Friday, 13 July 2012

Daniel Tosh and the reason rape jokes aren't just jokes

Unless people have been living under a rock, I'm sure they've heard about our latest example of why Daniel Tosh is a wart on the ass of low-brow comedy:

A lot of really intelligent bloggers have discussed the issue from many different angles (including a petition to get him off the air), so I'll leave most of the in-depth explanations to them. For the sake of this post, let's start with a CNN description of the event:


(EW) -- Daniel Tosh isn't the sort of comedian who typically apologizes for anything. His hit Comedy Central series "Tosh.0" frequently explores potentially offensive territory with jokes that some would consider misogynistic or racist, and that his fans find hilarious. But it seems Tosh firmly strayed over the line during a recent live appearance.

The comedian tweeted an apology and a link to a blogger's account of his recent stand-up performance. "All the out of context misquotes aside, I'd like to sincerely apologize," Tosh wrote.

The original anonymous "friend of a friend" account would be too sketchy to use for a source if not for Tosh's tweet acknowledging there is some substance to it.

So keeping in mind that Tosh says he was misquoted, the original account was by a female audience member who says she was unfamiliar with Tosh's act when she caught his performance at the Hollywood Laugh Factory. She claims, "Tosh [started] making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious."

The audience member felt "provoked" and says she yelled out, "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!"

Continues the account: "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 ... 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, claustrophobic room was pretty viscerally terrifying..."

Tosh tweeted: "The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them," then added: "On a lighter note tonight's new episode of Tosh.0 will be featuring clowns."

Comedy Central had no comment.
That seems kind of like a typical day that ends in "y" for this performer. So why's this news, imo? Well, because all over the internet the trolls have been up in arms defending their right to "free speech" and telling people who take exception to rape jokes (or rape threats at a comedy show) that "it's just a joke and chill yer vaginas", or some variation.

The thing is, it's not just a joke. Not when Daniel Tosh has featured on his show a clip of an actual rape of a young man and used that as comedy fodder, or when he's actually encouraged his audience to film themselves sexually assaulting women.

Not quite so "funny" when we can't pretend it's hypothetical, is it?

So, is this enough to have him arrested or taken off the air for enciting viewers and audience members to violence? If not, why not? Where is the threshold?

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