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.