Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rape Jokes Are Still Funny

When I was watching the Daily Show last night and Louis C.K. talked about the Daniel Tosh rape joke incident, I had a few epiphanies.

The first is that he was dead-on about one thing: some people think that how they feel is somehow important, and the rest of the world should have to accommodate their feelings (he chose to say “women,” but I have seen men do this too) . This observation is all too true for too many people.

Some think that the rest of the world cares how they feel. I assure you: no one gives a shit how you feel, except you. Anyone you talk to about your feelings is only listening to be polite and internally wishes you would shut the fuck up. Those who listen patiently to you probably want something from you, either sex or for you to return the favor and sit through their boring bullshit, but they may just want money or a promotion. This is why you have to pay therapists: no one cares about you or what you think or feel.

None of us are interesting, no matter how many boring people we manage to get to read our blog posts. Trust me.

The other thing I got from the Louis C.K. interview, and perhaps the most important part, is that I thought about the discussions I had with people on Facebook about this. They tended to all go the same way:

Me: Get over it, people can say whatever they want.
Them: Don’t tell me to “get over it!” I’m not saying Tosh can’t say something, just that I am going to complain publicly while demanding action against him for what he said and/or for everyone to agree with me.
Me: Okay… well, you’re stupid.
Them: Oh, so now people who oppose rape are stupid?

You see what happened there? They were stupid, and I presented an argument that was completely beside the point. It’s no wonder nothing was gained in these exchanges. Granted, even if I made a good point, trying to change the mind of a stupid person is literally a fool’s errand.

I don’t think “freedom” plays much into it, as I initially argued with others. Many people have pointed out Tosh did in fact have the freedom to say what he wanted. Those who are indignant over this insist that it’s important in a system that allows freedom for people to be able to demonize others for what they say publicly. Apparently this only works in one direction, because if I criticize what they are saying… look out.

For those who don’t know, Tosh supposedly said it would be funny if a heckler got raped. At one point, I was conversing with someone who was convinced that what Tosh said was wrong, wrong, wrong. When I persisted in disagreeing, they proceeded to tell me what they hoped a large man would do to my rectum while he held me down. This was after some normal, polite discussion where neither of us insulted the other. It kind of took me off-guard how stupid the comment was.

As you might expect, I wasn’t insulted… I laughed, and it was the best rape joke I had heard in a while.

How can I take seriously a person who is so blatantly hypocritical? I’m meant to believe that joking about someone being raped is totally wrong for comedy purposes, but it’s okay for someone to tell me that I should be raped in order to make some sort of point. That almost makes sense… if you subscribe to the “do as I say, not as I do” school of ethics.

I think it's healthy that people make jokes about everything. The holocaust, rape, date rape, prison rape, pedophilia, child molestation, birth defects, 9/11, dead soldiers, dead celebrities, dead babies, having sex with the bodies of dead babies, kidnapping, mothers, sex with mothers, dead mothers, sex with dead mothers… really, there’s no end to what can be joked about. It’s all hilarious if you have the right timing and enough weed. I don't trust someone if they think there is a topic that is off-limits to humor. That person lacks basic control over their own emotions, and I find that to be far more dangerous than off-color jokes.

No comedian should be crucified just because they make a bad joke. Sometimes a joke isn’t funny. It happens. No comedian sets out to tell a joke that won’t make people laugh (except maybe Andy Kaufman, though he is recognized as a genius for it). If a failed joke’s topic is semi-controversial, that person is not an uncaring monster. I mean… you’re free to believe that, but only because you’re free to be stupid.

If someone tells a joke about rape that isn’t funny, that doesn’t make them a monster. It makes that joke not funny. It doesn’t even mean that person isn’t funny, because one bad joke does not define a person’s sense of humor. Thinking otherwise makes you… well… stupid… which you are free to be.

Since this whole thing started, I’ve read about four extended metaphors or pity stories about rape. I even read a horribly strained scenario urging me to imagine I lived in a world where men got castrated and female comics joked about it.

Never mind that we live in a real world where men are raped by the millions in prison, yet we all laugh about it without people getting butthurt, figuratively speaking. I am sure some people will claim it bothers them, but where are the people walking out of comedy clubs and blogging about the evils of prison rape jokes? I’m not saying I want such nonsense to start, I’m saying that there’s clearly a double standard here.

So, imagine this:

Imagine a crazy, hypothetical world where people have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed simply because they said something that pissed off the wrong person. I know… it’s hard to imagine such an impossible scenario. I’ll call this hypothetical phenomenon “censorship.”

Imagine how someone who has been “censored” feels watching some entitled asshole complaining about what some entertainer said. Imagine the memories of suppression, loss of control, pain, and feelings of helplessness that will be dredged up in the victim, just because some thoughtless jerk-off wanted to declare a fatwa on rape jokes.

Plenty of people who have been censored might tell you to shut up, but they’re no better than the anti-rape-wisher who wished rape upon me (which I want to emphasize again, I found amusingly hypocritical and stupid, not evil). If someone really opposes censorship, there is really only one thing they can say to a person who is trying to censor others, “You are a stupid censor.”

And don’t try to give me this “it’s only censorship when the government does it” crap. That’s like being opposed to capital punishment but being okay with murder. You can go on and on about what can or cannot be done, but “can” isn’t the issue.

You’re free to be a stupid censor… I just find it odd that someone would exercise that freedom when they keep going on and on and on about how “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” Censorship has actually killed people, whereas no rape joke has so much as accidentally bumped another person at the grocery store with their cart.

It’s pretty simple: rape is worse than censorship, and censorship is worse than rape jokes. If you can’t agree with that… well, you probably already know what I think you are.

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