Above strip: Evan Dorkin.
So, rape jokes are back in the news. This is that wonderful time of year when people who I genuinely admire fall over themselves to defend Free Speech and the First Amendment and make remarks about how the thousands if not tens-of-thousands of people who are up-in-arms are babies with sandy baby vaginas.
Truth is, Tosh can say whatever he wants and we can complain about what he says. But this rape joke thing has always been terrible, honestly. I go to comedy shows and listen to live comedy podcasts and it always seems like “The Rape Joke” gets those uncomfortable chuckles, if anything. It’s this thing that, for some reason, works inside of the comedian’s circles but never seems to work OUTSIDE of them and yet no-one seems to be willing or able to let it go.
A quote from Chris Sims is apt here. He was talking about sexual harassment and video games, but swap rape jokes for sexual harassment and you get to the same place:
If sexual harassment is such an intrinsic part of your community that it can’t be taken out without “turning it into something that it’s not,” then just as a rule of thumb, it probably should be turned into something that it’s not.
If your community can’t introduce a baseline of respect for another human being without being destroyed, then your community should probably be burned to the ground and have salt spread on the ashes so that it’ll never come back.
Comedy is supposed to push boundaries and, in a way, I can see how comedians might view the policing of comedy as, “Where do you draw the line?” What subject matter is too taboo? Isn’t murder terrible, as well? Should we stop making murder jokes?
Well, yeah, murder’s terrible. But no-one in your audience has to live with being murdered for the rest of their life. Or constantly lives in fear of being murdered.
Anyways, the real question when this comes up is, “Why do you care SO MUCH about rape jokes?” SO MUCH that if a fellow comedian makes a “joke” about how funny it would be if a particular person in the audience got raped you all rush to defend the comedian?
Rorschach, what say you?
Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains. Fade to black.
If rape jokes are such an intrinsic part of your community that it can’t be taken out without “turning it into something that it’s not,” then just as a rule of thumb, it probably should be turned into something that it’s not.