Funny Is In The Ear Of The Be-listener

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Daniel Tosh at the Hollywood Improv in 2008. Photograph: Michael Schwartz/WireImage

So Tosh.0 thinks rape is funny. The stand up comedian recently did a show where he decided to explore the humorous side of violently assaulting women. A female audience member disagreed with his viewpoint and expressed herself. According to her, he then shared with his audience his thoughts on her getting ganged raped right then and there. I phrase all of this in this manner because, from what I have read, there are different viewpoints on what was said and how it was worded. And I will also note here that Daniel Tosh has also publicly apologized for offending the woman.

I have read some online comments on this incident and have found myself needing to express myself on this issue. My initial reaction was outrage at this comedian’s idea that rape could be funny. That’s right up there with finding humor in the molestation of children. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. As a woman, I find it degrading and belittling to trivialize the subject. For far too long women have had to “suck it up” and deal with the shenanigans of men or be labeled “soft” or “too sensitive” when we spoke up and pointed out they were being, well, assholes.

But I had to check myself, and my reactions to this story. I fully applaud this woman for speaking up and letting Tosh know that not everyone found his bit funny. I think she had every right to basically heckle him; I believe it comes with the job. But I also have to support Tosh and his right to express his own opinions in his act. I have no idea how far into his act this part about rape came up; and I have no idea if the woman found others parts funny, parts that others might have actually found offensive. But comedians push the envelope all the time. That’s what they do. That’s why we like them and laugh with them. They break the boundaries of political correctness for us because in our everyday lives we can’t always afford to do it ourselves.

But this right to say what he wants, or any other comedian, in his act, comes with culpability and responsibility. Sometimes lins are crossed. Just take into consideration Michael Richards and Tracy Morgan. They both offended a lot of people. But we the audience members also have to remember that being offensive isn’t a crime in this country. While I pondered this Tosh finds rape funny incident I did some searching on free speech. I came across two good articles on this topic. One by Ken Paulson at the First Amendment Center, and one by Anna Stolley Persky at dcbar.org.

We seem to have forgotten lately that unless we say something that creates a clear and present danger for others, or we are actively encouraging and planning the overthrowing of our government, we can pretty much say what we want in The United States. That’s no laughing matter. There are many places across the globe that will put you in jail for merely stating a harmless opinion. We have also forgotten that just because we have the right to be an offensive asshole, it doesn’t mean we should be one.

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About goddessofglitter

I like to laugh
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4 Responses to Funny Is In The Ear Of The Be-listener

  1. Jeff says:

    Well said, as usual. Regarding “…we can pretty much say what we want in The United States”, on the other hand, that is true “on paper”, but consequences normally ensue nevertheless….and not infrequently above and beyond those of the social punishments for coloring outside of the lines that are to be expected. Those with power “have ways”, if they choose, to put the hurt on those who err. Like beauty and humor, laws, too, are often interpreted according the eye of the beholder…..That doesn’t mean opposition should be conducted quietly. Quite the opposite. The safest what to be a rebel is in broad daylight, in the middle of Times Square at lunchtime. Waitaminnit….strike the Times Square bit…one can do just about anything in NY and nobody will notice…… but “in your face” and on the front page IS the best way to disagree with the top of the bell curve….

  2. Go Jules Go says:

    It’s funny you mention this, because I watch Tosh.0 regularly, and last night was thinking I might give it up soon. It’s just not that good anymore. He is DEFINITELY offensive in an “OMG did he just say that?” kind of way, which to me is usually funny, but it’s getting a little old.

    I agree just because we CAN say [almost] anything, doesn’t mean we SHOULD! But I also think in this case, the woman overreacted – it’s like going to a strip club and getting offended when they start taking off their clothes. I’m guessing she knew what she signed up for!

  3. shovonc says:

    He could be pushing the envelope in the name of art. Or he could be a dickhead. I’m guessing dickhead.

    • I’ve seen him on tv once or twice, not really that funny to me. I’ve been known to laugh at, or find humor in some strange things, but I still draw the line at certain things. Rape is one of those things. The saddest part for me was reading online comments. It was disgusting how many people thought it was no big deal and blamed her for going to see a comedy show without knowing anything about the performers! Too many people thought she over reacted.

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