An Open Letter to Patton Oswalt (and the comedians defending Daniel Tosh)

Edited to add: Patton Oswalt has written a great, thoughtful apology. Please read it here.

Do you know what I like about you? You’re sensible. I mean, you’re really funny, too. To be honest, one wouldn’t be much without the other, but you’re happily a winning combination of both. I know that it seems like an odd thing to praise a comedian for – being, at the bottom of it all, reasonable – but it’s something I really enjoy.

I like jokes that come from a place of outrage or confusion at the awfulness of the world. I think we should use humour to draw attention to that gap between the unacceptable and the acceptable, even to point out its arbitrariness. Your jokes remind us that being at our worst is okay – it’s better than okay, it’s hilarious – but it’s still no excuse to treat other people like sht. And if you do, you will be called on it. And I love that. I think it makes us better. I think comedy can do that.

Which is why I was so saddened to read you defending Daniel Tosh’s rape jokes on twitter. I know what you’re thinking – oh god, another “self aggrandizing, idiotic blogger”. Another angry women who would rather scream than think. Another hyper-PC member of the twitterati who fails to take into account the creative process of the comic.

The thing is, I’m not any one of those. I’m not even angry. I’m not confused as to why you said what you did – I think I get where you’re coming from. I’m not going to speak in hyperbole, try to garner sympathy, or stir outrage. The only thing I feel, and all that I’m interested in expressing, is a sense of loss.

Because we lost you, Patton. You were, I thought, an ally in all this. In calling people out on their bullsht. On being, well, reasonable.

I am happy to defend some rape jokes on the basis that they’re funny or clever or thought provoking. Sarah Silverman manages to do all three at once. I don’t think we should shy away from joking about the darkest parts of our lives. But how is “Wouldn’t it be funny if five guys came in here and raped you right now?” a joke? I’m happy to defer to you, if you can explain it. It’s your business, after all.

See, I get that it might not sound like a threat to you. And maybe it’s funny to you (and Tosh, and others) because it is so unlikely? The distance between tragedy and reality is fertile ground for humour, after all.

But it’s not unlikely to me. Or for the woman on the end of that joke. Or for our friends, or family members. Or roughly half your audience members. It’s a threat we live with constantly; it’s a crime we are taught that we bring on ourselves. It’s something that our loved ones have lived through. It’s a barely veiled reminder that our bodies are contended territory. And finally, most importantly, for women around the world rape, and the threat of rape, is a means of control and punishment.

Imagine if Tosh had said that racist jokes are always funny. Imagine if a black man had disagreed, and Tosh had replied, “But wouldn’t it be funny if a bunch of skinheads came in here right now and beat you bloody?” Such an act would be a violent and discriminatory one perpetrated against a minority: just like the rape Tosh suggested. And yet, I don’t think people would be saying: just avoid his shows if you don’t like hearing it; don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Shit like that is not funny because we know that it actually happened to people, and continues to happen. So why is rape – which is alarmingly prevalent – comparatively invisible? Why has this incident been met with a backlash against the woman who complained, and not the comedian?

You might, at this stage, be wondering why I’ve addressed this to you, and not Tosh. He’s the one that made the joke, right? But you are the one who – from a point of influence, as a member of this industry, as his peer – dismissed and silenced the women who protested.

And that, I think, is the greater problem we’re facing. It’s not just you, you see. Virtually any time a women raises her voice to say that she’s uncomfortable or offended, she is drowned out by a chorus of insults and threats. Insults like the ones that you have made, and threats like the one that Daniel Tosh made.

The message behind it all is: don’t stir things up. Don’t choose to take offense. Don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t be so entitled. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t go to places you might be offended. Don’t expect more from anyone. Don’t use that tone. Don’t swear like that. Don’t be so loud. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t wear that. Don’t walk along on a dark street. Don’t tell anyone.

I’m sorry, Patton, that we’ve lost you to that damning chorus.

But we’re not going to stop raising our voices against it.

18 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Patton Oswalt (and the comedians defending Daniel Tosh)

  1. Comics, audiences and club owners HATE hecklers. It doesn’t matter who, they just need to stop. I have worked in the comedy industry for many years and in my experience most show disturbances are created by women, usually young pretty women. I do not have anything against young pretty women, being one myself, but it’s just a fact I’ve noticed. They are usually chatting on about something other than the show, or about being offended by something or just mad that someone is getting more attention. They end up getting asked to leave or threatened w/ police involvement. In response, these patrons, that do not represent me, usually become angry by screaming, shouting vulgarities or hitting, kicking and/ throwing something.

    Most comics mean no ill will towards their heckler, they just want control back of the show that is now hijacked by some oblivious individual. Every comic has their way. Some better than others. And sometimes it doesn’t work. In the case of Tosh, it worked. The audience laughed…hard. Except for the woman who heckled and her defending crew of friends, that stirred up a hornents nest of support on a skewed or possibly biased report of said events.

    Watch this video from LOUIE. Very indicative of what happens when hecklers get out of hand and their interaction with staff or comics.

    • Hi Jane,

      Thanks for your comment. You’re right when you say that the incident is only alleged and not confirmed. It’s something I wish I had talked about more in my article. It’s also the reason I addressed it to Patton Oswalt and not Daniel Tosh. Even if Tosh didn’t suggest that it would be funny if this woman was gang raped (although he hasn’t denied it, and has apologised) the reaction from comedians has been that it would have been acceptable even if he did. And that is, I think, worth taking issue with.

      You seem to suggest that women make up the majority of hecklers, and that keeping them in line by whatever verbal means a comedian has at his disposal is fair game. Am I reading that right?

      Yes, I agree with you that hecklers must be frustrating. And yes, they’re shitty audience members. But even if they are screaming, shouting or kicking (as you suggest) it still wouldn’t be okay to say what Tosh (allegedly) said in response, for reasons I hope I conveyed in the article.

      There’s a great article here that you might like, it goes into a bit more detail about the comedian/audience relationship. http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke?tag=danieltosh

      • I disagree. Your brand of comedy is your product that you’re marketing to the audience. If it’s generally unsatisfactory, either because it’s overly offensively or just not funny, the market response is that audiences will walk out and not attend future shows (see: Michael Richards). If the club that a comedian is performing in does not set parameters on what a comedian can say, then they’re free to talk about whatever subject they wish and make whatever comments they’d like. It’s simple free speech. It’s up to the audience members whether they want to laugh at the content or not. In extreme cases they may boo or walk out, but it takes a real self-righteous jerk to talk back to the comedian on stage. Not only is that disrespectful to the performer, it’s rude to the other members of the audience, who have paid to enjoy the show and might not share the same opinion of the dissenting audience member. Sure, its their free speech rights to say something that disrupts the show, but to do so is not only rude, its ignorant and arrogant. If she doesn’t like what’s being said in the show, get up and leave, quietly. If it bothers her that much, stick around and attempt to confront the comic personally after the show. Or express her displeasure in a review. But it seems that this audience member is more interested in plugging herself as some kind of high-minded opinion maker. And now there’s the allusion that Tosh was advocating for a woman to get raped, which couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s a provocative comedian, who’s built a career and brand by being so. I don’t think it’s funny to joke about rape, so I don’t make rape jokes in my act. But I sure as hell wouldn’t attempt to ever even try to censor another comic. If its not funny, no one will laugh. I’m just disappointed that this is turning into a campaign to censor and smear comics as misogynistic rather than to point out that the US leads the industrialized nations in sexual assaults. We could certainly debate that the act of joking about rape undermines the severity of the act and whether that causes society to deal with the crisis with less urgency (which I absolutely believe to be true & furthermore, I think many men in power tend to harbor rape fantasies, which is why the act is allowed to perpetuate), but that’s not what’s happening here. Its an overreaction towards censorship. As I’ve tweeted before: if you disagree with something a comic says, point out how they’re wrong or one-up them with cleverness and humor of your own. But don’t be a jerk about it, because that makes it difficult to be sympathetic toward your goal.

      • Hi Manny, thanks for your comment.

        Again, I don’t think this woman was a “self righteous jerk”. From all accounts, she said one thing, and then (as you advocate doing) she left. I think that’s acceptable (if hopefully infrequent) behaviour in a comedy club, and more importantly, proportional to what Tosh said.

        I don’t understand how a woman with the audacity to heckle a professional comedian is somehow more outrageous that a professional comedian saying it would be funny if she were gang raped. I don’t. And an attempt to make the argument about her and her tone is not only besides the point, it’s censoring.

        I think Michael Richards is an interesting parallel, not the least because he was heckled and it was the heckling that sparked his horrible response. The hecklers in those circumstances certainly weren’t told that they should have simply left quietly, or kept their opinions to themselves. And the only reason the market (as you say) was able to respond is because the experience was shared. It was blogged about and talked about. That’s what’s happening now.

        Markets do eventually come to represent popular opinion. But we have to get there first. And how does that happen? Discourse. Activism. People articulating unwelcome opinions. Other people educating themselves. Breaking the wall of silence.

        So what’s the difference between the Richards hecklers and the Tosh one? The person complaining is a women, and the complaint is about rape.

        You say, quite rightly, “If it’s not funny, no one will laugh.” Well, this is what people not laughing sounds like. You say, “If you disagree with something a comic says, point out how they’re wrong.” That’s what we’re doing.

        The thing you’re advocating is the thing you’re looking at; turning it into a conversation about tone and form is not an adequate response.

  2. There are no sacred cows in comedy.
    Hecklers get what they get. Step into the ring & take a swing @ Mike Tyson don’t bitch when you get knocked out.

  3. Daniel Tosh decides that he wants to start “riffing” (improvising) by starting a Q&A session at the end of his set, a technique that is popular with comedian Joe Rogan. An audience member suggested “rape” as a topic. That woman was interrupting Tosh’s set after he says something to the effect of “What makes rape jokes funny? Is it the humiliation?” by saying “rape jokes are never funny” to which he replies, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you got raped by like, 5 guys right now?” The audience laughs because that woman was standing on her stupid soap box picking the worst possible time to try to start an unnecessary feminist rant about how rape jokes trivialize rape and, Daniel Tosh, a comedian, says those particular words in a moment of brevity. Is he wrong for making that specific comment? Probably, but you’re blowing this entire incident way out of proportion.

    Get this: she goes home and writes a blog about it. People side with her and turn this into a BS feminist agenda about how male comedians are sometimes inappropriate.

    That’s why she’s wrong, because she took a completely isolated incident and turned it into a feminist rant while never admitting that she was being obnoxious with her statement. That Jezebel article you referenced above is equally as obnoxious. The author readily admits that rape jokes are sometimes funny. Then, she trivializes abortions, miscarriages, and child murder by saying that “rape” is an issue that is far worse, a completely unnecessary comparison that ultimately proves nothing.

    The fact is that this should not have deserved the amount of media attention that it has gotten. It’s fascinating how much stock people put into personal blogs. The fact remains that she took Daniel Tosh out of context, posted her blog, and now she’s got her fifteen minutes of fame for calling him out for calling her out on her own BS. She just happens to have the benefit of the doubt for not being a public figure. Kind of sucks to support the underdog when they’re completely delusional and wrong, isn’t it?

    • Thanks for responding, Justin. I think these kind of conversations are worth having.

      “Is he wrong for making that specific comment? Probably, but you’re blowing this entire incident way out of proportion.”

      We agree on the first part. I think if Tosh had walked it back immediately, none of this would have happened. I think if he’d issued a statement apologising, pointing out the things that you and other people have said about improvising and the creative process of the comic, this wouldn’t have turned into a big deal. (Look at Jason Alexander’s recent response to his own controversy.)

      But he didn’t. And what’s more, a whole lot of comics decided that he shouldn’t have to – that the specific comment was acceptable. They’re the people I’m addressing in the above letter. Not Tosh.

      “The audience laughs because that woman was standing on her stupid soap box picking the worst possible time to try to start an unnecessary feminist rant.”

      From all accounts (including yours), this woman wasn’t yelling or ranting. She simply disagreed, in one small sentence. That you and others are so clear to label that one sentence as an act of “obnoxious” radical feminism is telling, I think, of how uncomfortable we are with women calling men out on unacceptable behaviour.

      As I said above, hecklers are annoying. I get that. I’ve been at shows where people won’t stop yelling and it’s awkward and embarrassing. But they’re not silenced in the same way that this woman was silenced. And if they were – i.e., if the comic had drawn attention to their minority status by jokingly threatening an act of humiliation and violence, one that the subject has to live in fear of constantly anyway – I think there would be an even larger outcry.

      That is what I was trying to draw attention to. The censoring of women’s behaviour and opinions is endemic, culturally engrained, and it’s covertly backed with the threat of rape and violence. It’s also something that women tend to be aware of, and men aren’t. That, I think, is why Tosh’s comment hit such a nerve.

      “That’s why she’s wrong, because she took a completely isolated incident and turned it into a feminist rant while never admitting that she was being obnoxious with her statement”.

      I don’t think she was obnoxious, or inappropriate, or whatever else you may think. We may simply disagree there. Regardless, I don’t think it matters. The conversation (and letter above) now isn’t about what Tosh said, and what she said. It’s about some people saying, “some rape jokes are unacceptable” and other people saying, “you’re wrong”.

      “She just happens to have the benefit of the doubt for not being a public figure.”

      Do you know why her story was barely even questioned? It’s because we have all experienced something like it in our lifetimes. The behaviour (rape, rape threats, rape jokes) is so prevalent and so constant that none of us have a hard time believing that it happened. It has nothing to do with her not being famous.

      “The fact remains that she took Daniel Tosh out of context, posted her blog, and now she’s got her fifteen minutes of fame for calling him out for calling her out on her own BS.”

      Given your account above, I don’t think she has taken Tosh out of context. She certainly hasn’t gotten any fame from any of this, as she’s remained anonymous.

      The reason she has remained anonymous is pretty obvious. One public complaint about an alleged rape threat will inevitably lead to hundreds more. This is not speculation: it’s well documented. This woman has nothing to gain by speaking out, and a lot to lose.

      This is what I mean when I say that women are silenced with rape threats, and this is why it’s important to call people out when they do it. That’s why this is not an isolated incident, and why there has been such a justifiably huge reaction.

      • Sorry if I came in late on this, but I’ve had time to think about it and I’m not going to turn this into some type of debate because I’m not going to go on stage walking on eggshells apologizing for any of my own material.

        Here’s what happened: Tosh does an improvised set, says something horrible that comes off the top of his head, and someone takes his comment too seriously. He gets in trouble for saying one thing on a stage that wasn’t even planned and now bears the brunt of this inane “controversy”.

        To be blunt, this is a non-issue. I’m not saying that she didn’t have a right to be angry or to write. Freedom of speech runs both ways. What I am saying is that some a-hole journalist took this blog, reports it as actual news, and everyone is taking this incident as a huge controversy when this entire thing could have been avoided with one off-stage confrontation.

        Great, okay, I know that words are powerful and may sometimes do more harm than good, but do you honestly think that this was a threat, that Daniel Tosh actually wanted this woman to be raped by 5 guys after eating chicken wings and fries at the bar inside The World Famous Comedy Store? Lets be honest here. Did she break out into tears after hearing him tell a joke? No, she didn’t. I bet you that if she did, Tosh really would have apologized. Crying is not conducive to a comedy show. I saw a comedian cry on stage once. It was pretty tragic, actually.

        My problem with this has nothing to do with either Tosh or blogger lady. It has more to do with what counts as actual journalism nowadays. I mean, if this is what is causing controversy and not actual crimes against humanity, then what kind of a future are we leaving for the next generation, really?

      • I think there is a context here that you’re unaware of, and a connection between the controversy and, as you say, the crime. One that makes it worth talking and reporting about.

        Firstly, this isn’t one “arsehole journalist”. I believe the story had spread significantly on social media before any press picked it up. Did you ever suppose that there was a reason for this, one that you’re maybe not aware of? Did you not consider that the one in three women who have experienced sexual assault might have a different perspective on that joke than you do? (One in three women. Think about it. That’s bound to include someone you know, or someone you’re related to.)

        The thing is, saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if [this awful thing] happened to you,” changes meaning when there is a high chance that it has happened to the person you’re talking to. Saying it as a means of getting them to be quiet changes meaning when you realise that similar invocations are made (and followed through on) constantly in your own country.

        Women are never allowed to forget that we’re vulnerable to sexual assault, or that we can be punished for speaking about it. There is a reason rape is the single most underreported violent crime, and the methods we have for silencing women are not always as overt as you would think. Sometimes they’re as “harmless” as a joke.

        What I’m saying is: there is a connection between a culture in which rape is prevalent, and a culture that trivialises it. And we need to talk about it.

        To draw an analogy: do I think Jason Alexander was homophobic when he made his remarks? No, I don’t. Does that make what he said okay? No, it doesn’t. Because he was subconsciously buying into the dominant paradigm that effeminate men are wrong. He was using it for comedic effect; other people use it to justify beating gay men to death. He didn’t understand the connection, so he went and educated himself and then came back with a sincere apology.

        There are some things we just can’t see or experience for ourselves. And that’s okay, as long as we’re able to admit it and learn from those who do. If we’re really not able to do that? That’s a world I don’t want to live in.

  4. Pingback: Bechdel Taser (Goes Live): How do you Solve a Problem Like Rape Culture in Comedy? | Arts | Lip Magazine

  5. That’s my point here, though. You’re taking this as a method for silencing women, which it isn’t. Daniel Tosh’s joke hasn’t stopped anyone from reporting the crime, nor has it really done anything except hurt the feelings of one person who posted a personal blog entry. She was still free to do as she pleased. She could have talked to Tosh after the show, as a matter of fact, while he was hanging out at the patio. But, she wrote a blog and voiced her opinion. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at her for this, and for that, I apologize. It was a knee jerk reaction, and I do deserve a knee in the balls for that.

    I understand what you mean by saying that jokes trivialize the real issues. I’m Asian, and as a comic, I have had to hear other comics make completely old, insipid jokes based on outdated stereotypes that have no basis in anything realistic. And, yes, I have also had to deal with stupid people who took jokes like that and thought they were real. I’ve had talks with people about similar issues in that regard.

    However, by saying that Tosh was silencing women with a joke/comment during an improvised Q&A session during a comedy show is pretty absurd. You’re mixing apples and oranges here, and this is probably a bad place to have a catalyst for a movement. In fact, you’re trivializing the actual act of sexual assault by using a comedian’s comment to bring to light a bigger issue that really has nothing to do with anything Tosh had to say. His point was that a Q&A session during a comedy show probably wasn’t exactly the best place to have that kind of a discussion. The problem is that women are demonizing one comic for a deeper issue that really should be talked about in a different setting.

    The reason why this is such a big problem with comics is that this could affect any one of us at any point in our careers (I don’t have a career, by the way, but if I did…). We all go up there with the intention of bringing a little bit of levity to an audience that needs a break from the monotony and the real horrors of real life. Daniel Tosh just happens to push the envelope with his material. That’s his act!

    I don’t know him personally, but I have heard and read nothing but good things about him as a person. Also, here is Daniel Tosh’s Kobe Bryant bit:

    …where he talks about rape like it’s a negative thing.

    I already explained above that when an audience member suggested the topic, he says, “What’s funny about rape? Is it the humiliation?”, as if to say, “Hey, there’s nothing really funny about rape.” So, when blogger lady screams, “Rape jokes aren’t funny!” from the back of the room, it comes off as a heckle. So, he jokes, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you got raped by like, 5 guys right now?” He’s not being threatening, or saying it like it should happen. Nobody in the audience screamed, “Hell yeah! Right on, Daniel Tosh! I call dibs!” before running over to her table and sexually assaulting her. That would be surprising and horrific, I would think.

    This isn’t about her screaming out of turn. It’s about her taking Tosh’s comment out of context and the media jumping all over it with the perspective that Tosh should suffer for his wrongdoing. Like I said, this is a non-issue. I’m just trying to drive the point home here.

    • I’m not missing the context at all. When Jason Alexander used the words “gay” and “queer”, he was utilizing a negative pejorative that has been in existence for a long time. Most heterosexual men tend to use those words sporadically, and in context, he is implying that gay men are weak by his association of the use of those words.

      When Tosh made his joke at The Comedy Store, he was on stage during an improvised portion of his set. I explained what I needed to say above. Just thought I would address the new post you had.

      They’re two different circumstances and have very little to do with each other.

      • Ha, well I don’t know if we’re going to change each other’s minds! But thanks for being part of the discourse, and for being civil and reasonable. It is good to get the perspective of someone in the industry.

        Look, I think you’re right about Tosh being – at the end of the day – a decent guy who in no way advocates rape. Again, I’ve never said otherwise. But to say that this joke has done nothing other than hurt one woman’s feelings is naive.

        I think we disagree on what constitutes ‘silencing’ and why it’s a big issue. Firstly, he used the statement (after she’d already flagged her discomfort) to shut her up. That’s indisputable. Secondly, the silencing behavior I was addressing in the original article was that of the comedians who came to Tosh’s defense. They did so, not by having the kind of conversation we’re having, but by viciously attacking this woman. Attempting to discredit her, calling her attention seeking and self-aggrandizing, saying she should kill herself, etc. That’s what silencing is.

        Sure, as you say, she was free to write about it. She wasn’t free to use her own name, though – not without copping even more abuse than she currently is. Sure, she could have reported it had any assault take place. Let’s hope the following things don’t then happen: she isn’t believed; she’s blamed for being in the wrong place or wearing the wrong thing; she’s shamed into withdrawing the allegation; evidence is mishandled or lost; the perpetrator (or his family) threatens her if she follows through. I have reported a friend’s rape. I know firsthand that these things happen. And they’re common.

        That’s if she can get past the stigma of being a sexual assault victim and bring herself to report it in the first place. A lot of people can’t. Rape, as I said, is the most underreported violent crime. And then, on top of all that, if someone says to her, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if you were raped?’ she is expected to stay silent with her disagreement.

        So how free was this woman, really? The people who say, ‘you don’t have a right to be upset’ are symptomatic of a culture where people say, ‘you brought this on yourself’*. As is saying: she shouldn’t have made a public fuss, she should have talked to him quietly; she couldn’t have been that upset because she didn’t cry; this isn’t the right time or place to be talking about this; you’re the one trivializing rape.

        If not now, when? If not her, who? I get that this is a non-issue for you. Why can’t you accept that it’s a very real issue for a very significant number of other people?

        *And more: http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/

        PS. There is a parallel between Jason Alexander and Tosh. He said something offensive, there was a public backlash, and after initially reacting defensively he made a heartfelt apology. Tosh said something offensive, there was a public backlash, and a bunch of comedians jumped to his defense. I think we both agree that if he’d apologized sincerely this would not have blown up. I don’t think that’s such an awful thing to ask of someone. I certainly don’t think it’s career ruining.

  6. First of all, I’m not exactly an industry insider. I’m just a guy who likes to make an audience laugh by telling jokes on stage.

    Second, you were completely on point by saying we’re going to change each others’ minds about this, but I do respect what you’re saying. We both just completely disagree on this subject. I think you’re putting a lot more stock into those words by saying that she was victimized.

    I understand that a lot of sexual assault cases go unreported. I will go even further by saying that male sexual assault cases go unreported more often. I’m glad you’re safe and i really hope great things come from your advocacy. I really have a lot of respect for what you do for women.

    However, I will stand my ground by saying that Tosh should not have been scrutinized so badly for this incident. You’re saying that she was victimized by his words. I disagree. If Daniel Tosh’s fans are threatening her online, then that is really just a problem with how stupid the general public can be. That is another reason why this should not have blown up as badly as it has.

    Anyone silenced for speaking out on any truly horrible act is a crime against humanity. I really don’t feel the need to repeat myself again, to be honest.

    Also, I understand that you feel strongly about this being a big issue. I do respect that. However, people have lost their careers over a few words being written or uttered on stage in front of a live audience…

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2012/02/18/espn-uses-chink-in-the-armor-line-twice-did-linsanity-just-go-racist/

    Jeremy Lin didn’t even really find it all that offensive. However, that report says that at least one person lost their job over that comment.

    • You might not be an industry insider, but you’re coming at it from the perspective of a comedian, and I appreciate you taking the time to articulate your views. Even if we – irrevocably – disagree!

      I think you’ve raised an interesting point about victimisation. It’s certainly an ongoing topic in the discussion about how to treat rape survivors. I don’t think the conversation has to always be as serious as this one – I think it can be joked about, sung about, parodied and made fun of. But there are ways to do it that doesn’t make the potential rape survivor/women in general feel threatened. Sarah Silverman, Amanda Palmer, and Louie C. K. are a handful that do it well.

      Yes, you’re absolutely right when you say male rape goes unreported more frequently. Actually, here’s a neat guide done by a male rape survivor about how he deals with rape jokes: http://thingofthings.tumblr.com/post/23970133350/my-comic-about-rape-jokes As shaming as it is for women, I think it’s worse for men. I hope this changes one day too.

      Just to point it out a final time, I wasn’t actually scrutinizing Tosh (as I was aware at the time that the incident was unverified). I was pointing out how problematic the knee jerk reaction to an ‘offended woman’ can be, and how it ties into deeper and more damaging aspects of rape culture. I actually think we both agree that there’s an issue there.

      I also don’t like living in a world where one alleged and potentially untrue comment can cost a career – or where misinformation is currency. I’m certainly not going to defend anyone who spreads unfounded rumours or reports on unverified facts, because I know how damaging that is. Maybe this is something I should have been more explicit about earlier.

      While I would have preferred that this whole debacle had unfolded with more civility and thought on both sides, I still think it’s worth talking about. If the potential cost of that conversation is someone’s career? Well, that’s only hypothetical. Tosh hasn’t been fired. He hasn’t lost his show. I don’t think he’s even lost significant viewership. All he had to do was make one sincere apology. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

  7. Tosh won’t be fired because Comedy Central actually treats its people somewhat well. There are a lot of secrets in the world of comedy that people don’t usually discuss outside of comedy for various reasons. It’s a whole political game, really. Pretty frustrating…

    We had a good discussion. I’m glad you can be open-minded about these things. Some people can’t. And, yes, a lot of things do frustrate me about the world too. Partly why I became a comic. We should talk outside of this blog. You seem like cool people.

  8. Pingback: Laughing till you cry: why rape jokes are never ok | feminaust ~ for australian feminism

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