.

Because he made a rape joke, and a woman pointed out to him that she didn’t appreciate it, and he got angry. And his response was to single her out, and then threaten her and intimidate her with rape. Guys, that wasn’t a joke. That wasn’t part of his routine. Tosh got mad and threatened a woman with rape. And it doesn’t matter whether he was serious or not, although what he said, he said in anger and that really makes me question where he was really coming from.

This isn’t an issue of whether he gets to make rape jokes. That’s covered by the First Amendment. He gets to make rape jokes. Tracy Morgan gets to go on homophobic rants. The Westboro Baptist Church gets to picket funerals.

This is an issue of a man who, as Molly points out in this fantastic piece, lost control and threatened somebody with violence. This is an issue of an audience that laughed when he did it. This is an issue of people who are suggesting that a woman deserved to be threatened with rape because she dared to speak up about it in the middle of his routine. This is an issue of the tweeters whose response to that woman’s story was to threaten her with yet more violence:

(Collection gently ripped off of @sfslim‘s Twitter feed, because he totally and unwittingly did that homework for me like a champ. And no, he didn’t RT these assholes because he agrees with them. Quite the opposite.)

The issue is that we live in a culture where it is okay to threaten a woman with rape, because it was, in theory, “just a joke.”

ETA: Some doubt has been cast on the accuracy of this woman’s story, which may excuse Tosh to a degree, but still does not excuse the reactions of those who felt rape and being threatened with rape are appropriate punishments for her. So I’m gonna let this post stand as is.

8 responses

  1. Anonymoose

    I would note the first comment to Molly’s article, and just point out that is one reason why the internet echo machine is so incredibly inflammatory. If that comment is false and the initial woman’s blog post is true, however, carry on. Nor does it / could it explain the response of the idiot tweets.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    • Well, of course the issue is that 1. We weren’t there and 2. The owner of the place is going to put a more positive spin on the story just as that woman might put a more negative spin on it. Difficult to know what information to trust.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  2. Tara Young

    Great post. I love seeing men take a stand against rape. Even though so many men are victims too, and male victims are far more prevalent than perps, too many people dismiss the issue as a “woman’s issue.” You are making the world a better place.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm

  3. Whether you agree that the woman was a heckler or just somebody who couldn’t help speaking up when he said, “Rape jokes are always funny, right?” the way he responded to her was unprofessional and unacceptable.

    Interruptions/heckling happen to all comedians. IT IS PART OF THEIR JOB to deal with them; ideally without alienating the person who is, theoretically at least, a paying customer. Robin Williams was great at it. Michael Richards, Daniel Tosh… not so good. It says something significant about the comedian’s skill level if s/he can’t deal with an interruption without seeking to attack/humiliate the person who doesn’t, after all, have a microphone, or a crowd behind him/her.

    If a trio of big tall Marines or bikers had stood up and said, “Hey, we don’t think rape jokes are very funny,” would Tosh have responded, “Well, *I* think it would be funny if you were each getting raped by five guys right now”? I doubt it – and that’s the issue, that he was BULLYING the woman.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

  4. NayNay

    When I went through instructor training in the Navy, we were taught how to “effectively” deal with disruptions in the classroom: never “shame” or embarrass the offender. You’re supposed to re-direct their attention in a positive manner. Guess what? Not always very effective in real life. I had a student hitting on me in class. His entire purpose was to embarrass me and make me uncomfortable. He didn’t stop until I finally made a snarky comeback and the entire class laughed at him.

    The argument could be made that my reaction was unprofessional and that I lowered myself to his level. Trust me, I wasn’t thrilled that the situation got to the point where I felt like I was backed into a corner. I had already tried all of the “right” reactions, unsuccessfully, and I had a lesson to finish in a limited amount of time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Hecklers don’t just make things difficult for the performer; they disrupt the show for every other paying customer. Regardless of the performer’s response, they have already alienated themselves. I’m not excusing Daniel Tosh’s behavior (if he did indeed say those things), but saying that it’s “part of his job” to deal with hecklers is like saying that their behavior is acceptable.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    • First of all, I think calling her a “heckler” is a stretch. Second, that’s so not the point of this post or what’s wrong with this situation that I’m not sure what the point of this comment actually is.

      July 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm

  5. NayNay

    Whiskeypants, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. If you read further up in the comments, there are several references to heckling and one comment in particular by beverlydiehl that states it’s part of his job to deal with it. I didn’t realize that I could reply to that comment and instead posted a general reply to the blog. I should have paid better attention to how I was posting, but hopefully my comment makes more sense now. On the other hand, I guess this is a great example of how things can get taken out of context.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm

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