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wouldn't it be funny if
July 10, 2012 8:22 PM   Subscribe

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…”
Daniel Tosh has more or less apologized after a Tumblr user posted a friend's experience at one of his recent shows. But the controversy has now somehow drawn in Louis C.K., who posted an apparent message of support for Tosh on Twitter the same week a date-rape-themed episode of Louie aired on FX. C.K. has also broached heckling on Louie [NSFW], and had previously defended Tracy Morgan in a similarly charged situation.

MetaFilter, of course, has discussed heckling before.
posted by gerryblog (847 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tosh should be charged with sexual assault.
posted by Catchfire at 8:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tosh should be charged with sexual assault.

Yeah, and sent to a re-education camp!
posted by Dasein at 8:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [32 favorites]


all the out of context misquotes aside, i'd like to sincerely apologize http://j.mp/PJ8bNs

Well, she only quoted him once: “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…”

So the exculpatory context that he's referring to must have been:

"It would make me a total scumbag if I said the following right now: 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…"

Was that the context Tosh?



Also, I'm not a big tweeter, so could someone explain how you can tell that Louis CK's tweet has anything to do with this incident?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think it's just from the proximity of the events. It's possible that CK had no idea this was a big deal today, even if Tosh's previous tweets had just addressed it and even the tweet CK replied to says "on a lighter note." But it seems most likely that CK was responding to the events of the day, and that's definitely how people on the interwebs had taken it.

Yeah, and sent to a re-education camp!

Please tell me more about this camp. Does it teach people not to threaten women with gang rape?
posted by gerryblog at 8:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [48 favorites]


Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?

Nope.

Like right now?

No.

What if a bunch of guys just raped her…

Still no.
posted by jcreigh at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


I was all cool with the racism and homophobia but mysogony goes too far...
posted by munchingzombie at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


Daniel Tosh has made me laugh about horrible, horrible things. And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me. Standup is not a participatory art. If she didn't like it, she had the option of leaving without interrupting. (She should have gotten her money back, though. I'm just saying.)
posted by ColdChef at 8:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [36 favorites]


And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

See, this is actually a problem.
posted by Avenger at 8:39 PM on July 10, 2012 [53 favorites]


Yeah, guess who doesn't give two shits about his apology or any possible excuse you could EVER fucking make for this COMPLETELY UTTERLY WORTHLESS behavior.

Rape is real, rape happens, rape happens to women and to men but mostly to women, and when you say, "Wouldn't it be funny if five guys raped you right now?" you are endangering our goddamn lives, no less than if you handed the gun to a man with a violent history, no less than if you offered us a ride home and you were drunk and we didn't know, no less than, OH WAIT LET ME THINK, maybe if you MADE IT PUBLICLY CLEAR THAT YOU DO NOT DISAPPROVE OF GANG RAPING A WOMAN BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T THINK YOUR RAPE APOLOGIST BULLSHIT IS FUNNY.

I'm so angry I could vomit. And if you're sitting at home going, "It's just words, it's just a joke," then I would ask you if Nazi apologists are also "just a joke", because the atrocity is real and it happens and it can (and in the case of rape) will happen again.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:39 PM on July 10, 2012 [94 favorites]


But if he's like most comics doing "Prison Jokes", you'll see that he supports raping both women and men.

Now, a 're-education' camp where rape jokers share bunks with rapists...that could be fun... not.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, and sent to a re-education camp!

No, but only because there's probably no hope. The only thing that might help him understand is if he were raped, but unlike Tosh, I would never call for such a horrible thing.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Daniel Tosh is that guy who plays YouTube videos on late night TV and then repeats the comments for comic effect, right?
posted by monospace at 8:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


I've never found Tosh funny. Some people do, but I remember trying to watch his routine on Netflix, turning it off and googling "Tosh racist" much like the way I do when I'm forced to watch Chelsea Handler.
posted by discopolo at 8:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


See, this is actually a problem.

Fair enough.
posted by ColdChef at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2012


And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

Yes, I do that too, and the appropriate place to do that is, at home, in private, where you know that you're laughing as a coping mechanism, and not running the risk of triggering anyone else or, I don't know, SENDING THE PUBLIC MESSAGE THAT IT'S OKAY TO RAPE PEOPLE. Good God.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm not particularly interested in defending Tosh, and certainly not his "joke," but it is a thing that if you heckle a comedian, you have just invited them to say the worst possible shit they can imagine in order to destroy you.

That said, there is obviously a line. Michael Richards found it, and now possibly Tosh has as well.

But comedy clubs are places where offensive shit is absolutely going to be said. There should be a trigger warning at the door, because if you can be offended then you fucking will be and that's not a surprise. But you don't heckle, or at least you don't heckle and expect anything less than a nuclear reaction.

Again, fuck Tosh's specific reaction, and I'm not saying she shouldn't have been offended at what sounds like a shitty set, but you don't get to heckle and then act like the victim when it bites you on the ass. Even in this case.

I think.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2012 [95 favorites]


Yeah, that's a pretty lame apology. Particularly given how horrible his comments were.
posted by aclevername at 8:43 PM on July 10, 2012


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.

So often there is a tacit acceptance of things we know are wrong. Bullying exists because normal, reasonable, rational people are often, at their very core, lemmings - willing to follow the crowd, willing to laugh, even when they know that something is so outside the realm of what is okay.

Saying something, being willing to stand up and walk out of a situation you know is unacceptable - this is bravery.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 8:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


Sorry ColdChef, that came out harsher than I intended. (I'm a little upset at the moment.) I do really totally see the need to laugh at horrible shit just so it becomes, briefly and for that instant, able to be processed by the human mind. But there's a huge difference between laughing at something horrible at home and actually telling someone, "Hey, guess what, we approve of your rape!" And that difference here seems pretty clear, and pretty horrifying, and has a lot of real-world consequences.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:44 PM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wasn't Tosh promising to retire soon? Maybe he could just go ahead and do that now.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not particularly interested in defending Tosh, and certainly not his "joke," but it is a thing that if you heckle a comedian, you have just invited them to say the worst possible shit they can imagine in order to destroy you.

My take is that this crosses out of the murky realm of the "joke" into a fairly explicit threat for the reasons WidgetAlley says. A man standing in front of a crowd that is almost certainly mostly men, most of whom are probably drinking or drunk, calling for a woman to be raped is so far beyond reasonable standards of "good fun" that I don't think "hecklers must be shut down" is much of a defense. She left the situation when she saw how unhinged Tosh had gotten, but what if she'd stayed? How much further would he have been willing to go? And what if god forbid she HAD been attacked that night in the parking lot? It's not too much to ask of comedians to draw a line before threats of gang rape. It's really not.
posted by gerryblog at 8:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [64 favorites]


I do really totally see the need to laugh at horrible shit just so it becomes, briefly and for that instant, able to be processed by the human mind.

Thank you. I've been sitting here trying to come up with that exact explanation.
posted by ColdChef at 8:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

It's called desensitization, and it's much more beneficial for the people who do horrible things than the people horrible things happen to.

I do really totally see the need to laugh at horrible shit just so it becomes, briefly and for that instant, able to be processed by the human mind.

Nope, it does the opposite (at least for me), it hurts and gives me a deep sense of shame.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Man, the guy is basically internet-mocking-people-culture, or whatever you call it, personified right down to the shape of his face and his voice. This tenbux-bro-dude saying something like this is so not-a-suprise to me that I literally just assumed he'd done it already and I hadn't heard because I don't give a shit about his thing.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


A man standing in front of a crowd that is almost certainly mostly men

How is it certainly? What is certain? Have you been to the Laugh Factory or any comedy club? They're as a rule fairly gender balanced places mainly because comedy clubs are expensive and you go there with a date.

Also, as an LA comedy nerd, comedy shows while usually featuring men more than women are actually well attended by both sexes.
posted by You Guys Like 2 Party? at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I sometimes sit through Tosh's show because my husband likes it, and there are funny moments, sure, but there are also a lot of breathtakingly unfunny misogynistic moments (like calling otherwise unobjectionable women "whores" in the tone of voice only a loose gang of middle school boys in a dark alley can use) that I can't fathom being funny.
posted by Peach at 8:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's not that often that I come to the conclusion that someone is a complete asshole. I feel that way about Tosh.
posted by jb at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really want to believe that there should be no sacred cows in comedy. That a comedian should be able to tell jokes about any subject, no matter how difficult, no matter how much that subject might push my buttons, or anyone else's.

But if you're going to venture into a subject as difficult as rape, you'd better be the fucking Einstein of comedy to make a joke that's actually funny, that people can laugh at without anyone feeling like they need a bath afterward. Daniel Tosh is not that Einstein.

Instead, he gets up there and says "Rape jokes are always funny"…really? Somehow that is material that he actually wrote for a comedy bit, but it's not even trying to be a joke. That's just a hateful comment, and he deserved to be called on it—the audience member's comment wasn't even heckling.

So then he ups the ante.
posted by adamrice at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [60 favorites]


has a lot of real-world consequences.

You keep saying that, but can you at all prove a connection between stand-up comedians making jokes and rape? I understand the basic argument as presented in other threads, that somehow joking about rape makes rape okay, but that strikes me as supposition.

I don't particularly like Tosh, not because he's offensive but because he's lazy. His offensiveness is very "level one," like Family Guy. However - and I felt this way about Tracy Morgan and Michael Richardson as well -- the comedy stage is one of the most free free speech zones I can think of.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:52 PM on July 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


Both Tosh and Dane Cook's demo is mostly men, I think, but even if you're calling for a woman to be raped in front of a crowd that is exactly 50% men and 50% women I'm not cool with it.
posted by gerryblog at 8:52 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


@gerryblog

so what is the proper gender parity for rape jokes to be cool
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

See, this is actually a problem.


Humor doesn't make the problem go away, it just keeps you from screaming. Then you can go back to working on whatever it is that is horrible. Paramedics, doctors, morticians, they all need jokes, shit is horrible. It doesn't make their problems go away, but it keeps those wrestling with those problems from dying inside.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


It wasn't at all cool, but heckling at a comedy show is calling in incoming fire on yourself in whatever way you personally find least acceptable. That example is by far not the worst I've heard of.
posted by unSane at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Catchfire: “Tosh should be charged with sexual assault.”

Dasein: “Yeah, and sent to a re-education camp!”

I gather that you think this is some kind of inflammatory nonsense, but I guess you aren't aware of the definition of "assault" – quoth Wikipedia, "... assault is a crime which involves causing a victim to apprehend violence." It would be utterly understandable and not at all outside the realm of reason for a person whom a comedian wished and encouraged rape upon in a crowded theater at night – a person who has to walk back to her car, probably through dark places – to expect that they will be the object of violence. So, yeah. It is absolutely not a stretch to call this "assault" – never mind the "sexual" qualification of it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I do really totally see the need to laugh at horrible shit just so it becomes, briefly and for that instant, able to be processed by the human mind.

Nope, it does the opposite (at least for me), it hurts and gives me a deep sense of shame.

Right! Everyone has different reactions to it, and publicly making jokes about forms of oppression definitely benefits the oppressor. Which is why, when those of us who have to laugh at terrible things just need to laugh about it, we need to do it in private, away from the people who might be shamed, and we need to recognize it for what it is-- a coping mechanism because our tiny fragile human emotional lives can't take it: not an apology, an excuse, or a way to shame or threaten other people. (I would also argue that, in the case of rape, I at least have to laugh at the idea that rape exists at all-- because seriously how fucked up is that-- which is very different from laughing at rape victims.)

I spend a lot of time with EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters. We laugh about the most horrible shit, because it helps us get through our day and maybe, if we're lucky, save the next life. That's very very different from thinking those things are actually funny, or from laughing about them in front of family members of the injured, or in public, or from making fun of the victims we treat. There are appropriate ways to laugh about terrible things, and this Tosh bullshit sure as shit wasn't one of them.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [26 favorites]


so what is the proper gender parity for rape jokes to be cool

I think his point is that regardless of the gender dynamics of the audience rape jokes aren't cool ever.
posted by You Guys Like 2 Party? at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


i missed the 'even', sorry
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:59 PM on July 10, 2012


Here's my main problem with Tosh - his "ironic" racist and sexist jokes are complete bullshit. Yeah, maybe he intends for them to be "ironic" in a "lol can't believe I just said that"-type of way, maybe mixed with a dash of the usual undertone of "I'm not really being racist/sexist, I'm actually making fun of racist/sexists!" But they are often jokes that a real, actual racist/misogynist would laugh at, not because they "get" the irony of it all but because it actually reinforces their shitty racist/sexist beliefs.
posted by windbox at 9:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [53 favorites]


I agree that what she said (again, IF it was reported correctly) was not "heckling". (I don't know what to call it, but like the Supreme Court and pornography, I know heckling when I see it, and this isn't it). If it were, then Tosh's response would have been SLIGHTLY more appropriate, but regardless, he went over the line in the area of "responding to a heckler".
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:01 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


i look forward to the jay smooth/ill communication video about this. as much as i can look forward to anything about this topic.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 9:01 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


You keep saying that, but can you at all prove a connection between stand-up comedians making jokes and rape? I understand the basic argument as presented in other threads, that somehow joking about rape makes rape okay, but that strikes me as supposition.

Actually I can-- well, *I* can't, but fortunately other brilliant sociologists and anthropologists have gone before me. The entry on Wikipedia's rape culture might be enlightening, and if you would like peer-reviewed proof, I direct you to Citation 7, which is fromJournal of Interpersonal Violence . I don't know if you work in an academic environment where you might have access to these articles in their original form, but if you're interested, MeMail me and I'll see what I can do about getting you some copies.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


I gather that you think this is some kind of inflammatory nonsense, but I guess you aren't aware of the definition of "assault" – quoth Wikipedia, "... assault is a crime which involves causing a victim to apprehend violence." It would be utterly understandable and not at all outside the realm of reason for a person whom a comedian wished and encouraged rape upon in a crowded theater at night – a person who has to walk back to her car, probably through dark places – to expect that they will be the object of violence. So, yeah. It is absolutely not a stretch to call this "assault" – never mind the "sexual" qualification of it.

Yes it absolutely is a stretch. Actually, it's just not assault, straight up. By your definition any threat would be assault. It is not (though it might be a separate crime). "Apprehension of violence" in this case refers to what you would feel if I took a swing at you. As the third sentence of that wikipedia article makes perfectly clear.
posted by eugenen at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


If it happened as she describes it:
So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”

I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.

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…”
If I was there, Tosh would have gotten knocked the fuck out. At the very least I would have immediately started yelling at him. That's bullshit. The entire audience should have booed his ass off stage. That is not heckling. What she did is absolutely not heckling.
posted by cashman at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [59 favorites]


This is all really an argument between tolerance, and harassment.

Harassment as the absolute evil then there is no free speech, only speech within bounds, which is to say zero toleration for intolerant language. That means Tosh is in the wrong.

Tolerance as the highest ideal means intolerance must also be tolerated, which means free speech, which means harassment is unavoidable. That means, weirdly enough, it was the victim's fault.

So, well, which do we want?
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


“Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?..."



Daniel Tosh is not to be trusted as an authority on anything that is funny. I knew this before, and this has solidified my certitude. He is entirely comprised of anti-funny.

That he has a show on Comedy Central is mystifying. I guess there is no network called Sad and Nauseating Central.


Anyway, this, still.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


> It's not that often that I come to the conclusion that someone is a complete asshole. I feel that way about Tosh.

I'd catch his show off and on before The Daily Show, and was kind of fascinated by how appalling he could be. But, when he showed a clip of a very disabled beggar on a roadway in India and ruthlessly mocked the beggar's ambulatory struggles I knew then that Tosh was pretty much just a poison marketed to people who enjoy feeling poisoned. Anyway, it's hard not wishing some sort of comeuppance on the dude.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


I don't know if you work in an academic environment where you might have access to these articles in their original form, but if you're interested, MeMail me and I'll see what I can do about getting you some copies.

I'll get any article you need access to in any journal, just let me know. I'm not going to be around all night, but memail if you end up with requests, I can get any paper you need.
posted by cashman at 9:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


This site changed my mind about rape jokes. It's not that I was a fan or connoisseur of rape jokes, but I am one of those people that get heated up when someone says you shouldn't do something or say something. When I am told not to do anything I try to figure out ways that doing this is acceptable. I hate hard and fast rules!

I think it was a comment by jessamyn, but it could have been someone else. Anyway, what was said was, "A person might be able to make a funny rape joke, but even if you succeed, what have you accomplished? You made a funny joke about rape." (paraphrased!) At this point I resolved I would never find one of these jokes funny and never repeat another.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [50 favorites]


I mentioned before that I had a chance to see George Carlin on stage about a year before he died. He told the audience he would be testing and sorting out material for his next (what would turn out to be his last) HBO show. One 'test bit' he did was to pre-warn the audience that he was about to tell three jokes that were very distasteful - even to him - and he dared the audience not to laugh at them. The jokes involved dead babies and nuns' private parts and I don't remember what else (I don't recall him using the word 'rape' though) but he delivered them all very well, professionally you might say, and got a spattering of laughs (none from me, I was more embarrassed for him), and then he delivered the real punchline of the entire bit, summed up as "you may have not laughed now, but these are the only jokes from this show you're going to tell at the water cooler Monday morning..."

That was more shocking to me than the jokes. The deep cynicism required to do this to the audience. But then, George Carlin had 40 years of reasons to be cynical. Of course, the bit did not make the cut to be in his HBO show.

Still, nobody out there today, including Mr. CK, can hold a candle to Carlin.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


Always, always with the, "its comedy!" defense. I hate that defense and think it baseless. How many other comedic avenues are there? How many other not trigger-laden ways of making people laugh can you not fucking see.

Aside from that, how does the "its comedy!" defense cover incitement to violence? The commentators certainly try their hardest to think of a way.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can we all agree that it wasn't funny, and was a terrible thing for the woman involved and out of sympathy we will all boycot Tosh until the end of time. Can we also agree that Tosh, just like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin before him, has a right to say what he wants even if it is upsetting to some people. Assuming, that is, that everyone is convinced this was not an actual threat.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


also relating to my other comment, even if you get him to stop saying all the rapey shit and the racist shit, the underlying guy is still going to be there making jokes about like fat people or crazy people or poors or whoever doesn't get him yelled at by people that matter, so
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


You keep saying that, but can you at all prove a connection between stand-up comedians making jokes and rape? I understand the basic argument as presented in other threads, that somehow joking about rape makes rape okay, but that strikes me as supposition.

The general objection to rape jokes is that they are similar to casual racism: they help create an environment where acts and statements which belittle and dehumanize women are considered normal and acceptable.

Since the norm for women in mainstream Western society was until quite recently to be treated this way, it truly sucks to see a comedian with a strong national presence and fanbase telling people "We should be allowed to dehumanize women."

No one should be subjected to that, especially not under the guise of "humor."

Further reading:

Wikipedia: Rape Culture
posted by zarq at 9:09 PM on July 10, 2012 [52 favorites]


To clarify my previous comment...

People have different senses of humor, and those differences don't always mean what other people think they mean. A lot of extremely socially conscious people have very very dark senses of humor when it comes to awful topics. So a comment like, "rape jokes are never funny," while I totally understand it, is frankly wrong, by my frame of mind. ANY topic is conceivably funny, and acting self-righteous about that sort of thing is bullshit, to me.

But as always, actually being funny makes the difference here. Louis C.K. can say "nigger" and "cunt" and get away with it. Because he's funny and because it's pretty clear what he means when he says them. No other white comic I can think of can get away with the first of those, at least.

Tosh isn't nearly at that level. And what he said could be taken as a threat, definitely, though I don't think for a second that's how it was intended (which, by the way, mens rea is kind of a big element in criminal assault, sexual or otherwise.) I think he's just not great with handling hecklers and said the first thing that came to his mind because you don't suffer hecklers, you wreck them immediately.

And so the thing is that I'm pretty sure she was right in hating his set and being offended by it. But she's not right, in my mind, to be offended by what he said in response to her heckling him, though to be honest even there I see a bit of a grey area. With the topic revolving around rape and the idea that what I'm saying could be construed as "she was asking for it," well, I think we're looking kind of at two different things and kind of not.

Basically, a rape victim is never "asking for it." A heckler always is. Even the guys heckling Richards back in the day. Richards revealed a hell of a lot about himself in his response, and his career was justifiably destroyed as a result, but I don't feel much if any sympathy for the hecklers who teed him up. I feel mostly the same about this.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:09 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Can we all agree that it wasn't funny, and was a terrible thing for the woman involved and out of sympathy we will all boycot Tosh until the end of time. Can we also agree that Tosh, just like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin before him, has a right to say what he wants even if it is upsetting to some people. Assuming, that is, that everyone is convinced this was not an actual threat.

Absolutely. And perhaps more controversially, that perhaps she should have just walked out instead of disrupting a performance that others were presumably enjoying, which you are just not entitled to do, no matter how offended you are.
posted by eugenen at 9:10 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Assuming, that is, that everyone is convinced this was not an actual threat.

I honestly -- not being histrionic -- do not agree this was not a threat. It’s not as if crowds of (drunken, esp.) men can’t be egged on to sexual violence. It happens daily.

It’s a threat on the face of it, it seems to me, even though nothing further happened.
posted by gerryblog at 9:11 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


She didn't heckle him! She called him out on being an asshole, and in return he said it would be funny if people raped her. I don't see how you DON'T take that as a threat.
posted by KathrynT at 9:12 PM on July 10, 2012 [66 favorites]


But she's not right, in my mind, to be offended by what he said in response to her heckling him

I disagree. A heckler is someone who just tries to fuck with the comedian. Someone who tries to be the star of the show, mess up the set, or just be belligerent and annoying. She was not heckling this guy at all. She said one 6-word sentence in response to what she describes as repeated insistence that rape (essentially) can be humorous.
posted by cashman at 9:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


I don't know if you work in an academic environment where you might have access to these articles in their original form, but if you're interested, MeMail me and I'll see what I can do about getting you some copies.

I would be happy to read something if you'd like to send it to me. From my reading of the wikipedia article I do not think that I will find it persuasive, but I will certainly read it and give it a chance.

I honestly -- not being histrionic -- do not agree this was not a threat. It’s not as if crowds of (drunken, esp.) men can’t be egged on to sexual violence. It happens daily.


You're seriously saying that you think Tosh wanted that woman gang raped in the Laugh Factory?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


TwelveTwo: "And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

See, this is actually a problem.


Humor doesn't make the problem go away, it just keeps you from screaming. Then you can go back to working on whatever it is that is horrible. Paramedics, doctors, morticians, they all need jokes, shit is horrible. It doesn't make their problems go away, but it keeps those wrestling with those problems from dying inside.
"

Well perhaps if the jock-male-douchebag crowd of his had a lot of "wrestling with those problems" maybe it might be different, but as it is, we live in a rape culture, and this is wrong.

I laugh at nazi jokes sometimes. Because I do have a strong sense of gallows humor. And I do it mostly in the privacy of my own home or in friends who "get" my humor (and even then, yes, I do offend them). But rape. Rape happens every fucking day, every fucking hour, every fucking minute and every fucking second. And a large part of the population isn't even aware what really rape is, and to not only ignore it, but to actively promote rape as some sort of comeback (let's not even get into whether it's "funny" as apparently Tosh thinks he is, and a lot of fuckheads apparently think, as well, which, fuck me, I hate people)) is disgusting and unbecoming of a fucking human with any goddamned decency and a sense of humanity.

I think there could be some sort of case made of a rape joke that really tears apart our social system and the rape culture we live in, but it would clearly have to be beyond the caliber of anyone like Tosh (or Dane Cook), and while a lot of people like Louis, well... He's done a lot of shitty things that I don't think he's up to the task. Carlin *might* have been able to do it, but so many of these goddamned comedians (and so many of them that I love and adore generally) are so wrapped up in their fucking male privilege that I don't even trust that they could pull it off. Yes, offense is called for, but the genius in comedy is to really be able to fuck with your head and twist shit around and ultimately, hopefully, speak truth to power (the highest quality comedy is, IMO, that kind of comedy)...

Threatening rape, even as a "joke", is so unbelievably not cool, that I can't even fathom what the fuck is wrong with people. Except... I know... And it makes me hate our species.

So I guess I'll just make another Nazi joke in the privacy of my own home while the rest of the world burns in the utter shit it is, has been and will always be.
posted by symbioid at 9:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, if that did happen as she said, that's pretty bad. I'm not of the opinion that jokes on this subject can never be funny; you can be absurdist to the point of disconnecting the situation from real life (like the old joke about the hunter and the bear), there is legitimate dark humor, and there is parody intended to attack groups with bad cultural attitudes about the subject (like say, fraternities). However, this was just fucked up and not funny in the slightest.

Nevertheless I tend to want to cut comedians a little bit of slack, because I imagine when they are making up material live on the spot, there is a significant chance for them to just totally screw up and say something they don't mean in the slightest. Hasn't everyone done that at some point? You have to see how they react afterwards to it, as that can be more revealing (like it was with Michael Richards).
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:15 PM on July 10, 2012


> She didn't heckle him! She called him out on being an asshole

I agree with you in substance, but in the heat of the moment in the club there anything anyone says from the audience that contradicts the comedian is going to be immediately perceived as heckling and the performer generally will go for the quick kill so he can get back to the set. So, the game was a little different than simply calling out an asshole for being an asshole. Comedy clubs are pretty toxic places to begin with, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


The worst thing I can say about Tosh is this:

He's not funny. The entire career and life he has built for himself is built around a lack of talent. He's just not funny. Occasionally I catch one of his ads on Comedy Central, and it just isn't funny. Stealing from the Internet isn't the lulz. The media format conversion just doesn't work.

Speaking of mysogony, I sat down a few months ago to watch some Joe Rogan bits, because I had heard he was good and people who liked Bill Hicks seemed to like him.

I had to turn off one of his stand-up specials after like 10 minutes because of all the casual misogynistic comments.

Damn, I miss Carlin and Hicks. Is there anyone besides Louie of that caliber anymore?
posted by formless at 9:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're seriously saying that you think Tosh wanted that woman gang raped in the Laugh Factory?

A threat is distinct from intent for future plans -- you can absolutely make a threat without intending to followup on it. Pointing out to a woman, in response to her criticisms, that any number of men in the room could just rape her definitely seems like a threat to me.

I think Tosh probably went on autopilot and didn't even himself know what he was saying, but if the woman had been attacked in the parking lot that night, I absolutely would hold him partially responsible.
posted by gerryblog at 9:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


cashman - I disagree. A heckler is someone who just tries to fuck with the comedian. Someone who tries to be the star of the show, mess up the set, or just be belligerent and annoying. She was not heckling this guy at all. She said one 6-word sentence in response to what she describes as repeated insistence that rape (essentially) can be humorous

I've got a bigger response coming to this but I wanted to jump on this before it gets buried.

She heckled. Stand-up comedy is not a conversation. It's a one way street and if you interrupt that flow - no matter how many words you say - its heckling and you will be singled out. Its part of a comedians job.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


WidgetAlley: “And that difference here seems pretty clear, and pretty horrifying, and has a lot of real-world consequences.”

Bookhouse: “You keep saying that, but can you at all prove a connection between stand-up comedians making jokes and rape? I understand the basic argument as presented in other threads, that somehow joking about rape makes rape okay, but that strikes me as supposition.”

Okay, let's break this down. "Somehow joking about rape makes rape okay" – this is pretty much beyond dispute, right? Comedy lightens things. That's the point. Even people who support rape jokes in certain circumstances generally say they do so because jokes about rape are supposed to be cathartic, they're supposed to take away the pain a bit and help people deal with it, or at least help them contextualize it and overcome it. I don't think there can be any question that joking about a thing makes it more okay.

The idea you're talking about, I think, is the idea that joking about rape makes it more likely that other people will commit rape, right? And there – well, again, we have to talk about the backstory behind this idea. The notion is that normalizing rape, turning it into a common punishment or comedic moment – which, I should say, not all rape jokes necessarily do – makes it a morally acceptable act by degrees in society. A good place to see this at work is prison rape. There was a time a few decades ago when prison rape was unspeakable; but now, prison rape jokes are quite common, often with the undertone that people in prison deserve to be raped. And what do we see? Prison rape more prevalent than ever before in human history, to an astonishing and horrifying degree. So it seems like there can be a connection between our ability to nonchalantly joke about something and our willingness to let it happen.

“... and I felt this way about Tracy Morgan and Michael Richardson as well -- the comedy stage is one of the most free free speech zones I can think of.”

That's why, outside of maybe two or three transcendent performers, the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.
posted by koeselitz at 9:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


[Hi! We don't call people trolls. We flag and move on. We also don't pre-doom every thread that mentions rape, if at all possible. Act like this is the site you want it to be, please. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


She didn't heckle him! She called him out on being an asshole

Ok, so it is not hecking to tell the comedian, and everyone else, during their act, that you think they are being an asshole, got it! Will have to remember that.
posted by Cosine at 9:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


perhaps she should have just walked out instead of disrupting a performance that others were presumably enjoying, which you are just not entitled to do, no matter how offended you are.

Speaking as a standup comedian, she was not heckling or disrupting (assuming he was quoted correctly.)

Anyone who pronounces on stage that something is always funny is openly challenging the crowd to respond, even if the topic is Cheerios or farts. When you say this about something as charged as rape, no competent comic would expect anything other than someone in the audience protesting out loud. I mean, really, when have you ever seen a comic announce that something is always funny? What else would you expect someone's response to be except "You're wrong!?
posted by msalt at 9:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [48 favorites]


Daniel Tosh has always struck me as this kind of a person. I don't think I'm a good judge of character, but he leaves me feeling uncomfortable, he always has, and I don't watch him because of that.

That said, there's a tangentially related point I want to raise. I don't feel sufficiently educated to voice a complete opinion on this matter in toto, but from the thinkprogress piece on Louis CK's involvement, there's this:

"I do think he’s fallen down both comedically and politically in his attacks on Sarah Palin, and his episode of Louie where he goes after a heckler played by Megan Hilty can be jarring—this is particularly disappointing."

And it makes me want to ask how we've gotten to the point where we want fiction that only has good characters doing good things, and bad characters doing bad things, and they wear different coloured hats so you know what's up. I love Louis CK in large part because he has complicated, ambiguous characters, and he makes them do terrible and wonderful things. It seems we're frequently getting to the point where we have some piece of art that we like, and then one of Our Guys does something that is offensive, and then we label some aspect of it troubling.

Is this ok with everyone else? With requiring anything Troubling! or Problematic! to be expunged from the stories we're telling? If there's something I'm missing, I'm a hundred percent willing to listen to almost any counterargument. But my gut instinct is that I want fiction to be troubling. Tell me I'm wrong and tell me I'm ignorant, that's ok, because I'm not convinced I'm right.
posted by samofidelis at 9:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'd be perfectly happy if this dude's career was over now. You could say it was because of politically correct backlash, or call it censorship and intimidation, or you could say it was just because he's simply not that goddamn funny. I'd be happy with it regardless, even after giving it more thought than he clearly has about his rape joke routine.

Just sayin'.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Damn, I miss Carlin and Hicks. Is there anyone besides Louie of that caliber anymore?

I think Louis C.K. is the funniest stand-up comedian working today, but even he ain't Carlin and Hicks caliber.
posted by mediated self at 9:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is possibly going to come off as a defense of Tosh, but it's not meant as one.

Why did she go to his show? Because, while the clips on his show are funny, and the skits are pretty funny, almost every single joke that he makes is racist or sexist in some way. Why is it even a surprise that a guy who regularly makes "Asian people can't pronounce 'r's"-type jokes all the time is a horrible douchebag?

Rape jokes are right up his alley, and are exactly the kind of humor I expect him to enjoy. Lazy offensive humor.
posted by graventy at 9:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.

Stand up is the hardest and finest form art we have come up with so far. I honestly am sad that someone could think what you just said.
posted by Cosine at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


I found this review of the current season's opener of Tosh.0 over at boingboing. It makes me glad I never saw this show, it makes me glad I don't find the guy funny.
posted by Catblack at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2012


Why did she go to his show?

In the link she explains that she'd never heard of Daniel Tosh and went to see Dane Cook.
posted by gerryblog at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why did she go to his show? Because, while the clips on his show are funny, and the skits are pretty funny, almost every single joke that he makes is racist or sexist in some way. Why is it even a surprise that a guy who regularly makes "Asian people can't pronounce 'r's"-type jokes all the time is a horrible douchebag?

Did you catch the part in her original statement about how she didn't recognize most of the names on the bill, including Tosh's?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2012


Damn, I miss Carlin and Hicks. Is there anyone besides Louie of that caliber anymore?

Rogan is misogynistic as all hell and also isn't funny.

Patton Oswalt is, to me, the only person operating at C.K.'s level right now.

And yes, she was heckling. Doesn't mean her opinion wasn't correct, but she was. And it doesn't mean she was wrong to do so, but there's a code and what happened was exactly what anybody could have expected from it.

As I've said, I'm fine if Tosh's career goes down over this. But hecklers get vicious and toxic reactions. That's just how it goes, because you don't fuck with performers unless you can bring it to them and stand toe-to-toe. (and really, is there any other medium of performance which deals with this?)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


She heckled. Stand-up comedy is not a conversation. It's a one way street and if you interrupt that flow - no matter how many words you say - its heckling and you will be singled out. Its part of a comedians job.

She spoke, but people speak in comedy shows. I've seen loads of comedy. I've seen Jamie Foxx destroy people, Martin Lawrence destroy people, and honestly black comedians will get at you if you even stand up and walk around, much less have the gall to utter a word.

But this was a comedian repeatedly insisting that rape was humorous. If some comedian got up and said lynching black folk was always hilarious, or that molesting kids was a hoot, and then pointed at a 13-year-old that said "molesting kids isn't funny at all", I'm sorry, but you cannot toss that right in with all the idiots that decide to try to become part of the act, yell stuff out to drown out the comedian, or are drunk and noisy. That's just preposterous to me.
posted by cashman at 9:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [40 favorites]


Note the whiny pseudo tough guy way he tries to silence some drunk men at one of his Comedy Central specials.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: “Assuming, that is, that everyone is convinced this was not an actual threat.”

Bookhouse: “You're seriously saying that you think Tosh wanted that woman gang raped in the Laugh Factory?”

There is no court in the United States where "I totally didn't mean it!" is a justification for a case of assault in which a person felt in imminent danger of being attacked.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.

Remind me what your career is so I can pick off the most famous inept practitioner and call him proof that your entire profession a sad waste of time that the human race will regret. Holy crap.
posted by msalt at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


Why did she go to his show?

In the link she explains that she'd never heard of Daniel Tosh and went to see Dane Cook.
posted by gerryblog at 23:23 on July 10 [+] [!]

I wish I were the person to think of the best out-of-the-frying-pan-of-douche joke here, but I am not.
posted by samofidelis at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


mediated self - I Love me some Hicks but if you look at his output vs. Louis C.K. Louis shits all over him.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm no fan of Tosh, but I love stand-up and the raunchier and limits-stretching the better.
Tosh said what he said not because he actually would find it funny if a girl got raped (he almost surely wouldn't), he said it because saying it would get a laugh from the crowd...which is his one and only job.

I think comedy clubs that feature these types of comics need to post a big sign at the entrance saying YOU ARE NOW LEAVING SOCIETY. The club is a different world, a different culture, and has different rules. It's not for everyone, and patrons need to know going in whether they want to be a part of it.
posted by rocket88 at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Rape humour is not funny, or desirable in anyway.

However, this post is incomplete without exploring the alleged misquoting. What does Tosh claim that he said? I mean, I don't really know what context could be given to that quote that could make it less offensive, but I'm still interested to hear it.

Otherwise this is just all outrage based on hearsay.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Speaking as a standup comedian, she was not heckling or disrupting (assuming he was quoted correctly.)

Thank you.
posted by cashman at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2012


how we've gotten to the point where we want fiction that only has good characters doing good things, and bad characters doing bad things, and they wear different coloured hats so you know what's up.

We're not there. But Louis CK makes a pretty big deal about being sort of self-aware of both his provileged position and the position of the other people he makes fun of in his shows and you get a feeling from him, whether entirely created or only sort of created, that he's on the side of the good guys, whatever you nimght take that to mean. So when he takes cheap shots at Palin, attacking her for being not so bright and basically just being female, that seems to go against his general less-lazy comedy. No big deal and I think you're over reaching quite a lot. People don't require only good characters but more and more they're indicating they'd like more consistent characters. Daniel Tosh has always been funny like this. I've been interested to see how this is unrolling before him.
posted by jessamyn at 9:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.

Stand up is the hardest and finest form art we have come up with so far. I honestly am sad that someone could think what you just said.


I kind of agree with Cosine here. Stand-up is almost like an ancient drama form in its simplicity and purity. I think it's one of the true great accomplishments of 20th-century American culture, on par with jazz.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've gotta say, the weird machismo around hecklers is one of the big reasons, maybe the biggest, that I've never been to see any live standup.

And I mean that from both sides. It seems completely bizarre to me there are people who go to comedy shows with the intention of trying to ruin the performance, trying to upset the performer or make them lose their cool or whatever. And then the flip side of that is that comedians need to be prepared to humiliate absolutely anyone into silent submission at a moment's notice, and the fact that that's just an accepted part of the scene also seems bizarre.

And serious standup fans who I hear talking about this stuff, the reaction is usually not "yeah, that's kind of unfortunate, I wish they wouldn't do that sort of thing." It normally seems to be this aggro vicarious chest-thumping OH YEAH BRING IT ON. It's like talking to hockey fans about the fistfights, or old Butthole Surfers fans about the really egregious stage antics, or asking serious gun afficionados what they'd do to someone who seriously threatened their family. Like this is totally the high point of the whole event as far as they're concerned.

The whole thing seems so completely opposite my own sense of what art or performance is for or what a subculture ought to be like that I've just stayed right the hell away from the whole thing. Because if seeing someone do a really skillful job at that sort of competitive humiliation and degradation is the high point of your week, then — well, okay, have fun with that, you're probably even still a totally decent person, but this is really just not at all for me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


Okay, let's break this down. "Somehow joking about rape makes rape okay" – this is pretty much beyond dispute, right? Comedy lightens things. That's the point.

I disagree with you completely. Humor can lighten, it can damn, it can darken, it can wake you up. Now, Tosh's comment didn't do this. It was a bad joke. But the idea that joking about something "makes it okay" is way off base to me.

There was a time a few decades ago when prison rape was unspeakable; but now, prison rape jokes are quite common, often with the undertone that people in prison deserve to be raped. And what do we see? Prison rape more prevalent than ever before in human history, to an astonishing and horrifying degree.

My understanding is that prison rape rates are growing due to increased reporting, not drop the soap jokes.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


rocket88: "I'm no fan of Tosh, but I love stand-up and the raunchier and limits-stretching the better.
Tosh said what he said not because he actually would find it funny if a girl got raped (he almost surely wouldn't), he said it because saying it would get a laugh from the crowd...which is his one and only job.
"

This says more about Tosh and the crowd than you think it does.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [23 favorites]


I Love me some Hicks but if you look at his output vs. Louis C.K. Louis shits all over him.

Yup, I really like Hicks too but Louis absolutely blows him away, in every way. I rarely laugh at Hicks and don't think he was half as deft as Louis.
posted by Cosine at 9:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, this post is incomplete without exploring the alleged misquoting. What does Tosh claim that he said?

To my knowledge this is all Tosh has said on the subject:

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. ‪#deadbabies‬

all the out of context misquotes aside, i'd like to sincerely apologize http://j.mp/PJ8bNs
posted by gerryblog at 9:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


All right, let's see if this works.....

Here is an article that is a meta-analysis that found a correlation between "rape myth acceptance" and sexism.

Here is an excellent and lengthy paper on the connection between war and rape and how both stem from the same essential hegemonic masculinity of the culture.

Here is a paper on successful rape prevention programs, which found that fraternity men were more likely to hold certain attitudes about rape reinforced by their peers, and how those attitudes changed after exposure to rape-prevention programs (which included a willingness to call out their peers-- interesting in light of Tosh and the audience's interaction.)

Here is a brilliant paper on 'cultural cognition bias' in the legality of acquaintance rape.

And that's just the first page of Google Scholar results since 2008, so yes, I'd say, a connection between culture and behavior in the case of rape is fairly well established.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [63 favorites]


Pretending that this was a threat as opposed to just a really crappy thing to say from the stage almost makes me want to defend this clown. Almost.
It's actually really offensive to say that all it takes to inspire a man to gang-rape is two watered down jack n cokes and some coaxing from a basic cable chucklehead.
posted by FeralHat at 9:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [25 favorites]


Not to defend Tosh, but I'm curious as hell to know whether the line got a laugh. Any indication of that? Again not that it makes it right; I'm just curious about the temperature of the room.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


My problem with Tosh is that he's like my boss, who likes to make sarcastic biting comments and then say "I'm joking!" .. but it's really obvious that she is actually serious. I have little doubt that he really is misogynist, racist, homophobic, and can't fathom anyone who isn't a white male fratboy type. He makes my skin crawl, and I honestly don't get that vibe from any other comedian that I've ever seen.
posted by gatorae at 9:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


I don't want to be a defender of Tosh, but perhaps what he means by "context misquotes" is that the atmosphere (to him) didn't seem hostile or actually pro-rape, it was just all in good dirty fun to him so this business of feeling threatened was not the context in the club?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


cashman - But this was a comedian repeatedly insisting that rape was humorous. If some comedian got up and said lynching black folk was always hilarious, or that molesting kids was a hoot, and then pointed at a 13-year-old that said "molesting kids isn't funny at all", I'm sorry, but you cannot toss that right in with all the idiots that decide to try to become part of the act, yell stuff out to drown out the comedian, or are drunk and noisy. That's just preposterous to me.

He was doing a standup routine - not presenting a paper for argument. I've seen a tonne of comedians who present ridiculous off-colour ideas (Lous C.K. has a bit in one of his recent specials about pedophiles that is terribly dark) but you never shout out that you disagree. They want you yo agree with laughter. If they don't get it they drop the bit.

If you don't agree with what a comedian is saying - regardless of the context - you do not say so at the gig. You leave or you talk with your friends after and say ' Man, he was so wrong about the rape stuff"

That you're failing to understand the mechanics and (dare I say) ettiquette of stand up is preposterous to me.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I've gotta say, the weird machismo around hecklers is one of the big reasons, maybe the biggest, that I've never been to see any live standup.

I've listened to too many Paul F. Tompkins podcasts to remember which one he said it on, but I've heard him talk about this and having to "unlearn" the kneejerk must-destroy response to hecklers that comedians pick up when they start their careers. Comedians are generally pretty terrified of hecklers, as best as I can tell from my intensive study of their podcast personae; they're very afraid of losing control of a crowd and never getting it back. So they use this nuke-it-from-orbit strategy to try to shut down any heckler they encounter.

Tompkins says, in this interview I'll never find again, how his crowdwork improved a lot when he dropped that attitude and just chilled out.
posted by gerryblog at 9:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Regardless of whether you think rape jokes can be hypothetically funny, the joke "Rape jokes are always funny" is hard to defend as anything other than lazy ironic racism. I'm all for hecklers keeping their mouths shut, but if someone's going to be heckling, I'd prefer it happen during crappy, lazy, non-jokes like this.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think the heckling-or-not argument is really going to go anywhere. Really, it's a matter of opinion whether you consider it heckling, and it's not some great big topic that you might find insights on or whatever. It's pedantry, at this point. Hoever you label what she did, it still does not warrant his reaction. And all of the defenses for him are shallow, at best.

It's his job as a comedian to cut-down hecklers and get back to the show. Fair enough. He didn't have to threaten her to do it.

She, as a heckler, should have expected to get a retaliation. True. She called him out, he calls her out. Did he have to make jokes about violence towards her? No. It could have been done some other way.
Also, the road goes both ways. He's a comedian, up on stage in front of hundreds of people, slinging purposefully controversial bullshit at the audience. He should have expected to get a heckler, at least one, out of that bit.

He didn't actually want her to get raped I think this one has been refuted into the ground, and if you still don't see how this excuse doesn't actually mean anything, then there's just no help for you.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


WidgetAlley
Research supporting your point of view does not make your point of view more vaild.
posted by Silo004 at 9:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's actually really offensive to say that all it takes to inspire a man to gang-rape is two watered down jack n cokes and some coaxing from a basic cable chucklehead.

It's happened from less. It's an ugly world.
posted by gerryblog at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


I like the comparisons between standup and jazz. Specifically, I think they're most accurate when applied to free improvisation. And I think there are good reasons why Norah Jones has a bigger audience than Peter Brotzmann.
posted by box at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, Tosh is a hack.
posted by box at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


hmmm, Twitter is really not a good primary choice of medium if you want to communicate a convincing apology for a serious incident, is it? (aside: a goldmine of observational stand-up comedy bigtime laughs right there!)
posted by Bwithh at 9:35 PM on July 10, 2012


I think if this thread can come together on one thing, it's that Tosh is not a funny man.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


People don't require only good characters but more and more they're indicating they'd like more consistent characters.
posted by jessamyn at 23:26 on July 10 [+] [!]

It seems worth point out that Louis CK is the same comedian who built a large part of a beloved special about his relish for using a racial epithet. I'm probably too emotionally invested in the guy's work to be fair, however; sorry for the derail.
posted by samofidelis at 9:35 PM on July 10, 2012


WidgetAlley
Research supporting your point of view does not make your point of view more vaild.
posted by Silo004 at 9:32 PM on July 10 [+] [!]


When that research turns a 'point of view' into well-documented occurrences, I'm pretty sure it changes the validity... somehow. Just not sure yet.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Research supporting your point of view does not make your point of view more vaild.

This is like some kind of beautiful koan. If you meet research supporting your point of view on the road, kill it!
posted by gerryblog at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [73 favorites]


If you don't agree with what a comedian is saying - regardless of the context - you do not say so at the gig. You leave or you talk with your friends after and say ' Man, he was so wrong about the rape stuff"

I don't think the woman disagreed with what the comedian was saying as much as she disagreed that he was a comedian.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


> I don't think the heckling-or-not argument is really going to go anywhere

I don't get the sense that people are hung up on that aspect, but are rather debating it because it does indeed help to understand why it happened. Comedy clubs are full of drunken idiots who want the performer to always be cranking the lewdness up a notch. There will always be incidents like this because of the prevailing cancerous atmosphere.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2012



If you don't agree with what a comedian is saying - regardless of the context - you do not say so at the gig. You leave or you talk with your friends after and say ' Man, he was so wrong about the rape stuff"

That you're failing to understand the mechanics and (dare I say) ettiquette of stand up is preposterous to me.


It's a difference of culture, I guess. I tell you what, let him try that shit in a different arena, and I'd love to see what condition he walked out in. You seem to have the feeling that a comedian can say anything at all and it is fine. Like "I'm on stage, so I can walk up to this person and say "wouldn't it be funny if I raped your 16-year-old daughter sitting next to you?", and nothing whatsoever should be said. Just laugh!

Let's just say you're from a different culture that apparently would think that was fine. I am familiar with other cultures, where that is decidedly not okay, and any beat down you suffer after saying that is on you. You're free to say what you want. And you are also free to accept the consequences if you take two giant steps over the line like Tosh did. That's about all Tosh is getting from me. I'm glad I only catch pieces of his show.
posted by cashman at 9:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am familiar with other cultures, where that is decidedly not okay, and any beat down you suffer after saying that is on you.
Welp.
posted by samofidelis at 9:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


This reminds me of a story.

I went to a stand-up show where Gibby Haynes(!) did an act that was almost entirely dead baby jokes and the like. One canned, willfully disgusting joke after another. I wasn't offended - it was just cheap. The audience hated it. They exuded angry silence. I couldn't tell if the act had been genuine cluelessness on Gibby's part, or an Andy Kaufman-esque anti-comedy gambit.

Regardless of the man's intentions, the last straw came when Gibby, who had been gesturing with a baby doll leg this entire time, frequently referred to it as an "actual negro baby leg."

At this point, the audience rebelled. A young woman from the audience noisily heckled Gibby, telling him to shut up.

They got into an argument. Real comedians never argue. They either rebut or move on.

She rushed the stage. Chaos ensued.

A profoundly embarrassed Eugene Mirman ran interference, clearing the stage for the next act.

The audience cheered.

Later that evening, Todd Barry was on stage, actually being funny. The heroic heckler from earlier, now drunker and swollen with pride, began to heckle him for no particular reason.

Barry narrowed his eyes and shut that shit down with a simple "you had your fun." He can suck all the air out of the room, if he wants to.

Real comedians can do that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


TwelveTwo: "This is all really an argument between tolerance, and harassment.

Harassment as the absolute evil then there is no free speech, only speech within bounds, which is to say zero toleration for intolerant language. That means Tosh is in the wrong.

Tolerance as the highest ideal means intolerance must also be tolerated, which means free speech, which means harassment is unavoidable. That means, weirdly enough, it was the victim's fault.

So, well, which do we want?
"

So who's the "victim" then? Was she "harassing" Tosh (and thus (in the classic sense of victim blaming) bringing it on herself?)? Or was he "harassing" her, and thus her right to speak back... If you're going to argue "free speech" then you have to argue the right of the victim to speak back against the oppressor. Otherwise you're telling the victim to "shut up, I don't want to hear it" while letting the one who continues to promote Rape As Joke to continue to spew his shit without any fucking recourse (at least in the same venue). "Free Speech" all too often becomes an excuse to further the dominator culture that exists in society and to shut down any sort of criticism as "anti-free-speech" which is precisely inverting things. The critique is imperative to have a growth and understand, without it, society will not evolve. Unfortunately, all too often, the money flows to the biggest jackass with the loudest fucking mouth and in the end, perpetuates the dominator culture at the detriment of the oppressed culture, precisely the claimed opposite of the goal of the concept of "free speech" (which is intended to promote (that is, according to the original concept of natural rights via John Locke, for example) the rights of the minority and suppress the dominator and allow more equality for all.

(I drank 5 beers, have I passed Ballmer's Peak yet? Apologies if so).
posted by symbioid at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


koeselitz: “That's why, outside of maybe two or three transcendent performers, the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.”

Cosine: “Stand up is the hardest and finest form art we have come up with so far. I honestly am sad that someone could think what you just said.”

msalt: “Remind me what your career is so I can pick off the most famous inept practitioner and call him proof that your entire profession a sad waste of time that the human race will regret. Holy crap.”

Well, first of all, I'm a database programmer, which is a much sadder waste of time than the worst comedy could possibly be, so I'll save you the trouble there.

And yeah, maybe that was unfair hyperbole, but you know what? Stand-up comedy is just incredibly boring at this point. Louis has to work hard to get me to think and get me to laugh, and he's one of the better ones there is now, right?

I mean, I was just thinking about this Tosh guy. It's pretty clear where he was going before he got interrupted / heckled / whatever – he was doing the old "rape jokes can be funny because omg sometimes you're making fun of rapists or whatever" routine. Good god, how many times have we heard this? Seriously, it's so incredibly old. And yet people keep going over it. And it's probably just me, because I've been to many, many comedy acts in my life, and I finally gave up, because there was so much repetition, and I got the feeling that this old form is just done. Standing in front of people and just telling jokes... boring.

I'm just so sick of the Daniel Toshes of the world. And there are so many of them. I'm not even talking about sexism or anything like that – just this awful, terrible, soul-crushing boringness. Millions of Daniel Toshes on millions of comedy stages every single night telling the same joke millions of times. It sometimes feels like that's what it's become.

And then, since I can't really go through this whole silly thing without contradicting myself, there's this guy, who I actually find funny, for no reason I can actually put my finger on. So I'm probably full of shit.

I guess maybe you might see where I'm coming from, though, since you're a working comedian, msalt – there is a lot of repetitive crap, isn't there? Geez. And people like Tosh get famous. It just makes me kinda sad.
posted by koeselitz at 9:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, for anyone who thinks that rape jokes and rape culture in general do not affect when, how, how often and to whom, rape happens, and how we react to it, I offer this headline: Onlookers laugh during teenage girl's gang rape.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:42 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Ok, I don't think he wanted her to be raped but no matter his intent the effect is the same, whether he was joking or serious 5 people could have decided "yeah that would be funny" and waited for her in the parking lot. The Legal issues,whether he had intent, or she could reasonably believe that he had the means to carry out the threat are really kind of secondary. If she had been raped he would have been morally responsible.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no court in the United States where "I totally didn't mean it!" is a justification for a case of assault in which a person felt in imminent danger of being attacked.

I don't think that's accurate. Words don't constitute an assault -- you have to seriously and legitimately believe that the actions the words describe are immanent. She may have been offended by what he said, but she clearly did not believe he or anyone else was about to rape her. An actual lawyer's opinion is welcome, however.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:46 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]



> I don't think the heckling-or-not argument is really going to go anywhere

I don't get the sense that people are hung up on that aspect, but are rather debating it because it does indeed help to understand why it happened. Comedy clubs are full of drunken idiots who want the performer to always be cranking the lewdness up a notch. There will always be incidents like this because of the prevailing cancerous atmosphere.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on July 10 [+] [!]


Thank you, Burhanistan! I was having a hard time putting my opinion into a concrete argument, or words, even, because I was just so pissed off. But the way you phrased this made me realize what I was trying to say. Granted, I got here because I disagree, but still. This is the good kind of argument.

And I still don't think the why excuses the what. I'm not upset he retaliated, or whatever. Just in the way that he did. It went too far.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:46 PM on July 10, 2012


Poor guy, MeFi's going to lock him up in a room with the otaku who assaults virtual avatars and the person who tortured a clam. I suggest nobody post anything even slightly outside of PC videos of cats for the next week or so.

I think it was Minsky or Dennett or Pinkner or another one of those Cog. Sci. types (maybe Carlin) who put forth that all Humor was based on Taboo violation. That Funny and Laughter was the brains way of resetting a downward spiral of "OMG I shouldn't have thought that!". If you think about it, it's really hard to find anything funny that's not violating some taboo in some way.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm just so sick of the Daniel Toshes of the world. And there are so many of them. I'm not even talking about sexism or anything like that – just this awful, terrible, soul-crushing boringness. Millions of Daniel Toshes on millions of comedy stages every single night telling the same joke millions of times. It sometimes feels like that's what it's become.

Sturgeon's Law is still basically true, film at 11. Stand-up is not unique in this respect.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: "Why did she go to his show?

In the link she explains that she'd never heard of Daniel Tosh and went to see Dane Cook.
"

Dane Cook? DANE COOK? YOU WENT TO SEE DANE COOK?

(that said, I am still 100% behind my previous statements lest it seem as though I were somehow victim blaming with that rageous incredulity). But seriously. Dane Cook?
posted by symbioid at 9:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


gerryblog: "I've listened to too many Paul F. Tompkins podcasts to remember which one he said it on, but I've heard him talk about this and having to "unlearn" the kneejerk must-destroy response to hecklers that comedians pick up when they start their careers.... So they use this nuke-it-from-orbit strategy to try to shut down any heckler they encounter.

Tompkins says, in this interview I'll never find again, how his crowdwork improved a lot when he dropped that attitude and just chilled out.
"

Oh man - I saw Mr. Show live, and John Ennis fucking RAGED at a heckler, to the point that he fucking came down off stage (I can't recall if this was during the scene of heckling or after the show), and security had to hold him back from the seating in order to prevent him from going to the crowd and punching the heckler's lights out. He was fucking PISSED, and I have never seen a comedian do that ever. Seriously some crazy ass shit.
posted by symbioid at 9:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would like to know how many people, if any besides the objecting woman, stood up and walked out after the exchange. I most certainly would have and loudly told him why on my way out.
posted by djseafood at 9:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, let's break this down. "Somehow joking about rape makes rape okay" – this is pretty much beyond dispute, right? Comedy lightens things. That's the point. Even people who support rape jokes in certain circumstances generally say they do so because jokes about rape are supposed to be cathartic, they're supposed to take away the pain a bit and help people deal with it, or at least help them contextualize it and overcome it. I don't think there can be any question that joking about a thing makes it more okay.

I support any kind of joke "in certain circumstances," those circumstances being when they are funny. Here is a very funny example of a joke about rape -- probably the one that the folks mentioning Louis C.K. were thinking of. It's beautifully written and performed, and as always I marvel at his craft.

The fact that I find the above-linked joke funny says nothing whatsoever about my views on rape, and the same goes for every responsible adult.

I don't necessarily disagree that comics like Louis C.K. telling jokes like these may in the aggregate contribute to attitudes toward rape that we would like to eliminate. But that doesn't lead to me finding that joke any less funny. I can't "decide" that it doesn't make me laugh.

My bottom line is that I'll put up with Tosh to keep Louis. The freedom to create art is really important, and my view is that we kind of have to deal with assholes and even pernicious social consequences to preserve that.
posted by eugenen at 9:53 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


[This thread is also not the time for you to try out your own rape jokes. There's a huge internet out there, I'm sure there is a place for them. That place is not here.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:53 PM on July 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


I thought the episode of Louie was rather funny, in that it clearly flipped the genders on the whole daterape thing. Also the characters added some subtle nuances to the humor that made it funny. I'm not saying rape is funny, but that scene was. It was also disturbing because it was rape and assault. I was a little squicked though that the show closed with a scene with Louis C.K.'s kids at the table with him. I kept thinking "is this supposed to be before or after?"

I wish I could link to a couple of the bits off Doug Stanhope's latest comedy album. He spends quite a few minutes discussing how words are just air coming out of someone's mouth and one shouldn't be offended by them. (I won't paraphrase the bits, I wouldn't do them justice -- and Stanhope is either your cup of tea or he isn't.)

But I don't think rape jokes are funny, nor is threatening rape on a female audience member. Without seeing a video of the show it's hard to say how the woman's response to him is heckling. Heckling is a prolonged assault, not a shouted quip. It sounds like Tosh handled it the worst way he could though. Well, it could have been worse, probably. It does show him to be a person of poor character to have responded in the way he did.
posted by Catblack at 9:53 PM on July 10, 2012


I think it was Minsky or Dennett or Pinkner or another one of those Cog. Sci. types (maybe Carlin) who put forth that all Humor was based on Taboo violation. That Funny and Laughter was the brains way of resetting a downward spiral of "OMG I shouldn't have thought that!"

Okay, I can see that argument. The problem is, rape in our culture is not that much of a fucking taboo. This isn't taboo violation-- this is norm reinforcement. And yes, a rape rate of 1 out of every six female-bodied persons is a norm.

If it were a taboo like cannibalism, it would be shocking, but the person would not be fearful, because no one's going to REALLY eat her heart that night on the way out (or, chances are VERY slim.) But the chances that someone really will force themselves on her sexually are much, much greater, and therefore, it's not a taboo so much as a high probability event that society may or may not give two shits about, depending on the color of her skin, what she was wearing at the time, etc.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [56 favorites]


azzaMcKazza: If you don't agree with what a comedian is saying - regardless of the context - you do not say so at the gig. You leave or you talk with your friends after and say ' Man, he was so wrong about the rape stuff" That you're failing to understand the mechanics and (dare I say) ettiquette of stand up is preposterous to me.

I see that you're Australian, and I wonder if this might be a cultural difference. In my experience, Aussies have a higher tolerance for rough play in general.

In the US, it is NOT heckler gladiator all the time, the way nebulawindphone fears. Some gigs are like that, especially one-nighters in a small town or rough neighborhood (where bar fights would also more common.) Most good clubs strictly enforce no heckling rules, and the floor manager will talk to the person right away and shut them down -- unless a comic expresses a preference for pounding on hecklers, in which case they might let it go.

There are many ways to tackle hecklers, from ignoring them (if most of the crowd can't hear), pretending to not be able to understand them ("Sorry, I don't speak shitfaced/retard"), give them one gentle "not your turn to talk" and then pound then, mock the words or clothes they sport, etc.

There are also many comics who engage the audience, either generally (working the crowd) or deliberately. I used to do a bit about pregnancy, where I said "If you've been through that, you know it's a very difficult time for the husband." I knew and fully expected groan, shouts of protests, etc. from the audience. Some provocations are guaranteed to get vocal responses, and "Rape jokes are always funny!" is one of them.
posted by msalt at 9:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've listened to too many Paul F. Tompkins podcasts to remember which one he said it on, but I've heard him talk about this and having to "unlearn" the kneejerk must-destroy response to hecklers that comedians pick up when they start their careers. Comedians are generally pretty terrified of hecklers, as best as I can tell from my intensive study of their podcast personae; they're very afraid of losing control of a crowd and never getting it back. So they use this nuke-it-from-orbit strategy to try to shut down any heckler they encounter.

That makes sense. I can see how this could be coming out of fear and not out of straight-up machismo on the performer's part.

But I still don't understand the way it's treated by the fans and the venue.

It's the only example I can think of where the fans and promoters of an art form will just tolerate or even encourage something that runs a risk of just tanking the whole performance. I mean, yes, it's hard to be funny while someone is heckling you, and if someone manages to do it anyway then that's impressive. But it's also hard to, I dunno, play the cello while someone is throwing rocks at your head, or perform Shakespeare on a Tilt-a-whirl, or dance en pointe on a stage covered in bacon grease. And we're not gonna go to a ballet show and be like like "Oh, yeah, someone greased the stage on them real good. That just happens! It's just part of the business! If they can't cope with it, they should go home!"
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:55 PM on July 10, 2012


I'm curious to how a comedian ideally would come back from a heckle like that - someone outright saying, "that is never funny".

Obviously he said the opposite of the right thing to say give the sensitivity of the material, but uh...I'm genuinely curious how a comedian would handle that in a world where everything went right. Do they give a genuine apology on stage? Would that not be completely awkward for all involved and kill the vibe of their set?
posted by windbox at 9:57 PM on July 10, 2012


I thought the episode of Louie was rather funny, in that it clearly flipped the genders on the whole daterape thing.

That seems to be the consensus view of reviewers, but my take (especially after this, if we agree he was giving Tosh a wink) was that it was itself basically one long shaggy-dog rape joke. Maybe the oldest one: "Women complain about rape, but if a man were raped he'd really enjoy it." That's why Louie agrees to go out with her again at the end of the episode.

It seems to me that CK automatically gets the benefit of the doubt whenever he wades into these waters, and I'm not sure why, though I am a fan despite this unsettled feeling. That episode, in particular, could be read as really reactionary rather than progressive.
posted by gerryblog at 9:57 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Words don't constitute an assault -- you have to seriously and legitimately believe that the actions the words describe are immanent. She may have been offended by what he said, but she clearly did not believe he or anyone else was about to rape her. An actual lawyer's opinion is welcome, however.

Words can, but do not necessarily, constitute assault. If the words create a reasonable apprehension of imminent physical violence, then they may constitute an assault. As creation of the apprehension occurs in the victim's mind, it is irrelevant whether the defendant has the means to carry out the threat.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:59 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


symbioid: “But seriously. Dane Cook?”

Read the description. The consensus among her and her friends was that Dane Cook is not funny, but they thought they'd give him the benefit of the doubt because they were bored.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stand-up comedy is just incredibly boring at this point. Louis has to work hard to get me to think and get me to laugh, and he's one of the better ones there is now, right?

I don't like jazz but I would never say that jazz is just incredibly boring at this point and how hard some jazzer has to work to make me like it, because I DON'T LIKE JAZZ.

You don't like standup.

Seriously, if you think that it is boring right now, with the resurgence of amazingly creative standups that are working currently, then you don't like standup.
posted by Cosine at 10:01 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Words can, but do not necessarily, constitute assault. If the words create a reasonable apprehension of imminent physical violence, then they may constitute an assault. As creation of the apprehension occurs in the victim's mind, it is irrelevant whether the defendant has the means to carry out the threat.

This is just wrong. Words alone do not constitute assault.
posted by eugenen at 10:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


azzaMcKazza: If you don't agree with what a comedian is saying - regardless of the context - you do not say so at the gig. You leave or you talk with your friends after and say ' Man, he was so wrong about the rape stuff" That you're failing to understand the mechanics and (dare I say) ettiquette of stand up is preposterous to me.

I see that you're Australian, and I wonder if this might be a cultural difference. In my experience, Aussies have a higher tolerance for rough play in general.

FWIW, I'm Australian and female, and if I'd been there I would have stood up, shouted at Tosh that he was a fuckwit, told the audience who laughed that they were all fuckwits with no-doubt tiny dicks who could only get laid if they raped someone, and marched out, head held high and both middle fingers extended.

I hate mean nasty humour on any level. But rape jokes? You have got to be fucking kidding me.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 10:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Tosh is the least funny thing I have ever seen. His schtick, as far as I can tell, is to rehash old YouTube videos and then make stupid comments about them – something that ten million stoned youtubers do for free every day, and yet he of all people has been rewarded with a show on Comedy Central. I feel embarassed for him when I catch bits of his show on the TV, because he just looks desperate and lame; his timing sucks, his jokes are obvious and unoriginal, and his futile attempts to cover his failures by being "edgy" – i.e. saying a bunch of bigoted shit in a ha-ha-only-serious kind of way – only reveal him as even more of a pathetic, talentless hack.

And now this? He stands in front of an audience and tells them that it would be funny if a woman were gang-raped right then and there? Fuck off, Tosh. I hope this is the beginning of a steep downward trajectory for your career, a fiery and ignominous descent into shame, obscurity, and poverty. Go back to wherever you came from, you unfunny douchebag. Go away.
posted by Scientist at 10:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Seriously folks maybe grok that your meta-rape joke isn't quite funny here either?]
posted by jessamyn at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is just wrong. Words alone do not constitute assault.

Sorry, I forgot to add, my previous comment is the Australian/UK common law interpretation. The US definition may differ.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The phrase “rape culture” describes the way people don’t get too upset at the thought of a woman being raped. They might even laugh at it. It might seem funny, such a funny word. But nothing about this is just a joke. It’s about devaluing the sanctity of certain people’s security in their person, about refusing to feel bad about it, about taking a pride in it, even. Saying “wouldn’t it be funny if a violent act happened to this person” is almost the definition of how that works. If a terrible thing happened to a person, you say, I would not grieve. I would laugh. Their pain is not worth my empathy, or yours. Their pain makes me stronger, bigger, more important. Their pain is worth nothing.
posted by gerryblog at 10:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm curious to how a comedian ideally would come back from a heckle like that - someone outright saying, "that is never funny".

First of all you NEVER assert something like "rape is always funny." There's an old maxim, "Never ask for a laugh" (because human nature will resist the request), and this asks for a laugh plus asking for approval for something that can't be granted (no subject is always funny) plus it's offensive in the first place. It was a suicidal thing to say, really hard to fathom except as the most crass and blatant provocation, an Andy Kauffman-squared request to be literally beaten.

That said, my gut would be -- if I were Tosh -- to say "Well, I guess that's why I have a national TV show and you're sitting in the crowd whining." Good chance you'd get an applause break with something like that (regardless of the subject matter.)
posted by msalt at 10:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


And another comment from Student Activism, a huge C.K. fan: Goddamn it, Louis.
posted by gerryblog at 10:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I hope this is the beginning of a steep downward trajectory for your career

Well, according to his website he's going to quit showbusiness in 322 days.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 PM on July 10, 2012


Can't wait until this useless asshole's 15 minutes are up.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Amanojaku: “She may have been offended by what he said, but she clearly did not believe he or anyone else was about to rape her.”

Why is that clear? People have made good arguments to the contrary here.

eugenen: “This is just wrong. Words alone do not constitute assault.”

I guess I don't understand what your argument here is. Do you mean that you don't think words alone can represent a creditable threat of imminent violence?
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read his apology as "I don't want to be thought of someone who thinks rape is a good thing so don't read into my comments like that, and I am really sorry that it came across like that."

I'm genuinely curious as a person who frequently makes off color comments how I would rehabilitate myself appropriately if I made a joke about rape or something equally horrible.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:12 PM on July 10, 2012


And yes, she was heckling. Doesn't mean her opinion wasn't correct, but she was. And it doesn't mean she was wrong to do so, but there's a code and what happened was exactly what anybody could have expected from it.

As I've said, I'm fine if Tosh's career goes down over this. But hecklers get vicious and toxic reactions. That's just how it goes, because you don't fuck with performers unless you can bring it to them and stand toe-to-toe. (and really, is there any other medium of performance which deals with this?)


This sounds like you have never seen a good stand-up comic, I'm afraid to say - or at least never seen one who can handle a crowd. There's a reason why people were not blasé about Michael Richards - because if you are a professional, you need to be able to do your job. Tosh's "the point I was making before I was heckled" just sounds whiny. He's blaming the woman for his failure to do his job - which is not to be thrown off by a mild heckle.

I've seen good comedians struggle with hecklers, but usually when the heckler was too drunk or stupid to be able to read the room at all, and the security at the venue isn't good enough to get them thrown out - Stewart Lee talks about a man who shouted homophobic slurs, at no-one in particular, throughout a routine, and approached him afterwards genuinely convinced that he had done Lee a favor by livening up the act.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: Can we all agree that it wasn't funny, and was a terrible thing for the woman involved and out of sympathy we will all boycot Tosh until the end of time. Can we also agree that Tosh, just like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin before him, has a right to say what he wants even if it is upsetting to some people. Assuming, that is, that everyone is convinced this was not an actual threat.

eugenen: Absolutely. And perhaps more controversially, that perhaps she should have just walked out instead of disrupting a performance that others were presumably enjoying, which you are just not entitled to do, no matter how offended you are.

Hahaha, what? Comedians have the right to say whatever they want no matter how much that upsets some people! However, nobody is entitled to disrupt a comedian's performance, no matter what they want to say, because gosh darnit, that would bother some people!

There is no logical consistency at all in these statements.

(FWIW I totally agree Tosh has the right to say whatever he wants within the law. But comedians don't get some extra deference there.)
posted by cairdeas at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Daniel Tosh has more or less apologized

The most important lesson my father taught me is there is no such thing as a "more or less" apology. You own up.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Let me posit this. I'm not asking to excuse anything.

It's events like these and the reaction that follows that always make me ask:

If you're really angry about this ... Now that this has happened, what is the real, actionable thing(s) that you would like to see occur? Upthread, there was an unserious comment about re-education camps. OK, but seriously, what exactly is the desired actual outcome?

"Raising awareness" isn't actionable, as it can't really be measured. Same with "changing the culture." A fine long-term goal, but not specific to the individual.

What is it, then?

Criminal prosecution? Civil prosecution? Boycott any business (e.g. the Laugh Factory) until such time as the business ... What? Agrees to never hire this person again? Boycott any future entertainment product that features this individual?

Does this ever end? Is there ever a point where he could be truly forgiven in your world?

I posit this not because I like rape jokes. They're not funny, and there were a million better ways for even a mediocre comedian to handle it in a way where the heckler could even be entertained with the put-down.

Rather, it just seems that outrage just is. There's no point to it, there's no definition to it. Outrage just exists, like the weather, and we're just a nation of storm-chasers that doesn't know what real outrage is supposed to look like.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


Hahaha, what? Comedians have the right to say whatever they want no matter how much that upsets some people! However, nobody is entitled to disrupt a comedian's performance, no matter what they want to say, because gosh darnit, that would bother some people!

It's a stage performance. The people on stage have leeway that the audience doesn't. If you think there's no logical distinction between performers and audience, you are not invited to my one man show.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you're really angry about this ... Now that this has happened, what is the real, actionable thing(s) that you would like to see occur?

People stop watching his show because everyone points out what an asshole he is.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's a stage performance. The people on stage have leeway that the audience doesn't.

Says who? There aint no law.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there ever a point where he could be truly forgiven in your world?

Read that apology again and tell us that he even asked for forgiveness. I honestly can't recall a less sincere apology on any subject from any celebrity ever. I don't know why he bothered.
posted by gerryblog at 10:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Words can, but do not necessarily, constitute assault. If the words create a reasonable apprehension of imminent physical violence, then they may constitute an assault. As creation of the apprehension occurs in the victim's mind, it is irrelevant whether the defendant has the means to carry out the threat.

I think it is actually "create apprehension of physical violence in a reasonable person" . I don't think any of us here can speak for reasonable people. There must also be "willful intent". If it truly is a joke, or satire it is not a "true threat"

Anyway the guy is a jackass. We all have the right to not buy tickets and to tell our friends not to and picket and boycot his venues and his advertisers.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:19 PM on July 10, 2012


cairdeas Hahaha, what? Comedians have the right to say whatever they want no matter how much that upsets some people! However, nobody is entitled to disrupt a comedian's performance, no matter what they want to say, because gosh darnit, that would bother some people!

I don't think anyone is saying no one is allowed to disrupt a comedian's act - a good comedian who has done their time should have heckler management well installed - but if you do disrupt don't expect the comedian to stand there and take it and thank you for your comment.

You will be made fun of because the stand-up's job is to generate laughter in whatever way they can.

Its a tough job. I wouldn't want to be a stand up for all the money in the world.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 10:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Koselitz: there is a lot of repetitive crap, isn't there? Geez. And people like Tosh get famous. It just makes me kinda sad.

Ironically, I also work on databases, and there is a ton of shitty code and corrupted data out there too. Sturgeon's Law, as sticherbeast said, plus show business has a big random factor, some people are unfairly rewarded and others unfairly neglected. All true, but I see the wrong people promoted in bureaucracies and startups too.

Come to Portland next April during the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and I will show you 50 great comedy acts, of which you've probably not heard of 40, and the other ten only because of some TV ad or bit part on a show that has little to do with their act (like Bamford's Target psycho mom).

In the meantime, if you get a chance, look up Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian, Ron Funches, Arj Barker, John Hoogasian, Jake Johannsen, Steve Mazan, Dwight Slade, the Sklar Brothers, W. Kamau Bell, Lee Levine, Myq Kaplan, Eugene Mirman, Gary Cannon, and Dmitri Martin. And me. And a bunch of others I can't think of off the top of my head but they're great too.
posted by msalt at 10:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Now that this has happened, what is the real, actionable thing(s) that you would like to see occur?

That everyone not just shrug and say 'Well, whatcha gonna do?' but instead spend a good long time being really fucking mad about it because it is some stupid shit worth being mad about and people should learn that lesson rather than the shruggo one.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Gerryblog
I did not know what a koan was. Thank you.

The mere citation of research supporting any point does not make it more valid. The veracity of data and points amplified in the supporting research make the point more valid.

Widgetalley googled "rape acceptance" or something to that affect, stuff came up and she said it supported her point.

More to the point:

I am not comfortable with the reflexive "He made fun of rape!!!!" reactions on this board. While I do not find Tosh funny, I do think that there could potentially be a place for humor in situations dealing with sexual assault. To claim that there will never be, never was and you are a terrible, bad no good person if you ever think something about sexual assault could be spun into some comic bit.

The American Slave trade, the Holocaust have both proved fertile ground for comics, why not sexual assault?

Am I somehow committing sexual assault by suggesting that there could be humor found in it? I seriously doubt it.

We should be able to have conversations about topics like these without having to don the misogynist cap and sit in the corner.
posted by Silo004 at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's a stage performance. The people on stage have leeway that the audience doesn't. If you think there's no logical distinction between performers and audience, you are not invited to my one man show.
posted by Bookhouse
++

Bookhouse, the given rationale was not that the people on stage have more leeway because they're performers. The rationale was that they have free speech that shouldn't be diminished by how much their speech bothers people. For the audience members, the rationale wasn't that they should keep quiet because they're audience memeber. It was that they should keep quiet because they might bother people.
posted by cairdeas at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


You will be made fun of because the stand-up's job is to generate laughter in whatever way they can.

See I get this but maybe it's just because I'm not a standup comic but I don't think in a million years my immediate gut reaction would be 'Ha ha, what if she got raped right now'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Says who? There aint no law.

You must be a hoot at plays.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rather, it just seems that outrage just is. There's no point to it, there's no definition to it.

The point is it is wrong to suggest someone be raped.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


If you're really angry about this ... Now that this has happened, what is the real, actionable thing(s) that you would like to see occur?

you point out again and again to anyone who will listen that it is not acceptable to incite your audience to consider raping another audience member. (or anyone else for that matter)
posted by djseafood at 10:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


I honestly can't recall a less sincere apology on any subject from any celebrity ever. I don't know why he bothered.

A blatantly insincere non-apology is a socially acceptable way of saying "get fucked."
posted by cairdeas at 10:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Raising awareness" isn't actionable, as it can't really be measured. Same with "changing the culture." A fine long-term goal, but not specific to the individual.

When people tell misogynist jokes, part of what they're doing is sending a signal that says "Misogyny is normal! Misogyny is okay! Misogynists are accepted in this community!"

Reacting with outrage sends a countersignal: "He might accept misogyny, but the rest of us sure don't."

And that's actually sort of important, because a lot of people in the world do end up with passively misogynistic attitudes just because they grew up around it and never really heard any objection. The goal isn't to do anything to Tosh, or to get anything done to him. It's just to shift the Overton Window away from him and back towards sanity and normalcy.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [40 favorites]


shakespeherian - Neither do I, but neither of are Daniel Tosh. My guess is he was caught up in his silly Rape bit and said the first thing that came up in his head. Keep in mind he has to be quick in order to keep the flow going and hold the audiences attention.

Not the best comeback. Not a good comeback at all actually. But it was the best his brain did at that moment.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Criminal prosecution? Civil prosecution? Boycott any business (e.g. the Laugh Factory) until such time as the business ... What? Agrees to never hire this person again? Boycott any future entertainment product that features this individual?

Does this ever end? Is there ever a point where he could be truly forgiven in your world?


Well, actually, boycotting any future entertainment product that features this individual, and boycotting his show, and boycotting him to as large an extent as possible, IS "changing the culture" and "raising awareness". If his market shares or however the fuck it works for entertainers plummet after this, if people write his manager and let him know WHY they're not putting their money towards him, other comedians will sit up and take note. And thus we wear away the stone one drop at a time.

And in answer to your question, no, there is not a lot he could do at this point to be forgiven-- but the point of the exercise is not anything like forgiveness! The point of the exercise is to create a world where women do not have things like this yelled at them, or, if they do, do not have to be afraid that those actions might be carried out.

Rather, it just seems that outrage just is. There's no point to it, there's no definition to it. Outrage just exists, like the weather, and we're just a nation of storm-chasers that doesn't know what real outrage is supposed to look like.

This, to me, smacks of privilege. I think I can speak for most of the women I have spoken to about this when I say we are not outraged just to be outraged. We are not outraged because we like it. We are outraged because there is in this situation literally nothing else we can do and no other immediate action available to us and because we are angry and we are scared and we are so, so tired of fighting this same fight, over and over again. This is not a calculated reaction-- this how we feel. And we scream about it because we hope that if we are loud enough, we might change a few minds, and they might change a few more. I'm sorry if "changing the culture" isn't concrete enough for you, but that's what it is going to take.

And if you're calling my outrage over rape culture-- a thing that has serious consequences for my mother, my sister, my friends, myself-- not "real outrage", then I don't want to know what real outrage looks like, because I am so mad it would not, I think, be difficult to kill the next person who thinks it's okay, because of a lifetime of jokes and the nods and winks of his peers, to slap my ass while I'm looking the other way.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [73 favorites]


What exactly was Tosh's point, anyway? Was he just listing things that jokes can be made about, which included rape? Was it a seminar about becoming a comedian, and he just got hung up on first principles?

How lazy do you have to be to not even make a joke about rape when you are talking about rape and getting paid by everyone in the room to make jokes? Tosh just stated the obvious: "It is possible to make jokes" and then threw in "rape" and "dead babies" (as I gather from his twitter post) because I guess he thought his crowd would laugh if he just said those words devoid of any joking context besides his presence on a stage.

Tosh comes off like he hates humanity so much he doesn't even care anymore, he just indulges his basest instincts and then stares meditatively at his bank account, as if the fact that he is jaded excuses how much money he makes from this crap.
posted by newg at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Says who? There aint no law.

You must be a hoot at plays


Never been to a play where the actors, off-script suggest an audience member be raped by 5 men. Have you?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


People stop watching his show because everyone points out what an asshole he is.

Great. I'd love to see any of the pro commentariat say exactly that. But they won't. Because misplaced outrage has already sucked all the air out of the room.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2012


I think comedians should be able to say whatever the fuck they want to say. I think it's important to a healthy, functioning society. There have been times when comedians were the only people who could get away with saying the shit that needed to be said. However, when a comedian crosses your own personal line, you have every right to stop liking them.

What's Micheal Richards up to these days, anyhow?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if you're calling my outrage over rape culture-- a thing that has serious consequences for my mother, my sister, my friends, myself-- not "real outrage", then I don't want to know what real outrage looks like, because I am so mad it would not, I think, be difficult to kill the next person who thinks it's okay, because of a lifetime of jokes and the nods and winks of his peers, to slap my ass while I'm looking the other way.

Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation.
posted by Silo004 at 10:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not the best comeback. Not a good comeback at all actually. But it was the best his brain did at that moment.

Right, and my point is that regardless of the 'this is how hecklers have to be dealt with!' line of reasoning, his brain already had to be in a place where he actually outside whatever 'out of context misquoting lol' thinks that invoking rape can be funny, or else he wouldn't have kneejerked it.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 PM on July 10, 2012


I Love me some Hicks but if you look at his output vs. Louis C.K. Louis shits all over him.

This is only tangentially related to the FPP topic, but in my mind the main thing that separates Hicks and Carlin from Louis is their political conscience. It's not that Louis doesn't have a political conscience; as has been pointed out in this thread, C.K. demonstrates awareness of his privilege and has been celebrated for incorporating discussions about subjects like racial slurs and hate speech into his comedy routines and TV show. But if you compare the level of stuff Louis gets into to some of the things that Hicks talked about, it seems regressive. I mean, why in 2012 are we still having to cover why racism and sexism and homophobia and all prejudice are ignorant and wrong? The answer, of course, is because all these vile things still exist and some people have not gotten the message that they are bad, even though many others wish they could all be recognized as archaic remnants of darker times and be forgotten. But none of the social or political issues Louis wades in to are controversial or even all that provocative...chances are if you're in the audience at a C.K. show and he gets in to a riff about white privilege you won't be made uncomfortable. I'm certain there are conservatives who like C.K., but I think his brand of comedy skewers toward a liberal-intellectual crowd, so he's going to be preaching to the choir on something like that. But Hicks and Carlin would go off on things like corporate domination of society and the (fundamental lack of) difference between the political parties that would make even an open-minded progressive stir in their seat.

Another key difference between what Louis C.K. does and what Carlin and Hicks did was C.K. knows that his role as a comedian is simply to be funny and entertain people. Carlin and Hicks, on the other hand, had a message, and Hicks especially seemed to think of himself as a sort of prophet and ended almost all his specials with his vision of the future of humanity. Now, you could make the argument that comedians should not get preachy with their material, that audience members paid to laugh not to be evangelized, and that's a fair argument to make. But the fact that Carlin and Hicks used their comedy to reach for something more is a large part of why I consider them in a separate category from any major comedian since.

Listening to Hicks' material I get the overwhelming sense that he was way ahead of his time. Hell, you could play most of his material about the Gulf War (without any editing) for someone who had never heard it in 2003 and they would assume it was contemporary routines about the Iraqi invasion. A lot of his material (sadly) still seems years ahead of its time, even 18 years after his death. Whereas C.K. (while being hilarious) serves to remind that social progress occurs much slower than some of us would like.
posted by mediated self at 10:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think Louis C.K. is the funniest stand-up comedian working today, but even he ain't Carlin and Hicks caliber.

Eh, I think Louis' show on FX has clearly placed him in that league. His scene with Dane Cook was so brilliant that I find it almost inarguable that the guy is in a league with Carlin, Hicks, etc.
posted by Justinian at 10:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Says who? There aint no law.

You must be a hoot at plays

Never been to a play where the actors, off-script suggest an audience member be raped by 5 men. Have you?


What's it matter if it was scripted or not? I've certainly been to comedy shows where I've heard comedians say things that bad or worse to hecklers of both sexes.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Its a tough job. I wouldn't want to be a stand up for all the money in the world.

Its neither a job, nor tough. A firefighter, nurse or teacher has a "tough job." This is just a bully who engages his worst instincts for money and had in inevitably catch up with him. Its not like he's taking bullets to protect anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Widgetalley googled "rape acceptance" or something to that affect, stuff came up and she said it supported her point.

Cheers for making my entire field look like it's just Googling. You're welcome to go over the data and methods yourself--- that's why I linked to peer-reviewed papers. Suffice it to say that I, as an academic, was pleased with their methods and conclusions, within the limitations stated in the papers. You may be getting an impression this is not exactly a topic that I'm unfamiliar with in an academic context, and you'd be right.

More to the point:

I am not comfortable with the reflexive "He made fun of rape!!!!" reactions on this board. While I do not find Tosh funny, I do think that there could potentially be a place for humor in situations dealing with sexual assault. To claim that there will never be, never was and you are a terrible, bad no good person if you ever think something about sexual assault could be spun into some comic bit.


I think that's a rather poor reading of the nuanced thoughts that have been put forward here. I for one have specifically said that there is a Time and a Place to Joke About Rape in a Way that Does Not Support Rape Culture, and I believe several others have said so as well.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


Ironmouth - Stand up in front of a crowd of drunk people, try to keep their attention and then try to make them laugh and I'll be willing to accept your point.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 10:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Hicks and Carlin would go off on things like ... the (fundamental lack of) difference between the political parties that would make even an open-minded progressive stir in their seat.

I love Hicks and like Carlin, but honestly the "lack of difference between the political parties" is the third safest position to take on a comedy stage (after "Who wants to legalize pot?!" and "Who likes boobies!?", not necessarily in that order). It puts you in Mark Russell territory.
posted by msalt at 10:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's why, outside of maybe two or three transcendent performers, the stand-up comedy stage is generally a sad waste of time that the human race will live to regret if it ever advances.

koeselitz, while I favorited your comment for the rest of what you said, I respectfully and forcefully disagree with this one, though I think I understand where you're coming from.

Comedy is the art of reducing humans down so we might laugh at them; it's the opposite of tragedy, which is ennobling humans so we might mourn for them. Crude comedy is us laughing at the crudest aspects of humanity. Comedy of the unexpected is us laughing when we think a comic is building to something, then instead they bring us to something surprising and destructive (to their build-up, I mean). Comedy which relies on unveiling actualities, as Patton Oswalt put it, may break through patterns of assumption or perception, but ultimately the humor is a looking-down. A certain kind of laughter comes out of awe and wonder, but we don't usually call it comedy, or else we respect it as the highest of all comedies, almost too high to count.

Stand-up comedy, then, which relies on personal delivery rather than a larger overarching performance like comedic plays and films, is going to necessarily involve one person being on stage trying to look down on something. It could be herself, the audience, society, minorities, whatever. But there is going to be a reduction involved, and I suspect this neverending reduction is what you find so sad.

I would compare comedy, though, to criticism, in that it attempts to destroy in order to find something of deeper significance; it's the findings, not the destruction, which are so funny. So comedy, by reducing one aspect of humanity, can pierce through to something nobler. It doesn't have to, and many comics are mean enough to never find the noble. But that's the same as all art. No matter what the playing field, you can aim for either purpose or meaninglessness, whether stand-up comedy or classical opera. The art forms which reach lower are still neutral in terms of "purpose" or "aim".

We can talk about why so many stand-up comics choose to aim low in their comedy, but I suspect it's a mixture of defensiveness, sheer laziness, and the surrounding culture. If I like mean things then I'll express myself meanly. If I develop humor as a defensive measure, it's not surprising if I feel a need to go on the offensive and crush heads myself (see also the Penny Arcade guys). And if all I want is a laugh, for whatever reason I want one, maybe I don't get around to thinking what else I might do with my chosen career/hobby beyond merely inducing laughter.

The bad parts of stand-up, in other words, have more to do with the people drawn to stand-up comedy than with anything inherent in the medium. You'll find variations of that everywhere: I'm personally irritated when I see it in Ivy League professors and grads who mean well and do great work but fail to shake certain privileges and so unintentionally do or say quite cruel things to people they can't imagine caring. But that's a personal tic of mine, and I try not to hold that against the many wonderful things that come out of those sorts of educations.

And in its low reachings, its embrace of reduction and shrunkenness, stand-up offers an opportunity that higher forms of culture do not, because they can help us find the noble in the crude, the purpose within the purposeless, the serious behind the hilarious. It doesn't pay for a stand-up to get too preachy (this is why I can't fully enjoy Bill Hicks), but like Louis CK says, a comedy club isn't a pulpit. People come for the ugly and crude. Stand-up comics find a way to deliver that crudeness along with something else, something which can be wonderful or terrible, but crude nonetheless.

Stand-up is what I turn to when I feel immature and young and sad. It's the art form for the lower (not necessarily worse, just lower) times. I can understand people here who get upset at your criticism, because I suspect lots of us, myself included, hold our favorite comedians even dearer than we hold our novelists and essayists and maybe even our musicians. Joan Rivers said on Louis's show last season that the comedian is valuable simply because she makes the rest of us laugh. And we need laughter. Without it, there is nothing.

The best stand-ups don't just make me laugh, they make me see the hilariousness underlying it all. Louis CK gets me thinking about how funny my basest and most primitive thoughts can be. George Carlin points out all the parts of society that are so broken it's secretly funny. Bill Cosby tells stories about childhood and somehow makes them about how collectively humorous the human race is, fundamentally, in a way we don't lose when we grow up (and when I hear his stories, a child in me that I thought left a long time ago rears his head and starts drawing go karts).

That's the best. The transcendence you mention. But even the non-transcendent ones make me laugh. And that laughter is everything that matters, maybe the only thing that matters in the universe. I don't make sense. None of us make sense. Our societies and cultures and civilizations, they don't make sense. It's funny that we try to build up to anything, funny that anything was ever made in the first place. Funny that existence exists I guess. We laugh in senseless meanness and in appreciative wonder and from the lowliest of the lowpoints to the peaks of our lives there is laughter, from the baby's cackle to the fartsound of a soul squirting itself out of a dead man's body.

Stand-up comics go out and make people laugh. Even the fuckers like Tosh make people laugh. Most of them may never, or rarely, evoke a laugh that's worth a damn for longer than a second, but even those seconds count. And in plunging towards the crude and the low, comics find thoughts and materials and audiences that the more elevated among us may never lower their noses enough to notice.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [32 favorites]


The American Slave trade, the Holocaust have both proved fertile ground for comics, why not sexual assault?

Slavery and the holocaust happened more than 22.3 years ago.
posted by gatorae at 10:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have the same aversion to Dane Cook, yet somehow, even he doesn't joke around with rape!
posted by Apocryphon at 10:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does there have to be a "real, actionable" goal? Why on earth isn't speaking up in order to change the culture enough? That honestly just sounds like casting around for reasons why this discussion isn't legitimate, to me.

Now, personally, I would like to see this hackass jackass forever destroyed. But it should be enough for him to be given the opportunity to hear that actually it's not funny, cool or interesting to make ignorant, awful, hateful jokes and go around threatening women with rape, and also for anyone else who might be considering going down a similar path to hear that that sort of disgusting behaviour won't be welcomed, because it's fucked up and nasty, and not in a good way. I can't imagine how the alternative of no one bothering to object could be better or more helpful. But tell me.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


And that's just the first page of Google Scholar results since 2008, so yes, I'd say, a connection between culture and behavior in the case of rape is fairly well established.

wigetalley. How is this not googling. You said it yourself.

Your outrage makes discussion difficult. I wish that you would make your points with less vitriol.
posted by Silo004 at 10:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Silo004: "Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation."

Ah, yes... "Let's discuss the intricate details about the proper role of rape, and what is and isn't acceptable" Conversation? Seriously. And what is this whole goddamned thread if it isn't conversation? Or is conversation only allowed for the performer who stands on stage allowed to speak and joke about actual violence towards women, while telling the women who are threatened to "just shut up and stop being so angry, you and your misplaced outrage"?
posted by symbioid at 10:34 PM on July 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


I wish that you would make your points with less vitriol.

Wow, that really just happened!
posted by KathrynT at 10:34 PM on July 10, 2012 [67 favorites]


Its a tough job. I wouldn't want to be a stand up for all the money in the world.
Ironmouth: Its neither a job, nor tough.

WTF? It's arguable enough to say it's not tough -- different jobs are tough in different ways, and I really would love to see a tape of your feature (30 minute) set. But not a job?!

I'm with you on Tosh's suckiness but no need to slag an entire profession. You'd think an attorney might be a bit more empathetic.
posted by msalt at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation.

I could give a million examples to demonstrate how false this is. Sometimes outrage is the result of trying to have a conversation, and being ignored. I could start with the example of the riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, which eventually resulted in a completely revamped LAPD. Or, the outrage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which led to all sorts of people coming together to figure out ways to improve federal disaster management, to finally deal with New Orleans' levee situation properly, and a million other things.
posted by cairdeas at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


That's a hell of an act, Mr. Tosh. What do you call it?
posted by loquacious at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


Its neither a job, nor tough. A firefighter, nurse or teacher has a "tough job." This is just a bully who engages his worst instincts for money and had in inevitably catch up with him. Its not like he's taking bullets to protect anyone.

Don't be ridiculous. It is a job, insofar as it is how some people earn a living. Or do you contend that all professional performers are unemployed layabouts? And if it's so easy, then why are there so many bad standups? It's not easy, and you know it.

Also, 'taking a bullet' is a silly measure for the worthiness of an endeavor. Nurses and teachers don't dodge small arms fire, and you have no problem considering their work worthy.

There's plenty here to criticise, without this kind of nonsense.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay fine but back to speaking academically about things that affect you and not me
posted by shakespeherian at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I do want to make it clear that I'd happily be a standup for just a tiny fraction of all the money in the world. #callme
posted by gerryblog at 10:37 PM on July 10, 2012


Silo004: “Your outrage makes discussion difficult. I wish that you would make your points with less vitriol.”

WidgetAlley is making points. You're not. Who wins?
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


This, to me, smacks of privilege. I think I can speak for most of the women I have spoken to about this when I say we are not outraged just to be outraged. We are not outraged because we like it.

Thank you. It's like some people can't get their minds around the fact that not everyone can approach this shit like it's a session of debate club or something. Rape culture is real and it's really fucking happening to us.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [33 favorites]


I guess I don't understand what your argument here is. Do you mean that you don't think words alone can represent a creditable threat of imminent violence?

It's not an argument. Words alone by definition cannot be assault.
posted by eugenen at 10:38 PM on July 10, 2012


Tosh comes off like he hates humanity so much he doesn't even care anymore, he just indulges his basest instincts and then stares meditatively at his bank account
now this is a comic persona i could see
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


CPB - I guess if Tosh was like "she was 100% correct and rape jokes are actually never funny," I feel like that would go a long way towards getting some degree of forgiveness. Obviously Tosh would never say this - his whole thing is about going over the line, so for him to admit that there are costs to doing so that he's not paying would kind of ruin him - but nevertheless, I think it's true.

Stand up is always tough for me because, as people have said, I have this sort of feeling like there shouldn't be any sacred cows. And Tosh has actually made me laugh a couple times - but part of his whole thing is pushing the "did he really just say that" button for the nervous laughter, the "is it ok that I'm laughing at this" titter and after that happened a few times I just stopped feeling any desire to switch to comedy central when his show comes on. There may or may not be something funny, but there almost certainly will be something where he just kicks someone that's down.

I guess that's kind of my viewpoint of comedy's ideal - it's always easy to get laughs at the expense of the little people. The poor, the people working shit jobs, the disabled, the queers, and yeah, always women. But comedy, in my view, is at its best when it's standing up for the little people instead. I'd rather see some guy kicking the shins of the powerful, you know?

Silo - what in the world are you talking about? WA has put the effort in to actually support her position with peer reviewed articles, and you facilely dismiss it with "googling" and then accuse her of being vitriolic? Get real, dude, like seriously how about you go google up a clue. You're standing in a glass house chucking rocks at someone living in a brick and mortar dwelling.

Ironmouth - if it's so easy, why aren't you out there making bank at it?
posted by kavasa at 10:39 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation.

Ok. This guy suggested it would be funny if five men raped a woman. What "conversation" would you like to have about that?

I've been having a conversation. I've seen his show. My points are (1) He's a disgusting bully. (2) he suggested it would be funny if a woman was raped by five men.

What other points are worth saying. This guy makes a pile of money doing this crap. Its a good thing? Why? Why are we on one hand told to hold up "It gets better" while simultaneously thinking its okay this dude puts this out there to a genera audience. I'm not saying he can't say what he wants. I'm saying I can say what I want which is that I very much dislike persons sayinf on stage that it would be funny if five men raped a woman.

I have zero to say about rape culture. Don't even know if it exists. But I will say this: I am disgusted by a comedian who makes a joke that it would be funny if five men raped a woman. Is there something wrong with feeling powerful dislike for a person who says that in a public performance.

Let's be clear, too. This aint Andy Kauffman. He's just a simple bully.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Words alone by definition cannot be assault. unless you say them to a police officer.
posted by djseafood at 10:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


wigetalley. How is this not googling. You said it yourself.

Your outrage makes discussion difficult. I wish that you would make your points with less vitriol.


Yeah, my results are from Google Scholar, you definitely have me there-- but that doesn't mean I haven't RTFA and vetted their methods (only to then realize I had at least three of those articles already on a private drive-- HA! Could have saved myself some time.) Those are hand-picked results from someone with a background in social science who at least knows a little bit about the results she's looking at. I hope that gives you slightly more faith in the results, and if not, I tried to pick only things that are publicly accessible, so feel free to look at the data. I'd be interested in your take on it.

I'm sorry if you feel I'm being vitriolic towards you in particular, that's actually not my intention although I'll be the first to admit I get a bit worked up about rape. I will not, however, apologize for my tone of anger in general, because this is worth being angry about, and being angry in no way precludes discussion or being rational, and I find your assertion that "outrage precludes discussion" seems to edge perilously close to a tone argument, which has traditionally been used to shut down serious discussion on uncomfortable topics. If you would like to engage me in debate, I suggest you do so by rebutting or refuting rather than invoking an unwillingness to engage due to my anger.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:42 PM on July 10, 2012 [59 favorites]


Apocryphon: "I have the same aversion to Dane Cook, yet somehow, even he doesn't joke around with rape!"

Well shit - thanks for pointing that out - it doesn't fully redeem him, but at least it raises his stature in my eyes by a percent or something. And good for him for raising the discourse on that point at least.
posted by symbioid at 10:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


WA I don't really think you need to justify yourself or apologize (although: props!). Dudes posts are the biggest jokes in a thread about standup.
posted by kavasa at 10:44 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Silo004: I am not comfortable with the reflexive "He made fun of rape!!!!" reactions on this board.

Handy rhetoric hint: if you want to look like you are arguing in good faith, put fewer than four exclamation points after your characterization of the views of others.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


Also, 'taking a bullet' is a silly measure for the worthiness of an endeavor. Nurses and teachers don't dodge small arms fire, and you have no problem considering their work worthy.

This man is a professional bully. Being a bully is not a "tough job." If that's a "tough job" than every part of my Midwestern upbringing is wrong. Call me a regular guy, but some things are obviously wrong, amongst them using a bully pulpit to make fun of people who don't deserve it. I'm going with my gut on this one.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


She is making points; I disagree with those points. She conflates rapists and Tosh. Apparently Tosh is endangering lives. She thinks he is and she has an arsenal of papers to 'prove' it.

I disagree, fundamentally. I like 8ball and MJG. Their best song is armed robbery. When 8Ball and MJG will perform this song at a concert, are they endangering live?
posted by Silo004 at 10:46 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Being a bully is not a "tough job."

Nobody said that it was. The contention was that being a standup comedian is a tough job. The man is a professional comedian, albeit not a very good one.

His being a bully is an entirely different issue.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that's a "tough job" than every part of my Midwestern upbringing is wrong.

And seriously, are you running for office this year or something?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:48 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe instead of making up an irrelevant analogy to something else, you could actually read the supporting evidence and think about it? Or would that be too hard?

Like seriously if your opinion isn't the slightest moved by actual research, then why the hell would you expect anyone to even notice your made up equivalence that you spent maybe five seconds thinking about?

Ironmouth - yeah I mean you can dislike Tosh without getting all "standup comedy is super easy!"
posted by kavasa at 10:49 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


When 8Ball and MJG will perform this song at a concert, are they endangering live?

No. That doesn't mean suggesting that it wouid be funny if a particular audience member that a performer points out were to be raped is a good or right thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Being a bully is not a "tough job."

Nobody said that it was. The contention was that being a standup comedian is a tough job. The man is a professional comedian, albeit not a very good one.


What he said. Take away the bully aspect and have a look at Louis C.K.'s output and we'll discuss whether it's 'tough' and 'a job'
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 10:50 PM on July 10, 2012


Ironmouth: “Its neither a job, nor tough. A firefighter, nurse or teacher has a ‘tough job.’ This is just a bully who engages his worst instincts for money and had in inevitably catch up with him. Its not like he's taking bullets to protect anyone.”

Man, I was supposed to be the guy hating standup here, but – well, this is wrong.

Look, I knew a dude some years ago who had had a number of professions in his life. One of them was as a drug runner, driving from Mexico to the northern and southern US with drugs in the trunk of a rental car. Another was as a touring comedian, playing various clubs here and there.

Whenever I asked about what it was like being a comedian, he'd say that, if he had a choice between the two, he'd rather go back to being a drug runner; it felt less sleazy, it was a lot more pleasant, and the people he met were nicer.

A lot of comedians have it really, really rough. I am by no means a fan of Bill Hicks – he just doesn't seem very funny to me, and people can only get so far on that "truth to power" schtick, but whatever people like is fine I guess – however, if you've got some time, he's got a description somewhere on Youtube of the worst gig he ever did. Rest assured, if it was a tenth as bad as it sounds in the telling, it was very, very bad.

Comedy can be really tough. I think you can say a lot of things about it, but it sure as hell is a job. And yeah, Tosh, he's a bully; I agree there. You just seem to be conflating him with all comedians, which is odd.
posted by koeselitz at 10:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I disagree, fundamentally. I like 8ball and MJG. Their best song is armed robbery. When 8Ball and MJG will perform this song at a concert, are they endangering live?

Are they glorifying the act of armed robbery and blaming the victims of such as somehow deserving it for speaking up against armed robbery? Are they participating in a society where their words have influence as public figures and armed robbery is endemic to the population and used by a dominant class as a tool of oppression against a particular group?

Then, uh, yeah, yeah, they are.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


And if it's so easy, then why are there so many bad standups? It's not easy, and you know it.

I suppose it is true: it can't be easy to be both a bad comic and a well-paid comic.

Is Tosh well-paid for his stand-up?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on July 10, 2012


I disagree, fundamentally.

Silo004, can you explain what you think is so awesome about rape jokes, and why you want to defend so passionately the jokes and the people who tell them?
posted by palomar at 10:55 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Running Order Squabble Fest Agreed.

Widget Alley: I am going to favorite that post and read the articles after I finish studying for the MCAT.

Ironmouth
Tosh is lame for what he said. It was tasteless, but I don't think it is at all reasonable to charge him with sexual assault.

palomar Never said that rape jokes were funny.
posted by Silo004 at 10:57 PM on July 10, 2012


Are they glorifying the act of armed robbery and blaming the victims of such as somehow deserving it for speaking up against armed robbery?
snitches get stitches
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:59 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Silo004: “She is making points; I disagree with those points. She conflates rapists and Tosh. Apparently Tosh is endangering lives. She thinks he is and she has an arsenal of papers to 'prove' it.”

You haven't paid attention to the conversation if you think this is what happened. Bookhouse challenged WidgetAlley to give evidence. WidgetAlley gave evidence as challenged. You responded that documentary evidence wasn't a whole proof; well, that's all well and good, but what else is one supposed to give when asked for it?
posted by koeselitz at 11:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Words can, but do not necessarily, constitute assault. If the words create a reasonable apprehension of imminent physical violence, then they may constitute an assault. As creation of the apprehension occurs in the victim's mind, it is irrelevant whether the defendant has the means to carry out the threat.

I think we have a similar understanding, but I believe there also needs to be a corresponding action. (Brandishing a gun, for example.) As eugenen's link points out, "a mere threat to harm is not an assault."

Why is that clear? People have made good arguments to the contrary here.

People in this thread have made good arguments that this woman thought she was literally about to be raped by Tosh or an audience member? I really don't think that's the argument people are seriously making, and it wouldn't be very hard to refute if it were: She didn't dial 911; she asked for her money back. There's a large area between "Tosh is an unfunny asshole and his jokes are contributing to rape culture" (which, you know: fair) and the claim the she literally feared for her immediate safety due to sexual violence at his hands, and we don't have to allege the one to consider the merits of the other.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:01 PM on July 10, 2012


Do the Kardashians have a "job?"

If the answer is no, neither does Daniel Tosh.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 PM on July 10, 2012


I suggest you do so by rebutting or refuting rather than invoking an unwillingness to engage due to my anger.

An angry tone itself is a tool for shutting down an argument. Which is why this is one of the topics i find MF doesn't do all that well.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:06 PM on July 10, 2012


Is it bad that I think it would be hilarious if Daniel Tosh were raped and then people joked about it?







YES IT IS BAD, and I don't actually think that, because despite being a terrible person Daniel Tosh would still not deserve to be raped, so it would be viciously ironic as all hell but not good or actually funny in any sense of the word, and THAT IS WHY DANIEL TOSH IS A TERRIBLE PERSON AND WORSE COMEDIAN
posted by nicebookrack at 11:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


An angry tone itself is a tool for shutting down an argument.

Insisting that people refrain from anger when talking about particular subjects is a tool for enforcing the view that those subject aren't that bad and unworthy of getting angry about, and the people who get angry about them are the problem, so...
posted by cairdeas at 11:10 PM on July 10, 2012 [25 favorites]


What if someone in the audience had stood up and shouted “Wouldn’t it be funny if Daniel Tosh got bottles thrown at him by like, 100 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just threw bottles at him?

I'm sure he'd have thought that was hysterical, and that those of you who defend him could have no objection to it.
posted by jamjam at 11:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Insisting that people refrain from anger when talking about particular subjects is a tool for enforcing the view that those subject aren't that bad and unworthy of getting angry about, and the people who get angry about them are the problem, so...

I don't ask for people to refrain from anger. Tosh creeps me the fuck out, and I wish the crowd would have revolted in anger.

But I do ask that if one complains about someone shutting down conversation, that the person refrain from doing it in their own way.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:16 PM on July 10, 2012


What if someone in the audience had stood up and shouted “Wouldn’t it be funny if Daniel Tosh got bottles thrown at him by like, 100 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just threw bottles at him?

I'm sure he'd have thought that was hysterical, and that those of you who defend him could have no objection to it.


Well, I'd have to hear the delivery.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


One last thing and then I'm for bed: in further response to cool papa bell's comment about outrage on the internet....

One of the hugely valuable things about the Internet, I think, is that it can very easily put you in touch with people who have had the same experiences as you. And that is important. And I'll tell you why:

Let's say you're riding home on the bus one afternoon after work, headphones in, just sort of rockin' out by yourself. A guy gets on at a stop and, without asking, leans over and pulls your headphones off with one finger. "Hey pretty lady!" he says, way too close. "Can I have your number?" "No," you say, "and don't touch me!" He scowls at you and says, "You'd be prettier if you were nicer," and you hear someone in the back say, "What a rude bitch." You might get stared at on the way home. The guy will almost certainly make mean faces, or discuss with his friends how you're probably a lesbian.

Now, you know you were well within your rights to tell this guy off for invading your personal space. But a lot of people on the bus seemed to agree with him!* And so you start wondering, Were you actually a bitch? Should you have been nicer? It's like a horrible, insidious form of gaslighting. And you have to fight, you have to devote actual energy to resisting that psychological pull, to saying, "No, I was right. HE was the rude one and I didn't know him and he invaded my personal space without asking."

But now accumulate a lifetime of little incidents. Little jokes, little comments. And suddenly that riptide of cultural undercurrent, telling you you're the crazy one, is a LOT stronger. And it may not seem like much, but it's upsetting, it's damaging, and you are fighting it continuously. And sometimes you start to wonder, hey, what if I really am just over-reacting, what if I really have been a bitch for no reason all this time... And you cannot believe how depressing it is, how tiring, how infuriating, to fight these same battles over and over and feel like we're just treading water.

And that's when you come to the other Yellers On the Internet. It's not about Actionable Items, it's not about Concrete Results, it's about maintaining our mental health against an eroding tide of bullshit. Sometimes you just have to stop in to your local Metafilter and say, "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" and it can make the difference between bursting into tears and not bursting into tears just to hear someone else say, "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER."

If you're in a position where you don't feel that constant battle, every day, to keep your boundaries in a culture that wants to steadily encroach on them, or if you're strong (??) enough not to need to check in with your peers every once in a while, feel lucky. But there are a lot of us who need to be able to voice our outrage, even if it isn't productive for anyone but us, just so we know we're not alone. Just so the hungry ocean stays out of the boat for one more day.

-----

*It doesn't matter if it was a lot of people-- all it takes is one rude comment and the rest of the bus not disagreeing to create that illusion.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [150 favorites]


Should also note that anger *in and of itself* is not a problem when discussing particular subjects. The problems start when the person starts namecalling, getting personal and nasty, trolling, clutching to logical fallacies, and so on. But if the anger isn't affecting the logic of the points and the argument and the courtesy they are displaying towards the other people in the discussion, then it doesn't matter.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never said that Tosh's rape jokes were funny, but arguing there would be no circumstance where rape jokes could be funny, tasteful seems unfair somehow.

People, I am not defending Tosh.

I do not like WidgetAlley's argument. I have not read the papers, but I would disagree with them as well if they made similar arguments.

Widgetalley: you are endangering our goddamn lives, no less than if you handed the gun to a man with a violent history, no less than if you offered us a ride home and you were drunk and we didn't know, no less than, OH WAIT LET ME THINK, maybe if you MADE IT PUBLICLY CLEAR THAT YOU DO NOT DISAPPROVE OF GANG RAPING A WOMAN BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T THINK YOUR RAPE APOLOGIST BULLSHIT IS FUNNY.

Again Right! Everyone has different reactions to it, and publicly making jokes about forms of oppression definitely benefits the oppressor.

I disagree.

Basically, I think it's a matter of taste. I find Tosh disgusting but equating what he said to rape is a bit of a reach to me.
posted by Silo004 at 11:18 PM on July 10, 2012


Where in this thread has anyone equated what he said to rape?
posted by palomar at 11:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, she didn't equate it to rape, she equated it to handing a weapon to a violent person, which is different.
posted by cairdeas at 11:20 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have seen the suggestion that his words could have incited OTHERS to rape, but... that's not the same thing as what you're claiming.
posted by palomar at 11:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yup.
posted by cairdeas at 11:23 PM on July 10, 2012


But if the anger isn't affecting the logic of the points and the argument and the courtesy they are displaying towards the other people in the discussion, then it doesn't matter.

The problem with anger is that logic and courtesy are prone to lapses under its influence. Is it not reasonable to think that someone might not want to engage a person in such a state of mind?
posted by 2N2222 at 11:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someday, somewhere, a woman will strike the right tone when discussing rape culture, and on that wonderful day many minds will be changed forever.
posted by gerryblog at 11:28 PM on July 10, 2012 [72 favorites]


I think if the person was not displaying such lapses in any way (which WidgetAlley wasn't) then it's unreasonable. At the point where the lapses are being displayed, or if the person has a history of those lapses when they get angry (which, again WidgetAlley doesn't), then of course it would be reasonable. I'm specifically talking here about online conversations.
posted by cairdeas at 11:28 PM on July 10, 2012


Until then, we wait.
posted by gerryblog at 11:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


guys guys you just don't get the joke here.

the real victim is the comedian
posted by casarkos at 11:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


[2N222, maybe leave the tone argument alone. If participants are commenting in ways that you think violate guidelines, flag their comments, contact us, or bring it up in Metatalk.]
posted by taz at 11:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're seriously saying that you think Tosh wanted that woman gang raped in the Laugh Factory?

Honestly, in that moment?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


A small but relevant part of the issue here is that people go to comedy shows without regard for what comedians that they're seeing. It's completely unsurprising to me that Daniel Tosh would endorse/tell rape jokes; I don't think that stuff is funny and so I wouldn't go to see him, even if I were 'giving Dane Cook a chance' or whatever. We haven't heard much about what the audience's response was, but it's not too hard for me to imagine that they thought the whole thing was pretty funny. Tosh is a well-known comedian with a well-known comedy show. There are a lot of different kinds of comedy, a lot of them can be toxic, and people should make an effort to understand what they're in for rather than just assuming it's going to be an unobjectionable time, or even a safe experience. The same could be said of a metal show or an Insane Clown Posse show.
posted by Kwine at 11:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: Do the Kardashians have a "job?" If the answer is no, neither does Daniel Tosh.

Dude, I like you, you've done me favors offline, and I almost always respect your opinion. So please hear me when I say, you're way off on the wrong track and digging yourself deeper here. Radio talk show host is a real job, despite my opinion of Limbaugh and Michael Savage. Lawyer is a real job, despite my opinion of Roy Cohn and John Yoo. Comedian is a real job, despite your opinion of Daniel Tosh.
posted by msalt at 11:54 PM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


["Comedian: real job or not?" is getting to be a pretty heavy derail here, and email would be the better option at this point.]
posted by taz at 11:57 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


people should make an effort to understand what they're in for

This wasn't a three-comic show at a typical comedy club. It was the Laugh Factory in L.A., a showcase where the lineup changes constantly and more TV-famous people might squeeze their way into any show without prior notice.

It is also the same exact place where Michael Richards self-destructed in 2006. He retired from comedy within a year. Comedians know that anything they say there will get maximum media scrutiny, which is an important point to consider in evaluating Tosh's choices here.
posted by msalt at 11:59 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stand-up is hard. And, I think, important. Sometimes the best stand-up isn't particularly funny. Go back and watch Lenny Bruce -- he was a genius, but half his material is provocation for the sake of provocation. Andy Kaufman (who I do not esteem as highly as many here do) made a career out of being anti-funny. Both deserve their accolades. Bruce's audiences needed provoking. Kaufman's crowd needed to feel a chill of disorientation to shock them out of their complacency.

Much good stand-up is brave and truthful. Sometimes it's brave and truthful about trivial things (Mitch Hedberg). Sometimes it's brave and truthful about personal things (Sam Kinison, Richard Lewis, Christopher Titus). And sometimes it's brave and truthful about important things (Carlin, Pryor, Hicks).

But the deeper you go the harder it gets, it seems. It's dangerous to try to tell your truths. What if they really aren't true? What if they're just the product of bad information and half-baked rumination? Comedy, good comedy, takes those risks. It risks being wrong. It risks being cruel. It is willing to fail, spectacularly, in public. That's why I respect Hicks so much. He didn't always succeed, but he set the bar so much higher than his contemporaries.

There are very, very few people who can do stand-up comedy at that level.

Daniel Tosh isn't one of those people. Tosh thinks he is, because his bank account tells him so. But he isn't. He has a shtick that gets him paid. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily. But it ain't great comedy.

His comedy is neither brave nor truthful.

So he lobbed a grenade when he's only rated on slingshots, and it jumped up and bit him on the ass. Color me unsurprised.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:08 AM on July 11, 2012 [41 favorites]


Ah, I didn't realize that, msalt. I stand corrected.
posted by Kwine at 12:11 AM on July 11, 2012


Silo004: “Basically, I think it's a matter of taste. I find Tosh disgusting but equating what he said to rape is a bit of a reach to me.”

This seems like a pretty wild mischaracterization of the argument at hand. No matter what you think of what people have said here, nobody has 'equated what he said to rape.' A few people have suggested that what he said could be equivalent to a threat or to some kind of incitement. Threats and incitement are not the same thing as rape. Even assault is a different thing from rape; rape is assault, but not all assaults are rape. I think maybe you heard the word "assault" and thought he was being accused of rape; but that's not what anybody meant here.
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I believe in Freedom of Speech. I believe Tosh can say whatever he wants. So can that woman.

Personally, I don't know why anyone listens to a word that comes out of his mouth. The man is just not funny. He's like watching a train wreck, except not the kind you can't look away from.

If we can all agree to stop paying attention to him, maybe the problem will resolve itself. Unlike a cancer, Tosh can't really get any bigger without our attention.
posted by Malice at 12:26 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tosh should take a lesson from Jason Alexander on how to apologize when you step over the line.
Also, on the Dane Cook thing, I interpreted this as meaning the women wanted to go see some comedy at the Laugh Factory and they were a little reluctant because Dane Cook was playing but they thought they could live with it:
We saw that Dane Cook, along some other names we didn’t recognize we're playing, and while we both agree that Cook’s style is not really our taste we were opened-minded about what the others had to offer. And we figured even good ol’ Dane can be funny sometimes, even if it’s not really our thing. Anyhoo, his act was actually fine
posted by gingerest at 12:28 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I kind of wonder how many people would be seeing "just ignore it" if it had been a dude and Tosh had said “Wouldn’t it be funny if that dude got the shit beaten out of him by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just jumped him…"

Would anyone really be saying that was a proportionate response to a heckler?

But of course, it's women who need to be "less angry" about rape. Of course.
posted by kagredon at 12:31 AM on July 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think kagredon brings up a valid and interesting point. If Tosh had been onstage talking about how funny it would be to commit an act of violence of any other flavor against an audience member (even, say, asking how funny it would be if a male audience member were raped), would we collectively be telling that audience member that they didn't have the right to be afraid, or upset, or angry? Why is violent sexual assault something we give a pass to people for joking about, and wishing on others?
posted by palomar at 12:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


[hincandenza, please take your complaints about Metafilter and moderation to Metatalk. ]
posted by taz at 1:01 AM on July 11, 2012


Instead, he gets up there and says "Rape jokes are always funny".

I bet this item had him pissing himself laughing then.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:16 AM on July 11, 2012


I honestly think if it was a guy and Tosh said "wouldn't it be funny if five guys kicked your ass" there would never have been a blog post. If there was everyone would have called the guy a pussy and laughed at him. Nobody would have any sympathy for the guy. Let's not pretend anyone gets het up about guys taking about kicking other guys asses.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:17 AM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Someday, somewhere, a woman will strike the right tone when discussing rape culture, and on that wonderful day many minds will be changed forever.


Someday men will believe us when we talk about the things that are done to us, the things that men say and do to us on an alarmingly regular basis. Until then, I don't think that there is any tone that will convince you.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:21 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


louche that was sarcasm.
posted by Danila at 1:22 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I was there, Tosh would have gotten knocked the fuck out

Admittedly, only 1 guy threatening Tosh, but I would expect at least 1/5th the outrage.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:25 AM on July 11, 2012


Really, Ad hominem? Because if I were sitting in an audience and the person onstage started talking about how hilarious it would be if they sicced a bunch of dudes on another dude, har har, beatdowns are super funny, I mean let's just beat the shit out of that dude right over there and see what he does, what're you gonna do, cry about it? pussy!, I'd find that pretty damn disturbing, and I'd probably tell everyone I knew what an unrepentant asshole said performer was, and how nobody should waste their money on that performer's shows if that's how they are with their audience.

But then, I don't really think violence of any kind is funny, no matter who the victim is. Even when it's dudes.
posted by palomar at 1:27 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a reminder, Carlin made a rape joke in one of his HBO specials. Something along the lines of "rape can be funny; imagine Porky the Pig raping Elmer Fudd."
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:27 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may be telling that this is George Carllin's least funny joke.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:33 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


louche that was sarcasm.

Ah, missed that. Carry on.

I did want to address the heckling question. Much has been made upthread about whether this woman was heckling him or not.

Much has also been made of Tosh's freedom to make rape jokes because that's his job, you see.

Now I support a comedian's right to make a living. And being free and able to handle taboo subjects is important. There are times when a routine can be about rape and it can be funny. Those times are rare, but in the hands of a gifted master, it can happen.


But if your entire bit is "rape is always funny lol rape" then, in the interest of freedom of speech and in the name of human goddamn decency to HECKLE THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF YOU. And if you say it would be funny if someone got gang-raped? I support the right of that self same crowd to heckle you so hard your family spontaneously disowns you, you are driven into exile, and children throw mud at you on the street for the rest of your life. The tale of your heckling will be the horror story that other comedians tell each other in hushed tones around the campfire.

Because, dude, you were asking for it.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Next time you're in church and the person up front says something you disagree with-- interrupt and state YOUR opinion.

DT isn't unknown. One knows what to expect when walking in. It isn't my preference to be called a hell-bound faggot, and thus I avoid Fundamentalist churches.

If one doesn't want to be exposed to Tosh's humor (or lack thereof), one should not purchase tickets to his show.

I don't think it'd be funny for her to be raped, but I think the world would be a better place if people playing Russian Roulette wouldn't bitch and moan about being shot in the face.
posted by moshjosh at 1:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The American Slave trade, the Holocaust have both proved fertile ground for comics, why not sexual assault?


Because for one thing, um, rape still happens to people?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a playwright, a theater producer, and an artistic director.

There is no social contract that says all an audience gets to do is sit down, shut up, and laugh at the appropriate moment and applaud at the end. I know we think this has been mutualky agreed on, but it hasn't. It was imposed on audiences by middle-class theaters following the Astor Place Riot, following a model created by Barnum for his American museum, and was a convenient mechanism for theaters to attempt to control working class audiences. All it succeeded in doing was alienating them altogether. The model is a historic oddity, specific to middlebrow arts in America, and is by no means universal. The actual history of performance is one of an involved, interactive audience, and you'll still find that everywhere from rock concerts to gospel musicals to certain genres of movies.

You are free to request certain behavior of an audience. They are free to refuse that request. And simply talking back is not heckling -- I have seen a fuck ton of comedy where the audience interacts constantly, and the comedian knows how to use it. I have seen an awful lot of theater where audience interaction is desirable,.

Tosh's reaction wasn't because there is sone universally agreed on rule of shut the fuck up when a comedian is performing that this woman violated. His reaction was because he's an asshole who hasn't earned the respect of his audience that he instead thinjs he is just entitled to. And can rape jokes ever be funny? I dunno. I know they always hurt, and I know this one sure as hell wasn't. So perhaps instead of making this a freedom of speech issue-- which it isn't, as Tosh was not arrested for this and no laws are being written in response -- let's discuss this as a fucked up idiot does something idiotic, which seems closer to the truth.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:51 AM on July 11, 2012 [57 favorites]


Ad Hominem: I do think, like palomar, that it's kind of a different situation when someone is standing up on a stage saying "Wouldn't it be funny if this [attack] happened to this specific person, right now," but your post did bring up a good point that made me hesitate a bit before posting my analogy, but I might as well expound on it now:

Most (white, cis, straight) men though, as near as I can tell (and I am not a man) do not have the same persistent fear of assault that women do of rape or sexual violence. I do not know a single adult woman who doesn't have a close friend or family member who was sexually assaulted. Actually, I can't think of a continuous year-long period in my adult life, where I didn't hear about a female friend or family member who was sexually assaulted, raped, stalked, or had a "near miss" with one of the above. And that's even leaving aside all of the cultural baggage surrounding sexual assault: the idea that your average white, hetero, gender-norm conforming guy (like Daniel Tosh or, I suspect, most of his audience) would be questioned about whether his style of dress or the part of town he was in contributed to an assault on him is laughable.

I suspect a lot of guys would feel like being called a pussy would be the more tangible, relevant fear than a bunch of guys jumping them after the show. That is not the case for women and rape.
posted by kagredon at 1:54 AM on July 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


As a reminder, Carlin made a rape joke in one of his HBO specials. Something along the lines of "rape can be funny; imagine Porky the Pig raping Elmer Fudd."

The script. He goes on for a while after the Porky the Pig thing.

Audio of the performance on YouTube.
posted by stebulus at 1:56 AM on July 11, 2012


If one doesn't want to be exposed to Tosh's humor (or lack thereof), one should not purchase tickets to his show.
RTFA or RTF thread. It was a multi-comic show at a big club and she was unfamiliar with Tosh.

And I dunno. You think the world would be a better place if this lady just didn't complain so much over a comic saying: "it would be hilarious if she got raped by 5 dudes," and I think it would be a better place if he didn't fucking say that.

Because honestly your version of a better world seems to be basically exactly like this one.
posted by kavasa at 2:00 AM on July 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


It wasn't at all cool, but heckling at a comedy show is calling in incoming fire on yourself in whatever way you personally find least acceptable. That example is by far not the worst I've heard of.

Comedians are not such special people that they never shouldt get heckled. You're telling dick and fart jokes badly, you're not the pope. If you can't deal with a hostile audience member gracefully, better chose a new career. Putting down a heckler does not give you license to dreg up the nastiest, most racist and sexist material from your subconscious and hurl it at them.

In any case, there's a difference between a putdown and telling somebody to their face that it would be funny if they'd be raped right now.

This is how you deal with a heckler .
posted by MartinWisse at 2:00 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation.

Sometimes, you don't need a conversation. Sometimes, you just need people to stop doing whatever racist, sexist or other stupid/offensive thing they've been doing.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:04 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hrmm, I tend to like shock humor, but I have yet to laugh at a single thing Tosh has ever said. There is something with that guy's delivery that is so over-the-top smarmy, I can't stomach it. As someone said above, I tend to associate him with Chelsea Handler...their brand of "comedy" is the "omg, look how offensive I am" type of humor without any additional thought whatsoever to it. Completely one dimensional. I mean, I can listen to Dave Attell and Bill Burr without problem--they have, at times, said some pretty offensive stuff, but at least there's some semblance of intelligence and creativity behind it. Something extra instead of the constant mantra of "hey, let's be offensive! Look at how OFFENSIVE we are!"

As for Louie C.K., I know the internet loves him and all, but bleagh. I laughed really, really hard at the one bit he did about being spoiled by technology, and after that I've maybe had a few near-chuckles, but it's like I used up all my laughter for that one bit, and never laughed at anything I've ever seen him in again (and I've seen a few episodes of Louie). I seriously cannot be the only one who feels this way.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:08 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: "Rogan is misogynistic as all hell and also isn't funny."

Oh god, thank YOU. I think you, I and maybe six other people think Joe Rogan is as funny as penis cancer. This of course cannot detract from what a fuckmop Tosh is. Rape jokes? Really?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:08 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think it'd be funny for her to be raped, but I think the world would be a better place if people playing Russian Roulette wouldn't bitch and moan about being shot in the face.

More often than not, the Laugh Factory has a bill with five to eight comics on a single entry.

Also, your metaphor breaks down because generally one doesn't buy comedy tickets looking for the thrill of flirting with death, Mr. DiDi Mau.
posted by gingerest at 2:09 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tosh is piss-poor at his job and his popularity is actually very convincing evidence to me that society is still ass-backwards. He basically puts a bit into his material that invites audience participation, and when that predictably happens, he launches into a clumsy overdone heckler-control retaliatory mode, when a simple, well delivered "wait but hear me out" might have gotten a few laughs and allowed him to continue with his (unfunny, puerile) routine. I'm not just offended at his (definitely offensive) comments, he's also shitting all over comedy and stand up by passing off this zero-thought shock value ejecta as humor. Also, he's a prick. I can't stress that enough.

That said, there were some comments above that claimed that joking about oppression always benefits the oppressor/it further empowers entrenched power - worded that way, I'd say that that's false. There's plenty of ways to joke about oppression that undermines the problematic aspects of society and subverts ills that have somehow become normative. Gallows humor, parody, and farce are prime examples of things played for comedic effect that may make people laugh but also later reflect and perhaps become ashamed. In more authoritarian societies, sometimes this is the only dialogue that makes it past censorship; oftentimes even this is suppressed. There is such a thing as sad laughter, and skillful masters of the artform in reality do a lot (and strive) to actually effect change on prevailing notions.

This is exactly what Tosh does NOT do. He's not even what could be called a phone-it-in guy that relies on references to weed and "white people do this/but black people do that" for cheap woos and laughs. He's a complete incompetent, yet he's playing with something he doesn't understand, and just plain does not have the ability to discuss, let alone joke about. And don't get me started on how he seems to revel wearing that incompetence on his sleeve like some kind of a fucking Righteous, Proud Ignorance merit badge.
posted by Tikirific at 2:53 AM on July 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


Tikirific--amen!!! I thought it was just me who couldn't stand this guy, since all of my coworkers love Tosh to pieces. Note: They also think Jeff Dunham is hilarious.

And here I am, sitting alone in front of my computer yet again, wondering why I don't socialize more with the people I know...
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:04 AM on July 11, 2012


Tikirific nails it and puts a bow on top. /thread
posted by victory_laser at 3:48 AM on July 11, 2012


Why are people not offended as much about death jokes? Death is less harmful than rape? What about starvation? torture? war?

A joke is just that, a joke. Some are of bad taste but still just a joke. People should learn to chill the fuck out.
posted by zouhair at 3:51 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


A joke is just that, a joke. Some are of bad taste but still just a joke. People should learn to chill the fuck out.

Consider that 1/3 women (guesstimate I've seen, unknowable with unreported rapes and assaults) have been sexually assaulted. Consider that in the club, if it is packed, there's probably a few in there who've been sexually assaulted, raped...maybe even the tumblr's writer. Maybe Tosh knows this, maybe he doesn't, but he definitely knows that rape exists enough for him to be able to joke about it and have everyone be able to picture what a gang rape is, for starters. He knows it's pervasive or the joke doesn't work.

Consider what it might do to one's brain to go back and relive that publicly...to relive the fear, the assault, and to look at the strangers around you and hope that it does not happen again. You might say "oh, that's unlikely", but then again, the first time you were assaulted you probably sized that situation up and thought it was unlikely too.

Consider as well that most comedians will berate you if you stand up and leave or if you say something. You're powerless and expected to just take whatever it is they say and accept it. There is no way out of that situation (unless you're sitting at the very back) which does not get Tosh's attention that you left during the rape jokes. Do you think he avoids the joke if, for example, the woman just got up and left?

1/3 women. This isn't like joking about the holocaust today, where it's unlikely someone has actually experienced the trauma of the event. For around 1/3 of the women in your audience, this is a real thing that has happened to them that you're joking about. If the joke is abstract, that might not be a trigger, but when you start pointing it at people in the audience, you make things very real.

Consider also that Carlin has already done it. It's done, it's an old bit, and any two-bit hack who's doing the same bit and just making it more or less offensive is just ripping him off. If you can't write your own jokes, ones that explore a different area than other comics before or around you, you do not belong on stage.

Calling things a "joke" does not absolve you from anything. Jokes are speech and speech has consequences. Saying a bunch of things and then saying "just kidding" is fucking five-year old behaviour that rational adults see through all the time.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


Consider that in the club, if it is packed, there's probably a few in there who've been sexually assaulted, raped...maybe even the tumblr's writer.

There were also, unless the crowd was statistically unlikely in some way, actual rapists among them. Men who actually had raped women, being told that what they'd done was hilarious.

Does anyone think it is more or less likely that those actual rapists will continue to rape people with their actions placed in that light by the imbecile on stage.
posted by winna at 4:32 AM on July 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


Tikirific nails it and puts a bow on top. /thread

I didn't know one could just end a thread so simply... I am so using this in the next circumcision thread!
posted by amorphatist at 4:47 AM on July 11, 2012


This seems like a pretty wild mischaracterization of the argument at hand. No matter what you think of what people have said here, nobody has 'equated what he said to rape.'

Very first comment:

Tosh should be charged with sexual assault.
posted by Catchfire at 4:28 AM on July 11 [1 favorite +] [!]


And later

you are endangering our goddamn lives, no less than if you handed the gun to a man with a violent history

That last one got 40 favourites by the way.

OK sexual assault isn't neccessarily rape but thats a pretty fine hair to split. And endangering lives isn't rape but its still a pretty big deal.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This of course cannot detract from what a fuckmop Tosh is.

'Fuckmop' is a sensational insult. Thank you for that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


winna There were also, unless the crowd was statistically unlikely in some way, actual rapists among them. Men who actually had raped women, being told that what they'd done was hilarious.


Aaaaaannnnd I'm out. Presumption taken to a ridiculous level. You've outdone yourself here.
By that rationale , unless its highly unlikely, there are rapists within this thread getting titilated right now. It's impossible to prove or disprove this point but it just adds another overly offended, hysterical comment to the pile.

This....I'm done. I don't think this is a place I want to hang out. You've become far too humourless and easily offended Metafilter. It's been real.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 5:08 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why are people not offended as much about death jokes? Death is less harmful than rape? What about starvation? torture? war?

Speaking more broadly, I think truly good, cathartic humor comes from a position of weakness. Mockery from a position of power doesn't risk anything, it's just schadenfreude while keeping yourself free from vulnerability. Essentially, it's a bullying tactic. Yes, comedy is supposed to go to the taboo and the little-discussed portions of our lives - sexual proclivities, insecurities, gross bodily functions, every day misfortunes, and yes, death, suffering, and all manner of things we'd rather not talk about. Dark jokes exist, and they can work, but the executioners ridiculing the condemned is not what's funny. Gallows humor is about the condemned joking about their OWN dismal fate.

It comes from a place of powerlessness and self-deprecation, and good comedians recognize this. If they make a holocaust joke, a racist joke, a joke about suffering and hardship, they've thought about it at length, examined it critically, and they're damn sure to include a dark little implication in there, something that makes you wonder how fucked up the world had to be to let such thing happen. Something that makes you understand how arbitrary and capricious these horrors can be, and that it could be you the next time around, isn't that just utterly ridiculous (and terrifying). THAT is dark humor.

Jonathan Swift wrote a pages-long dead baby joke, and you know what, it was a very important dead baby joke that offended in just the right way.

I don't think it's a coincidence that many, many skilled comedians struggle with depression and substance abuse, even though it seems antithetical to their profession.
posted by Tikirific at 5:10 AM on July 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


My GF started watching Tosh.0 some time back. I found it semi-amusing for a couple of weeks, but then noticed what an asshole the guy was/is. My GF, usually very perceptive about such things, didn't notice until I pointed it out--nothing had been overt at first. But once she "saw" it, that was the end of that. We're not politically correct shrinking violets...we just don't like assholes, and don't find them funny.

I'm pretty surprised that no one else called him on the harassment of the girl at the comedy club, though. Wouldn't it be funny if that girl were gang-raped right now? No, you f***ing asshole; oddly enough, that would not be funny at all. You know what *would* be funny? You getting tarred and feathered for that. LOL. Oh man...that would be great.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:11 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it have been funny if that woman had pulled out, say, 9mm worth of serious, pointed at this dickhead, and demanded to know whether he was threatening her? And the he liked, droped a load of bricks in his pants, right there in front of an audience? Only then she squirts the damn thing and walks out.

Yea, that's a bit more funny than rape, isn't it?
posted by Goofyy at 5:12 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aaaaaannnnd I'm out. Presumption taken to a ridiculous level. You've outdone yourself here.

Who would have thought that the idea of there being rapists in a normal-sized crowd so shocking an overreach as to offend someone into a ragequit. It is apparently more offensive to some people to make a simple statement about the mere existence of rapists than for a so-called entertainer to posit a hypothetical about gang rape at an audience member's expense.
posted by winna at 5:27 AM on July 11, 2012 [55 favorites]


Most (white, cis, straight) men though, as near as I can tell (and I am not a man) do not have the same persistent fear of assault that women do of rape or sexual violence.

They may not have the fear but they are the more likely victims. Men overall are more likely vitims of violent crime overall than women. Rape is the only area where that isn't the case.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 5:28 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


[There are a lot of understandably heated feelings involved here, but we would greatly appreciate it if everyone would try to keep cool heads as much as possible and resist urges to ramp up the outrage in an already difficult discussion. Do take things to Metatalk if you want to discuss other users or how Metafilter handles the conversation. Thanks, everyone.]
posted by taz at 5:35 AM on July 11, 2012


My stomach is in knots and I'm an ocean away. Saying it's comedy or shutting down a heckler is a flimsy excuse; that was a horrible remark and his apology is lacking.
posted by ersatz at 5:36 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if the woman disturbed the dude's comedic Qi or whatever, surely there were better ways of dealing with it than essentially saying, "Oh yeah? You should be raped". The barbs described here have all the charm of a playground bully trying to get a few sycophant snickers from his posse.

Also, different cultural expectations I suppose, and I freely admit to listening to waaaay more standup on TV and podcasts than attending live shows, but surely, audience responses are to be expected? Most traditional oral traditions are forms of participatory theatre.
posted by the cydonian at 5:38 AM on July 11, 2012


Reggie Knoble, last I checked this was a discussion about rape.
posted by toerinishuman at 5:52 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A joke is just that, a joke. Some are of bad taste but still just a joke. People should learn to chill the fuck out.

But is everything that offends a "joke", it is a pretty big and insulting cop-out to dismiss people's concerns by trowing in a "just kidding haha" after insulting them, I frankly want to punch people int he face when they append a horrible statement with "just kidding", as if that gives carte blanch for bad behavior.


I think we can all say Tosh's line was a pretty horrible "joke" so there is no worry about ruining it by explaining it, so would someone like to take a crack at what made this a "joke" and not just a statement.
posted by edgeways at 5:55 AM on July 11, 2012


Reggie Knoble, last I checked this was a discussion about rape.
posted by toerinishuman at 1:52 PM on July 11 [+] [!]


Well then feel free to read the comment I was responding to and direct your dismissive response the the person who wrote it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 5:57 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The comment about Louis C.K. highlighted at that ThinkProgress link is golden:

Frankly, I find it bewildering that Louis sees it as his duty to salve the possible hurt feelings of big-time comics, usually with television shows on basic cable, every time one of ‘em says something dopey out in public and gets criticism from said public. This is similar to me to the whole kerfluffle surround Tracey Morgan in Nashville last year when he went on that homophobic spew. Even though Tosh is apparently bold enough to wish gang-raping on a heckler, he apparently is going to break down into uncontrollable weeping and rending of garments unless someone reminds him that, yes, he is funny and loved.

And the whole “they’re just comedians, so just laugh at the funny man” spiel is such a weak defense. Yes, everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinions, and yes, they’re just comedians, but come on. Should they be immune to all criticisms because of that? Are we, the public, only here to give them adoration, and never a hearty “hey, fuck you, jackass” when we think appropriate? That doesn’t seem like fun at all.

posted by mediareport at 6:14 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


WidgetAlley, I just want to say that your comment is fantastic, and I think you've done one of the best jobs of painting the picture of what most women live with every single day, and how it can warp even our own view of what is and is not acceptable behavior.

So just thanks, is all.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:18 AM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


You've become far too humourless and easily offended Metafilter.

That's just weird. This is a highly contentious thread, with folks on all sides of the issue, at least some of whom are trying to argue intelligently, and yet you feel comfortable desribing "Metafilter" as a thing with one perspective here?

That's just weird.
posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


They may not have the fear but they are the more likely victims. Men overall are more likely vitims of violent crime overall than women. Rape is the only area where that isn't the case.

I've never been a victim of either to any significant degree, and I don't walk in fear as long as I avoid bad locations. So I'm going to state right now that I know exactly what it's like to be hospitalised by gang violence or someone bottling me in a bar fight. Because I have as much idea about it as you do about being raped.
posted by lith at 6:22 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we can all agree to stop paying attention to him, maybe the problem will resolve itself. Unlike a cancer, Tosh can't really get any bigger without our attention.

Yeah, that doesn't work. You have to stand up and say something, or this shit just keeps going. Worse, you imply with your silence that you agree.
posted by emjaybee at 6:23 AM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, what I take away from women fearing rape when they're also capable of being 'merely' violently attacked is that rape is significantly worse than being beaten the shit out of.

If I had to guess how it feels I'd imagine it was something like being forcibly drowned, held under the water knowing that you're going to die and there's nothing you can do about it, the situation utterly outside of your control. But I can only guess, because I have no way of really knowing so I make no assumptions about how it's no worse than any other kind of violence.
posted by lith at 6:26 AM on July 11, 2012


This is how you joke about rape.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:27 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, rape and abortion are heavily overdone topics these days among younger/newer comics. Kind of like how everyone was joking about masturbation and Internet porn 10 years ago, or still is about weed.
posted by msalt at 6:50 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Disgusting. I'm so proud of this woman. Not okay, Tosh, you talentless hack.
posted by agregoli at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Louis C.K. actually tends to compliment comedians often, without any prompting by some Major Incident: example -
Hey, @lenadunham, your show is really really good and funny and unique and other things. So keep going. Please.
So whether or not his tweet about Tosh (which is almost identical in sentiment and structure to the one quoted above) was intended as support for Tosh's comments/jokes that night is highly debatable. But, I suppose it's always nicer for angry people if they have more people to be angry at.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:06 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems to me, on the basis of the description of events from the original Tumblr blog, that Tosh was being a spectacular professional Troll.

Sometimes challenging a Troll is the only way to let them, and thier wider audience know that their behaviour is in NO WAY OK.

Ill Doctrine says it a lot better than I ever could So I shall just leave a link to the 4 min video he made about it here. Why you should feel the Trolls If you Damn Well Need To.

I think the woman who called out this comic on his unacceptable behaviour is a brave women.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:06 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; Reggie Knoble, the conversation you want to have about men as victims of violence doesn't really belong here and is becoming a derail.]
posted by taz at 7:15 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


When Girls premiered last spring it was getting a significant amount of fairly hostile criticism. So that May 3 tweet to @lenadunham actually suggests CK's "encouragement tweets" ARE responsive to what's happening culturally online. Your mileage may vary, of course.
posted by gerryblog at 7:19 AM on July 11, 2012


Yeah that's how it reads to me, TBH.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on July 11, 2012


The phrase “rape culture” describes the way people don’t get too upset at the thought of a woman being raped

I find this a very strange thing to say. Rape was, for much of American history, "the other death penalty offense", and a whole lot of conservative people think it should be again. Turn on any TV show, and rape---or even non-sexual assault on a woman---shows up as the insta-signifier of an unredeemable villain. In the movies, it's a given that if the bad guys rape someone, they should be shot by vigilantes. It seems like a total cultural given that there is nothing at all worse than rape.

I kind of wonder how many people would be seeing "just ignore it" if it had been a dude and Tosh had said “Wouldn’t it be funny if that dude got the shit beaten out of him by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just jumped him…"

Would anyone really be saying that was a proportionate response to a heckler?

But of course, it's women who need to be "less angry" about rape. Of course.


Like, say, this, which strikes me as the opposite of true. If Tosh had said it would be funny if a hitman wandered through the audience shooting people, and then did "funny" voices of audience members fleeing for their lives, it might be bad comedy or good (this being Tosh, it would probably be bad), but no one would object, or find it offensive (mayyyybe if it was in the weeks after a school shooting, but more likely he'd be congratulated for his "taboo-breaking"). You can make movies where cold-blooded killers are heroes; John Travolta regained his fame by playing a guy who shot a teenager dead and then worried only about the cleanup. If he had been playing a rapist, no career resurrection for him, because it's a total cultural given that rape is the worst thing there is.

There are lots of problems with how women are treated, and rape is a terrible problem that should be dealt with a lot better (especially prison rape, which is the one area where it really is treated as no big deal). Complaining that people aren't sufficiently outraged about rape is a way of avoiding that problem by focusing on non-rapists, who are much easier to shame and control.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:34 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


would someone like to take a crack at what made this a "joke" and not just a statement.

Mostly because it was said by a professional comedian who was on stage at a comedy club. In any other situation, calling it a joke would be questionable because it wasn't funny.
posted by rocket88 at 7:37 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he had been playing a rapist, no career resurrection for him, because it's a total cultural given that rape is the worst thing there is.

And yet the most popular musical on Broadway has a plot centered largely around a recurring joke about raping babies. The fact is that it is not even remotely unacceptable in American culture to joke and laugh at jokes about the worst thing there is. And I'm going to speculate wildly and hypothetically that if, during a performance of The Book of Mormon, someone stood up and shouted that the baby rape jokes are not funny and are unacceptable, and then the cast on stage responded by remaining in character and incorporating into their song the explicit suggestion that, in addition to raping babies, everyone should rape that audience member, too, the predominant reaction would be laughter at the "heckler's" expense. Do I think that would be appropriate? Not at all. Why do I speculate that that would be the reaction in that situation? Because The Book of Mormon is funny and Daniel Tosh is not.

Do I think rape jokes are appropriate? I can't think of a situation off the top of my head where they would be. Nevertheless, reading this thread and the linked articles, my impression is that at least 80% of the outrage here is based on hate of Daniel Tosh, rather than genuine neutral outrage at a comic's response to a heckler with a jokey suggestion that it would be funny if the audience raped someone the comic viewed as a heckler.
posted by The World Famous at 7:50 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


So that May 3 tweet to @lenadunham actually suggests CK's "encouragement tweets" ARE responsive to what's happening culturally online.

Or, possibly, that Louis C.K. likes to offer positive feedback to comedians whose shows he enjoys.
Even so, god forbid he say something nice to someone who made a mistake. My friends do that for me all the time. They do it without endorsing my mistake, which is totally what Louis C.K. did in his tweet. Let's assume Tosh isn't an actual asshole, and he was trying something he believed was funny and possibly even socially important - like maybe he genuinely believed the rape jokes would draw attention to "rape culture." (I'm not suggesting this is the case, just saying none of us is in any position to know what Tosh's motives are/were with that bit. Who knows what he was thinking?) But let's say someone like C.K. knows Tosh and knows Tosh ins't a bad guy, and is assuming that Tosh tried something risky and failed. Then it might be a good thing for an older, established practitioner of Tosh's craft to say, "I like your show."
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:52 AM on July 11, 2012


ThatFuzzyBastard, I know nothing about you or your personal history, but your comment reads to me as if it were written by someone for whom rape is a purely theoretical concern: a bad plot device from movies, not something that actually happens in the real world. People with experience trying to get a report of rape taken seriously by police, or a school or university, or god forbid the media can attest how even the most straightforward cases are diminished and ignored by authorities. And a cursory study of just MetaFilter threads on the subject will show how any remotely ambiguous case of rape or sexual assault is automatically treated as too irresolvably complex to be discussed, much less prosecuted.

Most rapists are not the mustache-twirling villains mass media presents: they are people's fathers, family, acquaintances, and friends. Tosh's case is noteworthy in part because he violated even the relatively steadfast, sacrosanct social norm you describe; he openly threatened a woman with gang rape in public. If we can't condemn *that*, which is surely just rape culture's lowest-hanging fruit, what's left?
posted by gerryblog at 7:59 AM on July 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


There are a lot of ad hoc hypotheses there, eustacescrubb. Maybe CK's tweet was a coded message that stopped a nuclear war. Or maybe he decided he wanted to wade into a heated online controversy on the pro-rape-joke side. I love Louie and I love Louis CK, but I think he screwed up here. I don't think yesterday was a good day to give Daniel Tosh a thumbs up.
posted by gerryblog at 8:05 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I'm not suggesting this is the case, just saying none of us is in any position to know what Tosh's motives are/were with that bit. Who knows what he was thinking?)

After he had time to think about it, he non-apology apologized.

If he wasn't an asshole, he would've just said something like "I said something I shouldn't have and I apologize." That's owning his behaviour. Instead, he structured his apology to suggest that what was quoted (the only thing quoted is what he said about the woman being raped) is out of context and therefore apologized for...what exactly?

This is a classic example of someone apologizing for the outrage but not for the action itself. His response calls into question the credibility of the source before it actually gets to the humility. It does nothing to make me think Daniel Tosh knows or cares why what he did was wrong and is only concerned with making it go away.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:05 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Going up on stage and trying to be funny is really, really hard and comedians usually have each other's backs' on just about anything this side of crimes against other performers. The last thing comedians want, even if their fellow comedian is dead wrong, is to give into audience pressure-- even if the audience is RIGHT. Even Kramer had his supporters, especially after he apologized.

The worst part about this whole thing is that the people on MeFi are in the minority when it comes to recognizing just how wrong Tosh was. He doesn't have to apologize because jokes that threaten an audience member with rape are not (yet?) culturally on the level of Kramer's racist tirade.
posted by cell divide at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2012


After he had time to think about it, he non-apology apologized.

The non-apology apology you linked reads, in full:
all the out of context misquotes aside, i'd like to sincerely apologize http://j.mp/PJ8bNs
So he's claiming, apparently, that her account of what happened at the show (1) is presented out of context, and (2) misquotes either him, her, or both of them. And then he's apologizing, subject only to that previous qualification.

Is there some independent verification of the woman's account of what, exactly, occurred? Video of the show? Audio recording? Some other person's account of what was said, what the context was, and how it was said and received? I'm looking over this entire thread and, unless I'm missing it, there's nothing of that sort. What reason, if any, do we have to believe that Tosh is wrong when he says that he was misquoted and that the blog post is presented out of context? Anything?

I think Tosh is unfunny and offensive. I don't support rape jokes in any context that I can think of at the moment.

However, assuming, for just a moment, that Tosh really was misquoted here: In a situation where someone is confronted with a false allegation but genuinely feels bad that they were misinterpreted or whatever, how should they respond? Is an apology acceptable and valid only if the accused falsely admits to something that is not true?
posted by The World Famous at 8:15 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm coming in late here, but what concerns me is art, or I suppose more specifically the relationship between art and content, and the relationship between good art and bad art.

The first point is that art is not identical to its content. Chris Ofili created The Holy Virgin Mary from, among other materials, clipping from pornographic magazines and elephant dung. Some of his critics, including a former New York City mayor who happened to be running for higher office at the time, attacked the work as if the porn and the dung were the entire meaning of the piece.

Going further, this mayor declared, "There’s nothing in the First Amendment that supports horrible and disgusting projects!” That is, his position was that if art is (or is considered) "horrible" or "disgusting" that it doesn't deserve the same sort of status as protected expression that non-horrible and non-disgusting art does.

The second point phases in here, because the tendency is going to be at this point to say, "well, this Offili is a great work of art and so naturally should be treated as protected expression, should be ," or else to say "this Offili is mediocre at best, dull and cliche, badly crafted, so it doesn't deserve protected expression status."

Both of these arguments (really two aspects of the same argument) are wrong. The protected status of expression has to be quality-neutral, if only because "quality" as a descriptor of art is always going to be highly subjective, a matter of taste. What the Mayor was arguing was, in effect, that "offensive" expression does not deserve protection, as if there were a clear and unambiguous standard of what is and what is not "offensive."

So, to relate this to Tosh. I don't think it's a valid argument to say "rape jokes are never funny" because, first, "funny" is subjective and, more to the point, we have only a finite number of joke made to this point, and it's at best misleading to extrapolate from a limited data set.

But a far more disturbing aspect is the argument that a rape joke is acceptable only if it is funny, or that Louis C.K. can make a rape joke because he's funny, but Tosh cannot make a rape joke because he's not.

I've never seen Tosh do stand-up, and I don't care for his show on Comedy Central. However, I can sort of see the point of his comeback to the heckler. The joke, such as it is, seems to be that the urge to rape is an expression of rage. She heckled, and both the comic and the room were momentarily angry at her. And what do men want to do when they're angry at a woman: reason with her? try to debate her rationally? cry? Well, no: they want to rape her, to hurt her. It's a metajoke about the nature of humor: we laugh at things that make us angry because the laughing makes us feel for a moment anyway less powerless.

That is a very hard joke, and arguably it's not a good-quality joke, but it is a joke, and in the context of a comedy club, it's art, and therefore deserving of status as protected expression, trumping any concerns of quality of offensiveness.
posted by La Cieca at 8:16 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


If the situation is that complicated and requires that many qualifiers he could have gotten any number of online outlets to run a piece on it as long as he liked. He chose Twitter, and didn't even use up his full 140.
posted by gerryblog at 8:18 AM on July 11, 2012


deserving of status as protected expression, trumping any concerns of quality of offensiveness.

My understanding is that no one was arguing that Tosh didn't have the right to say what he said, just that it was a poorly thought out response and in many people's eyes it makes him a boorish dick. Free speech means the right to say "You suck" as well as "People should rape you" I agree with you that this is a really interesting thing to see how people unpack and manage from a societal perspective, but it seems like it's totally fine to say "You're an offensive boor" and not have to mitigate that somehow because someone is an artist of some kind. Maybe that was his point, maybe not, but that's on him to either get across or let people interpret as they see fit.

Watching Daniel Tosh and his sometimes-effective-often-not edgy humor has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this in general, but I'm not really sure he's sophisticated enough to have been making a meta-commentary about rape, though in some ways I wish I am wrong.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those poor offended sensitive comedians, always having hurt feelings when they can't hurt other people's feelings. Aww, I feel so bad for them.

You know what? Has anybody here said he has no right to say it? No. But plenty of people are saying that the woman who said he was wrong has no right to say that at the show, just because he's the one with the money and power and how dare she from her lowly subservient position in the audience deign to approach the sacrosanct stage of the highest echelons of the comedic throne.

He did NOT make a rape joke. Many people here even said Rape Jokes *might* be funny if done in a way that poked and prodded at society's view of rape. Many said they might laugh at more offensive jokes in private (in fact, even people who are strongly against what just happened, have said that).

But he said "Rape jokes are always funny" that's not a joke, that's a declaration and it's meant to provoke, and so when he gets the reaction he's looking for he's suddenly "offended and hurt" and has to threaten (oh sorry, hardy fucking har, make a "joke" about people gang raping this woman as punishment).

Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Fuck your "holy throne of comedy" on the stage. At some point you will be called on your bullshit and if you don't like it, then get off the fuckin' pot, because clearly you've already done shit. (christ, I think I was more coherent when I was drunk).
posted by symbioid at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


If the situation is that complicated and requires that many qualifiers he could have gotten any number of online outlets to run a piece on it as long as he liked.

So, in spite of the fact that there is no independent verification of the truth of the disputed accusations, no video, no audio, not even another blog post or anyone saying "yes, I was there and that's what happened," you think it's reasonable to accept her account as being an accurate, fully-contextualized, verbatim account of exactly what happened, including all nuance and insinuation, facial expressions, etc., just because Tosh did not give a lengthy enough response for your taste?

Again, I think the rape jokes are inappropriate regardless of the context or whatever he actually said. If I were a stand-up comic, I would not touch that subject matter at all.
posted by The World Famous at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2012


The joke, such as it is, seems to be that the urge to rape is an expression of rage

I'm threadsitting, so I'll step away for a bit, but I wanted to say that while your post is a heroic attempt to redeem Tosh I don't buy it in the end. The sequence as described on Tumblr is this:

TOSH: Rape jokes are always funny.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Rape jokes are never funny.
TOSH: It'd be funny if you got raped right now.

I just don't think this is the sophisticated metacommentary you imagine. It's a guy on stage losing his cool and reaching for his gun.
posted by gerryblog at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


However, assuming, for just a moment, that Tosh really was misquoted here: In a situation where someone is confronted with a false allegation but genuinely feels bad that they were misinterpreted or whatever, how should they respond?

If he really was misquoted, I'd expect him to relay what he actually said and how it was taken out of context. Right now he's just telling us that there were "out of context misquotes" and take him at his word, without presenting his version of the story. That really seems like the first thing a person unfairly accused would do, and because he hasn't, I find it really hard to entertain the idea that he's been misquoted.
posted by coupdefoudre at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


That is a very hard joke, and arguably it's not a good-quality joke, but it is a joke, and in the context of a comedy club, it's art, and therefore deserving of status as protected expression, trumping any concerns of quality of offensiveness.

All "protected expression" means is that the GOVERNMENT cannot come after you for something, you can't be locked up in prison for it, you can't be prevented by the government by saying it.

It doesn't mean that nobody is allowed to find it offensive. It doesn't mean that nobody is allowed to think you are an asshole because of it. It doesn't mean that nobody is allowed to boycott you for it. It doesn't mean you're protected from losing your job over it. (Unless your employer is the government).

In other words, you are only "protected" from the consequences that the government would throw at you.

I don't think anyone in the thread has said that this is not "protected expression" - that the government should come after Tosh and he should be thrown in jail for this.
posted by cairdeas at 8:28 AM on July 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, in spite of the fact that there is no independent verification of the truth of the disputed accusations, no video, no audio, not even another blog post or anyone saying "yes, I was there and that's what happened," you think it's reasonable to accept her account as being an accurate, fully-contextualized, verbatim account of exactly what happened, including all nuance and insinuation, facial expressions, etc., just because Tosh did not give a lengthy enough response for your taste?

Yes. Because he's not disputing it.

On preview: "If he really was misquoted, I'd expect him to relay what he actually said and how it was taken out of context."
posted by gerryblog at 8:29 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Turn on any TV show, and rape---or even non-sexual assault on a woman---shows up as the insta-signifier of an unredeemable villain. In the movies, it's a given that if the bad guys rape someone, they should be shot by vigilantes. It seems like a total cultural given that there is nothing at all worse than rape.

In a way, though, this is all part of the larger problem of rape -- as it's actually experienced by the majority of actual victims -- not being taken seriously. Because you're right -- we have been culturally conditioned to see rape as the domain of obviously villainous characters. An image of a man with a knife, or a huge drunk jock, or a shadow on a dark street, instantly leaps to mind. But for most women, rape is when someone they thought was their friend has sex with them while they were passed out drunk, or when the man they were on a date with doesn't take her "no" seriously, or any number of other situations that are only a few, terrible steps away from their normal lives. Most rapists are men who probably don't even think of themselves as rapists, but who have been taught -- by their upbringing, by the media, by their peers -- that having sex with blackout-drunk women or pushing back against a date's resistance until they "change their mind" is an okay way to behave. Very few television shows or movies really deal with this, in part because so many people still don't agree that these kinds of situations really count as rape.

I served on a grand jury a few years ago, and one of the cases that we heard involved an accusation of rape by a tall, vivacious Russian woman with a heavy accent. We ultimately decided to indite, but you would not believe the things I heard in that room while the other jurors and I were talking it over. "I think she's just making it up, I mean look at her!" "I don't trust her, she just seems off to me." "She's just trying to get something out of him." On and on and on. And this wasn't a trial, all we were doing was deciding whether this case was even worth a trial. It was a pretty serious reality check for me.

It's arguably true that it's a "total cultural given that there is nothing at all worse than rape." But the flip side of that is how eager people are to explain away their own bad behavior and distance themselves from any hint that "rape" might be a fair description of what they've done. People say things like "We joke about murder all the time, why is rape any different?" Except that very few people are ever in a situation where they've killed someone and are trying to pass it off as not such a big deal. Jokes about murder don't normalize "borderline cases." But rape jokes? Rape jokes make us feel safe in saying that yes, well, obviously THAT'S awful, but that's not what I did back in college, that's not what I saw at that party, that's not the right word for what happened that one time. THAT wasn't rape. Rape is what cartoonish villains do on Game of Thrones.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:30 AM on July 11, 2012 [32 favorites]


TheWorldFamous, the recurring joke in TBoM makes it clear that baby rape is NOT OK, though

SPOILER






It does not do the same for bestialty.



Add me to the camp of those who say Tosh's comment about this woman was a threat.
posted by brujita at 8:32 AM on July 11, 2012


Wouldn't it be funny if all of you emptied your bank accounts and sent me the money? *confidently bides time*

I was going to stay out of this discussion and just follow along, but I keep reading something about "threatening rape" and can't get my head around it.

Pure, abject hatred of Daniel Tosh aside (and I'm with you there) how does one extrapolate "I am threatening to do X" or even "I hope X happens to that woman" or "I hope five guys do X to that woman" from "wouldn't it be funny if X happened?"

Please don't get caught up in "he's comparing rape to people sending him money!" I'm honestly trying to understand how people are coming to the conclusion they've come to, based on what Tosh actually said.
posted by emelenjr at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2012


If he really was misquoted, I'd expect him to relay what he actually said and how it was taken out of context. Right now he's just telling us that there were "out of context misquotes" and take him at his word, without presenting his version of the story. That really seems like the first thing a person unfairly accused would do, and because he hasn't, I find it really hard to entertain the idea that he's been misquoted.

So, in your opinion, it is reasonable to assume that an extremely angry person writing a blog post after the fact would, with 100% accuracy, reproduce the exact context and verbatim quotes from the past event that caused her outrage, without any omission of any kind? And you reasonably expect a comedian, when confronted with such outrage, to respond by accurately re-creating the entire context of his stand-up show, rather than simply noting that he believes he was misquoted and taken out of context, but that he nevertheless apologizes?

gerryblog: Yes. Because he's not disputing it.

He explicitly stated that the blog post contains "out of context misquotes." That's disputing it.

Add me to the camp of those who say Tosh's comment about this woman was a threat.

But not to those who witnessed Tosh's comment.

Seriously, how many people were at the show? Has anyone asked any of those people what was actually said by either of the individuals in question?

Again, I am totally opposed to any rape jokes at all, in any context. And I cannot stand Tosh and I think he's a terrible, unfunny comedian. But why are we believing that this single account of the event is completely accurate?
posted by The World Famous at 8:35 AM on July 11, 2012


Louis C.K. says some very offensive things that also happen to be very funny (in my opinion). He's had bits about killing his own daughters. He's had bits about children in explicitly sexual situations. He likes to push the limits of offensive comedy to see how far he can go and still be funny.
And he's taken a lot of criticism for it, both on and off stage. He gets the same kind of offended audience member heckling that Tosh just got. I think he truly believes, as do I, that *for some people* humor is a therapeutic way of dealing with horrible realities that would sicken us outside of a comedy setting. I think that's why he's supporting Tosh during this situation, because he's been there. He may not have crossed this particular line of offense but he's had his share, and he's letting Daniel Tosh know he's not alone.
posted by rocket88 at 8:37 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd agree that a certain kind of rape is, culturally speaking, The Worst Thing Ever. Rape by a Bad Guy is a great motivator in television shows for men to go be violent to other men in defense of women. For example, in Battlestar Galactica Helo and Chief kill someone for attempting to rape Athena - but that person is unquestionably Bad. Women on Law and Order SVU and in movies are raped by Bad People; they are Good People who are white and attractive and young and there is no suggestion that they deserved what they got.

Contrast this with the typical rape in real life: intimate partner, acquaintance, friend of the victim. She might have been drinking before it happened, she might be a prostitute, she might have invited him back to her apartment. That is not, culturally speaking, The Worst Thing Ever. That is "grey rape," a grey area that calls into question the woman's moral fiber and makes people wonder just how much of her rape is her fault.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


He explicitly stated that the blog post contains "out of context misquotes." That's disputing it.

Saying "nuh-huh" is not a refutation, especially when immediately followed by an allegedly sincere apology. Tosh hasn't provided any alternative version of events, much less a credible one.

Demanding a second source before we believe the account even after the comedian has already publicly apologized is like a parody of how rape prosecution works.
posted by gerryblog at 8:41 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Saying "nuh-huh" is not a refutation, especially when immediately followed by an allegedly sincere apology.

Nuh-uh.
posted by The World Famous at 8:43 AM on July 11, 2012


Demanding a second source before we believe the account even after the comedian has already publicly apologized is like a parody of how rape prosecution works.

You mean after the comedian has disputed the account but apologized anyway? Or are you talking about some hypothetical situation that is not like the one here?
posted by The World Famous at 8:44 AM on July 11, 2012


Thank god Tosh isn't a philosopher because I'd hate to see what "I refute it thus" means to him.
posted by symbioid at 8:47 AM on July 11, 2012


That he has a show on Comedy Central is mystifying.

Note that it is their highest rated show. How's THAT for mystifying?

If she had been raped he would have been morally responsible.

Phew! I'm glad we're letting her actual hypothetical rapists off the hook for their own moral decisions.
posted by snottydick at 8:51 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, what? Are we supposed to take Tosh's 'out of context misquotes' and just extrapolate from that the truth of what happened? The only story we have is the Tumblr post and then Tosh saying 'out of context misquotes.' I guess I could sit down and spend fifteen minutes and come up with a scenario in which the Tumblr poster had the experience she thought she had but Tosh was blameless, but why is that my job? If something else happened, someone else is going to have to tell us. Until then I am going to assume this woman is not lying or wrong about the terrible thing that happened to her simply because the person who did the terrible said 'no but yeah but no.'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


If he really was misquoted, I'd expect him to relay what he actually said and how it was taken out of context.

This is not an easy process; in fact, I think it's pretty near impossible. If Tosh has documentation of "what he actually said," e.g., a clear audio recording, then he can confidently say, "these were the precise words said." Otherwise, it's his word against her: his memory of what she said may well be different from what she reported, and, again, he presumably spoke extemporaneously when he replied to the heckle, in at least some heat of emotion. So it's plausible that he doesn't remember the exact words spoken even though he is pretty confident that the words as quoted in the blog post are inaccurate.

A more important point is context. How exactly is Tosh supposed to "relay" his tone of voice and body language, or, even more to the point, what was going through his head when his act was interrupted? It may be (not saying it is, but for the sake of argument) that what he heard was not the sincere expression of outrage characterized in the blog but rather (using the identical words) a calculated heckle from (as he judged) a jerk who was trying to derail the show.

I have a little experience with this: I've been quoted on a couple of rather hard things I've written before and tried to "relay" how they were taken out of context, and it never works unless I can produce the entire original article, and sometimes not even then. A first mischaracterization, especially if it's emotionally compelling, tends to color people's perceptions to the point they can never see the original really clearly. Once people are angry, their capacity for rational thinking is diminished, and even a really compelling argument is likely to go right over their heads, or even be perceived as yet further evidence of wrongdoing.
posted by La Cieca at 8:54 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, in your opinion, it is reasonable to assume that an extremely angry person writing a blog post after the fact would, with 100% accuracy, reproduce the exact context and verbatim quotes from the past event that caused her outrage, without any omission of any kind?
Not at all. I would expect, even in the most mundane of "hey, how are you" encounters on the street, for there to be a discrepancy in accounts if asked to quote it verbatim later. It is quite likely that the tumblr account is not 100%, word-for-word, accurate.

And you reasonably expect a comedian, when confronted with such outrage, to respond by accurately re-creating the entire context of his stand-up show, rather than simply noting that he believes he was misquoted and taken out of context, but that he nevertheless apologizes?


No, I don't believe he has to respond by "accurately re-creating the entire context of his stand-up show." I do believe that, since he noted that he believes he was misquoted, to present his best case to the public, he should make an attempt to tell us what he believes actually occurred. It's fine if he doesn't want to do that. I don't think he HAS to. I am saying, if he wants to play this like he was misquoted and it didn't go down like it was reported, then he needs to attempt to back it up a little bit if he wants his side considered by me.
posted by coupdefoudre at 8:56 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, what? Are we supposed to take Tosh's 'out of context misquotes' and just extrapolate from that the truth of what happened?

No. But it would be unreasonable to assume, given that all we have is one tumblr post and Tosh's statement, that the tumblr post is 100% accurate and gives all relevant context.

The only story we have is the Tumblr post and then Tosh saying 'out of context misquotes.'

Exactly. We do not have the full context, nor do we have any corroboration of the alleged quotes.

I am saying, if he wants to play this like he was misquoted and it didn't go down like it was reported, then he needs to attempt to back it up a little bit if he wants his side considered by me.

Even if his side is that he would rather just apologize and accept responsibility in spite of inaccuracies in the accusation than turn it into a dispute over what, exactly, happened?

Isn't it better for him to just apologize than for him to drag it out by turning it into a dispute? And if the answer to that question is "yes," what's wrong with him briefly noting that he believes he was misquoted and taken out of context, assuming that is the case?

Now, backtracking a little bit, I would be shocked if there is no video or audio recording of any kind anywhere of his performance. And if he really does believe that he was not in the wrong, I think he ought to find a way to release that. But I suspect that he doesn't believe he was not in the wrong. I suspect that he thinks he was misquoted and taken out of context to some degree, but that he knows he was in the wrong anyway and that he needs to apologize. And if that's the case, it wouldn't make sense for him to release a video or go into a lengthy explanation that would only fan the flames.
posted by The World Famous at 9:02 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are we supposed to take Tosh's 'out of context misquotes' and just extrapolate from that the truth of what happened?

The truth of what happened is not really any of your business, or mine, or anyone's, except maybe Tosh and the heckler. She says one thing, he says, that's not exactly the way it happened, but I apologize for my part in the misunderstanding.

That's what this is: a misunderstanding, and I think it's sensible of Tosh not to try to escalate it into something more.
posted by La Cieca at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2012


That's what this is: a misunderstanding

Oh well, good to finally know that nobody was a malicious asshole, then. That settles that.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 9:09 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I am seriously trying to come up with a context for '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…' that amounts to a misunderstanding.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on July 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I've never seen Tosh do stand-up, and I don't care for his show on Comedy Central. However, I can sort of see the point of his comeback to the heckler. The joke, such as it is, seems to be that the urge to rape is an expression of rage. She heckled, and both the comic and the room were momentarily angry at her. And what do men want to do when they're angry at a woman: reason with her? try to debate her rationally? cry? Well, no: they want to rape her, to hurt her. It's a metajoke about the nature of humor: we laugh at things that make us angry because the laughing makes us feel for a moment anyway less powerless.

The problem with this interpretation is that Tosh and the men in the room were the people in the position of power. They might have been angry, but they were by no means the powerless ones in the room. If you belong to a demographic that overwhelmingly is the perpetrator of a specific type of crime that overwhelming targets another demographic, a demographic that is also routinely marginalized in society in other ways, you do not get to say "man, isn't it sadly/metaphysically/ironically hilarious that when men like me get angry the only thing I can think of is to rape and to hurt the women who made me angry"?

I disagree with your interpretation of what happened, but even if that interpretation were accurate, I would think it speaks worse of Tosh, not better.
posted by Phire at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian: Not to put too fine a point on it: He said it as a joke; she interpreted it (or says she interpreted it) as a threat. He understood it one way and she understood it another; thus: misunderstanding.
posted by La Cieca at 9:20 AM on July 11, 2012


There is literally zero evidence that the Tumblr poster got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way. In the latest form of the argument Tosh's lack of counterargument is itself taken as evidence that he is probably in the right: how wise of him not to engage...

Quixotically insisting on the possibility that she might be lying, or too irrational to tell the truth, even in the face of Tosh's concession that the woman deserves an apology, says much more about your assumptions than it does about standards of proof.
posted by gerryblog at 9:21 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Now I am seriously trying to come up with a context for '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…' that amounts to a misunderstanding.

He didn't say it was a misunderstanding, nor did he deny that what he said was offensive and inappropriate. All he said was: "all the out of context misquotes aside, i'd like to sincerely apologize."

Apparently, in Tosh's estimation, there was need to apologize even setting aside what he considered to be out of context misquotes. No misunderstanding. No justification for whatever he actually said. No attack on the "heckler" (which I put in quotes because it doesn't sound to me like she was heckling).
posted by The World Famous at 9:21 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you belong to a demographic that overwhelmingly is the perpetrator of a specific type of crime that overwhelming targets another demographic, a demographic that is also routinely marginalized in society in other ways, you do not get to say

All right, who was it earlier who said this is not about censorship? If "you do not get to say" is not censorship, then what is?
posted by La Cieca at 9:21 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is literally zero evidence that the Tumblr poster got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way.

Besides the fact that it was on Tumblr, you mean?
posted by La Cieca at 9:22 AM on July 11, 2012


I honestly -- not being histrionic -- do not agree this was not a threat.

What on Earth could you possibly consider histrionic if this comment does not qualify?

Now I am seriously trying to come up with a context

The context is pretty obvious; you just don't think it justifies the nature of the joke. But featuring someone in a joke that the person just objected to is a not particuarly suprising turnabout. If the content was less inflammatory but the structure of the joke was identical, no one would be pretending they couldn't see the context.
posted by spaltavian at 9:24 AM on July 11, 2012


There is literally zero evidence that the Tumblr poster got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way.

Tosh does not allege that the "out of context misquotes" were in any "meaningful way." He acknowledged the need for an apology even setting them aside.

In the latest form of the argument Tosh's lack of counterargument is itself taken as evidence that he is probably in the right: how wise of him not to engage...

What are you talking about? Nobody has argued that Tosh is probably in the right.

Quixotically insisting on the possibility that she might be lying

Nobody is insisting on any possibility that she might be lying. NOBODY.

or too irrational to tell the truth

NOBODY is arguing this.
posted by The World Famous at 9:24 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


All right, who was it earlier who said this is not about censorship? If "you do not get to say" is not censorship, then what is?

Oh come on. Phire was not seriously suggesting that the government send out squads to stop any man from ever making a rape joke. Sub in "it's not appropriate" or "you are talking out of your ass" if it makes you feel less afraid of the people who exercise their right of free speech to argue with your right of free speech.
posted by kagredon at 9:25 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, Tosh is a hack.

Maybe, but he's a successful hack.

Also, from the E! Online article:
... the woman complained to the manager and was offered a full refund, but chose to take two complimentary tickets to the club instead.

In other words...

"Bad comedian! Bad, bad comedian! I would like two tickets to see another comedian please."

She can't be that upset. Maybe she'll yell at that one too.
posted by prepmonkey at 9:27 AM on July 11, 2012


Thanks, kagredon. Alternatively, sub in "you do not get to say [what he did] and write it off as a metaphysical joke about how powerless it feels to be the aggressor of rape".
posted by Phire at 9:27 AM on July 11, 2012


Not to put too fine a point on it: He said it as a joke; she interpreted it (or says she interpreted it) as a threat. He understood it one way and she understood it another; thus: misunderstanding.

I think the misunderstanding here is that you think anyone is unaware that it was intended as a joke, including the woman who posted the account. It was obviously a joke, but the joke is that it would be funny if the woman was raped. That is the whole thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:28 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


gerryblog Quixotically insisting on the possibility that she might be lying, or too irrational to tell the truth, even in the face of Tosh's concession that the woman deserves an apology, says much more about your assumptions than it does about standards of proof.

You are intentionally missing the point, and no one has said that she's lying or irrational. You clearly want the high ground desperately, but nothing here says anything about anyone's "assumptions". It would be far less contemptible for you to such call someone a sexist, since that is obviously what you want to do, rather than use a paternal "tsk, tsk" tone which you have no justification to employ.
posted by spaltavian at 9:28 AM on July 11, 2012


There is literally zero evidence that the Tumblr poster got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way

True, but there is literally zero evidence the Tumblr poster got the facts or context right either.

Also, what The World Famous is saying.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:29 AM on July 11, 2012


Also, from the E! Online article:
... the woman complained to the manager and was offered a full refund, but chose to take two complimentary tickets to the club instead.


The original post on tumblr says that they were not offered a refund and that only free tickets were offered.
posted by elizardbits at 9:29 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Also, from the E! Online article: ... the woman complained to the manager and was offered a full refund, but chose to take two complimentary tickets to the club instead.

That contradicts her own account of things, which state that the manager was apologetic but couldn't offer a refund but instead offered comped tickets.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on July 11, 2012


Fact checking!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now we thumb wrestle.
posted by elizardbits at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would be far less contemptible for you to such call someone a sexist

Word. Was Tosh's joke sexist? Totally. Unfunny? Very likely. Does that mean we know what really happened and are in a position to make character judgements about Tosh or the Tumblr poster? Not at all.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:33 AM on July 11, 2012


Also, Tosh is a hack.

Maybe, but he's a successful hack.

So much of this goes back to the fact that Tosh really isn't very funny. Someone, say Jim Jefferies, who is funny and trangressive might have made something funny out of this. Then again a talented comedian probably would have had a better response to begin with.
posted by MikeMc at 9:34 AM on July 11, 2012


TWF, awhile back up there you asked: However, assuming, for just a moment, that Tosh really was misquoted here: In a situation where someone is confronted with a false allegation but genuinely feels bad that they were misinterpreted or whatever, how should they respond?

I think that the answer here is that the misquoted person, assuming said person wants any clarity of circumstance or unsullied good name or whatever, should explain their side of the issue, provide as much context as possible, and offer, if possible, speculation as to how or why they were misquoted or misunderstood. If relevant, that person can apologize for any part of the misunderstanding that is their fault and vow to do better the next time, and then, for clarity's sake, underline that they do not endorse the views ascribed to them in the misquotation.

If instead the misquoted person just wants to get on with their day and ignore the whole thing, that's an option as well, I suppose. The kind of blase response that Tosh gave via his Twitter account does none of these things and thus, even assuming the best of his actions on the night in question, makes it appear that he doesn't think this is a big deal.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So then he ups the ante.

The Michael Richards snafu is a good comparison. You get thrown, try to make a comeback, it fails miserably, then the problem gets compounded (or exponentially escalated in the case of Richards). The biggest problem with heckling is that it actually works. Even pro comedians will get flustered.

Contrast this with the typical rape in real life: intimate partner, acquaintance, friend of the victim. She might have been drinking before it happened, she might be a prostitute, she might have invited him back to her apartment. That is not, culturally speaking, The Worst Thing Ever.

Actually, based on the actual women I know who have been raped, yes, regardless if she had a glass of wine or was drugged, it really is usually The Worst Thing Ever. By far. (I know that's not your position, and that you are explaining cultural perceptions.)

Wouldn't it be funny if all of you emptied your bank accounts and sent me the money? *confidently bides time*

...

Please don't get caught up in "he's comparing rape to people sending him money!" I'm honestly trying to understand how people are coming to the conclusion they've come to, based on what Tosh actually said.


I don't think the money part screws the analogy--it's the context and delivery and audience and acts described that are completely different

If after a heated exchange with another MetaFilter user about gun ownership, you wrote "User X's Address is 123 Y St. in Seattle. Wouldn't it by funny if anyone who agrees with me drove by and fired gunshots over his house?"

(Another possible cultural comparison would be a MetaFilter discussion about the holocaust where one user says "Wouldn't it be funny if someone went over to User X's house (at address 124 Main St.) and left a burning cross on his lawn?")

that would be a little closer analogy, but you've still removed the IRL and leadership angle. All of the comments (threats) would have to be delivered via a tightly packed meatspace where you hold the bulk of the power and control of the environment, i.e. you are the leader.

Was Daniel Tosh advocating violent rape of an audience member? If the audience member's account is accurate, then yes. Regardless of whether he's serious in that belief, that was his joke.

how does one extrapolate "I am threatening to do X" or even "I hope X happens to that woman" or "I hope five guys do X to that woman" from "wouldn't it be funny if X happened?"

Quite easily. The guy is a comedian. He likes funny things. If something is funny, why wouldn't you assume he wants someone to do it or hopes it happens?

Also, he said it 3 times in a row. At that point, the nudge-nudge wink-wink aspect is more like poke-in-the-eye.

I likewise still remain unconvinced that's what he actually said, however. It still seems to be a he-said, she-said situation. It would be interesting to hear his version...
posted by mrgrimm at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2012


There is literally zero evidence that the Tumblr poster got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way

Perhaps not conclusive evidence. But absent any evidence otherwise, the poster is not a trained journalist, so her reporting will admit to the inaccuracies common to any sort of amateur first-hand report. Even journalists take the trouble to write down direct quotes or else record them, because even journalists tend to misremember the exact wording of verbal statements.

Further, the poster was not a disinterested observer but rather a participant who was by her own admission highly emotional during the exchange. Emotion colors perception.

Finally, the poster has taken the trouble of getting her account published, which suggests (though it hardly proves) that she has an agenda in retelling the story. Everyone says they're "just trying to get the facts out there," but that's nonsense: if you're promulgating a story, that means you are trying to use the story to convince someone of something. And any sort of persuasive speech is likely to emphasize the facts that best support the thesis and downplay those that contradict it.

Think of it this way: if Tosh were to go to the trouble of publishing a long account of his point of view about what happened in the club, then you would very likely say "but he probably doesn't remember his exact words; no one does" and "he was emotional" and "he has an agenda to present himself in the best light." And you would laugh to scorn anyone who said "There is literally zero evidence that the Tosh got the facts or context wrong in any meaningful way."
posted by La Cieca at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2012


Quite easily. The guy is a comedian. He likes funny things. If something is funny, why wouldn't you assume he wants someone to do it or hopes it happens?

The Aristocrats, for one.
posted by emelenjr at 9:46 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that the answer here is that the misquoted person, assuming said person wants any clarity of circumstance or unsullied good name or whatever, should explain their side of the issue, provide as much context as possible, and offer, if possible, speculation as to how or why they were misquoted or misunderstood. If relevant, that person can apologize for any part of the misunderstanding that is their fault and vow to do better the next time, and then, for clarity's sake, underline that they do not endorse the views ascribed to them in the misquotation.

Yeah, I tend to agree. One example of how to do it right would be the recent Jason Alexander apology.
posted by The World Famous at 9:47 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why it matters whether the Tumblr account is 100% accurate in every way. Misremembering verbatim quotes and getting events slightly out of order or allowing emotions to distort perception isn't going to add up to Tosh not joking about her getting raped and about it being hilarious.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Finally, the poster has taken the trouble of getting her account published, which suggests (though it hardly proves) that she has an agenda in retelling the story

Posting something on tumblr is not the same as "taking the trouble of getting her account published".
posted by elizardbits at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why are people not offended as much about death jokes?

Most people who have had death experience don't talk about it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


By that ridiculous metric I am the published author of photos of fruit with googly eyes.
posted by elizardbits at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't understand why it matters whether the Tumblr account is 100% accurate in every way.

Only because people here in this thread don't seem to understand why Tosh would assert the poster got something out of context while still apologizing.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:49 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


People here in this thread are asking what the possible context could ever fucking be which would somehow show in a good light a statement that the gang rape of an audience member would be amusing.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


No, it's not that I don't understand why he did it. He did it to get people to settle down with a pseudo apology, while at the same time not admitting that he actually did anything wrong, to avoid any possible consequences from that.

It's that what he's saying doesn't pass the sniff test at all. There is no "context" that would make "wouldn't it be funny if 5 guys raped her right now?" any less fucked up.
posted by cairdeas at 9:53 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


One example of how to do it right would be the recent Jason Alexander apology.

And yet, in a apologies as in everything else, the best is the enemy of the good. If you hold everyone to Alexander's standard of careful eloquence, we're not going to hear many apologies.
posted by La Cieca at 9:53 AM on July 11, 2012


> Speaking of mysogony, I sat down a few months ago to watch some Joe Rogan bits, because I had heard he was good and people who liked Bill Hicks seemed to like him.

Because Bill Hicks could be a savage misogynist?

Highlights:

"You suck you fuckin cunt …

. . . Fuck you get out you fucking drunk bitch.

. . . Go see fucking madonna you fucking idiot piece

. . . I can yell at the comedian cause I'm a drunk cunt.

. . . I got a cunt and I'm drunk

. . . I don't have a cock, I can yell at performers because I'm a fucking idiot 'cause I've got a cunt."

>Comedy, good comedy, takes those risks. It risks being wrong. It risks being cruel. It is willing to fail, spectacularly, in public. That's why I respect Hicks so much. He didn't always succeed, but he set the bar so much higher than his contemporaries.

Here's some of his actual show (rather than fighting a heckler) where he riffs on Basic Instinct and imagines he's a sexual goatboy.

He just goes on about how he'd turn Basic Instinct into lesbian porn. And then he has an extended fantasy where he's a sexually powerful goat man who has sex with a woman priest and young girls.

Ten minutes of this utter nonsense.

>Carlin and Hicks, on the other hand, had a message, and Hicks especially seemed to think of himself as a sort of prophet and ended almost all his specials with his vision of the future of humanity

Hicks is great if you already agrees with him (I don't like marketing! Or war!). He's a lazy stoner's hero – he preaches against rather than preaching for. This truth to power stuff is important, but it's easy to shout that things are crappy. His vision for the future (Spend Nuke money on feeding the poor) is as noncontroversial as you can be, and doesn't exhort his audience to do anything, except feel good about themselves for being against nuclear weapons.

Hicks was a great comic at times, and a lousy comic at times.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 9:54 AM on July 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


elizardbits: See here for an example.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:55 AM on July 11, 2012


Hicks was a great comic at times, and a lousy comic at times.

Hicks is a good example of why jokes about death really are hilarious. You live a long full life, and posterity will pick you apart. Have the good luck to die of pancreatic cancer at 32, and you will eternally be a genius.
posted by La Cieca at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2012


Hicks was a great comic at times, and a lousy comic at times.

And really, really sexist often.

And his routines always made me sad, and rarely made me laugh.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


People here in this thread are asking what the possible context could ever fucking be which would somehow show in a good light a statement that the gang rape of an audience member would be amusing.

Tosh is not claiming that the context would show it in a good light. He apologized setting aside any inaccuracies in the tumblr post.

It's that what he's saying doesn't pass the sniff test at all. There is no "context" that would make "wouldn't it be funny if 5 guys raped her right now?" any less fucked up.

He is not saying that the context would make it any less fucked up.
posted by The World Famous at 10:08 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's actually not saying much of anything, tbh, and it is hard to extrapolate from a single tweet exactly what it is he wants us to think he means.
posted by elizardbits at 10:10 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


He is not saying that the context would make it any less fucked up.

I don't buy this. When people object to something that you say, and you reply that it was taken out of context, the point is that it would not be as objectionable in context. Nobody ever says "This was taken out of context! It was just as fucked up in context though!"
posted by cairdeas at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah exactly. If I told you to go fuck a squirrel, and you protested the next day that I'd told you to fuck a chipmunk, I doubt my apology would say 'all the out of context misquotes aside, I'd like to sincerely apologize.' The first bit is kind of pointed at 'No you don't understand at all!' rather than 'That is not verbatim.'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the supposed missing context is not exculpatory -- if "he is not saying that the context would make it any less fucked up" -- why do you think it is so important? What do you think has been left out of this story that has no importance in terms of his apology, but whose hypothetical existence is worth bickering about for two hours nonetheless? I honestly don't understand what you are trying to argue here.

If you think Tosh basically said what she says he said, and the context doesn't excuse it, what element of "his side of the story" do you think we are still missing? It's obviously important to you that we get this right, so please help me understand.
posted by gerryblog at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Warning: TWF is a lawyer!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I mean no disrespect...it's just that this is really getting into hair splitting territory based on presumed submitted evidence or something.)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read Tosh's apology tweet as basically saying "It didn't go down exactly the way the tumblr post said it did, but I still recognize I went too far and sincerely apologize", and I don't think I'm being overly generous with that interpretation. The "out of context" part is valid. Hearing those words from an on-stage comedian and reading them on your computer screen are two very different contexts.
It's up to each of us to decide if his apology changes anything, though. I think it's significant that he made it, but I still don't like him or his comedy style.
posted by rocket88 at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no "context" that would make "wouldn't it be funny if 5 guys raped her right now?" any less fucked up.

Yes there is. The context is that it was a joke, and more specifically a comeback at a heckler. In other words, the subtext was "one example of a situation when a rape joke is funny is when it is used to shut down some asshole who is trying to spoil this show for everyone here."

This is a very specific example of context, because a comeback to a heckler traditionally a very hard and profane insult and thus carries really strong shock value. The point of all this is to cause the heckler to hesitate for a moment, not really quite believing he just heard what he heard, and thus loses his momentum. Also, by getting a strong laugh at the heckler's expense, the comic reasserts control of the room.

Thus, when Kathy Griffin shot back at a heckler "I don't come to your job and slap the dicks out of your mouth," she was not either seriously or jokingly asserting that the heckler performed oral sex for a living.

Tosh's comeback needs to be considered in precisely the same context as Griffin's. If he had said this insult purely freeform, not as any sort of response to heckling, then it would have a different context and it would be hard to defend it as funny. But in the precise context of being interrupted by a heckler at that moment in his act, it is funny because it perfectly serves the purpose of the comeback (it shut the heckler up and got a laugh) while relating thematically to the material interrupted.

It's not "fucked up" if a joke works in the way it was intended to work. The "fucked up" part in this situation is that one person at one of Tosh's shows was offended, and now a few thousand others are offended by proxy. But, then, taking vicarious offense is even more "what the internet is for" than porn.
posted by La Cieca at 10:32 AM on July 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


WidgetAlley: "Okay, I can see that argument. The problem is, rape in our culture is not that much of a fucking taboo."

cairdeas: "Outrage is fine, but it precludes conversation.

I could give a million examples to demonstrate how false this is.
"

Okay, so.....

Like many others here, I have no idea what to think about any of this. Although I do believe that virtually any subject is fair-game for comedy, certain topics do require a higher level of tact and restraint than others do. It's a trope in modern comedy to tip-toe up to the line of what's genuinely offensive, and what's tolerable -- Tosh's entire schtick lies somewhere in that grey area of "oh no they didn't!". Add in a heckler (or a "vocal critic in the audience" if we want to call it that), and it's easy to see how the comedian's fight-or-flight response would shove the humor well over that line. Unfortunately, this subject is one that does require a great deal of tact to effectively joke about, and Tosh has no tact.

This was a really bad thing to say. Taken in context, it's a little less bad and more understandable...but still pretty awful.

I take issue with both of the statements I quoted above, because I don't think that they're particularly constructive for this kind of conversation.

I don't think there's any disagreement that outrage can start conversations, but I would argue that outrage-fueled conversations rarely resolve themselves in a productive manner; they just turn into a shouting match that causes both sides to entrench their already-existing beliefs. That's not good, especially if you're arguing that your opponents are ubiquitous. This strategy might work for singling out ridiculous outliers such as the Westboro Baptist Church, but will not work for eliminating a deep-seeded and endemic belief in the general population (and even at that, it ended up giving the WBC far more publicity than they ever deserved, but I digress...).

The second issue I have is the "rape culture is extremely prevalent" argument. I know that Metafilter is not representative of the general population, but I have just an impossibly hard time believing that this statement is true in 2012, based off of the simple fact that we're having this conversation. It just totally does not resonate with any of my life experiences -- if you asked me to identify the one clutural taboo left in America, I'd say that it was rape without any hesitation.

Also, if the tide really is changing (and I strongly believe that it is), when do we stop using this line? Most civil rights movements have serious trouble recalibrating their rhetoric, once progress has been made.

I also hear this line repeated a lot by people who intend to use it to discriminate against (or incriminate) me solely based upon my gender, usually accompanied by a bunch of really shady research to back it up. I guess this part is solely based off of my own experiences, but I generally find it very difficult to argue with anybody who uses this statistic. Using statistics to talk about human behavior always seems like a very slippery slope....
posted by schmod at 10:34 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


La Cieca, everything else aside, that cannot possibly be the missing context that Tosh was referring to, because the woman mentioned in her blog that she yelled out during his act. She included that context.

So, Tosh could not have been talking about that when he referred to missing context.
posted by cairdeas at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Daniel Tosh fan. To me, he is representative of exactly the kind of comedian I don't like: the type who uses shock value in place of, as opposed to part of, good material.

My teenage stepkids love him, which seems about age-appropriate for the level of humor he provides. They also think any comedian who the words "fuck" or "shit" a lot is automatically hilarious.

Tosh told a bad joke and responded poorly when heckled for it.

But I am interested in the murkier discussion about whether or not certain topics should be off-limits in comedy. While I appreciate the efforts some have made here to explain the nuance that makes jokes about rape a separate animal from other taboo subjects, as well as those who've argued that jokes about difficult topics are only funny when told from the perspective of the oppressed rather than the oppressor, I'm not sure I buy into either argument as universal truths. I still think a lot simply has to do with the talent of the comedian and the skill with which he or she takes on the topic.

Specifically, I was thinking of one of Chris Rock's (widely regarded as one of the most talented comedians of all time) more famous bits, the "I'm not saying he should have killed her...but I understand" routine about OJ Simpson. The essential message of this bit can be reduced to "While murder may have been an extreme reaction, I can understand the desire to perform acts of domestic violence on a woman who is using the spoils of your wealth to live the good life with her boy toy". This would seem to hit all of the "should be unfunny" bullet points as described in this thread: the joke is coming from a man (the position of power) about a subject that is unfortunately not uncommon (being a victim of domestic violence). Yet, I don't recall this bit causing any sort of major controversy (the overall performance is considered a classic of modern-era comedy) since it was delivered creatively and entertainingly by someone much better as his job than Tosh.

Understandably, when your routine is more about being as offensive as possible for the sole purpose of being "shocking" rather than "funny", you get less slack.
posted by The Gooch at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


It just totally does not resonate with any of my life experiences

schmod, can you entertain the possibility that maybe different kinds of people have had very, very different kinds of life experiences to you? I think rape culture is a really good example of that, because there are many things that the guys who harass and assault women will NEVER do if other men are around. They wait until they get women alone. So it makes sense that it is something that would rarely or never be part of your life experience.
posted by cairdeas at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also, schmod, if it seems really unlikely that something could be so totally absent from your life experience, yet so totally common in the lives of other people, I'd really, really recommend reading this one comment of Nattie's just to see if it doesn't make a bit more sense.
posted by cairdeas at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Specifically, I was thinking of one of Chris Rock's (widely regarded as one of the most talented comedians of all time) more famous bits, the "I'm not saying he should have killed her...but I understand" routine about OJ Simpson. The essential message of this bit can be reduced to "While murder may have been an extreme reaction, I can understand the desire to perform acts of domestic violence on a woman who is using the spoils of your wealth to live the good life with her boy toy".

You do understand that Chris Rock doesn't actually...oh, never mind.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


cairdeas: I was responding to the assertion that "[t]here is no 'context'..." I pointed out one very obvious context that was already included in our general understanding of the events, i.e., that this particular rape joke could be funny (in the sense that it apparently got a big laugh) in a particular context." So it is not true that "[t]here is no 'context'" because we already know of at least one.

This is developing into a very legalistic argument over a tweet. It does seem like that if Tosh had not said something about context and misquoting, he risked having his apology interpreted as "Tosh admits he encouraged five men to rape a woman in his audience."
posted by La Cieca at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2012


This would seem to hit all of the "should be unfunny" bullet points as described in this thread: the joke is coming from a man (the position of power) about a subject that is unfortunately not uncommon (being a victim of domestic violence). Yet, I don't recall this bit causing any sort of major controversy (the overall performance is considered a classic of modern-era comedy) since it was delivered creatively and entertainingly by someone much better as his job than Tosh.

Putting Rock's merits as a comedian aside, I think this actually gets back to the heart of the joke/threat distinction that tied the thread in knots earlier. Rock obviously isn't going to murder Nicole Simpson, in no small part because she's already dead. Tosh, in contrast, is talking about the prospective gang rape of a woman who is ten or twenty feet away from him. Here, rape comedy (such as it is) looks less like tragedy + time and more like tragedy + distance. At a minimum, there has got to be some prophylactic / psychic barrier between the comedian and the prospective victim -- the difference (as noted upthread) between a "joke" about raping kids and a "joke" about "raping that kid over there."
posted by gerryblog at 10:45 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most (white, cis, straight) men though, as near as I can tell (and I am not a man) do not have the same persistent fear of assault that women do of rape or sexual violence

I agree with you.

I was replying to the argument that people would take this more seriously if a man was threatened. The fact is they wouldn't.

I wasn't trying to suggest that men are braver or violence against men is less likely. Men just don't care about other men tossing around threats against men. For many men, tossing around threats or actually fighting is just part of being a guy.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


And the threat of being sexually assaulted is part of being a woman.
posted by agregoli at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


that this particular rape joke could be funny (in the sense that it apparently got a big laugh) in a particular context."

Okay maybe we're operating with different definitions of 'funny.' Sometimes bullies will hit kids smaller than themselves, and the bullies' friends will laugh. This does not mean, I think, that bullying is funny.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


cairdeas: I was responding to the assertion that "[t]here is no 'context'..." I pointed out one very obvious context that was already included in our general understanding of the events, i.e., that this particular rape joke could be funny (in the sense that it apparently got a big laugh) in a particular context." So it is not true that "[t]here is no 'context'" because we already know of at least one.

For the sake of clarity, I am including my full sentence: "There is no "context" that would make "wouldn't it be funny if 5 guys raped her right now?" any less fucked up."

Just because something is funny to some people, and gets a big laugh from an audience, does not ipso facto make something any less fucked up.

But I was specifically talking about Tosh's non-apology. The one where he referred to "out of context misquotes." I was talking about what the MISSING context might be, in Tosh's mind. This is not missing context, this is context that was included in the blog post.
posted by cairdeas at 10:59 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the threat of being sexually assaulted is part of being a woman.

Right, and as evidenced by this thread people care. I'm not trying to set up a competition about who has it rougher. I just think the argument that people would have been even more outraged if Tosh had threatened a man does not hold water.

I think that thread has already died. I just wanted to make sure I was not implying the victim here was somehow weak or she was in the wrong.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2012



Contrast this with the typical rape in real life: intimate partner, acquaintance, friend of the victim. She might have been drinking before it happened, she might be a prostitute, she might have invited him back to her apartment. That is not, culturally speaking, The Worst Thing Ever.

Actually, based on the actual women I know who have been raped, yes, regardless if she had a glass of wine or was drugged, it really is usually The Worst Thing Ever. By far. (I know that's not your position, and that you are explaining cultural perceptions.)


Yep, believe me. I know.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


La Cieca, everything else aside, that cannot possibly be the missing context that Tosh was referring to, because the woman mentioned in her blog that she yelled out during his act. She included that context.

So, Tosh could not have been talking about that when he referred to missing context.


I think his reference to being misquoted is more about the initial joke that led to the heckling, and not his response, which is what he seemed to be apologizing for.

When I read the initial tumblr post, the section where she describes the initial joke didn't ring true to me. As unfunny as I find Tosh to be, I don't buy that he just stood up there and said "rape jokes are always funny" 3 times, and that was that. It's not too much of a stretch to assume that there was some semblance of a joke being set up, some sort of premise , and a punchline that he may not have gotten to yet. None of that was communicated in the original post.

One thing about comedy that gets overlooked is just how different it is live in a club vs. what you see on tv. When you see a comedian's half hour special, that's a polished act that's been tried hundreds of times in clubs in front of all sorts of audiences. Comics only know what material works by getting up on a stage and trying it, and in order to get to ther they bomb a lot. Even the really ggod ones. I've heard Chris Rock say that his famous "Black People vs. Niggers" bit took a year of working it out in front of club audiences before he even got a laugh. And that turned out to be one of the funniest, most on-point pieces of comedic social commentary ever.

It would have been real easy to catch one of those early shows before he got that bit to work and tell someone who wasn't there that he just got up yelled about how much he "hates niggers".

Not that I'm putting Tosh on the level of Chris Rock, or excusing the way he reacted to her criticism of him. But It's the reason I think his apology is valid, and It's why I understand how Loius CK could get his back in this situation.

Theres an aspect of standup comedy that I think a lot of people just don't understand. What a comedian does on stage is not the same as just two people talking. They create the illusion of talking directly to you, when in fact, they're doing no such thing.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:07 AM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Anyway, there must've been a fairly aggressive stance against handheld video recorders at that club since not even a measly shaky, grainy clip has surfaced.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This raises a fascinating, ancillary issue of how society is adapting to new technologies. With the ubiquity of camera phones and the internet, any 'public figure' is (potentially) on record 24-7.

Technology is creating a very high standard of perfection; one really stupid outburst can ruin a career (cf. Michael Richards). 20 years ago the outrage would likely have been limited to the people in the audience and anyone they told. If the public figure recognized the mistake and didn't repeat it, that would likely have been that - lesson learned, career goes on.

You can look to politicians as a queue to where we're headed: they prefer prepared remarks, speak in cliches or vague generalities, and as much as possible avoid speaking extemporaneously. And as a result, much of what politicians say is devoid of substance or meaning.

Hopefully something changes; I'm not thrilled at the prospect of comedians' routines or willingness to ad-lib being influenced by people who may not go to comedy clubs, share a given comedian's style of humor, or even have a sense of humor.*

* I'm speaking generally, not specifically.
posted by Davenhill at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2012


Louis CK has a rape joke of his own.
posted by allseeingabstract at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2012


cairdeas: "Fucked up" is an extremely subjective concept, and maybe you know what you mean when you say it, but I am pretty sure I don't. One end of the range of "fucked up" might be "actively dangerous" and I don't think the situation described goes anywhere near that. What is recounted in even the least favorable light for Tosh suggests that (ahem) in this context "fucked up" means "rude and shocking."

Rude and shocking is what comedians are sometimes, so your "fucked up" ends up sounding to me tautological. It's not easy to answer arguments that are presented in such slippery, vague terms.
posted by La Cieca at 11:36 AM on July 11, 2012


I just think the argument that people would have been even more outraged if Tosh had threatened a man does not hold water.

Oh, is that what the argument was? Because I thought the point you had made is that NO ONE would care if a man was threatened, and the argument I was trying to make is that that assertion is false, because I would care. I don't recall saying anything about equal amounts of outrage, or what should be more outrageous, or whatever. My only point was to contradict the assumption that no one cares about violence against men. That's it.
posted by palomar at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2012


I'm gradually losing my ability to overlook CK's cluelessness. For a guy who talks so much about privilege, he seems to get pretty regularly clobbered by his own.

I guess we'll always have Pootie Tang.
posted by balistic at 11:53 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think the argument that people would have been even more outraged if Tosh had threatened a man does not hold water.

Yeah, I see where you're coming from. I think what I was trying to get at was that if a dude were to say "He basically was egging on people to assault me and I felt unsafe," I think people would be more inclined to take him at his word, where when a woman says "He was basically egging people on to rape me and I felt unsafe," she's treated as though she's overreacting and all of these well-maybe-the-context-was-THIS stuff flies around. I think your point though, that a guy would be less likely to say that in the first place, is a good one, though.
posted by kagredon at 11:56 AM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


cairdeas: "schmod, can you entertain the possibility that maybe different kinds of people have had very, very different kinds of life experiences to you? I think rape culture is a really good example of that, because there are many things that the guys who harass and assault women will NEVER do if other men are around. They wait until they get women alone. So it makes sense that it is something that would rarely or never be part of your life experience."

So.... Schrodinger's sexism?

I have no problem believing that this is a thing. I've been subject to enough casual homophobia in my life that I can easily relate to this. I have no doubt that it happens.

However, I have a much harder time making (or believing) any sort of quantitative statements or sweeping generalizations about it, because it seems very difficult to collect any meaningful statistics on the matter. If we want to stamp out sexism and 'rape culture,' this is not a good angle to take.

Also, this actually underlines my point that rape is definitely a taboo. It's something that we're almost never willing to discuss in public or reveal to others. However, this taboo evidently has not influenced our behaviors in private, which is a big problem.

My suggestion would be to try to reverse these things -- make it an OK thing to talk about in public, and hopefully we'll see less of it going on in private. We need to be more comfortable talking about rape (and sex in general) in public, and we need to drop the judgmental attitude. If 'rape culture' is really as widespread and prevalent as many here say it is, this sort of intense judgement will ultimately force the topic (and attitude) back behind closed doors; just like my comment about outrage, intense shame/judgement is only effective when targeting the absolute fringes of a population.

Heck... our discomfort of talking about this subject has made it some sort of huge stigma to be a rape victim. That's really bad, and needs to change immediately, if only so victims can recover.

If we need to tolerate a few tasteless rape jokes to get this conversation flowing in the public sphere, that very well might be the lesser evil (for now).
posted by schmod at 11:58 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


AM I too late for when we go after Sarah Silverman for being racist or Lisa Lampineli for the same? Perhaps we should be raking Bill hicks Sorry soul over the coals for his repeated Misogyny (Goat Boy????); maybe attack the misandry of the "Stupid Dad" stereotype for a while?

Sheesh; 2 minute hate my ass; it's been a good 24 hours.

Me; I'll wait for David Cross to weigh in; as for me, he's the comedic barometer that I cleave to on these matters.
posted by NiteMayr at 11:59 AM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


kagredon: " I think what I was trying to get at was that if a dude were to say "He basically was egging on people to assault me and I felt unsafe," I think people would be more inclined to take him at his word, where when a woman says "He was basically egging people on to rape me and I felt unsafe," she's treated as though she's overreacting"

Really?

I think the man would also be told to "man up" and take the joke. If we're interpreting this as a direct threat of violence, I think the woman's word might actually be worth more.

Did anybody actually come to those three conclusions -- Tosh directly threatened her; she overreacted; and we'd be taking this more seriously if she were a man? I'm almost horrified to ask for a citation, but that just seems like a straw-man.
posted by schmod at 12:03 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know what Dane Cook thinks about all this.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:06 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anybody actually come to those three conclusions -- Tosh directly threatened her; she overreacted; and we'd be taking this more seriously if she were a man? I'm almost horrified to ask for a citation, but that just seems like a straw-man.

I'm sorry, but have you actually been reading the thread? All of those topics have been under direct discussion.
posted by kagredon at 12:17 PM on July 11, 2012


He basically was egging on people to assault me and I felt unsafe

We just have a difference of opinion, and really it has no bearing in this situation but I really think if a guy put up a blog post that he felt unsafe, that Tosh was going to leap off the stage or somehow convince the audience to kick his ass right there at the Laugh Factory, a club with presumably some security people in this very thread would be calling him a pussy. Men get into confrontations and fights all the time in public.

It really doesn't matter. Being raped is nothing like getting into a fight. Boys "train" to fight from an early age through play fighting, wrestling, contact sports and a million different ways. All men, at least all the ones I know, have been in a fight and even gotten their asses kicked. It is night and day different than being raped.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:17 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree, Ad hominem, but I still think there's some weirdness that people are throwing out specifically because it's a woman reacting to a comment about rape. It's true that there's a different set of weirdness that's dredged up with guys and assault, so that may not have been the best choice of hypothetical.
posted by kagredon at 12:23 PM on July 11, 2012


> I'd like to know what Dane Cook thinks about all this.

There will be hand gestures.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


kagredon: "I'm sorry, but have you actually been reading the thread? All of those topics have been under direct discussion."

Simultaneously by the same person?
posted by schmod at 12:26 PM on July 11, 2012


I agree, Ad hominem, but I still think there's some weirdness that people are throwing out specifically because it's a woman reacting to a comment about rape.

The wierdness stems in part because most men are so comfortable with physical agression and confrontation. Little girls do not go through the same ritualized training little boys do. Men cannot fathom feeling terrorized in a room full of people by some jackass on the stage. They prepare for those confrontations their entire lives and it is almost impossible to imagine feeling physically helpless in that situation.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:28 PM on July 11, 2012


At the risk of digging myself even deeper into the rephrasing hole: I don't understand how it would ever not be creepy to stand on a stage in front of a roomful of people and say "Man, wouldn't it be great if this specific person who is in this room had an act of violence perpetrated against them right now?" And I kind of feel that the rest of this--whether rape actually can be funny, whether Daniel Tosh making jokes about rape can be funny--is sort of missing the point of how fucking creepy that is, which is why I tried to reframe the situation without rape.

(Of course, the rape thing adds a whole new layer of creepy and weird cultural context to it, but I'd be put off regardless.)
posted by kagredon at 12:30 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw an image the other day of a sign that said "I'll stop being a feminist when society teaches "Don't Rape" instead of "Don't Get Raped""

So yes, all you enlightened people who think it's all a joke and no-one should really be offended or take a joking threat seriously maybe should consider the victim blaming mentality that goes on against women who are raped (and in a sense, look at this microcosm of a thread as evidence once again - the woman is to blame... you're attitudes towards women feeling unsafe mean that this is why we need to have this conversation).

Maybe *you* are enlightened enough to know this (someone pointed out we're having this discussion on metafilter after all), but I have a feeling that a lot of the people at Tosh's might be the same kind of "dudebros" who do things like listen to right-wing windbags blame the victim for doing all the "wrong" things.

And really? Male guilt? That's ok, I suffered from it years ago before I realized what the reality of rape is. And I still had it AFTER seeingone of my friends getting her breast groped when hugging an acquaintance. And a few years after that until I finally finally finally started to grok it. It took years of learning and trying to understand, and I still fail at times. And that's ok. We all fail, because we all carry some baggage of privilege.

But here's the thing: this isn't about *you* this is about our society in general that on one hand says "oh of COURSE rape is horrible, who would defend it?" And yet, statistically (and you castigate stats as a "slippery slope" and yet... what else would you use to supplement your knowledge? anecdotes? from people you know?) there were probably some folks in that room who have raped women. And the fact is, as has been pointed out, part of the problem is that it's the OBVIOUS mustachioed villain twirling his mustache and raping that everyone's against, but the more subtle and pernicious kind of rape that is really probably more common is the kind we need to start pointing out. The kind of rape that, if there were some in that room who have, probably engaged in without even being aware.

(I could, I might add, start picking apart my own argument based upon the dichotomies of these two kinds of rape, and it gives me something to ponder, but that's not, at this point, well thought out, or I think pertinent to this forum).
posted by symbioid at 12:31 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


The wierdness stems in part because most men are so comfortable with physical agression and confrontation. Little girls do not go through the same ritualized training little boys do. Men cannot fathom feeling terrorized in a room full of people by some jackass on the stage.

Men cannot fathom that? I've heard men talk about feeling terrorized by things like that plenty of times. I've absolutely heard white men in a space full of black men with a forceful black speaker talk about feeling that way.
posted by cairdeas at 12:32 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Men cannot fathom that? I've heard men talk about feeling terrorized by things like that plenty of times. I've absolutely heard white men in a space full of black men with a forceful black speaker talk about feeling that way.

Ok ok, if we imagine that instead of the Laugh Factory we are talking about a Nation of Islam meeting and Elijah Muhammad is singling you out as a white devil then yeah.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:36 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Simultaneously by the same person?

? I don't really understand your question here. I wasn't calling out any person or group of people as holding those set of beliefs simultaneously (for starters, I'm not sure how one would simultaneously agree with "It was a direct threat" and "She's overreacting"), I was addressing a few different threads of conversation that have come up.
posted by kagredon at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2012


I'm not a huge fan of Tosh and his comment might have been as terrible as it seems. I really doubt it though. Obviously it wouldn't be funny if a woman was raped in front of a comedy audience. No one thinks that it would be. There is a way of saying this, a way of delivery, where the tension, the inappropriateness, the naked wrongness of the comment is the subject itself. That doesn't mean it's a great joke or a good joke or OK or anything. Based on what I know about Tosh I can picture a delivery where this 'works'. It is very much not what you say but how you say it, especially with something like this where any sane person can be certain that Tosh didn't literally mean what he said.
posted by I Foody at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2012



I'm not particularly interested in defending Tosh, and certainly not his "joke," but it is a thing that if you heckle a comedian, you have just invited them to say the worst possible shit they can imagine in order to destroy you.
That's why I find this so interesting. It's like we're seeing the heckler from the heckler's point of view. Notice that in this blog post she writes that she came along with her friend to the club. Maybe she had no idea what she was in for.
posted by deathpanels at 12:50 PM on July 11, 2012


The whole men v. women comparison, in terms of who would or would not be frightened by this event, is too lop-sided to make a lick of sense.

I think the most apt analogy for what transpired can be found right HERE.

They're both very tense, teeth-gritting moments for pretty much exactly the same reason.
posted by heyho at 12:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ok ok, if we imagine that instead of the Laugh Factory we are talking about a Nation of Islam meeting and Elijah Muhammad is singling you out as a white devil then yeah.

So, in a meeting like that, maybe you would feel like there were a lot of people there who were a lot stronger than you, did not identify with you/ weren't on your side - but did identify with each other, and some of them might really like to see you get fucked up. And think you deserved it.

It might be bizarre to you that for women, a place called The Laugh Factory could be a space like that. But, lots of very mundane places are, for women.
posted by cairdeas at 12:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


gerryblog: Saying "nuh-huh" is not a refutation, especially when immediately followed by an allegedly sincere apology.
World Famous: Nuh-huh.

Yah-huh! (Sorry.)
posted by msalt at 12:54 PM on July 11, 2012


It might be bizarre to you that for women, a place called The Laugh Factory could be a space like that. But, lots of very mundane places are, for women.

Right, but it takes a giant emapathetic leap for people to imagine that scenario. I'm not sure many people are capable of thinking "she is just as scared of me as I am of the most frightening people I can think of" nobody wants to imagine themselves as someone else's nightmare.

I am just trying to understand why people think the way they do. Why someone would think she would not be justified scared in that situation.

Anyway, I'm not even sure she was scared, maybe she was annoyed or angry.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2012


msalt: Yes it is. No it isn't.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:59 PM on July 11, 2012


I think it's more guys provoking each other on mob mentality to do things is scarier than an individual guy in a lot of situations. Also that the tacit acceptance/approval of the guys who aren't personally scary, encourages the bad guys to do things.
posted by cairdeas at 1:00 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw an image the other day of a sign that said "I'll stop being a feminist when society teaches "Don't Rape" instead of "Don't Get Raped""
I can't stand that line of reasoning; our society teaches both. The fact is that there are immoral people who are ok with committing rape (and dumb people who don't know what consent is) even though our society does not condone and considers it a terrible crime. It would be stupid not to do as our society does and address both ends: teach people rape is bad AND teach potential victims how to lesson their chances of it happening to them.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:03 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where are men getting the constant instruction not to rape? I much more often hear women being taught ways to avoid being raped. If you're talking societal taboo, I don't buy it, cause our culture is fine with rape...see prevelance of rape and things like rape jokes.
posted by agregoli at 1:08 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


(I mean half of crime t even"entertains" with rape.)
posted by agregoli at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2012


Sidenote: thinking about the "where are men learning not to rape?" angle has got me curious. But! My Google-fu is failing me when I try to look up the percentage of men in the US who have committed rape. Does anyone have any numbers on this?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2012


Gah.

I'm a standup comedian who runs a weekly showcase and open mic. We do our thing in a fairly small town but we've built a loyal crowd that draws excellent comics to perform for it. Know how we built that crowd? By not setting out to actively alienate half of it. And with that in mind, I would under no circumstances book Daniel Tosh.

That's a ridiculous thing for a rookie like myself to say; this is not a stance that is likely to be tested any time soon. But were I to be consistent in my philosophy and strategy regarding standup, I could not welcome Tosh to my stage. See, before I got started I thought I understood that standup comedy world because I watched a lot of Comedy Central. I had an inkling that standup had some boyzone problems but it wasn't until I started plumbing the depths of PNW open mics that the full scope of the problem came into focus, the extent to which the Damaged Male dominated this artform.

I would warrant that any of you could go to any open mic in any club in any city in the country and see the following act: A white guy in a hoodie who complains for his entire set, beginning with and often returning to women. It'll probably be his opener, something like "I drink because of women" or "fuck them for not fucking me" or some other barely disguised kernel of resentment. They'll tell themselves that they're inspired by Louis CK and then do a bunch of jerkoff jokes (aka the new airplane jokes) but they're missing the point because CK's stuff is about the revelation of his shame and these open micers, most of them aren't ashamed at all. And if they do a rape joke (and they do, they do), they hide behind being "edgy" no matter how little actual thought they put into the piece.

It's self-reinforcing: you look at the crowd at a show with no quality control and it'll look like the guys on stage (leaving aside that at most mics the crowd is all people who will go onstage). Mad misogyny onstage, few women in the audience, more misogyny onstage, no women in the audience nevermind any women in the show. When I put out submission calls for videos, if I'm lucky it'll only a third of the respondents will be Damaged Males with a parcel of punchlines that miss the point of privilege.

There's this mistaken notion out there about standup that it can an effective set can just be a stream of bile and horror and you either get it or you don't. Somewhere along the line the idea that this was entertainment got a little muddied. Ancient comedies were less stories full of yuks and more stories about communities creating themselves or repairing themselves. That is to say, the core purpose of comedy is to bring people together. That's why it's so important that jokes be relatable, that they make the singular experience universal and help us better understand one another through a conduit of joy and catharsis. You're not embracing the full power of comedy if you're using it for naught to cut people down. And even if you don't buy all my hippy bullshit, the fact still remains that comedy that leaves a full half of the population reluctant to come to your shows is straight up bad for business and ought to be avoided on a purely bloodless profit-motive level.

I have a crowd because I talk to my crowd. Woman after woman told me that comedy shows full of rape and misogyny wind up being a bummer because they all know a survivor if they are not a survivor themselves. And to hear jokes about something awful that happened to you and to hear a whole room of dudes laughing back at it, well, it doesn't make for a super fun evening out. So for a lot of women, standup isn't even on their radar as something to get into because so much of it is so hostile to them, that women are underrepresented among performers because women are actively made to feel unwelcome, that alleged professionals like Adam Carrolla can say that stupid shit about women naturally aren't funny and that essentialist nonsense will be printed as a credible statement.

I decided that working against this would be my angle, that my regional competitors were ignoring a huge market by indulging the worst of standups' urges in their shows week after week. I aggressively filtered out Damaged Male comedy, sought out female comics to balance out the bill and made it known that rape jokes got you bounced off the roster. Some of them are funny, free speech, blahblahblah, it's not something I want in my show, full stop. I thought that we should try something that other folks weren't and guess what? It worked. It worked fast. We get a big crowd with excellent gender parity every week, the show makes me enough money to pay my bills AND pay our guest performers. Our reputation among area comics is sterling and I never need to struggle to find quality acts who love our room and love our crowd.

And our big innovation? Our secret formula to rapid standup success? Giving a shit. Actually being concerned with whether or not everyone in the room was enjoying the show and would want to come back. Call it censorship is you want, I could give a shit - it's quality control and it's working.

So this amateur hour shit from Tosh is hugely disappointing. Seeing so many comics defend his weaksauce edginess is hugely disappointing. If you're turning off the crowd, if you're chasing people out of the room, you're fucking up as a comedian. Yes, even hecklers. It's possible to deal with hecklers in a way that doesn't succumb to mere rage. As a guy who is heavily invested in keeping the crowd sitting down and ordering drinks and therefore watches crowds very closely, I can tell you that a comic who just screams abuse at a heckler can make a room tense, can dull down the smiles a bit. Rage is a cudgel, handling a heckler with charm is more graceful by far and you can feel the relief spread through the room when interruptions are resolved in a way that leaves everyone feeling welcome. Corrected and silenced yes, but welcome.

Tosh could have handled this like a professional, which he ostensibly is. He chose instead to be an embarrassment. It super bums me out to see the volume of rape joke apologia and mansplaining that has arisen in response to this. As ever, I look forward in hope to a day when "standup comedy" does not largely mean "cishetero white guys expressing rage and resentment."
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2012 [132 favorites]


(Half of crime TV "entertains"with with rape.)
posted by agregoli at 1:15 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where are men getting the constant instruction not to rape?

Prison terms equivalent to those for manslaughter? Or do we need more constant instruction on not killing each other?
posted by La Cieca at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It isn't "weak sauce edginess" EatTheWeak. South Park nailed it, either everything is ok to make fun of, or nothing is.
posted by karmiolz at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


TwelveTwo: This is all really an argument between tolerance, and harassment.

Harassment as the absolute evil then there is no free speech, only speech within bounds, which is to say zero toleration for intolerant language. That means Tosh is in the wrong.

Tolerance as the highest ideal means intolerance must also be tolerated, which means free speech, which means harassment is unavoidable. That means, weirdly enough, it was the victim's fault.

So, well, which do we want?
Tolerance, but only when nice people are around.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's more guys provoking each other on mob mentality to do things is scarier than an individual guy in a lot of situations

That is most certainly true but the group is made up of guys just like me. Probably some with a family, wives and kids. Are they really capable of that? Yet even in the US we see stuff like this happen, in NYC we have sexual assaults at parades for god's sake.

Mobs are scary things, I suppose we are justified in fearing them no matter who the individual members are.

BTW, nobody ever tells people not to rape people, but people are most certainly told not to hurt other people. If you don't think raping someone is hurting them then there is something wrong that constant instruction would not help.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The point is that "teaching potential victims how to lessen their chances" turns into "it's your fault you got raped". That's why I tried to show the dichotomy between "mefi commenters" (thought apparently not all) and people who are more likely to listen to talk radio and people like Tosh. Because there are far too many people out there who think making rape jokes and blaming women women for getting raped are just okey dokey. And they vote. And put people in power.

A woman should be able to go down the street wearing whatever the fuck she wants. But if she got raped the windbagging masses on right-wing talk radio would say it's her fault. We have a society where we celebrate have girls in bikinis and men lusting after them (because hey "sex sells"), and then if a woman was wearing a bikini and got raped, well shit, it's her fault. And of course, wearing a burqah at the other extreme is not sanctioned either. There's some magical happy ground where the woman isn't a problem and wouldn't be to blame for wearing the sanctioned attire. I'd just like to know what, exactly, is the prescribed clothing so that patriarchal jackasses shut up about "don't dress like that", but you know, there's no fucking clothing that suits their definition of proper attire that would stop them from blaming women for getting raped, and that's the point...

It's why the whole "don't get raped" thing is important. Because the person getting raped IS NOT DOING ANYTHING BUT EXISTING.

The claim that it's just "following common sense" and trying to be sensible is fine until you realize that it's an excuse, over and over and over ad nauseum to NOT put the blame where it belongs, the person doing the crime.

I mean, do you EVER fucking hear someone tell a guy whose 1995 Honda Accord got stolen that if only he drove a different car it wouldn't have gotten stolen? NO. But somehow it's ok to tell a woman that she shouldn't dress a certain way.

Maybe I'll rob a bank and try that "well shit, if you didn't want me to take all that money, maybe you shouldn't have just had it laying around in the first place".

And this is actually a derail from the overall theme, because rape happens in many different ways and forms and against women (and yes, men) who wear various attire. And the whole "shouldn't be wearing that" is a fucking strawman in the first place. And yet we continually have to set that fucker on fire over and over.
posted by symbioid at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Dude, let's not get into rape prosecution/prison terms, because its not at all comparable to murder most of the time.

Most rapes are not reported or prosecuted.
posted by agregoli at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


All men, at least all the ones I know, have been in a fight and even gotten their asses kicked.

Where do you live? It sounds awful.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:22 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It isn't "weak sauce edginess" EatTheWeak. South Park nailed it, either everything is ok to make fun of, or nothing is.

South Park was right, but that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Tosh was being neither true nor funny when he said "rape jokes are always funny," nor was he being true or funny when he said "wouldn't it be funny if five guys just raped her right now."

Besides, it's not censorship to drop comedians who make the audience unhappy and uncomfortable. That's just plain old quality control.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad, I do believe many men that rape don't think rape hurts a woman. It didn't hurt them! She's being hysterical. It was just sex, and she really secretly wanted it anyway.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tosh was being neither true nor funny when he said "rape jokes are always funny," nor was he being true or funny when he said "wouldn't it be funny if five guys just raped her right now."

What if he was saying it sarcastically to make the opposite point? I realize there's no evidence that he was, but how do you know he wasn't, given that all we have to go on is one person's account of what Tosh said, written without any reference to the tone of his voice or the context of what else he was saying?
posted by The World Famous at 1:27 PM on July 11, 2012


What if he was saying it sarcastically to make the opposite point? I realize there's no evidence that he was, but how do you know he wasn't, given that all we have to go on is one person's account of what Tosh said, written without any reference to the tone of his voice or the context of what else he was saying?

Of course that remark could be fine in other contexts, but Tosh hasn't presented any differing context, so it doesn't matter.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:31 PM on July 11, 2012


nobody ever tells people not to rape people

I assume you're excluding all of the parents, educators, and cultural voices who do tell people not to rape people. That was in my health classes in both middle and high school and in my freshman orientation in college.
posted by snottydick at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


symbioid: You would have a point here is a) everyone in the country was a right-wing radio gasbag, or b) that small minority of us who are right-wing radio gasbags actually believe all that garbage they spew. They don't: it's rabble-rousing, and it's aimed at practically everyone, because the whole point of these shows is to get their listeners all worked up and hatey so they'll listen in tomorrow and hear the commercials for Goldline International.

Honestly, I don't know that the argument from the extreme other end of the spectrum is any more valid: be angry, be bitter, be dissatisfied, find someone to blame, and expect the universe to come with a trigger warning.
posted by La Cieca at 1:35 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know - I listened to the Carlin "porky pig raping elmer fudd" bit and it turns out that it's not actually the rape part that's funny. The actual joke there is when Carlin talks about how some people would say fudd was asking for it with the way he dressed - porky pig got horny and just lost control.

Despite what he says, Carlin isn't actually telling a rape joke.

He's telling a joke about blaming rape victims for their rapes.

Hmmmmmm.
posted by kavasa at 1:35 PM on July 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Of course that remark could be fine in other contexts, but Tosh hasn't presented any differing context, so it doesn't matter.

Differing from what? The tumblr post doesn't offer a context other than that it was a Daniel Tosh show, that she assumed that Tosh was an amateur because he didn't seem comfortable on stage, and then "so Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny . . . " No context. Nothing about his tone, what he said before that, nothing. Was he being sarcastic and she didn't get it? We have no idea.
posted by The World Famous at 1:36 PM on July 11, 2012


Sidenote Part II, answering my own question: some preliminary Google-fu shows that either 4.5% or 6% of American men have at least attempted rape.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:36 PM on July 11, 2012


Context can work both ways. We don't know the exact way this went down in the club, but we do know that Tosh' fan base is frat boys. And that changes it from a likelihood to a near certainty that there are rapists among his audience, who would interpret his comments as support.
posted by msalt at 1:37 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing about his tone, what he said before that, nothing. Was he being sarcastic and she didn't get it? We have no idea.

Tosh has had more than enough time and opportunity to set the record straight if the remark really was being taken out of context. I'm not going to simply imagine that Tosh is secretly in the right.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Either everything is ok to make fun of, or nothing is."

Tosh wasn't making fun of rape. I've yet to hear a rape joke that involved making fun of rapists, or of the pathetic and cowardly act of rape. I've yet to hear a rape joke that sympathizes with the victim. If he were truly lambasting the phenomenon of rape from his comedic pulpit, if he were advancing some sort of social order by pointing out uncomfortable truths that no one wants to think about, then I might be inclined to agree with you.

But "wouldn't it be funny if 5 guys raped her right now" is not making fun of rape. Defending that statement on its "comedy needs to be free" merit is insulting to comedy.

(I guess if your point was that it's okay to make fun of rape victims, well, that's not really a world I find appealing at all.)

I like Rob Delaney's take on this:
Let's take rape for example. It's not funny. End of discussion. But you can do a funny joke about how people talk about rape, or you can juxtapose it against something else in a way that will evoke laughter and a "new" way of thinking in people who aren't monsters and/or rapists. So it's all about the way the joke is done. Is your motivation/volition to help or shed light in a way that will (if taken to its maximum/mega-extreme) result in LESS rape in the world? Then please, talk and joke about it.

posted by Phire at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


we do know that Tosh' fan base is frat boys. And that changes it from a likelihood to a near certainty that there are rapists among his audience, who would interpret his comments as support.

Okay, this thread is dead.
posted by La Cieca at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Tosh has had more than enough time and opportunity to set the record straight if the remark really was being taken out of context. I'm not going to simply imagine that Tosh is secretly in the right.

Nor should you imagine that he's secretly in the wrong, given that the only person accusing him of being in the wrong provides nothing at all in the way of context, other than that it was something said on stage at a Tosh show.
posted by The World Famous at 1:41 PM on July 11, 2012


Also, how big was the audience at this thing? Why has nobody else who was there said anything at all about it?
posted by The World Famous at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2012


Here is an actual data point about the context of Tosh's comments, albeit it's a defensive account from the owner of the Laugh Factory (Jamie Masada).

Masada says Tosh asked the audience, "What you guys want to talk about?" After someone in the front said "rape," a woman in the audience started screaming, "No, rape is painful, don’t talk about it." Then, Masada says, "Daniel came in, and he said, 'Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys' — something like that. I really didn’t hear properly. It was a comment — it wasn’t a joke at the expense of this girl."

Masada says that the woman then sat through the rest of Tosh's set — which received a standing ovation — before complaining to the manager about Tosh's joke. The manager apologized, Masada says, and offered her tickets to come back to the Laugh Factory for another performance, which she accepted. "If you’re offended why would you take a couple tickets to come back to the club again?" he says. "If you were offended, how about the rest of the audience" — 280 people total — "who’s giving a standing ovation?"

posted by msalt at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, this thread is dead.

Interesting, you're the second person who has reacted in such a strongly negative way to the assertion that Tosh's audience was very likely to contain rapists. Which is a statistical fact. I wonder what's up with that.
posted by cairdeas at 1:43 PM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't know that the argument from the extreme other end of the spectrum is any more valid: be angry, be bitter, be dissatisfied, find someone to blame, and expect the universe to come with a trigger warning.
OK, so let's develop a happy medium kind of environment where people neither make jokes about how hilarious it would be for someone to be gang-raped, nor expect that they will never be put in situations where there are references to things that make them upset.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:45 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah so it's the AUDIENCE who thinks rape is funny. And yet, we're told they wouldn't really think it's funny. And then, maybe the girl WAS raped at some point in her life, and then yuk yuk, we'll exaggerate the joke by trying to make it sound like she got raped by many guys. Yeah.

Funny stuff, asshole.

Quite frankly, the official telling via the club owner makes it about 10x worse, IMO.
posted by symbioid at 1:47 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nor should you imagine that he's secretly in the wrong, given that the only person accusing him of being in the wrong provides nothing at all in the way of context, other than that it was something said on stage at a Tosh show.

That's not secretly being wrong, that's evidently being in the wrong. If there is some exculpatory evidence, then let's see it.

The differing description posted by msalt doesn't let Tosh off the hook, either, because it still has Tosh joking about her being raped by five guys, which is still Bad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:47 PM on July 11, 2012


What's interesting to me about Jamie Masada's account (he says he's been Tosh's friend for 10 years):
1) "Tosh asked the audience, "What do you guys want to talk about?" So she's not heckling, she responding to a direct question from Tosh.
2) "standing ovation" - at the end of the set. He doesn't say how the crowd reacted to this comment.
3) "sounds like she's been raped by 5 guys" -- better than "wouldn't it be funny" but WTF does that mean? He's mocking her voice? Only rape victims would object?
posted by msalt at 1:48 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


cairdeas: Gosh, what was that word we were talking about earlier? Starts with a "c"? What was it again.

Oh, yes. Context.

from a likelihood to a near certainty that there are rapists among his audience, who would interpret his comments as support.

Never mind the equation of fratboys with rapists (after all, fratboys are obnoxious, so they must be rapists, right?) but please don't try to make me believe you can read the minds of a group of strangers at an event you didn't even attend.
posted by La Cieca at 1:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


1) "Tosh asked the audience, "What do you guys want to talk about?" So she's not heckling, she responding to a direct question from Tosh.

To be fair, it would mean that she had not responded to Tosh, but instead to whomever had suggested rape.

3) "sounds like she's been raped by 5 guys" -- better than "wouldn't it be funny" but WTF does that mean? He's mocking her voice? Only rape victims would object?

It sounds like his "joke" would have been that the reason why she had yelled when rape came up was because she had been raped five times, and had therefore had her fill of the topic, nyuk nyuk.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2012



rereading the thread, I was reminded why I hate free speach arguments in discussions like this, as they are red herrings. It's free speech, not consequence free speech.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


If there is some exculpatory evidence, then let's see it.

Guilty until proven innocent: justice, Nancy Grace style!
posted by La Cieca at 1:53 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad, I do believe many men that rape don't think rape hurts a woman. It didn't hurt them! She's being hysterical. It was just sex, and she really secretly wanted it anyway.

probably true and pretty depressing.

Also, by you I didn't mean anyone in this thread. I meant you as in you out there raping.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:54 PM on July 11, 2012


La Cieca: I stand by my comments. I don't find it controversial that a disproportionate number of (date and/or inebriation) rapes occur in fraternity culture, or that there is large group of men in that culture who will make rapey comments. Do you really need evidence?
posted by msalt at 1:54 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


"I mean, do you EVER fucking hear someone tell a guy whose 1995 Honda Accord got stolen that if only he drove a different car it wouldn't have gotten stolen? "

Yes, there are reports from Insurance Companies that tell you which cars are more likely to be stolen; these actually exist. Along with crime statistics and risk/reward reports and anything else an actuary can wrap numbers around.

So, yes, one can predict outcomes and in retrospect say "your idea of leaving your car unlocked in a bad neighborhood was not a good idea, no matter how illegal it is to steal cars"
posted by NiteMayr at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Guilty until proven innocent: justice, Nancy Grace style!

Do we now get to declare the thread done, or only when you read something you consider over the top and ridiculous?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


To be fair, it would mean that she had not responded to Tosh, but instead to whomever had suggested rape.

Sure, that's fair. The point being though, he explicitly asked the crowd to say out loud what they wanted to hear jokes about. Both the guy who yelled "rape" and the tumblr friend responded. But there is no definition of comedy where either one is a heckler or deserving of attack by the comic. So Tosh is already full of shit for calling her "a heckler" on Twitter.
posted by msalt at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


No - it's that statistically:

1) The incidents of rape are higher at frats than among the general populace.
2) Assuming that the demographics at a Tosh show are what they seem likely to be (and yes, ok, maybe maybe maybe we shouldn't be making such generalizations, perhaps).
3) If you take the stats of 3.5 - 6% of men have raped in their life, and you assume that the crowd is 100 people, there's at least a that 3-6 men in that room HAVE raped. And that's not taking into account the higher likelyhood of rapists in frats than the general population.

Does this mean that there were rapists at that show? No. Does this mean that all frat boys are rapists? No.

But does it mean that in a large enough crowd there are rapists and in that crowd if a large segment of them come from a demographic that has a culture that makes light of rape (a la, I dunno, shouting "RAPE" when asked what joke should be made) and thus increasing the chance that the cultural influence from that demographic/subculture has affected some of the individuals in that audience to be more likely to rape, then, yes, it's quite fair to point out that there's a high chance that there was at least one rapist if not several in the audience.

It's not cuz fratboys are douchebags. I had some friends who were in frats, that didn't mean they were rapists. It doesn't mean they weren't either (I hope they weren't, I don't know). But as a statistic, yes, it increases the likeliness to some degree.
posted by symbioid at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Guilty until proven innocent: justice, Nancy Grace style!

We're not in court and I'm not levying punishment, so this is thoroughly irrelevant.

Regardless, we have one party's testimony, and the other party has chosen to essentially not present a case. I'm not going to simply assume that he's in the right.

It sounds like Tosh probably knows that he said something dumb, so he's shuffling off an apology and trying not to address it further.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:59 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


msalt: You said "that there are rapists among his audience, who would interpret his comments as support." I'm looking for some proof that Tosh's jokes about rape would be interpreted by these putative fratboys as encouragement to rape. Have you, for example, statistics that show a shocking rise in the number of acts of rape by people who have attended a Tosh show? An experimental study in which half the fratboys attended a Tosh show and the other half a Jim Gaffigan standup, and then frequency acts of rape and/or rapeyness compared for the two groups?

I begin to see why Tosh didn't want to try to explain his joke, because all people hear is "Blah blah blah blah rape blah blah."
posted by La Cieca at 2:03 PM on July 11, 2012


I though the thread was dead?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2012


Call me when Rush Limbaugh goes on a giant rant about people who don't lock their cars in "bad neighborhoods" and offers advice on how to not get your car stolen (or your house broken into, or your bank to not get robbed, etc....)
posted by symbioid at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I though the thread was dead?

Oh, but it is dead. It is dead. The thread is dead. And I'm dead. And we're all dead. And I'm a ghost. And we're all ghosts.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


shakespeherian: It is for me now, I promise, and I apologize for ranting.
posted by La Cieca at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2012


Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

STICK A FORK IN IT!
posted by symbioid at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2012


An experimental study in which half the fratboys attended a Tosh show and the other half a Jim Gaffigan standup, and then frequency acts of rape and/or rapeyness compared for the two groups?

A virtually identical study way already commissioned by the Hot Pockets corporation. We can probably just repurpose the same data.
posted by The World Famous at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Call me when Rush Limbaugh goes on a giant rant about people who don't lock their cars in "bad neighborhoods" and offers advice on how to not get your car stolen

Technically it would be a huge Limbaugh rant calling anyone with collision insurance a dirty whore, I think.
posted by elizardbits at 2:11 PM on July 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hot Pocket jokes are always funny.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:14 PM on July 11, 2012


Do we now get to declare the thread done, or only when you read something you consider over the top and ridiculous?

Don't kill the thread. Every thread deserves to live its 30 days.

I'm looking for some proof that Tosh's jokes about rape would be interpreted by these putative fratboys as encouragement to rape.

What sort of proof would satisfy you?

An experimental study in which half the fratboys attended a Tosh show and the other half a Jim Gaffigan standup, and then frequency acts of rape and/or rapeyness compared for the two groups?

I think that exact study is about to get published next month in the British Journal of Sociology. (It might be
posted by mrgrimm at 2:15 PM on July 11, 2012


doh
posted by mrgrimm at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2012


Hot Pocket jokes are always funny.

When you say "Hot Pocket" do you literally mean the microwaveable "food" or is that a euphemism? Or both? I guess it depends on which side of the Gaffigan/Tosh line you fall.
posted by MikeMc at 2:17 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


rereading the thread, I was reminded why I hate free speach arguments in discussions like this, as they are red herrings. It's free speech, not consequence free speech.

Speech is in itself a consequence, it is not this neutral carrier that may or may not have an effect-- it always has an effect. That is precisely the problem that has been raised against this old enlightenment ideal.

Any discussion of free speech must necessarily also be a discussion of its consequences, a discussion of responsibility, and a discussion of what rights are to be allowed the receiver, the audience, and what rights are to be allowed the transmitter, the speaker.

The very use of a metaphor, an implication, or a slur, all have an impact. Studies and studies show this. And, worse, these impacts may not be consensual, and that brings it into direct contradiction with our other grand western ideal: liberty. If words said by others have an effect on you, an effect that you did not consent to, then you are being forced, you have lost your autonomy, you have been injured, triggered, bullied. No one has the right to interfere with the lives of others, yet here we have free speech doing just that.


So to ask, does anyone have a right to speak to another person the way he did? To answer that question then we must consider which ideal to sacrifice: free speech, or our free liberty. We choose the first, allow people to say whatever they say, then we lose the second, as some man calls us a faggot. We choose the second, draw lines and regulate our language, and we lose the first, as we can no longer tell the president to die.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


typed too fast, you know what i meant with the rhetorical stylings at the end. just like... read it correctly and not be confused, that is my order
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:21 PM on July 11, 2012


also ...

Acceptance of traditional gender role norms for men and women influences tolerance of rape, and it is a significant predictor of acceptance of rape myths(Burt, 1980). Adherence to traditional gender roles had been correlated with the general acceptance of rape myths and with the likelihood of men to commit rape if they were guaranteed that they would not be caught. Persons who are traditional in their gender stereotyping show sexual arousal patterns equivalent to those in identified populations of rapists (Check &Malamuth, 1983).

Feild (1978) discovered that individuals who thought that women should be restricted to “traditional” social roles also tended to believe that rape was often the woman’s fault and that it is motivated by a strong need for sexual release. Costin and Schwarz (1987) presented data from the United States, England, Israel, and West Germany to show that rape myths are positively correlated with beliefs that women’s social roles and rights should be more restricted than those of men. Several other researchers have found that the acceptance of traditional gender roles influences tolerance toward rape and acceptance of rape myths ...

- "Rape Perceptions, Gender Role Attitudes,and Victim-Perpetrator Acquaintance"


So I think the argument that Tosh's comments/jokes could be interpreted as condoning or encouraging rape (or "merely" the acceptance of rape myths) is not that far-fetched at all.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:23 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


An experimental study in which half the fratboys attended a Tosh show and the other half a Jim Gaffigan standup, and then frequency acts of rape and/or rapeyness compared for the two groups?

I didn't think it was disputed that joking about rape contributes to a cultural atmosphere in which rape is treated as no big deal,and thus normalizes and trivializes something that already disproportionately harms disenfranchised segments of the population.

If you buy that:

1. Statistically, there were rapists in Tosh's audience, and
2. Joking about rape trivializes and normalizes it

Doesn't it follow that:

3. Joking about rape to rapists tells them that rape is no big deal, or that they did nothing wrong and are free to continue behaving as they had already done in the past?

(Especially since there's evidence that guys who force women to have sex with them in some way don't see themselves as rapists, and go on to re-offend.)
posted by Phire at 2:29 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Phire: So, by that line of reasoning, The Producers causes antisemitism?
posted by La Cieca at 2:33 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


La Cieca, there are plenty of examples of comedians coming down on either side of that question. Dave Chappelle quit his show in part because he heard a white person guffawing in reaction to one of his skits that involved black stereotypes. He got the feeling that by making these jokes involving black stereotypes, he was actually enforcing those stereotypes in the minds of racists, giving them the chance to take pleasure in those stereotypes.
posted by cairdeas at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't have any depth of knowledge about antisemitism, and I've never seen The Producers. If there was a joke in there somewhere that runs along the lines of "Wouldn't it be funny if five German guys beat up a Jewish person right now?" then certainly, I would consider that to be grossly antisemitic and contributing to an antisemitic atmosphere, the same way that I think Tosh's remarks were grossly misogynistic and contributing to a misogynistic culture. Aside that, I'm not really sure what parallel you're trying to draw, and would welcome a more in-depth explanation of how you think it's equivalent.
posted by Phire at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2012


You should run right out and watch The Producers.
posted by The World Famous at 2:49 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Have there been studies that show statistically how many antisemites there are in the population the way there are for men who have committed tape?
posted by zarq at 2:50 PM on July 11, 2012


Just a point about why "wouldn't it be funny if she got gang raped right now" feels like a real threat, and is scarier than "wouldn't it be funny if somebody murdered her right now."

Everybody agrees that murdering people isn't funny.

But some people, quite a few people at that show, including the famous guy with the microphone who they were all there to see, think that raping people is funny.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Call me when Rush Limbaugh goes on a giant rant about people who don't lock their cars in "bad neighborhoods" and offers advice on how to not get your car stolen

"Well, I mean, you were fine with letting Joe borrow your car last week, what were you thinking anyway, just leaving your keys out on the table. Anyway, the way he tells it, you agreed to sell him the car, and now you're just trying to make him out to be the bad guy because you changed your mind. God, Becky, why are you being such a fucking bitch about this? Just let it go."
posted by kagredon at 2:51 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Producers is very different; the old Nazi playwright is presented as a figure of outlandishness to be ridiculed. His play was described in the movie as the worst possible play in every way. I don't see any such framing by Tosh. Do you? Is he saying "A joke about rape would be the worst possible joke ever?" Is he doing a character who is a terrible comic? I don't think so.

I think he's saying "I can be funny on any subject, go ahead, challenge me" and when she objects to the suggestion of rape, he's going "Whoa! What's this whiny chick's problem? It's like she's been raped or something, sheesh!"
posted by msalt at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, as I made clear above, I think Tosh is an asshole, and am nauseated by the (alleged) incident.

However and contrary to what some above have alleged, I think it's very unlikely that he was threatening her. To say that he was threatening her implies intent. It seems far more likely that he was making a terrible joke and she was/felt threatened--and reasonably so.

That doesn't entail that Tosh is blameless, because (supposing we've got the facts right) his joke was irresponsible. Contrary to his claims, rape jokes are *never* funny, fer chrissake. They're not funny, because rape is horrible. Who on Earth doesn't realize that? It takes a culpable degree of thick-headedness not to be so oblivious.

(I'd like to add: what's with the accusations that our culture doesn't take rape seriously??? Man...we seem to live in very different cultures...)

(And can anyone explain this comment to me? That second bit?:

Okay, this thread is dead.

Interesting, you're the second person who has reacted in such a strongly negative way
to the assertion that Tosh's audience was very likely to contain rapists. Which is a
statistical fact. I wonder what's up with that?
)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:56 PM on July 11, 2012


Er, TO be so oblivious.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:11 PM on July 11, 2012


And can anyone explain this comment to me? That second bit?

Somewhere up toward the start of this thread someone apparantly disabled their account over this thread.
posted by Nabubrush at 3:13 PM on July 11, 2012


The Producers [which you've seen, probably several times] is very different [from that standup bit of Tosh's, which you haven't, and are judging based on what is hardly an unbiased report]

Is he saying "A joke about rape would be the worst possible joke ever?"

Actually, it seems iike that is sort of what he is saying: it's not a joke about rape, it's a metajoke about humor, or at least that's the way he intends it. Maybe. I would have to see the bit.

It does seem like his onstage persona in general is this kind of elitist dick, and that the humor is about equally divided between the audience buying into the insults "dick" spews and laughing at him for his horribleness. Not terrifically original or perceptive, so far as I can tell, but it is, so far as I can tell, about the persona and not just "ha ha, homeless people stink and rape is cool."
posted by La Cieca at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2012


Dane Cook loses his anti-rape cred, since he tweeted yesterday the following in support of Daniel Tosh: “If you journey through life easily offended by other peoples words I think it’s best for everyone if you just kill yourself”

tumblr user sonichipattack has a list of the other comedians tweeting approval and support for Tosh's actions:

Tim Norton: “Why is it okay for an actor to play a rapist, but not for a comic to joke about it?”

Patton Oswalt: “Wow, @danieltosh had to apologize to a self-aggrandizing, idiotic blogger. Hope I never have to do that (again).”

Anthony Jeselnik: “An offended audience member repeating a comedian’s act from memory is worse than, literally, anything”

Stevie Ryan : “Daniel Tosh can’t make a rape joke but Eminem can have hit songs about it? PS. AIDS jokes are funnier”

Doug Stanhope: “You’re hilarious. If you ever apologize to a heckler again I will rape you. #FuckThatPig”

Opie Radio: “To all the idiots! I completely support Daniel Tosh being a comic in a comedy club! Even if it means rape jokes!”

Kumail Nanjiani: “Two things about the Tosh thing. 1. It was said in the moment and not a pre written thing. 2. If you think he’s pro rape you’re an idiot.

Sarah Beattie: “calm down about rape jokes everyone’s been raped at least once by george lucas”
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Dane Cook loses his anti-rape cred, since he tweeted yesterday the following in support of Daniel Tosh: “If you journey through life easily offended by other peoples words I think it’s best for everyone if you just kill yourself”

So since Dane Cook is so easily offended by the blogger's words does that mean he should kill himself?

It is really interesting how so many of these people who want to say whatever they want without consequence and without bothering people, are ones who get the most upset about what OTHER people say and about what bothers THEM.
posted by cairdeas at 3:35 PM on July 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Dane Cook loses his anti-rape cred, since he tweeted yesterday the following in support of Daniel Tosh: “If you journey through life easily offended by other peoples words I think it’s best for everyone if you just kill yourself”

What the hell. Yeah that's anti rape cred lost.

The rest of your list ShawnStruck...wow. Yea that's kind of the point, that's why this stuff is alarming and not funny.
posted by sweetkid at 3:36 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The really ironic thing to me here too is when the blogger was offended by Daniel Tosh, all she did was tell the story of what happened. She didn't call for anything horrible or violent to happen to him.

When Dane Cook is offended by the blogger, he's calling for people to kill themselves. Wow. Talk about hypocrisy.
posted by cairdeas at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, it's nice to have a list of comics I won't support financially.

This reeks of privilege, and I'm sick of it. Stand up comics, get your shit together. If a comic isn't one day saying women aren't funny, they are the next day saying rape is hilarious. It's making the stand up scene toxically unfunny, filled with crybabies whose only response to an audience's disapproval is to go nuclear.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:43 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


By that rationale , unless its highly unlikely, there are rapists within this thread getting titilated right now.

Of course there are.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:00 PM on July 11, 2012


Does anyone else think LouisCK's tweet might itself be a rape joke at Tosh's expense?
"Your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes."

Kind of like having a purty mouth.
posted by msalt at 4:02 PM on July 11, 2012


a list of the other comedians tweeting approval and support for Tosh's actions

Phew. Good to see no one I respect and/or enjoy.

2. If you think he’s pro rape you’re an idiot.

That's pretty much the problem in a nutshell there. WHOOOSH.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:02 PM on July 11, 2012


Also, Brendan Smalls, Eugene Mirman, H. Jon Benjamin, John Hodgman ... you guys don't say nothing. Please?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


2. If you think he’s pro rape you’re an idiot.

Also, somebody needs a Jay Smoove primer, i.e. there is a difference between "what they did" and "what they are."
posted by mrgrimm at 4:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get that hating on Tosh is kind of the in-crowd thing to do here in this thread. It's not like the context really works to endear anyone to his schtick.

On the other hand, the impression I've always picked up from his act is more surreal than spiteful. His thing has seemed to be "I act like a dick and people pay me for that. Is there a direct correlation between the amount of money coming my way and the degree to which I am a dick?"

And, from the looks of things, yes, there is this correlation. More or less every vibe I've ever gotten from the limited exposure I've had to Tosh has been a winking acknowledgement that his act is a lucrative and ephemeral clown suit. I think that he really does want to get destroyed otherwise his act is no longer an exaggeration, but a mirror being held up to our society. And, fuck that. Depressing.

I admit to watching his show in the first season when I ran across them because it was like watching a train wreck or slowly peeling scabs. Back then he was a lot more "Holy fuck. I still have a job. You people really are this fucking weird/strange/repugnant." From what I've seen lately, it has fallen more steadily to lazy -isms and third person Jackass. I haven't watched a full show in years. Maybe my understanding was wrong from the start.

But I don't necessarily buy that he is a total cock of a person IRL. It is entirely possibly that I've read his schtick the wrong way--hoping he's playing with discordianism/surrealism instead of actually being a misogynist, homophobic, racist asshat. But all of this hating Daniel Tosh, the person, is weird when I'm pretty sure what we're supposed to be hating is Daniel Tosh, the hired geek and physical manifestation of \b\ culture.

Finally, the incident that brought about this post was not well thought out or deftly handled. Regardless of one's stance on the value of Tosh's contribution to the world, we can agree to that. The follow up was also unsatisfactory but not surprising given the feedback his schtick has engendered to this point. I wouldn't exonerate him for this, but I guess I can identify with how far down the rabbit hole he finds himself and that the "get fucked" apology was the only card he could possibly play and remain consistent. I guess I get to see if my theory of Tosh is correct depending on how this all plays out.

Oh, and in the event I haven't been clear to this point, rape jokes are probably most definitely never funny. That and I'm probably way more optimistic about people than they deserve.
posted by Fezboy! at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I always knew Patton Oswalt was an asshole.

what's with the accusations that our culture doesn't take rape seriously???

Oh, everybody is all. about. taking rape seriously, just as long as it doesn't mean having to define it as anything they've ever done or might possibly one day wish to do, contemplate the possibility that anyone they like or know might be guilty of it, contemplate the possibility that anyone they don't like or know might honestly have lived through it, change anything at all about the kinds of things they're willing to say or listen to, refrain from routinely using beautiful women's violated bodies for titillation in movies and on television, support putting Roman Polanski (and so on) in jail, support any measure that would protect him from being raped while he was there, ever feel emotionally uncomfortable in any way, hold their tongues rather than joke about a woman who's sitting right fucking there being gang-raped, or even just once not bother reflexively rushing to defend the precious honour of the sort of asshole who would say such a thing. So basically, yes, as long as it doesn't involve anything subtler than the sending the bushcreeping, the knife-wielding and the nakedly psychotic among us straight to the electric chair, black-eyed and castrated, our cultures and the people take rape totally seriously. Lucky us.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:47 PM on July 11, 2012 [42 favorites]


Does anyone else think LouisCK's tweet might itself be a rape joke at Tosh's expense?
"Your show makes me laugh every time I watch it. And you have pretty eyes."


One might also conclude that "Your show makes me laugh every time I watch it" means "I have never watched your show," a la Groucho-Marx-via-Leo-Rosten's "From the moment I picked your book up until the moment I put it down I could not stop laughing. Someday I hope to read it."
posted by box at 4:56 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Annnnnnd here is bunch of comedians I really respected defending their god given right to make rape jokes.

Ugh. I don't understand, they are seriously like the coal industry when you start talking about cutting co2. "You can't take away our rape jokes! Never!" Like they think it keeps the comedy industry strong and healthy or something.
posted by windbox at 5:00 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, everybody is all. about. taking rape seriously, just as long as it doesn't mean having to define it as anything they've ever done or might possibly one day wish to do, contemplate the possibility that anyone they like or know might be guilty of it,

Also, as long as the victim wasn't drunk or tipsy, was wearing the right clothes, wasn't in the wrong neighborhood, wasn't on a date with the rapist, had never dated the rapist before, had never had sex with the rapist before, had not had sex with too many different people before, wasn't mentally ill, wasn't a sex worker, wasn't a prisoner, wasn't a enemy combatant, wasn't a gay man, wasn't a straight man.
posted by cairdeas at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


Also, everyone please place Mel Brooks at the top of your hate list for actually depicting the physical act of rape for a laugh in Young Frankenstein. (I bet his fans are all a bunch of ignorant, racist frat boys too).

A boycott is sure to follow the second someone informs the ADL of his jokey depiction of one of history's great human tragedies, the Inquisition.

I know what you're thinking, that's different - the extermination of an entire people because of their race and religion is not as bad. Perhaps, but his "bit" also graphically details a hideous sexual violation as well:
I'm sitting, plicking chickens and I'm looking through the pickings
and suddenly these guys bring down my b*lls
I didn't even know them and they grabbed me by the scr*tum and
they started playing ping pong with my b*lls

Oy, the agony
Ooh, the shame
To make my privates public for a game
What a disgusting, depraved monster Mel Brooks is. I have no respect for him, his fans, or anyone who would defend him.
posted by Davenhill at 6:03 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bringing sarcasm into a heated conversation hardly ever helps.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:18 PM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Davenhill, when it comes to Mel Brooks and the Spanish Inquisition

-Mel Brooks is in the demographic that would have been the target of the Spanish Inquisition
-Anyone who endured or was threatened by the actual Spanish Inquisition has been dead for several hundred years.

When it comes to rape jokes,

-Almost 100% of the people making, enjoying, and defending rape jokes are in the demographic is that is not at all likely to be raped, and is way more likely to be committing rape.

-Currently, rape is an extremely widespread threat that shows no signs of going away. Many millions of people alive right now have been raped or live in circumstances where rape is a serious danger for them.
posted by cairdeas at 6:31 PM on July 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Quel surprise! Tosh's male defenders outnumber his female defenders in the standup world by 8:1. Merely coincidence, I'm sure.
posted by kavasa at 6:52 PM on July 11, 2012


Not only that, Davenhill, but there's a pretty big difference of degree between joking about yourself getting raped in a historical situation from 500 years ago where people like you really were the targets of torture, and "joking" about how someone else should be raped, specifically as a way to humiliate, shame them and get them to shut the fuck up, when they are in the demo. that happens to and you are not. I'm not a fan of rape jokes overall, but there is a pretty massive difference and obvious difference between those two things.
posted by cairdeas at 6:58 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, did anyone stand up in support of Michael Richards' meltdown at the laugh factory? You know, was anyone like "if you're easily offended by what he said maybe you should get lynched too" or whatever?
posted by kavasa at 6:59 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"joking" about how someone else should be raped

Sorry, who did that?
posted by Cosine at 7:01 PM on July 11, 2012


Quel surprise! Tosh's male defenders outnumber his female defenders in the standup world by 8:1. Merely coincidence, I'm sure.

Well, there are just a ton more male stand-up comics to begin with. Chicken or egg if that is a symptom or cause of the misogyny factor in comedy. Lazy Googling shows these stats in Britain:

In fact, the numbers in the industry are even worse. Of the 20 highest-earning standup comedians in Britain at the moment, just one – Sarah Millican – is a woman. In the 31-year history of the Edinburgh comedy award, there have been only two solo female winners, Jenny Eclair and Laura Solon. A 2010 poll conducted by Channel 4 found that 94 out of the 100 greatest standups were men, with Eclair, Victoria Wood, Jo Brand, Shappi Khorsandi, Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr being the exceptions. Last month's shortlist for the Chortle awards named just two solo women comics in a list of 54 nominations (Dana Alexander and Susan Calman; on Tuesday night, Calman won the compere award). Never mind equality – these lists don't even give women 10%. Is any other artform so skewed?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:05 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My apologies, Cosine. Let me fix that: "Joking" about funny it would be if someone were raped by 5 men right there in front of a roomful of people.
posted by cairdeas at 7:05 PM on July 11, 2012


Now here's a funny rape joke. Comedian Laurie Kilmartin:
Women can still tell rape jokes, because we're the ones who get raped. Just one more reason I'm glad to be a lady!
posted by msalt at 7:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Let me fix that: "Joking" about funny it would be if someone were raped by 5 men right there in front of a roomful of people.

Who did that?

I am asking because, according to the club, Tosh did not do that. So we are left with a he said/she said. Are you choosing to believe her because she came out first? Because she is a woman? Why?
posted by Cosine at 7:08 PM on July 11, 2012


Now here's a funny rape joke. Comedian Laurie Kilmartin:
Women can still tell rape jokes, because we're the ones who get raped. Just one more reason I'm glad to be a lady!


Men are never raped, noted!
posted by Cosine at 7:09 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Good faith conversating folks, or take a walk.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:14 PM on July 11, 2012


I am asking because, according to the club, Tosh did not do that. So we are left with a he said/she said. Are you choosing to believe her because she came out first? Because she is a woman? Why?

FFS, the club owner himself says he didn't hear what happened.

Can you honestly not see the irony in pulling a "he said/she said, who can know what really happened?" here? Isn't that on the nose, just a little bit?
posted by gerryblog at 7:15 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am asking because, according to the club, Tosh did not do that.

Actually, the club owner said, "I don't know, I didn't really hear properly." Tosh said his words were taken out of context and misquoted, but didn't bother to say what he remembers them to be. Probably because the video will surface eventually.
posted by cairdeas at 7:16 PM on July 11, 2012


(Also, probably because he realized "Lighten up guys, I only said like she SOUNDED like someone who had been gang raped!)" - if that's what happened - is not any better)
posted by cairdeas at 7:23 PM on July 11, 2012


Sorry, those were the words of Jamie Masada, the case is still the same though.
posted by Cosine at 7:23 PM on July 11, 2012


It’s interesting how “he said/she said” seems to suggest a position of radical indeterminacy, but actually means “tie goes to the man." I don't think I ever grokked that before tonight.
posted by gerryblog at 7:30 PM on July 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


It’s interesting how “he said/she said” seems to suggest a position of radical indeterminacy, but actually means “tie goes to the man."

Tie goes to the accused. Innocent till proven guilty, burden of proof, etc.
posted by amorphatist at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The blogger is being accused of misstating the facts.
posted by cairdeas at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first time I ever caught Tosh on TV, he was making some joke about Chinese people. He put on a fake Charlie Chan voice and pulled on the edge of his eyes to make them slanty.

That was also the last time I saw him. Christ what an asshole. Why has he gotten a pass up until now?
posted by LarryC at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


A comedy club is not a court.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:43 PM on July 11, 2012


A comedy club is not a court.

MetaFilter is not a comedy club.
posted by The World Famous at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tie goes to the accused. Innocent till proven guilty, burden of proof, etc.

Right, right, of course I get all that. It's just interesting that the cliche has a gendered logic that puts "his" account ahead of "hers" even when they're supposedly on undecidably equal footing.
posted by gerryblog at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2012


A court is not Metafilter Club.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2012


I'm pretty sure you just violated the first two rules of MetaFilter Club.
posted by The World Famous at 7:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tie goes to the accused. Innocent till proven guilty, burden of proof, etc.

Thank you, Justice Alito, we know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 PM on July 11, 2012


i think the disconnect between the two "sides" here is that something is not going to be funny if you're making fun of the "victim", which the observer defines for her or himself. i got this idea from watching a second city panel discussion. you can make jokes that are about terrible things so long as you're not making fun of the victim in the situation; so long as you're not suggesting that they are the fool.

you could see it as since women are an oppressed group, and since the heckler (and she was heckling, rightly or wrongly ...) is a woman, it was wrong for him to make a joke saying it would be funny if she were raped.

(a joke. given the context i don't think a reasonable person could interpret it any other way.)

another way to see it is that she was heckling, she was being the asshole, she was disrupting a show that other people paid to see. in this context her heckler identity is dominant. in this context the comedian will often insult the heckler with the most insulting thing she or he can think of because making the heckler/asshole/jerk uncomfortable, making them the fool. that's how it's suppose to be funny.

Bill Hicks using misogynistic insults with a heckler(another comment above paints this clip as proof that Hicks was in a way just as bad as Tosh, though i think it shows the right way to do it. you can be the judge.)
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:06 PM on July 11, 2012


Thank you, Justice Alito, we know.

I have to ask one question... why Alito?
posted by amorphatist at 8:08 PM on July 11, 2012


Cairdeas, Mel Brooks depicted forcible rape for laughs in Young Frankenstein. This seems to violate the prevailing thread standard that rape jokes are never funny, not even when the victim is a despised male dictator.

I don't really see how Mel Brooks passes that standard, except by special pleading. Could it be that people just like him better personally, put that joke in the wider context of his entire career, and wish to exonerate themselves for having laughed at that rape joke in the past?

Reading this thread, you'd almost think he was intentionally trying to incite rape, as opposed to him failing badly with an ad-libbed joke that was in very poor taste.

The thing is, I agree that the joke was offensive and not funny, but the extent of the outrage seems out of proportion to the context and what is known about the incident.

But if people are going to write him off for the indefensible crime of making a rape joke, then let's consistently apply a simple rule that "rape is never funny", because taking an 'outrage flow-chart' (sexual mutilation joke? -> Is it in the context of some historical genocide more than a century ago? -> Was the author of said joke a member of the religious or ethnic minority group being persecuted? -> is the victim male? Was there singing? -> It's okay to laugh) is really going to screw with comedic timing.

Sorry Mel Brooks, you heard the Metafilter, rape jokes are never funny.
posted by Davenhill at 8:18 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


AzzaMcKazza: "My guess is he was caught up in his silly Rape bit and said the first thing that came up in his head. Keep in mind he has to be quick in order to keep the flow going and hold the audiences attention.

Not the best comeback. Not a good comeback at all actually. But it was the best his brain did at that moment.
"

I disagree. If the set was described correctly, it sounds to me like Tosh was fishing for someone to react, and this was a prepared response if someone took the bait. Because Tosh's audience would think it was hysterical. He's the philosopher king of the bro-niverse.
posted by dejah420 at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


on't really see how Mel Brooks passes that standard, except by special pleading. Could it be that people just like him better personally, put that joke in the wider context of his entire career, and wish to exonerate themselves for having laughed at that rape joke in the past?

Has anybody in this thread said that Brooks gets a pass? I don't recall that being so. Instead, it seems like you are pulling out a 40 year example from an artist we all presumably respect in order to make a case that people who took issue with Tosh are hypocrites. Which is a sketchy approach to argument, to say the least.

Let's stick to this comic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod, if people like you won't stop crucifying* Mel Brooks I don't see how this conversation can continue.

* too soon
posted by gerryblog at 8:31 PM on July 11, 2012


And too confusing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:33 PM on July 11, 2012


I have to ask one question... why Alito?

I'm stoned out of my gourd on Sudafed and thus it was the only name I could think of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's stick to this comic.

The burgeoning field of comparative rapejokeology requires a larger dataset.
posted by amorphatist at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I move this discussion be tabled until one of the following happens:

a) film or audio of Tosh's set (or a set using the same material) surfaces

or

b) the original poster identifies herself and we can get a better handle on what, if any, her agenda is

Otherwise the whole argument reduces to "I think what he must have said was..." and "she may have meant that..." In other words, it's meaningless, except as a vehicle for all caps rage and links to 40 year old self-reporting studies.
posted by La Cieca at 8:36 PM on July 11, 2012


I'm going to go ahead and vote no on that. I vote we keep this discussion open until something actually comes along to discredit the woman behind the story, instead of starting from the presumption that she must have ulterior motives.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:38 PM on July 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


what, if any, her agenda is

Come on.
posted by gerryblog at 8:38 PM on July 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


La Cieca: "the original poster identifies herself and we can get a better handle on what, if any, her agenda is"

"the original poster identifies herself and we can get a better handle on what, if any, her agenda is"

Yeah because it's not like any woman blogger speaking out about prominent entertainers or entetainment and the problematic things they find therein aren't routinely harassed, stalked, and sent death threats, rape threats and the like all the time, right?
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:39 PM on July 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'm stoned out of my gourd on Sudafed and thus it was the only name I could think of.

I pray this side-effect is noted prominently on the FDA warning label.
posted by amorphatist at 8:46 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The mere citation of research supporting any point does not make it more valid. The veracity of data and points amplified in the supporting research make the point more valid.

And you can only find out their quality out by reading the research and then responding. I'll add this: the existence of a body of scholarship from reputable peer-reviewed journals or volumes supporting a point does, it is generally accepted, make it more valid than not. At least that's how it works in the non-mirror universe.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:46 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm stoned out of my gourd on Sudafed and thus it was the only name I could think of.

I pray this side-effect is noted prominently on the FDA warning label.


May cause Alito bit of confusion.
posted by Cosine at 8:50 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I pray this side-effect is noted prominently on the FDA warning label.

Alito Recognition Syndrome (Encephelopathy), aka ARSE.
posted by msalt at 8:52 PM on July 11, 2012


b) the original poster identifies herself and we can get a better handle on what, if any, her agenda is

We see others through the lens of ourselves.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


We see others through the lens of ourselves.

I agree, which is why I think it would be handy to have more facts instead of the projections of our own prejudices and assumptions that have been the basis of the debate thus far.
posted by La Cieca at 9:02 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not particularly interested in a style of debate that demands that comics get to tell rape jokes but we cannot discuss the fact because there are too many variables. If you do not wish to continue the discussion, feel free to see your way out of here, but the rest of us are talking in good faith and, good lord, what if we got our facts wrong? We'll revise them if we get new information. So far, Tosh has not been forthcoming.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:08 PM on July 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


I can take a hint.
posted by La Cieca at 9:13 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing that also baffles me about the defense of this is the "but it's a joke! A joke! C'mon!" type of commentary.

Shouldn't that also mean that someone can reply "But it's criticism of a joke! Come ooonnnn!"?

Like, seriously, do you get a pass if, like you call someone a fuckass while are hopping up and down on one foot while headbanging if you burble "But IT'S JUST MY INTERPRETIVE DANCE< come onnnnn!"?
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm of two minds on this and I am sure both are wrong and this will make me a poor human being.

1. The guy apologized.

Seriously, if there is no way to come back from something like this then keep on telling the jokes. You've gone down the street sane people won't. Give us a reporter's eye view! Keep on keeping on.

2. Tosh needs to tell his side. I have no idea who this guy is, but he needs to come forward and say what happened from his point of view.

If it's "I screwed the pooch...there's photographic evidence of me with my dick in a poodle" people need to know. If it's "No real dogs were involved. It was a puppet" I can accuse him of bad taste, but not be the first to cast a stone.

Otherwise, fuck this guy.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:28 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]



One thing that also baffles me about the defense of this is the "but it's a joke! A joke! C'mon!" type of commentary.

Shouldn't that also mean that someone can reply "But it's criticism of a joke! Come ooonnnn!"?

Like, seriously, do you get a pass if, like you call someone a fuckass while are hopping up and down on one foot while headbanging if you burble "But IT'S JUST MY INTERPRETIVE DANCE< come onnnnn!"?
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:26 AM on July 12 [+] [!]


I think people who are saying "it's just a joke" are trying to make a counterpoint to the people saying that no-one should be allowed to make jokes about other people may not may be offended by.

I don't find Tosh funny at all, but I really disagree with restricting his ability to say what he wants.
posted by dazed_one at 9:32 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


dazed_one: "I don't find Tosh funny at all, but I really disagree with restricting his ability to say what he wants."

First off, free speech isn't freedom from criticized speech. And second... I don't see his ability to say whatever he wants being restricted. Of course, no one is obligated to make sure he gets fame, pay or recognition for what he says either.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:36 PM on July 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


For those of you who still don't believe that a joke about rape contributes to sexual violence against women and men, allow me to provide you with personal proof:

My male classmates in high school thought rape was hilarious and totally, totally normal and okay. They joked about it day in and day out -- and when I told them it wasn't as funny as they thought it was, I found myself physically cornered in a classroom by 5 guys who thought it'd be even better to show me just how funny rape really was. While I was not raped, I was assaulted, and it took a long time for me to get over it, and I can assure you -- having multiple guys try to force you down to teach you a lesson about what is and is not funny? Not a laugh-inducing experience.
posted by Hello Darling at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2012 [34 favorites]


First off, free speech isn't freedom from criticized speech. And second... I don't see his ability to say whatever he wants being restricted. Of course, no one is obligated to make sure he gets fame, pay or recognition for what he says either.

First off, I have nothing against criticizing his routine; in fact I criticized his routine in my comment when I said that he was not funny. And second... the first comment in this thread calls for him to be charged with a crime for saying something on a stand-up comedy stage.

Don't go to his shows, tell your friends not to go to his shows, avoid his TV programs and generally make sure you don't support the guy, but calling for him to be charged with a crime is VERY much restricting his free speech and that's something I'm against, even if I don't find him funny.

I think Beatrice Hall said it best; "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
posted by dazed_one at 9:52 PM on July 11, 2012


The comments that call for any legal action are rare outliers on this site, so it helps to address responses directly to the commenters who make these comments. Otherwise there is a risk that it seems your taking issue with the thread in general.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:57 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Otherwise there is a risk that it seems your taking issue with the thread in general.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:57 AM on July 12 [+] [!]


Well, no worries, I'm more than happy to explain my viewpoint more if there are any questions.
posted by dazed_one at 10:05 PM on July 11, 2012


2 quick things

1 - WidgetAlley - your comment about the bus? Said what I've been trying to figure out how to say for years. Thanks.

2 - I'm in no rush to discredit the woman on tumblr, but it's been pretty ignored that the owner's recollection of the event is very different than hers. He, of course, has a vested interest, but for everyone clamoring for 'context,' it sure has been a testimony that, what, three? people have responded to.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:10 PM on July 11, 2012


The owner's version hasn't been ignored. It has repeatedly been stated in this thread that he says the following:

Then, Masada says, "Daniel came in, and he said, 'Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys' — something like that. I really didn’t hear properly."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:21 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]



First off, free speech isn't freedom from criticized speech. And second... I don't see his ability to say whatever he wants being restricted. Of course, no one is obligated to make sure he gets fame, pay or recognition for what he says either.


This is what frustrates me about the "free speech" thing being brought out as a reason that people shouldn't speak out against the behavior. But free speech as I understand it in this country means you can't be prosecuted for things you say.

For example, John Galliano was brought up on criminal charges for anti Semitic things he said in a bar in Paris. Those things he said were vile and disgusting, but I'm glad that here in the US people don't get arrested for similar things. However, Galliano was fired by Dior, and I fully support that, and if the people he was shouting the slurs at blogged about it, I would fully support that.
posted by sweetkid at 10:24 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Agreed, Bunny Ultramod, but I think this is relevant: "Masada says Tosh asked the audience, "What you guys want to talk about?" After someone in the front said "rape," a woman in the audience started screaming, "No, rape is painful, don’t talk about it.""

The fact that the owner said "screaming" makes me think he's a least a little full of shit, but it changes the story quite a bit if she was responding to someone who wasn't Daniel Tosh.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:37 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, in that it undermines the case that this woman was heckling.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:39 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


People paid to be entertained by a guy on stage, not the audience. Get up and leave if you don't like what's on stage. Picket the venue. Start a social media revolution.

But don't interrupt or harass the entertainment. If you do, all bets are off.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the sanctity of performance art is more important than the safety of a human being, Five Fresh Fish?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:59 PM on July 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


And what if she had just left, rather than vocalize her dissent, and he had still called her out and suggested that members of the audience rape her for leaving in protest? How is he still the one to be protected?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:00 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


And what if she had just left, rather than vocalize her dissent, and he had still called her out and suggested that members of the audience rape her for leaving in protest

Then it would be a completely different situation and we'd be talking about something else right now. Let's try and stick with what happened.
posted by dazed_one at 11:10 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a show, turn off your cell phone and don't talk even if you don't like the content. Going to the manager was the right call, interrupting the show for other paying customers was not. (Of course assuming her version is accurate)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:10 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, all both of the ways this has been told have said that Tosh asked the audience, "What do you guys want to talk about?" which pretty much obviates the whole "she's a heckler" thing.
posted by gingerest at 11:12 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


But don't interrupt or harass the entertainment. If you do, all bets are off.

While I think it's legitimate to tell someone to shut the fuck up, I'm not sure how it is legitimate to suggest that they should be raped by five people. Or anything of that ilk. It's a bit like punching someone in the face for the sin of having their cell phone go off at a symphony is *not* the right reaction. Which is generally why people don't do it. Unless they're a giant raging git with serious issues.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:13 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Five Fresh Fish: Did you see the part where, according to the club owner, Tosh asked the audience to tell him what subject he should talk about? Answering doesn't seem that inappropriate. Getting up and walking out would seem like a bit of non sequitur.
posted by msalt at 11:14 PM on July 11, 2012


But don't interrupt or harass the entertainment. If you do, all bets are off.

Probably the most disturbing thing to me about this argument, which has been made several times in the thread, is that you think there are circumstances under which it's okay to deliberately shame, humiliate, frighten, or give a verbal smackdown to a woman by alluding to her being raped. That is bad in and of itself that you think those circumstances even exist at all, but what's worse is that you think interrupting a comedy show is one of them.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 PM on July 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


Has anybody in this thread said that Brooks gets a pass? I don't recall that being so. Instead, it seems like you are pulling out a 40 year example from an artist we all presumably respect in order to make a case that people who took issue with Tosh are hypocrites. Which is a sketchy approach to argument, to say the least.
Ah, the old 'accuse someone of being insulting' to grant yourself license to insult them trick. I like it.

My "sketchy approach" - testing general propositions for consistency by applying them to different fact patterns - is basic Socratic method. Now that I think about it, it was probably a poor choice given how that ended for him.

Anyway, my interest wasn't to call people hypocrites but rather to question some of the stated reasons for the outrage. Mel Brooks was just a convenient all-in-one test:

For example, is the severity of the criticism based entirely on the violation of a given standard of decency (as it seems to be represented), or because this standard of decency was violated by an unsympathetic C-list comedian? Or more likely some combination of the two? And is it true that rape jokes are never funny and/or always offensive?

It seemed pretty black and white when applied to Tosh, but thus far the reactions to Mel Brooks have been to carve out exceptions or sidestep the implications entirely.

I actually think that's a good sign, because it probably indicates some general appreciation that there may be some shades of grey to temper the black and white reactions, even if it's not easy to square the two. [This is why, as above, I'm not really interested in calling people out as hypocrites]
Let's stick to this comic.
For my own personal amusement, I'm going to pretend that's an answer to my first question :)
posted by Davenhill at 11:33 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I also find that disturbing. It's strange to me that these supposed champions of free speech feel that it can be expressed anywhere by anybody, except, of course, by an audience, who either get to shut the fuck up or whatever comes at them they have earned.

How did comics earn this privilege? Oh yeah -- they didn't. They just insisted it existed, and defend it with every tool they have, including shaming.

Sorry comics. I didn't sign that contract, and, if you say some messed up shit onstage, you'll get a boo from me. As fucked up performers have gotten from time immemorial. And you come at me, I'll strike back with what is apparently the deadliest weapon of all -- a blog post, the use of which is so dangerous, and so unfair, that it must instantly be ganged up against by the community of comics with every silencing tactic they have.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:34 PM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Somehow I feel that responding to "heckling" with "hey, wouldn't it be funny if you GOT RAPED RIGHT NOW" is about as appropriate as shooting someone because they thought your hair looked funny.
posted by divabat at 11:35 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


So the sanctity of performance art is more important than the safety of a human being, Five Fresh Fish?

Was she unsafe prior to interrupting his stage time? I believe she was safe until she chose to interact with him.

Tosh is an untalented douchbag filled with poison. Which is a great reason to not interact with him. Especially when he is on stage.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:39 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, she was asking for it.

Jesus.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:41 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


All the more reason to get him off the stage if his very presence does not benefit the world around him.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:41 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


you think there are circumstances under which it's okay to deliberately shame, humiliate, frighten, or give a verbal smackdown

No. I recognize that there are circumstances where choosing to confront an asshole is going to result in a beatdown, regardless the morality or justice of it all.

People on stage claiming to be comics do not abide by the rules. Right or wrong, it is what it is.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 PM on July 11, 2012


Davenhill: I think the element you're missing is proximity. She was right there in the audience. Tosh was pointing right at her, addressing his bro-heavy audience. So there was an element of real danger and fear.

Which goes both ways. As a comic, you also face that. I've had people in a prison town waiting outside the venue to beat me up after a show. (Luckily, an older wiser comic on the bill smelled the situation and said, "Hey, guy, tell you what! I'm gonna go get the car and pull up and you just be ready to roll, K?")

That proximity, and the sense that a crowd may be turning against you, creates a real, primal fear. Now, he's a famous, well-paid TV comic in an LA club that caters to famous TV comics. She's a member of the audience. We don't know if she has been a victim of sexual assault, or knows close friends who have, but Tosh doesn't know that either, and the odds are not negligible.

Mel Brooks in his movies did not face any of this, so I don't think your comparison is valid.
posted by msalt at 11:44 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


How did comics earn this privilege?

By the King's grace. And even then, the occassional court jester would lose his head.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 PM on July 11, 2012


I sincerely doubt there were court jesters who pointed at their patrons and cried out "wouldn't it be funny if the king were raped?"

Listen, this is just another example of a pernicious problem in comedy. A guy goes batshit racist on the stage, we mutually understand that his career is over and novody argues that heckles get whatever racism is coming to them. A comic goes batshit sexist, people say, eh, what do you expect?

I'm sick of sexism being the dirty little secret eveybody in comedy seems to tolerate. It's bullshit and it's making me lose respect for people who should know better.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:51 PM on July 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "It's bullshit and it's making me lose respect for people who should know better."

This a million times. I held my cool and didn't unfriend a person on LJ that I generally tend to respect because he holds the stage of comedy to be this might papist throne, infallible and free of any criticism. But I damn near came close. And that's not to talk about the comics I have held in some moderate respect (even if not fully 100% agreement or thinking they're great (Louis CK, for example)).

I'm so glad that Carlin's dead, because as much as I hope and think he'd be on the right side of this... I fear he'd open his mouth and prove me wrong. Dead comics tell no jokes. They also can't fuck shit up.

Now, please, David Cross, keep your mouth shut and don't disappoint me by somehow agreeing with the rest of the dickhead comics.
posted by symbioid at 11:59 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


cairdeas: you think there are circumstances under which it's okay to deliberately shame, humiliate, frighten, or give a verbal smackdown to a woman by alluding to her being raped. [Including the rest of my sentence for clarity]

five fresh fish No. I recognize that there are circumstances where choosing to confront an asshole is going to result in a beatdown, regardless the morality or justice of it all.

That's very true. But the morality and justice of this - or whether it's right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable - is what we're talking about here.
posted by cairdeas at 12:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rodrigo Lamaitre: "A joke is just that, a joke. Some are of bad taste but still just a joke. People should learn to chill the fuck out.

Consider that 1/3 women (guesstimate I've seen, unknowable with unreported rapes and assaults) have been sexually assaulted. Consider that in the club, if it is packed, there's probably a few in there who've been sexually assaulted, raped...maybe even the tumblr's writer. Maybe Tosh knows this, maybe he doesn't, but he definitely knows that rape exists enough for him to be able to joke about it and have everyone be able to picture what a gang rape is, for starters. He knows it's pervasive or the joke doesn't work.

Consider what it might do to one's brain to go back and relive that publicly...to relive the fear, the assault, and to look at the strangers around you and hope that it does not happen again. You might say "oh, that's unlikely", but then again, the first time you were assaulted you probably sized that situation up and thought it was unlikely too.

Consider as well that most comedians will berate you if you stand up and leave or if you say something. You're powerless and expected to just take whatever it is they say and accept it. There is no way out of that situation (unless you're sitting at the very back) which does not get Tosh's attention that you left during the rape jokes. Do you think he avoids the joke if, for example, the woman just got up and left?

1/3 women. This isn't like joking about the holocaust today, where it's unlikely someone has actually experienced the trauma of the event. For around 1/3 of the women in your audience, this is a real thing that has happened to them that you're joking about. If the joke is abstract, that might not be a trigger, but when you start pointing it at people in the audience, you make things very real.

Consider also that Carlin has already done it. It's done, it's an old bit, and any two-bit hack who's doing the same bit and just making it more or less offensive is just ripping him off. If you can't write your own jokes, ones that explore a different area than other comics before or around you, you do not belong on stage.

Calling things a "joke" does not absolve you from anything. Jokes are speech and speech has consequences. Saying a bunch of things and then saying "just kidding" is fucking five-year old behaviour that rational adults see through all the time.
"

And I still repeat: A joke is just a fucking joke!

There is tons of jokes about death, about slavery, about starvation and about everything related to humans from the nicest thing to the worst. That's the point of jokes.

Bad taste jokes are still just that, jokes. If comedians should refrain from some jokes because some group may get offended, there will be no more comedians.

The guy said his stupid shit after he was heckled not before, if you are one human that get offended by jokes, don't go to a fucking comedy show.

It's not because something is awful or horrible no one should make joke about it, actually it is for that that jokes should be made.

We live in societies that are turning politically correct speech to a religion. Fuck this shit.

There is a lot of jokes that I can't handle, if I know that some comedian say those kind of joke I don't go see him/her.

Oh and by the way, not only women getting raped and not only men rape.
posted by zouhair at 12:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


A guy goes batshit racist on the stage, we mutually understand that his career is over and novody argues that heckles get whatever racism is coming to them.

Well, I mean, a lot of people argued that with Richards and he was on HBO making fun of the whole thing a while after. Of course, his acting career was already pretty much over after Seinfeld ended and then the Micheal Richards Show bombed. If he hadn't retired from stand-up he still could have worked since he is so famous as Kramer though. The thing is, Kramer was funny as a non-offensive goofball in a popular show and he isn't a good enough comedian to do anything other than coast on that.

Tosh doesn't have much to lose from being considered offensive since saying offensive crap is his stock in trade, but if there is enough noise on this it will threaten his TV show.

I think the whole heckler attacking thing is going to go away, at least with high profile comedians, since having it backfire on your reputation is worse than losing a room. The clubs need to get a bouncer to handle the problem, not rely on the performer to do so.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:14 AM on July 12, 2012


By the way, since some people in this thread can't seem to get over Mel Brooks, here's an interview with him that makes a relevant distinction about the limits of humor:
SPIEGEL: Which you of course know well yourself. “The Producers” is based on a musical that you produced that ran successfully on Broadway for five years and also on the film “The Producers” that you shot in 1967. How did the audience react to the film back then?

Brooks: The Jews were horrified. I received resentful letters of protest, saying things like: “How can you make jokes about Hitler? The man murdered 6 million Jews." But "The Producers" doesn’t concern a concentration camp or the Holocaust.

SPIEGEL: Can you really separate Hitler from the Holocaust?

Brooks: You have to separate it. For example, Roberto Benigni's comedy “Life Is Beautiful” really annoyed me. A crazy film that even attempted to find comedy in a concentration camp. It showed the barracks in which Jews were kept like cattle, and it made jokes about it. The philosophy of the film is: people can get over anything. No, they can’t. They can’t get over a concentration camp.

SPIEGEL: But the film has deeply moved a lot of people.

Brooks: I always asked myself: Tell me, Roberto, are you nuts? You didn’t lose any relatives in the Holocaust, you’re not even Jewish. You really don’t understand what it’s all about. The Americans were incredibly thrilled to discover from him that it wasn’t all that bad in the concentration camps after all. And that’s why they immediately pressed an Oscar into his hand.

SPIEGEL: So there are limits to humor?

Brooks: Definitely. In 1974, I produced the western parody "Blazing Saddles," in which the word “nigger” was used constantly. But I would never have thought of the idea of showing how a black was lynched. It’s only funny when he escapes getting sent to the gallows. You can laugh at Hitler because you can cut him down to normal size.
As the son of Jewish people from the Ukraine and Poland, Melvin Kaminsky enlisted at ripe old age of 17 and fought the actual Nazis in World War II, as a mineclearer. He made the Inquisition funny - but he did it as a Jew who never forgot or let us forget that the Nazis were not a once-in-human-history aberration.
posted by gingerest at 12:15 AM on July 12, 2012 [16 favorites]


Telling a woman that it would be really funny for her to get gang-raped by the people around her is funny to you, Zouhair? Why?
posted by Hello Darling at 12:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


cairdeas: circumstances under which it's okay to deliberately shame, humiliate, frighten, or give a verbal smackdown to a woman by alluding to her being raped

Or, for those relying on Masada's version ("sounds like she's been raped by 5 guys"): that it's ok to give a verbal smackdown etc to a woman -- who is responding to another audience member not interrupting the comedian -- by announcing that she's probably been gang raped.

Not much difference. It's still that age-old tactic of pointing out, "Hey this woman who has said something I disagree with, she has a vagina! Vulnerable vagina, vulnerable vagina, vulnerable vagina, vulnerable vagina, VULNERABLE VAGINA! Sitting right there!"


Cosine: Men are never raped, noted!

Kilmartin overstated her case, sure. Wikipedia:
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997) estimated that 91% of United States rape victims were female and 9% were male, with 99% of the offenders being male and 1% of the offenders being female.[1] Several studies argue that male-male and female-female prison rape are quite common and may be the least reported form of rape.[2][3][4]
Severe underreporting by male rape victims of course skews our knowledge of the ratios. Why do they underreport? Could have something to do with how frequently rape victims are singled out for shaming, invalidation, and further harassment, with extra helpings of shittiness for being a man who experienced the kind of sexual humiliation that mostly women are expected to suffer?

Are Tosh and his defenders neutralizing that climate of shaming targets and survivors of rape? I think they're feeding it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Shaming and invalidating the targets and survivors of rape, I meant.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:41 AM on July 12, 2012


It would be wonderful if "lashing out at an interruption" and "bigot and bully" were not being conflated.

Lashing out at those who interrupt is theatre tradition. Sometimes the performer is mean about it. Ce la vie. Don't interrupt.

Bigoted bullying is not amusing, makes for a crappy entertainment experience, and needs to go away.

Two issues. Not one.

Shrugging off the former is not the same as supporting the latter. There'd be less upset in this thread if the two things are not conflated.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are conflated because Tosh has a history of being a bigoted bully who is seemingly under protection by working in entertainment. He didn't just lash out at an interruption -- he suggested retaliation and encouraged it.
posted by Hello Darling at 12:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Entertainment is about pleasing the audience. A member of the audience was not pleased. He responded in a way that should not be protected by his profession.
posted by Hello Darling at 12:53 AM on July 12, 2012


It would be wonderful if "lashing out at an interruption" and "bigot and bully" were not being conflated.

Nobody is "conflating" those things. When several things exist at the same time, as they did in this case, it's not "conflating them" to state that they are existing at the same time. Also, just because something is a "theatre tradition" - or any other kind of tradition - does not mean ipso facto that is is not bigoted or bullying.

You said up above that you do not think there are circumstances under which it's okay to deliberately shame, humiliate, frighten, or give a verbal smackdown to a woman by alluding to her being raped. That you "recognize that there are circumstances where choosing to confront an asshole is going to result in a beatdown, regardless the morality or justice of it all."

But here, you're not "recognizing that there are circumstances" when that happens. You're actively saying "c'est la vie" to that. That it's something to be "shrugged off." If that's not saying that it's okay, it's about as close as you can get.
posted by cairdeas at 12:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Correction #2: "defenders" meant people elsewhere whose ugly misogynist comments I unfortunately read. I was typing in a hurry and didn't mean anybody in this thread.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:09 AM on July 12, 2012


oh hey look it's a list of more comedians who don't deserve to be supported ever, via tumblr user amaditalks!

Rob Delaney: linked approvingly to Sarah Beattie’s tweet quoted above and said “It’s unwise to rush to judgement. Unless you’ve read something DICTATED to a COOKIE BLOGGER. Then, sing your song, internets!”

Michael Ian Black: “What kind of rape? Straight-up rape or funny rape? Because he might think a funny rape was funny.”

Jesse Thorn of MaximumFun.org & Hodgman’s podcast: “It’s anyone’s right to be offended at a comedy show, but it’s important to comics to be able to try stuff, including trying to push limits.” He also is blocking anyone who @-replies to him on the topic without any engagement

Dan Dodge (@TheOnlyDanDodge) who personally made a rape threat almost identical to Tosh’s against amaditalks after some fan of his asked him to comment on her tweets.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:15 AM on July 12, 2012


FFF: It would be wonderful if "lashing out at an interruption" and "bigot and bully" were not being conflated.

I don't know why you keep ignoring this point, but she did not interrupt him.
He asked the crowd for an opinion, to be stated out loud. She was one of two audience members who responded. Tosh was literally asking for her comment.

Why do you consider that an interruption?
posted by msalt at 1:19 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm not really surprised about Jesse Thorn. Jordan and Jesse go went through a long stretch where they seemed to do a rape joke per week. They seem to have backed off on that recently, but it got to be such a constant thing that I couldn't listen to their podcast anymore.

Jesse used to participate on a rap discussion forum where every so often somebody would say somethting sketchy, and the shorthand there was "there's that old 'cism again." well, there that old sexism again, and it would be nice if comedians and their supporters didn't instantly err on the side of it. Yadda yadda people have to be free to try out anythng in comedy, sure. But when they fail at it, and wind up supporting sexism, they need their friends and patrons to feel comfortable telling them that there's that old ism again, and not circle the wagons like the worst thing that can happen is a comedian blunders And is called on it.

Fuck it. I'm not supporting this shit. If Thorn wants to engage dialogue, he needs to engage it and not block it. Once again, champions of free speech have no patience for it when it turns critical of them or their friends, even when that criticism is valid. I guess I'll just have to find some new podcasts to listen to, because Thorn crossed a line here.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


People paid to be entertained by a guy on stage, not the audience. Get up and leave if you don't like what's on stage. Picket the venue. Start a social media revolution.

But don't interrupt or harass the entertainment. If you do, all bets are off.


That is of course the eternal excuse of all bullies: you started, now look at what you made me do.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


And I still repeat: A joke is just a fucking joke!

Somebody hasn't been bullied enough in school, or they'd known this wasn't true.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hello Darling: "Telling a woman that it would be really funny for her to get gang-raped by the people around her is funny to you, Zouhair? Why?"

That's not what offended her at first, she heckled because she was offended by his jokes. And what happens when you heckle a comedian in the middle of his bit? You get him/her angry and made him/her say crappy shit like he did.

If you get offended by jokes don't go to comedy clubs.
posted by zouhair at 3:40 AM on July 12, 2012


Lashing out at those who interrupt is theatre tradition.

Standup comedy =/= theater.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:55 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you get offended by jokes don't go to comedy clubs.

So, Zouhair, you read all the sources, you read all the comments above, you considered the vast and wide multiplicity of nuanced experiences, opinions and viewpoints expressed in the thread, you really took these on board and you really listened. You took advantage of all of this, all of this that Metafilter offered you. And the best you could come up with was If you get offended by jokes don't go to comedy clubs.

Congratulations, sir. Congratulations.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:28 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


you considered the vast and wide multiplicity of nuanced experiences, opinions and viewpoints expressed in the thread

Now that's funny!
posted by La Cieca at 4:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you honestly don't think there has been a broad range of reactions in this thread, I don't really know what to say.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm sure what the vast majority of posters on this thread mean when they say they find Tosh's reported words unacceptable is that he should be thrown in prison and perhaps also broken on the wheel, rather than that they will not buy tickets for his shows.

And when they say they tend to believe the woman rather than Tosh, no doubt they mean that they in all cases think every accusation against anyone is true and they will believe no evidence to the contrary, rather than that they noticed that a comedian with a history of misogyny in his acts made a vaguely-worded non-apology as his only response.
posted by kyrademon at 5:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


[A couple of comments removed. It's been a long thread; if you find that your patience is wearing thin and desire to act out growing stronger, it's probably best to take a break from this discussion for a while. ]
posted by taz at 5:43 AM on July 12, 2012


There is some serious short term memory loss issues in this thread from the people whose main argument is "hecklers are fair game". That, or a lot of intentional ignorance.

It feels like some people really need to cling to that heckling argument, for some reason.
posted by gilrain at 5:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I should expand on that, because I think I know why people want to cling to the heckling. The defenders in here, and all the comedians circling the Tosh.wagons, are flocking to the heckling accusation because everyone hates hecklers. I don't like hecklers either. That's why it's such a powerful counterargument, even though it clearly does not apply to this case.

It's the same way you could stir up a lynching of a black man. Not enough people were out-and-out racist to support it on grounds of "he's black", so they needed a bullshit reason that both racists and non-racists alike could get behind. Like, oh, stealing white women, or any other inflammatory accusation.

In this case, even supporters know instinctively that this "joke" crossed a line for a lot of people, just like Michael Richards did. They know that only a subset of people will support that behavior on the grounds of "it's just a joke" or similar arguments, so they need a more popular rallying point. They need something that never fails to dehumanize. And heckling fits the bill exactly... even if it doesn't fit the facts.
posted by gilrain at 6:03 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Actually, a followup:

Lashing out at those who interrupt is theatre tradition.

In the first place, as I observed, "standup comedy isn't theater." In the second place -- uh, no it isn't. And I say this as a theater professional.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on July 12, 2012


And I say this as a theater professional.

Oooh, look, an argument from authority!

You might not consider it theater, but lots of people do, including me.
posted by unSane at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the first place, as I observed, "standup comedy isn't theater." In the second place -- uh, no it isn't. And I say this as a theater professional

Strictly speaking, you happen to be correct, but I believe the commenter used the term "theater" to mean all performance art that occurs in a theater. So, rather than dismiss the argument as irrelevant, you now get to take it apart on its actual merits.

Helpful hint: When you make a point that begins with "as a [blank]," it actually has the opposite effect from what I assume is your goal.

Now, please, David Cross, keep your mouth shut and don't disappoint me by somehow agreeing with the rest of the dickhead comics.


You probably shouldn't read his comments on Tosh in this interview then.

Michael Ian Black: “What kind of rape? Straight-up rape or funny rape? Because he might think a funny rape was funny.”

You really think this is a comment in support of Tosh? You may need to call in a service tech to take a look at your sarcasm antenna.
posted by snottydick at 7:28 AM on July 12, 2012


The "theater professional" comment was strictly referring to the notion that there is a "tradition" of "lashing out at those who interrupt."

Because there really, really isn't. In fact, it's considered highly unprofessional, even though you time to time may have Youtube videos of people like Patti LuPone losing their shit and lecturing people from the stage. Most of the time, it's Not Done. (And that's the only reason I mentioned my theater cred, is because I'm the one that handles the fallout when someone does. You see the Patti LuPone meltdown, but you don't see the stuff that happened after - we backstage did.)

By contrast, there indeed is a tradition of sassing back your interruptors in standup comedy; yet another note to reinforce my prior assertion that standup isn't theater.

Strictly speaking, you happen to be correct, but I believe the commenter used the term "theater" to mean all performance art that occurs in a theater.

I could use the term "tomates" to refer to all vegetables if I felt like it, but that wouldn't make me right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing: I think there are people who believe Tosh is guilty of something other than making a dumb, sexist joke in poor taste and people who think it was just that. Like, we all agree the joke was unfunny and in poor taste. Yet the thread is almost 500 comments long. because a set of people want this to stand as proof that he has bad character, a thing they obviously cannot know.

I was thinking about why the joke didn't work as a joke, (not that I even know what the joke was because there are differing accounts as to what was said), and I don't think it's because of the joke's subject matter. I think it's because in order for a joke about negative stuff to be successful, it has to bring about catharsis. A good joke about something terrible works if it allows the audience to experience some amount of emotional relief or even healing based on how the story is told, and the best comedians therefore are fairly compassionate, empathetic people who have often felt deep pain. The reason Louis C.K. is so successful is because he's very good at creating a situation in which the audience can give themselves permission to have compassion on people they don't usually, or on themselves.

Tosh's rape joke, in either of the reported forms doesn't do that -- either reported phrasing ("what if you got raped by 5 guys" or "I bet you were raped by 5 guys") lacks compassion for the subject. If Tosh had made himself the subject of the rape, or had pulled a Carlin and turned the joke around to highlight victim-blaming, then that'd be an actual funny joke.

Perhaps he was trying this and failed - risking ad hoc jokes in a stand-up show is usually a very bad idea. Or perhaps he lacks the empathy to pull it off and should stick to what he knows.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2012


zouhair: "That's not what offended her at first, she heckled because she was offended by his jokes. And what happens when you heckle a comedian in the middle of his bit? You get him/her angry and made him/her say crappy shit like he did."

By her version, Tosh had already told a story about a friend's sexual assault, and ended it with "Rape! Rape is always funny! Rape jokes are hilarious! Am I right? So funny, that rape thing." when she called out. Others in this thread have discussed why this is practically begging for audience interruption, and that stating something so categorically was designed to invite disagreement.

By the club owner's experience, Tosh was literally inviting audience participation, and she was participating by putting her opinion (rape is a bad thing to joke about) against that of another audience member (please talk about rape because lol).

In neither case was she heckling in the middle of his bit, nor was she intentionally trying to disrupt the show. In other words, she wasn't being a troll; she felt genuinely uncomfortable. I guess you could say that she should've just stood up and walked away instead, but that still doesn't excuse Tosh's reaction.
posted by Phire at 8:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm getting into something interesting in memail just now (which I will paraphrase, but I wish the poster would come in): it sounds like the crux of one of the disagreements here is: some people believe the context of the statement (i.e., "he was sassing back a heckler") excuses the outrageousness of what he said. Others, however, do not.

If that's the case: those of you who believe the context excuses what he said, can you think of any kind of statement that you believe the context would NOT excuse (i.e., if he instead said "someone just grab an ashtray and beat her over the head", you believe that would be inexcusable)?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:12 AM on July 12, 2012


because a set of people want this to stand as proof that he has bad character, a thing they obviously cannot know.

This is not at all my investment in the thread, speaking personally. My feeling is that people who single out women in large crowds with threats of gang rape -- however comedically the threat is supposedly delivered -- should be publicly shunned. Not because it means he has some nebulous "bad character," but because:

(1) you shouldn't use the theoretical possibility of rape and violence as a weapon to silence people, whether or not you really mean it;
(2) when you say something that totally ill-considered to a crowd of your (drunken, rowdy) fans, someone might just take you up on it.

If he said the owner's version, again speaking personally I think it goes from a clear threat to just a really assholish thing to say, and is consequently much less important. But "it'd be funny if you were gang-raped by this crowd right now" is an atrocious, indefensible thing to say, regardless of whether or not Tosh loves his mother and/or puppies, whatever the state of his soul.
posted by gerryblog at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Here's the thing: I think there are people who believe Tosh is guilty of something other than making a dumb, sexist joke in poor taste and people who think it was just that. Like, we all agree the joke was unfunny and in poor taste. Yet the thread is almost 500 comments long. because a set of people want this to stand as proof that he has bad character, a thing they obviously cannot know.

Before this thread I thought that Tosh was just one of those narcissists who live on their YouTube channel and beg for people to subscribe to their witless maundering. I don't give a damn about his character, repellent though it seems to be.

What is driving this thread from my perspective is a bunch of people who have decided that the right of some halfwit to evoke gang rape at the direct expense of a woman sitting in his audience is the most important free speech issue of the moment, because god knows that comedians not being free to make vile remarks without any social disapproval will inevitably lead to the world envisioned in Minority Report.

Some of us 'broads' aren't cringing in hysteria in terror because the aforementioned halfwit thinks he is funny and apparently has the support of any number of people who think comedians should be able to say anything without fear of contradiction. We're irritated that just saying 'damn, that was a shitty thing to say' here on metafilter is apparently more controversial than actually saying it.
posted by winna at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Addendum, addressed to no one: I'm really tired of that whole "God, you get offended so easily" or the "fuck this political correctness" trope, because that's really not what this is about.

I get offended at lots of things, it's true. Unfunny jokes, bad art, the painful absurdity that is the success of the reality TV show industry, the success of Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray while much better YA languish in obscurity. Those things actually offend my personal sensibilities.

When I'm protesting against rampant misogyny in the entertainment and the steadfast defense of casual sexism, I'm not protesting because I'm offended. Tosh didn't say that shit to me. Dane Cook didn't tell me to go kill myself. Adam Carolla didn't say that I, personally had a shitty sense of humour. (I happen to think my sense of humour is superb, thank you very much.)

I'm protesting because I think these things have tangible harm, and tangible consequences outside of the venue in which it happened. Things like these make it really fucking difficult for women to succeed in the industry, or even want to go into the industry. They make it so that women like me don't want to go see stand-up shows--something I actually rather enjoy, believe or not--because more often than not, it'll be a night of jokes about how women suuuuuuuuuck amirite. They're alienating, and reinforce the notion that we don't belong, that we are inferior. And when big names like Louic CK and Patton Oswalt come out in support of something like this, then people who aren't engaged with social activism, people who are just casual observers, get the message that "oh, okay, I guess she was asking for it and just has to put up with it, since everyone else seem to think that".

People keep making the distinction that it's a joke, and all things are fair game in jokes, and sanctity of humour, and all that. Which is fine, you know? You have the right to joke about something totally tasteless, and I have the right to not respect you as a person and tell my friends to not go see your show. But when we do that, and explain why we're doing it, powerful people rise up in fury that we had the temerity to criticize, that political correctness is ruling the world, that we're hampering their ability to express their creative snowflakiness.

For Christ's sake, it was a blog post. One blog post. She has not said anything else thereafter, and people are attributing agendas, and accusing her of wanting attention, and being outraged that she dared write about an unpleasant experience, and should just go kill herself. A blog post. Because blogs are weapons of mass destruction, I guess?

So I protest, because I think this pervasive attitude of "I can say anything to a woman and get away with it" is shitty and harmful to both women and the entertainment industry. And I'm still protesting, because I'm being told to sit down and shut up and she asked for it what do you expect.
posted by Phire at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [28 favorites]


In this case, even supporters know instinctively that this "joke" crossed a line for a lot of people, just like Michael Richards did. They know that only a subset of people will support that behavior on the grounds of "it's just a joke" or similar arguments, so they need a more popular rallying point. They need something that never fails to dehumanize. And heckling fits the bill exactly... even if it doesn't fit the facts.

From what I'm seeing all over my Facebook, people are seeing this as a free speech issue; the idea that people should be allowed to make whatever jokes they please on stage. In my mind this brings up two things: It's true that you should be allowed to say whatever you want on a stage, but on the other hand, it's also true that nobody is ever forced to find your jokes funny or appropriate. That is to say, people on the internet also have the freedom to criticize you, and in fact probably will, which is why I never go to read comments under clips of me that people have put on Youtube.

Personally, I think rape jokes are distasteful, so while I think he can say whatever he likes on stage, I'm not going to spend any time defending that joke.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because there really, really isn't. In fact, it's considered highly unprofessional

Actually, there really, really is. Maybe not in the more high-minded circles of theater, but there is a long historical tradition of heckler rejoinders from when theater was not primarily patronized by well-behaved people who refrained from throwing vegetables and bottles at the performers. In Shakespeare's day, his "fool" characters were partly intended to act as a foil for hecklers. Sure, they had very important roles to play in his artistic vision, but on the Globe stage, they were also expected to improvise in response to wardrobe/prop/scenery malfunctions and to put hecklers in their place as well as play a dramatic role. At contemporary pantomimes (like it or not, a form of theater) responding to hecklers is still a part of the job description.

My favorite (possibly apocryphal?) example of this in theater (the art form) is John Barrymore's Richard III who, after making the customary offer of kingdom for horse, once heard an audience member make a whinnying sound. Barrymore looked out at the audience and said, "Forget the horse! Saddle yonder braying ass!"

In all performing arts, performers have always found ways to turn the tables on hecklers and expose them to ridicule, but in the context of the Tosh thing, I feel like we're discussing something ENTIRELY different.

I could use the term "tomates" to refer to all vegetables if I felt like it, but that wouldn't make me right.

And in response to an argument being made about what is and is not a vegetable, it would matter (especially since a tomato is actually a fruit and a "tomate" is a verdura) but the commenter wasn't making a point about what is and is not theater. The commenter was making a comment about performing arts generally, and that should have been clear enough in context.
posted by snottydick at 8:30 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


For the people who think this is a free speech issue, I really wish they would just think this through. Tosh's actions quite obviously violate one of the basic norms that make free speech possible, namely that you won't be beaten, murdered, or raped for the things you say.

If I respond to my detractors on MetaFilter with a post that says "Hey, it turns out it's easy to figure out your identity from your profile. It'd be funny if five of the guys from my side of the argument drove to your house and gang-raped you," I'd obviously be banned from site with extreme prejudice. Of course I would. That's an obvious threat, intended to intimidate and silence -- even if I don't really mean it, even if I have a reputation as a real kidder, even if I didn't really figure out your identity from your profile, even if I don't actually own a car.

Tosh only said the second part of the statement. He didn't have to figure out anyone's identity, or encourage anyone to drive there, because he, the woman, and the crowd were all already standing in the same room. If my line is a threat, his is quite obviously moreso.

The "free speech" line of argument flows to the woman, not to Tosh. What Tosh did is completely toxic to the very possibility of discourse, regardless of whether or not she was a "heckler" or not.
posted by gerryblog at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The commenter was making a comment about performing arts generally, and that should have been clear enough in context.

He should have said "performing arts" then.

in the context of the Tosh thing, I feel like we're discussing something ENTIRELY different.

This was precisely my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on July 12, 2012


My feeling is that people who single out women in large crowds with threats of gang rape

It wasn't a threat.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Annnnnnd here is bunch of comedians I really respected defending their god given right to make rape jokes.

I am curious how many of these comedians supported or would have supported Michael Richards.

This incident is really no different. It's about a struggling comedian trying to maintain his control of his show with offensive humor directed at an audience member.

In Richards' case, the audience was on the heckler's side and it escalated very badly very quickly and then he's screaming "he's a n*****!" over and over.

In Tosh's case, the audience was on his side, and the heckler scurried away, in what seems to be actual fear. (None of us really know what the atmosphere at the show was like.)

If she had stuck around and had 1 or 2 decent retorts, or even, as in Kramer's case, just stayed on his nuts, it could have easily escalated into a similar situation.

I don't want to condemn someone on what they didn't say, and the "line" is never clear (is calling a heckler "bitch" or "cunt" OK?) but the two situations (Richards and Tosh) seem very similar to me, with the HUGE difference that one was caught on video.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 AM on July 12, 2012


It wasn't a threat.

... which is clearly debatable. Explain your reasoning.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 AM on July 12, 2012


... which is clearly debatable. Explain your reasoning.

He never threatened her?

He never implied that he would rape her, nor did he ask that anyone else rape her.

The most you could say is that he said he would find it funny if it happened but there just isn't a reasonable chance that a group of guys would suddenly gang rape a woman to give a comedian a chuckle.

And that is ignoring the fact that he was a comedian (albeit a bad one) engaging in the age old act of shouting down someone from the crowd who had heckled him where over the top reactions to shut people up aren't exactly rare.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


He should have said "performing arts" then.

I agree that the struggle for accuracy is one that concerns us all, but being pedantic is, by definition, unhelpful.

If he had used either term, his argument would be correct, minus his conflation of stand-up comedy with theater, which is something that is widespread in our culture. If you wished to correct that point, it would have been more helpful to clarify the distinction.
posted by snottydick at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2012


I didn't wish to "correct that point," I only saw him say that something was a "tradition" in theater and in my experience, it wasn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2012


how to joke about rape. (posts collide ...)

And that is ignoring the fact that he was a comedian (albeit a bad one) engaging in the age old act of shouting down someone from the crowd who had heckled him where over the top reactions to shut people up aren't exactly rare.

Once the comedian says "What do you want to talk about?" he or she sorta opens up the flood of contributions from the audience. If somebody says "rape" and somebody responds to that ... I wouldn't call that heckling. At all.

I think by definition heckling is audience behavior specifically directed at comedians (or behavior that interrupts the show). These comments were directed at a subset of humor, not Tosh. She never said anything about him.

I find the defense of heckler execution here off.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't see this posted yet, in response to Tosh's Twitter apology:

@danieltosh I can't wait to hear your "lynching is funny!" bit. Or would that be a little TOO dangerous?

- Martha Plimpton
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


In this case, even supporters know instinctively that this "joke" crossed a line for a lot of people, just like Michael Richards did. They know that only a subset of people will support that behavior on the grounds of "it's just a joke" or similar arguments, so they need a more popular rallying point. They need something that never fails to dehumanize. And heckling fits the bill exactly... even if it doesn't fit the facts.

I did want to touch on one aspect of this. The woman's version of this story as described in the original blog post could conceivably be defined as heckling (assuming we agree that an audience member talking during a comedian's performance, without invitation, with the intent of the comedian and the rest of the audience hearing his or her comment, is heckling).

The version of events described by Jamie Masada of the Laugh Factory make it sound like she was not heckling at all, as noted by several in this thread, since the comedian had openly invited commenting from the audience. Which indeed makes the "he was just responding to a rude heckler" defenses of Tosh seem weak (assuming you think that would justify Tosh's actions in the first place).

However, I will say as a somewhat neutral observer here (well, somewhat neutral - I don't know that there is a version of events that would make it ok to joke about the gang-rape of a woman sitting in a room with you, just neutral in that I can only get so passionate about an event where the accuracy of the details is in question) that I do find it interesting how some are picking and choosing which aspects of these stories to believe as 100% accurate in order to fit their viewpoint.

For example, as noted, some in this thread have used Masada's version of events to exonerate this woman from any accusations that she was heckling.

Yet, there are other aspects to Masada's account which contradict this woman's story, such as her claiming to have left the show immediately following Tosh's comment towards her due to feeling unsafe, while Masada claims she stayed for the whole show, which at least to some degree calls her credibility into question assuming you accept Masada's version as true (which I'm assuming you would if you also take the "he was calling for audience participation" aspect at face value, since it also contradicts her version of events).

Not trying to blame the victim here - again, I don't know that there is a circumstance where joking that it would be funny if someone present in the room were or had been (depending on which version of events you believe) raped is not in extremely poor taste. Just trying to illustrate the point, interesting at least to me, that we tend to believe at face value those facts that confirm our beliefs and ignore those that would call it into question.
posted by The Gooch at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I only saw him say that something was a "tradition" in theater and in my experience, it wasn't.

I guess everyone learned something today. Let's all try to be a little less condescending in our tone from now on. Oops...

Sorry, but I have a username to live up to.
posted by snottydick at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2012


Reggie Knoble: "The most you could say is that he said he would find it funny if it happened but there just isn't a reasonable chance that a group of guys would suddenly gang rape a woman to give a comedian a chuckle."

Well, evidently there ARE guys who would try to gang up on a woman who called out rape jokes to try and "put her in her place". Add to that a comedian held in high esteem by fratboys everywhere giving his tacit approval, and it suddenly feels a lot more threatening.

Maybe not to you, but if I were that woman I definitely would've felt threatened, and I'm clearly not alone in thinking that. You can't just dismiss someone else feeling endangered because you don't think it was a threat.
posted by Phire at 9:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


[knock it off folks, you know how this place works, act like you like it here.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2012


Someone else raised the threat issue with me in a MeMail. Here is what I said:

I would say you are drawing distinctions between categories of "threats" (real/literal and not-real/not-literal) that seem to me to be special pleading. Saying to someone "hey, you know, we could just rape you" -- which is not the whole of what he said, but which *is* implied by what he said --- is a "threat" even if it's possibly, probably, almost certainly just idle talk.

I think that's true when it's a guy with a microphone in a dark room, or just some jerk on the Internet, or a street harasser, or a bully at school, or at work, or whatever analogous situation you want to try to draw. It's a threat because it draws attention to a real vulnerability and a real possibility of danger, however farfetched. That's true if Tosh is screaming at the top of his lungs, or if he's just blowing off steam. It's fairly characterized as a "threat," in my opinion, even if he doesn't mean it and even if we all agree there was essentially no chance of him following up. This is why I think it's appropriate to use that word in this context.

I take it we probably still disagree, but this is where I'm coming from on the question.

posted by gerryblog at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Phire: I'm not sure an annecdote about high school students is that useful as high school students are a) children and b) arseholes.

Seriously though, aren't their brains supposed to not yet be fully developed with regards to empathy and impulse control etc?

And i'm not too sure how threatened she felt as she stuck around to complain and ask for a refund. She is of course entitled to do those things but it doesn't seem like she feared she would be raped then and there at the urging of the unfunny comedian.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a weird amount of "a user contacted me through memail about this point" in here, and I've been contacted as well. I'm guessing it's probably the same user for everyone.

La Cieca: we know you vocally left the thread, but if you're going to continue to debate everyone anyway, it might be easier to do it here in the thread. As it is, you're like a participant which people have to relate to by third party. It feels a little silly.
posted by gilrain at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog:
My feeling is that people who single out women in large crowds with threats of gang rape -- however comedically the threat is supposedly delivered -- should be publicly shunned
And that is where we disagree. I think that people who single out women with threats of gang rape should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And, yes, threatening rape (or any kind of assault) is illegal. "Shunning," as this thread reveals, accomplishes pretty much nothing.

Thing is, in order for Tosh to be prosecuted, a prosecutor would have to have evidence something that is lacking in this account. You seem to think that it's ok for a mob of people to take the law into their own hands based on an anonymous account that has been disputed by two other eyewitnesses. I, again, disagree, not because I'm interested in privileging male voices but because I firmly believe people should be innocent until proven guilty.

winna:
We're irritated that just saying 'damn, that was a shitty thing to say' here on metafilter is apparently more controversial than actually saying it.
Maybe you're reading a different thread than I am? There are a whole lot of people saying way moe than "that was a shitty thing to say." It was a shitty thing to say, and it was an unfunny joke in poor taste. But a whole lot of people in this thread want more than that -- they seem to want to exact some kind of consequences on Tosh.

I don't think Tosh is funny. I never have. I don't think his rape comment/joke was funny, and I think it was in poor taste and a shitty thing to say. But I also don't think internet mobs result in real change or actual justice. If the Tumblr poster really thinks she was threatened, and really cares about justice, she should press charges. If she doesn't think his comment was a real threat deserving of legal action, then it was just a shitty joke.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reggie Knoble: And i'm not too sure how threatened she felt as she stuck around to complain and ask for a refund.

You no doubt feel you're more sure of her feelings than she is. I think those of us who disagree are choosing to take her at her word about how she felt.
posted by gilrain at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012


I wish the poster would come in

Since you asked.

Yes, context is extremely important here. The precise context is putting down a heckler in a comedy club. The expectation is that the putdown will be very hard and very final, and so, again that context, practically anything goes.

I say "practically anything" because there are surely comics who have become so angry and out of control that they have openly and obviously challenged a heckler to a fight right then and there, complete with screaming directly into the heckler's face, shoving and all that.

But I think it's easy to see that screaming "come on, take your shot, asshole" while chest-bumping is not a joke; or else, if it were meant to be a joke, it would have to be done in a very exaggerated hyperbolic way that made it apparent the comic was not meaning to be taken at face value. (I would think there's not much precedent of this kind of joke, or at least that if a comic is going to try to pull a joke like this, it would have to be consistent with the rest of his persona, i.e., that he was a violent flaming asshole.)

I think Tosh has a reasonable expectation that people who come to see his shows are familiar with the kind of performance he gives, and further that people who go to a comedy club generally know that if they interrupt the performance, they are going to get slammed by the comic. At the very least I believe there is a reasonable expectation that even someone completely unfamiliar with the comedy club milieu would have some experience with the performing arts in general, and would know that interrupting the performance is a breach of decorum.

I say all this to establish that under the circumstances, Tosh made a reasonable assumption that the blogger was a heckler, and he treated her as a heckler, which, as I've said before, means that in my opinion he had very wide latitude in what he could fairly say. The "rape" remark was very hard, but I don't think it was out of bounds in this very specific context.

And I am going to have to take exception to the unquestioning characterization of Tosh's remark as a "threat." He did not intend it as a threat (unless you are going to try to convince me that he really literally was directing some of the men in the room to rape the heckler, and in that case you're too far gone to bother to respond to) and even the blogger is inconsistent about how the remark made her feel. (Finally she gets around to using the word "threatened," but contradicts herself by saying "even if the actual scenario was unlikely to take place.") In a different context, perhaps that remark could be reasonably interpreted as a threat. But I don't think it's Tosh's responsibility to parse out all the possible misinterpretations of his material that may be made by an outlier in his audience who has already thrown a monkey wrench into the show by speaking out of turn. Occam's Razor would seem to indicate that his response in such a situation would more likely be "now I must deal with his hecker" rather than "now I must reinforce the patriarchal hierarchy by openly allying myself with rape culture, with the specific intention of terrifying into silence this innocent bystander who has dared to attempt honest discourse on the topic of sexual violence."
posted by La Cieca at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


La Cieca, in our conversation you said that such a threat would be inappropriate to a woman, but NOT to a man "depending on context". Can you elaborate?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on July 12, 2012


La Cieca: "He did not intend it as a threat"

Intent isn't magic. Intent of an action doesn't absolve you of the consequences of your action.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:27 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


La Cieca: Yes, context is extremely important here. The precise context is putting down a heckler in a comedy club.

As you regard the context as so important, and it is... you should probably acknowledge that that precise context is under reasonable debate. A lot of us feel that it isn't likely to have been a heckling situation.
posted by gilrain at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2012


The expectation is that the putdown will be very hard and very final, and so, again that context, practically anything goes.

Maybe you addressed it earlier, but could I ask if you feel this same way about that Michael Richards thing?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Solamente gags! Tosh did a bit on his Comedy Central show just three months ago in which he encouraged his male viewers to videotape themselves “sneaking up behind women” and “lightly touching” their belly fat. And a bunch of them did, sending the clips into him and posting them on YouTube.
posted by gerryblog at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


gilrain: The presence of fear is not evidence of a threat. Even if she did feal fearful that doesn't mean she was actually threatened.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2012


A lot of us feel that it isn't likely to have been a heckling situation.

Because you have cherry-picked details from two conflicting accounts in order to build the most convincing case for the blogger as victim. Her account indicates she interrupted Tosh when he was speaking; thus she could reasonably be thought a heckler.

You are eager to take every other detail of her account at face value and to discount everyone else's take, except for this single point which conveniently changes the context of the incident.

She says she interrupted; Tosh calls her a heckler; the club owner's statement is vague. So why is it you insist on following what seems to be the least reliable account about this single crucial detail?
posted by La Cieca at 9:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a longer piece at Jezebel: this recent segment, in which comedian Daniel Tosh asks viewers to record themselves sneaking up behind women and "lightly touch" their stomachs, deserves our attention for the way Tosh goes out of his way to stress that this touching should be unprovoked, non-consensual, and — hopefully, in best case scenarios! — shame inducing.
posted by gerryblog at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reggie: look at your post. You questioned whether she felt threatened, not whether she was threatened. I guess that was a typo, but it's what elicited my response, especially because it's a common trend in threads like these. ("Well, she couldn't have really felt the way she says she felt, because...")
posted by gilrain at 9:39 AM on July 12, 2012


La Cieca: So why is it you insist on following what seems to be the least reliable account about this single crucial detail?

I don't view it as a heckling situation in either version of the events. In the club owner's version, it's obviously not heckling; in the other version, we've had reports from standups who say that such a statement is almost certainly a tacit request for feedback from the audience as part of the bit, and I tend to agree with that. I've seen many bits that used that tactic.
posted by gilrain at 9:43 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do question if she felt threatened. But its really irrelevant to the question of if she was actually threatened so its not worth arguing over.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 9:46 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reggie Knoble: I do question if she felt threatened.

I bet you don't really feel that way, though.
posted by gilrain at 9:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


La Cieca: "now I must reinforce the patriarchal hierarchy by openly allying myself with rape culture"

Part of the reason we're having this discussion is that people who do things like this don't even realize that they're causing harm, because they don't stop to think about the effects of their words on the wider culture, or don't have the context for knowing how to think about the differential power alignments of different segments of the population. I'm sure lots of people who make racist stereotyping jokes don't think that they're perpetuating the oppression of visible minorities at the hands of the entitled classes, either, but that's why we tell them how stereotypes contribute to disenfranchisement.

As for whether or not she felt fear, the response seems to be that Tosh isn't responsible for how he makes her feel. That, again, is a problem that arises out of ignorance of context. Lots of women have been talking over and over again about why they feel threatened in certain contexts, even if it's something as innocuous-seeming as being approached by a stranger in a cafe. We try to tell people why we're wary of being in situations where we don't have an easy way out, why turning people down is so fraught, why allusions to sexual violence inspire so much fear. We talk about it until we're tired about talking about it and then we talk some more, because we know we're not getting through.

People still think we're overreacting and paranoid, and then when something like this happens the reaction is "well, Tosh couldn't have known how she would feel". So how do we tell people like Tosh, then? She didn't have an outlandish reaction. Her reaction as stated was one that a lot of people, myself included, could sympathize with, and have talked about in the past. But it's still not enough.

(I would go so far as to say that she put a disclaimer on feeling threatened because otherwise everybody would be saying that she's stupid for having thought that she was actually gonna get raped. It seems to be pretty common for a woman speaking up about feeling threatened by someone else to be dismissed, because the threat wasn't SERIOUS, GOSH.)
posted by Phire at 9:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


La Cieca, in our conversation you said that such a threat would be inappropriate to a woman, but NOT to a man "depending on context". Can you elaborate?

Well, we're dealing with a hypothetical here. But if we are indeed talking about a two-sided yelling match that at length degrades to an overt threat of (or invitation to) violence, a clear indication of "go ahead, take a swing at me, and then it's on," then I would say the difference of context is the gender of the person being threatened.

A guy comic threatening a male audience member under those circumstances, I would hate to see it happen, but I think it's basically okay. The audience member has the option of backing down and defusing the situation, or, for that matter, taking a poke at the comic. They're adults and peers.

I don't think women are socialized to make that kind of "step up or back down" decision when confronted by a bellicose male, and in the long run I think that's a good thing because it cuts both ways: men don't generally have the expectation that it's socially acceptable to challenge a girl to a fist fight, and a man who does break this taboo is (generally) pretty roundly ostracized.

But understand that we are talking here about very extreme behavior that really goes far beyond mere speech. In the context of a rude putdown of a heckler in a club, the comic should I think have very broad latitude, and the remark Tosh made was (so far as I can tell from our limited knowledge of the circumstances) within those broad limits.
posted by La Cieca at 9:52 AM on July 12, 2012


in which comedian Daniel Tosh asks viewers to record themselves sneaking up behind women and "lightly touch" their stomachs, deserves our attention for the way Tosh goes out of his way to stress that this touching should be unprovoked, non-consensual, and — hopefully, in best case scenarios! — shame inducing.

So now we find out the guy has a history of overtly directing his fans to commit battery on women. What were we just saying about the importance of context?
posted by cairdeas at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Guys guys hang on lemme mansplain this

We got two sides looking at an issue:

* Team A who sees this as a free speech issue and that it's important for the art of stand-up comedy for comics to be allowed to take risks with transgressive humor that might deeply offend some people.

* Team B who sees rape jokes as something that has the potential to cause people real pain and contribute to the acceptance of a culture and mentality that is actively harmful to 50% of the population.

Both Team A and Team B are correct.

Now the two sides look at each other:

* Team A thinks Team B wants to send the Political Correctness police to lock them up in gulags and make all comedy bland and inoffensive forevermore.

* Team B thinks Team A is defending rape jokes and has no problem with them.

A misunderstanding of the perspectives from which each respective side is examining the issue has occurred. Each side begins to read the statements of the other in bad faith. Conflict ensues.

We could also examine whether much of the argument might be resulting from a philosophical divide between people who find righteous outrage a cathartic and effective means of changing what is wrong with the world vs. people who find black humor to be the best way to cope with the horrors of a bleak world that resists all attempts at meaningful change, but I haven't got all day here.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Prize Bull, is there a Team C who just thinks Tosh was a fuckmop and that's really all they think?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


And by the way, about Tosh's "touch a woman's stomach in a non-consensual way" videos - note how many guys recorded themselves doing just that and sent in videos in response. They went so far as to commit battery on women in response to Tosh's request. But magically, rape and overt sexual assault would be really different?
posted by cairdeas at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm on Team C.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:04 AM on July 12, 2012


If the Tumblr poster really thinks she was threatened, and really cares about justice, she should press charges. If she doesn't think his comment was a real threat deserving of legal action, then it was just a shitty joke.

Those are the only two options? C'mon.

I'm on Team B.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2012


I really don't think this could be any more self-evidently a case of privilege asserting itself. What we have is a conflict here -- one group's desire to say whatever the fuck they want, and another group's desire not to have an incredibly destructive act minimized through humor, thrown in their face, and used to make them feel unsafe.

I see this constantly, particularly when dealing with issues that primarily affect women, and when the conflict is primarily among men. The men instantly reframe it as a freedom of speech issue, which is intensely useful. After all, we are a country founded on free speech, and it is the sort of thing you can count on people having knee-jerk supportive reactions, because, hey, First Amendment.

I'd like to reframe it into a discussion of ethics, a discussion that the comedy community very badly needs to have, but refuses to, because they believe their own press about comics being some sort of brave explorers of taboos, going out nightly into the dim recesses of humor to speak the unspeakable.

I would like to put forth that David Letterman and The Onion both have an ethical approach to comedy. I mention them because I know that they are held in high regard by the comedy community. Randy Cohen, who used to work for David Letterman, said that although he sometimes failed at it, Letterman's belief was that ethical comedy went after people for stuff that was volitional, rather than non-volitional. In other words, you could mock somebody for their poor taste in clothes, but not for having a big nose. The pants they could help, the clothes they couldn't.

The Onion, although they sometimes fail, try very hard to make it clear who the target of their satire is. If the target is unclear, they won't run a piece.

With rape jokes, unless they are very carefully written (and The Onion has had some successes and some failures), fail both these test. Rape is not volitional on the part of the victim, and, as with Tosh, it can seem like you are mocking the victim.

And there's another thing, which is that comedy is often the first and primary tool of the bully. Most kids get taunted with language, not physically attacked. If your humor supports bullying social mores, or supports abusive power, or attacks people for cliches of difference, you're not exploring some outer edge of the comedy envelope -- your squarely in the middle, using comedy to support institutions of power and disenfranchise people for their weaknesses or differences. And it may get laughs, and some comedians think the only job of a comedian is to get laughs. But schoolyard bullies get laughs. It's not exploring the limits of comedy, it's not speaking truth to power, it's not breaking taboos, it's just upholding the most hateful aspects of our status quo. It's not ethical.

And if you're a comedian who feels your knee jerking because you have framed this as a freedom of speech issue, because, well, what if one day you have the perfect rape joke, and you should be able to say it? That jerking knee is the jerk of privilege. Because you're not actually asking for free speech, which you already have. You're asking for consequence-free speech, which is not part of the contract.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:08 AM on July 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


* Team A who sees this as a free speech issue and that it's important for the art of stand-up comedy for comics to be allowed to take risks with transgressive humor that might deeply offend some people.

A misunderstanding of the perspectives from which each respective side is examining the issue has occurred. Each side begins to read the statements of the other in bad faith.


Hey prize bull octorock, about the people with the "Team A" perspective - I don't differ with that perspective because I don't understand it. It's not difficult to understand. I also think the speech of comics should be just as free as anyone else.

I differ with it because:

-Lots of "Team A" people misunderstand what "free speech" means. All it means is that the GOVERNMENT cannot restrict protected speech. It doesn't mean you are protected from any other consequences of your speech at all.

-Lots of "Team A" people act like comics are the ONLY ones who are allowed to have free speech. That comics should be able to say whatever they want and nobody should criticize them or say anything negative about them. That's irrational, and it's hypocritical.

-Lots of "Team A" people are saying that what comedians and other performers say has no effect on how women are treated in real life because they're just JOKES, and that's demonstrably false.
posted by cairdeas at 10:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, there's a whole alphabet of teams. Team L, for example, possesses secret knowledge that could bring this entire debate to an amicable and enlightened conclusion, but they're busy on the DirecTV thread and will never see this.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I'm here (and who knows how long that will be) I'd like to share a heckle/comeback situation from a different context, one I'm very familar with in fact: the opera.

La Scala, Milan. 1992. Soprano Katia Riccarelli, once one of the biggest stars of the company, has been absent from the theater from several years during which time she has married (significantly?) a standup comic. She has returned to this iconic place to sing one of her signature roles, Verdi's Luisa Miller.

But on this night (as, to be honest, as on most nights by the early 1990s), the singer is in very poor form, wobbly, flat, leaving out high notes and whole phrases, and generally just being miserable. Since early in the performance, the "loggione" (the top balcony, where the fans sit) has been is booing and whistling and occasionally yelling "vergogna!" (shame) through most of the time she's singing.

So Luisa has a little aria in the form of a prayer at one point, and Katia kneels downstage center in an appropriate attitude as a delicate prelude plays. At the instant of silence before she begins to sing, a voice is heard from the loggione:

"That's right, Katia. Pray to God and ask him to give you your voice back!"

So, WHILE REMAINING IN THE PRAYING HANDS POSITION, Ricciarelli screams back:

"No, I'm asking God to give you AIDS!"

Quick curtain, obviously, as the place erupts. Eventually the diva, WEARING A DARK WIG AND SUNGLASSES, is hustled out a side door of the theater to a waiting limousine to take her to the airport.
posted by La Cieca at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


What we have is a conflict here -- one group's desire to say whatever the fuck they want, and another group's desire not to have an incredibly destructive act minimized through humor, thrown in their face, and used to make them feel unsafe.

And let us not forget Team D, who are all about reframing the argument into the most transparently false dichotomy imaginable, through the use of deliberately incendiary language.
posted by La Cieca at 10:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And let us also not forget Team E, who dress funny.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:19 AM on July 12, 2012


Organon's "To all those men who don’t think the rape jokes are a problem:"

A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

Rapists do. They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.

Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better ...

[H]ere’s the thing. It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another, someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn’t mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed.

Or maybe you didn’t laugh. Maybe it just wasn’t a very funny joke. So maybe you just didn’t say anything at all ...

That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapist knew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades.

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [23 favorites]


Just to be clear, cairdeas, I'm not accusing either side of being unable to understand the arguments that the other is making.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2012


Bunny Ultramod: If the rapist already thinks all men are rapists, then why bother avoiding the jokes? His mind is already made up, isn't it? Don't the studies show that, again and again?
posted by La Cieca at 10:30 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the rapist already thinks all men are rapists, then why bother avoiding the jokes? His mind is already made up, isn't it? Don't the studies show that, again and again?

I believe you are smart enough to figure this one out all on your lonesome.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2012


"No, I'm asking God to give you AIDS!"

Quick curtain, obviously, as the place erupts.


This is, of course, totally relevant, because of all the gods in the audience who would have thought it was funny to give that person AIDS, right? I mean surely that is the point of your anecdote.
posted by elizardbits at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: “I do question if she felt threatened. But its really irrelevant to the question of if she was actually threatened so its not worth arguing over.”

This is the opposite of the truth. A threat is in the action, not in the intention. It is possible to accidentally threaten someone without even meaning to.
posted by koeselitz at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


comedy is often the first and primary tool of the bully

This is an interesting point, because comedy is often the best resort of the bullied as well. American-style stand-up comedy would not exist in its modern form without the self-effacing or table-turning humor of the ethnic minorities and immigrants who were among the prime movers in its creation.

There are competing paradigms here.

1. There is the bully comic who ridicules the non-elite and enforces status quo attitudes.

2. There is the bullied comic who defends him or herself with self-effacing humor that makes a caricature of the traits that he or she is being belittled for, or who who turns the tables on the bully, making them appear ridiculous by the means of a clever rejoinder or a trap. Sometimes this can be as simple as counter-bullying and taking the risk that the bully will be shocked/humiliated enough to neglect to beat you up.

I would gamble that more professional comedians grew up as the bullied than the bully and self-identify as such. It's likely that they believe that the conditions of the second paradigm apply to them at all times, even though the counter-bullying tactic has the potential to land themselves squarely in the first paradigm if they're not careful.
posted by snottydick at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is, of course, totally relevant, because of all the gods in the audience who would have thought it was funny to give that person AIDS, right?

A little hard to garner your meaning, but I'll try. A lousy comeback, actually, because a lot of the loggionisti are gay, and especially in 1992 they're not going to think it's funny. So she lost the crowd (they booed her off the stage, actually) whereas a different comeback (ideally, an absolutely jaw-breakingly perfect performance of the aria, but, failing that, perhaps, "No, I am praying to God that he take away your voice") would have meant a triumph.

In contrast, Tosh's audience laughed at the rape comeback, all except the blogger; she admits as much. So, as a comeback, it killed.
posted by La Cieca at 10:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jokes about rape make you uncomfortable, which is unacceptable because you expect the universe to be structured for your comfort.

I guess I was wrong.

No, jokes about rape do not make me, personally, uncomfortable. I don't typically find them funny, but generally because they are poor replacements for real humor, relying on shock rather than ingenuity.

I disapprove of them because, unless they are particularly well written, I feel they show a profound disrespect for the audience. If you have a large enough audience, and it does not have to be very large, somebody in the audience is a rape victim, and, unless your joke is especially insightful, the best you can say is that you are throwing their trauma in their face. Additionally, if the crowd is large enough, and it does not have to be very large, there is likely to be somebody in the audience who is a rapist. And, as study after study had shown, rape jokes contribute to the process of normalizing rape for them -- convincing them that everybody does it and it's just not a big deal.

So here we have a joke which, again, unless it is a masterpiece, is likely to hurt a victim and embolden a victimizer. Which makes light of pain and makes normal the act of causing pain.

I dislike rape jokes for the same reason I dislike racist jokes and homophobic jokes and jokes at the expense of the poor. Because I don't like bullies, I don't like the humor of bullies, and I believe that humor can be a great tool or a great weapon.

I dislike rape jokes because I hold humor in extremely high regard, and so "It's just a joke" doesn't wash for me. Yes, it's a joke. One of the summits of our human achievement. If you are a comic and you think something is just a joke, you don't hold your job in very high regard.

And I think you haven't made your case. Here we have an instance where, regardless of whose account we hear, the woman was speaking in a socially sanctioned way, at a moment when the audience had been invited to participate. And, regardless of whose telling we hear, Tosh took that as an opportunity to direct a rape joke directly at the audience member.

What is okay about this? Please tell me, but you haven't made it clear, whereas I think I have been more than forthcoming about my viewpoints.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


You know, it occurs to me that there's also a third paradigm.

3. The bully=>bullied comic who deflects the attention of the bullies on someone perceived to be lower down the food chain. "Hey, you think I'M lame? Check out the fat kid over there! Let's all team up on him instead of you teaming up on me!"

I used to hate odious little shit-heads like that. Still do.
posted by snottydick at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is possible to accidentally threaten someone without even meaning to.

Or without ever intending to follow up on it, or even having the means to go through with. At this point some of the people in the thread would have to argue most "bomb threats" and "death threats" aren't real "threats" either. Show me the bomb or it didn't happen!

But was she scared of the bomb, or merely discomforted by it?
posted by gerryblog at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The funniest thing about this is that people with the most power in society ARE the ones who, most of all, expect society to be structured for their comfort. That is what is at the base of a lot of misogyny. And I think that is what is at the base of a lot of Tosh support.
posted by cairdeas at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


[A few comments removed, maybe take a little break from this or something.]
posted by cortex at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2012


koeselitz: I have already conceded that her feelings aren't worth arguing about.

Even if she felt scared that isn't proof that she was actually threatened.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feelings are the essential point of what a threat means, though, so they're necessarily worth arguing about.

What she individually felt may not matter. But the question "is this a threat?" is answered by answering the question "would a reasonable person have felt threatened by this action?"

The answer in this case is yes.

My point is that what he intended isn't worth arguing about, and is in fact less worth arguing about than her feelings, which are sort of the focus of the whole question.
posted by koeselitz at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: I do question if she felt threatened.

You, and La Cieca and others, may find that reading the Whatcha Readin? thread illuminates why it's not only possible but likely that she really did feel threatened. Further, why many of us consider it reasonable for her to feel threatened in that situation, even if Masada's account is the accurate one and Tosh merely (cough) said, in effect, "Vagina vagina, vulnerable vagina, vulnerable vulnerable vulnerable vagina, sitting right there!"

Eg:
"There are two things going on that men may be less aware of:
1, women are really subject surprisingly often to violence/threats, even in everyday situations, more so than many men realize, and
2, because of this women get very finely attuned to apparently-innocent social boundary crossing . . . Because of 1, many of us have a background threat-management process running all the time. But this process is very sensitive, so it picks up on things that seem innocent (and often are). So when one goes to explain what was creeping you out, it may sound like over-reacting given that one circumstance. It's easier to understand in the context of all these stories that establish 1."

"The reason for that reaction [women being unreceptive to unsolicited attention by unfamiliar men who consider themselves perfectly nice, non-rapist guys] is that there's a whole background of experiences of harassment (that many many women experience and not as many men experience), sometimes leading to violence, that comes from men who may at first only be very gently testing a social boundary. That background makes it a rational default to have a seemingly-too-cold reaction to unsolicited attention or boundary-testing."

(see Sova's story for an eg of why a finely tuned threat-dar is essential for women to protect themselves in situations where many well-meaning guys completely lack the experience to recognize a sketchy situation that can escalate in a few heartbeats to direct threat and then actual assault)
"a lot of guys don't see the big pattern, because they put a lot of the different things women have to put up with in different categories. . . . As long as they're all on separate maps, you won't see the pattern. . . . It's only once it occurs to you to put the ass-grabbings and the catcalls and the rapes in one category, to plot them all on the same map, that the pattern jumps out at you — and then it's screaming fucking obvious."

"it's very clear to me (and every other feminist I know) that men are paying a price for living in a culture like this too. That's why we need feminism - to help us work toward a world where women no longer have to fear the threat of rape lurking around every corner, and men no longer have to worry that women see them as potential rapists first, and human beings second."
a world where women no longer have to fear the threat of rape lurking around every corner, and men no longer have to worry that women see them as potential rapists first, and human beings second -- would you agree with this?

If Tosh was trying out a new, genuinely subversive bit that failed miserably because it still needs work to be crafted properly, as some have suggested, he's had plenty of opportunity to offer up that context. As it stands, his bit and his "apology" fit seamlessly with the standard "women = vaginas = rape-able" bullshit that many women encounter so often that we learn there's no point mentioning it.

Does a successful and famous onstage comic announcing, in effect, "that woman sitting right there has been or could be raped" contribute to a world where well-meaning men, just trying to ask a woman out, have to worry that many women see them as a possible rapist? I say yes. If you disagree, I'm genuinely interested in your rationale.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'd recommend skimming at least one of the threads I linked, before writing that rationale up. It's likely that comments there would address at least some of its points.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:14 AM on July 12, 2012


I find myself continually baffled by the assertion that how the woman felt about the incident did not matter, as this entire discussion was sparked by a post she wrote stating how she felt, and lots of people rising up to tell her that her feelings are invalid because reasons (you heckled and thus deserved it, can't you take a joke, you asked for it because it's Daniel Tosh). How is this not classic disenfranchisement?

"You're feeling discomfited by something he said? Well, LET ME tell you how you're wrong to feel that way."

If we're not discussing whether it's okay for alleged comedy to trump someone else's sense of safety, even if it's a sense of safety that you personally disagree with, what are we discussing?
posted by Phire at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


then why are you in this thread objecting to anything? Do you expect the universe to be structured for your comfort?

I didn't say the only reason for objection to anything was being uncomfortable. I said that Bunny's reason was that she was uncomfortable because I can't see any rational reason: there is no law being broken, no one is being hurt. The best she can come up with is that some theoretical rapist in the audience might misinterpret the joke as encouragement, which is so tenuous it's hard to imagine any sort of discourse that would be unobjectionable by these standards. Anyone who has to reach so hard for rationalizations is likely to be acting from an irrational basis, e.g., emotion. Discomfort is a powerful motivator.

Why did Tosh object to the woman yelling out? Does he expect the universe to be structured for his comfort?

Why does any comedian object to a heckler? Do they expect the universe to be structured for their comfort?

She interrupted the act. Comedy is based heavily on timing and on the elusive art of "controlling the room," keeping the audience attentive and focused. A heckler disrupts all of that and makes the comic's job much more difficult; it may even cause the whole set to bomb, which places the comic in danger. That last part is somewhat irrational (the danger bit) but the rest of it is best described as a rational desire to have a workable environment in which to do your job. I know I wouldn't like it if some idiot burst into my office and grabbed the keyboard out of my hands while I was working on a time-sensitive document. That has nothing to do with discomfort "from the universe" but rather a focused annoyance at one person who seems deliberately to be preventing me from accomplishing the task at hand. In contrast, Bunny Ultramod is not going to have her day-to-day disrupted by Tosh's telling a joke in a club a couple of thousand miles away.

Or, to put in a more personal way. Being gay, I have a vested interest in discouraging homophobia. But there are practical, concrete ways of making my life and the lives of my community happier and safer. For example: donating money to and voting for candidates who support equal rights, being out in my personal and public life, encouraging others to be out, and challenging homophobic speech in certain circumstances, mostly personal conversations.

What I have come to accept, though, is that there is a certain level of homophobia ingrained in society that doesn't respond positively to challenge. For example, I don't see the point of my personally making a big deal about Adam Sandler movies: there is already in society a trend away from that kind of sniggering about gay stuff, and my getting on a soapbox is not going to change it.

But more to the point (in taking on Adam Sandler movies and such) is that I don't have all that strong a moral argument against what he is doing: essentially, he is saying something I don't like to hear. So I can listen, or not listen, or if I happen to hear some of it by accident, I can do my best to tune it out. That's what I can do for my "comfort." What I don't think is right to do for my comfort is to try to rationalize why Sandler shouldn't be allowed to make movies, which in the end boils down to my trying to control what other people are hearing. He has a right to be heard, and other people have a right to hear him and make up their own minds about what he has to say. And if some of those people have a history of being particularly vulnerable to what he has to say, they can take the responsibility of avoiding him. (I'm a little triggery about animals being abused, for example, and so I don't go seeking out dogfight videos. But if there's a scene in a movie about an animal being injured, or if a comedian tells a joke about that kind of thing, I cringe, but I remember that it's up to me to deal with the cringing, not to expect the world to shelter me from cringeworthy material. And that is especially true of anything that can remotely be called art, even Adam Sandler movies or standup comedy. Art is important enough to our society that it deserves certain special privileges that are not always accorded to everyday discourse.)

This is particularly a problem because we first-worlders are living in an environment that can be pretty carefully controlled to avoid discomfort. As such, we are socialized to expect a lack of discomfort -- as it were, to regard lack of discomfort as a human right. But when we are confronted with something that does make us uncomfortable, we feel like that "something" should, morally and legally, have to go away, to stop bothering us. This is issue enough in everyday discourse, but it becomes really troublesome when dealing with art: this painting makes me uncomfortable, so instead of staying away from the gallery or saying, "it's not my cup of tea," we start inventing elaborate moral and legal arguments why the painting should be suppressed.

Or Tosh's jokes. They're art just as much as an Offili painting.
posted by La Cieca at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


She interrupted the act.

As has repeatedly been pointed out, in every telling of this instance, she didn't.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:31 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


La Cieca, I'd like to ask you again whether you felt this same way about the thing with Michael Richards.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2012


As has repeatedly been pointed out, in every telling of this instance, she didn't.

Here we go.

The blogger:

So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”


He was talking, she interrupted.

Tosh:

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.

He says he was heckled.

Masada:

Masada says Tosh asked the audience, "What you guys want to talk about?" After someone in the front said "rape," a woman in the audience started screaming, "No, rape is painful, don’t talk about it." Then, Masada says, "Daniel came in, and he said, 'Well it sounds like she’s been raped by five guys' — something like that. I really didn’t hear properly."

Here's it's not quite so clear what happened. Taken on face value, it sounds like she called out along with the rest of the audience. It's possible that Masada's telling the story badly and leaving out a bit. He does say, "something like that. I really didn’t hear properly," which suggests that he wasn't paying close enough attention to catch every detail.

So, I will be happy to stipulate that in Masada's version of the story she was not heckling. That still leaves two other telling in which she was. It comes down to: what are you going to believe, the accounts of the two people closest to the action, or the version that best suits your agenda?
posted by La Cieca at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


[La Cieca, this thread is becoming you vs everyone and we need it not to be. Please try to manage this either by taking conversations to email or taking a walk. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to ask you again whether you felt this same way about the thing with Michael Richards.

Same as the Ricciarelli story, basically: obscene without being funny, and he lost control of the room, thus a failure. Did he have a right to say what he said: under the circumstances, yes, and he blew it: the room turned on him.

That's a very different circumstance from having one heckler run out of the room in tears; in fact, I would say that that's the second best outcome that could be expected from a comeback, the first of course being the stunning of the heckler into respectful silence for the rest of the set.
posted by La Cieca at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2012


In La Cieca's defense - he'd been emailing a few of us privately and we all encouraged him to come in here instead. Sorry, La Cieca.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2012


Okay, I've been asked to leave again. Later, all.
posted by La Cieca at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yeah, as a general thing it's probably not a great idea to reference and sort of argue your side of off-band communications with someone when they've stepped out of a thread. Sort of creates a weird dynamic of pressuring someone to come back in.
posted by cortex at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you for your response, La Cieca.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2012


I said that Bunny's reason was that she was uncomfortable because I can't see any rational reason: there is no law being broken, no one is being hurt.

You can argue about the extent of the "hurt" but saying that "no one is being hurt" when the author specifically describes how she was hurt by the incident is silly.

But he said "Rape jokes are always funny" that's not a joke, that's a declaration and it's meant to provoke

yeah, that's the thing to me. It's like he was trolling for "hecklers" and not even "hecklers," but a rational, sober woman who might stand up for those who are too intimidated to do so.

Or Tosh's jokes. They're art just as much as an Offili painting.

I'd say his expression is protected as much as Offili's, but don't let hyperbole undermine your argument, lol.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alas, La Cieca is gone, and so there is no way to point out that in none of his tellings did the woman actually interrupt Tosh.

Apparently comedy is so delicate that any interaction or noise from the audience is going to ruin it forever. Perhaps comedy should not be performed in front of a live audience, as their responses cannot be predicted.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


But he said "Rape jokes are always funny" that's not a joke, that's a declaration and it's meant to provoke

Exhibit A why this thread is experiencing such miscommunication -- my first reaction when I read this was "he allegedly said..." We have two accounts, and only one of them alleges Tosh was "trolling" - the other alleges he asked the audience for joke topics and an audience member brought up rape, and it was to that the Tumblr poster replied.

I'm inclined to take neither the original Tumblr post nor the club owner's reply at face-value. At best, we have two biased accounts, neither of which can be proven at this point, because they differ so much on the essential facts.

And I don't understand why that isn't important to people who care about justice. It's not "blaming the victim" to insist that before punitive action is taken that there actually be reliable evidence that the allegations are true.

posted by eustacescrubb at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2012


...but there just isn't a reasonable chance that a group of guys would suddenly gang rape a woman to give a comedian a chuckle...
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:56 AM on July 12 [1 favorite +] [!]
So this is a little more personal than some of the conversation has been to this point; I apologize for injecting personal stuff into an already tendentious thread, but I really wanted to address this point and why I strenuously disagree.

It's hard to take "Wouldn't it be funny if she was raped right now?" lightly, as a joke. The stuff before - that was a joke. A joke in poor taste, likely, and not something I would have thought funny, but hey. I've sat through Adam Sandler movies and participated in popular culture and I can take a rape joke. "Wouldn't it be funny if..." is less a joke and more an expression of anger, frustration, and I really honestly believe there's some deeper level there - if not an outright "someone should rape you," something along the lines of "You made me so mad I just want to remind you that it's very easy to take away your bodily autonomy" (argued eloquently here).

If I'd been in that situation, I would have absolutely read that as a threat. When I was raped, I didn't shout, yell, or scream because I didn't know that the people who heard me wouldn't join in. This was a bizarre situation with some extenuating circumstances, but look. These were people I'd know for a few months, the person raping me was someone who I trusted and genuinely thought was my friend and cared about me and my safety and wellbeing.

In this situation, either this was a group of people who'd just been laughing uproariously about rape jokes, or suggesting that rape is a hilarious topic. Tensions are high, I'm already feeling unsafe and upset, I've just been personally called out as either obvious rape victim or hilarious future rape victim. I'm in a room surrounded by people I don't know anything about, who don't know anything about me other than that I called attention to myself by "heckling" or "answering a question." I can't trust a friend not to rape me; how can I reasonably consider myself safe when a room full of strangers has just been told it'd be hilarious if I was gang raped?

I'm someone who has been intermittently been participating in the conversation; sockpuppeting up because I have family who read metafilter to whom I haven't disclosed my rape.
posted by SockMarionette at 12:42 PM on July 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


Eustacescrubb -- I think it is important, very important, and I was the one who dug up (after a ton of searching) Masada's version. But Tosh's refusal to give his side at best is inviting speculation, and frankly I read it as a tacit admission that telling the entire truth would not help his case.
posted by msalt at 12:46 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone in another thread linked to a site called The Gloss, and they had a take on this issue. My favorite bit:
The problem isn’t that rape jokes can never be funny. I think I’d probably find someone who had been raped who was able to make jokes their rape pretty brave and amazing for being able to do so. I think that might even be cathartic for them. But I do not think it is funny coming from Daniel Tosh.

[snip]

I think that this joke is not funny, because I think that the purpose of humor is to attack aggressors, not victims. This joke fails because attacking victims is, in addition to being just plain a mean thing to do, almost never funny.
Yes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


But Tosh's refusal to give his side at best is inviting speculation, and frankly I read it as a tacit admission that telling the entire truth would not help his case.

This is not meant as a defense of Tosh, but I think it is in his best interest to do exactly what he has done - make one quick sort-of apology and then let this blow over.

Tosh's fans - the type who watch his TV show regularly and pay to see him perform stand-up, are likely fans of this sort of humor in the first place (not trying to make negative generalizations, just an honest assessment of the kind of "shock" humor prevalent on Tosh.0 and in his comedy). This event is not likely to lose him any fans as it is not as if this incident, unlike the Michael Richards situation at the same club, causes people to see him in a different light than they had previously. It fit right in with his usual act.

Those who are offended by his actions were likely not fans in the first place (as we've seen here, the average Metafilter user is not within the Tosh.0 demographic), so he doesn't have a whole lot of incentive to try to appease them with a defense here.

In other words, I don't know that his lack of a definitive statement on this should be taken as an admission of guilt as much as a tactic to make this disappear as quickly as possible rather than drag it on with endless new evidence being presented.
posted by The Gooch at 1:07 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now?

Goodness, gracious, it's taken reading this entire thread piecemeal over two days for me to realize that this must be an allusion to an extremely racist rape joke involving 5 guys and a basketball which I heard for the first and only time 35 years ago!

The blogger certainly isn't making it up when she claims he said that!
posted by jamjam at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2012


A lot of people are wondering why so many comedians are defending Tosh. I think there are two positive and two negative reasons. First, we naturally want no limits on free speech, not even social bounds of what's acceptable, and we naturally don't want any encouragement to hecklers where they might think "yeah but in THIS case heckling is OK."

Perhaps more importantly though, Daniel Tosh is the top-rated star on Comedy Central, which (along with HBO) is the the single biggest TV outlet for comedy. And your comedy career success is defined precisely by how much you're on TV. So Tosh is a huge power player with the biggest outfit in comedy.

Furthermore, the Laugh Factory is a very influential, high profile club, and Jamie Masada -- who is defending Tosh -- is a huge power player.
posted by msalt at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


How to Make a Rape Joke
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Me: But Tosh's refusal to give his side at best is inviting speculation, and frankly I read it as a tacit admission that telling the entire truth would not help his case.

The Gooch: I don't know that his lack of a definitive statement on this should be taken as an admission of guilt as much as a tactic to make this disappear as quickly as possible rather than drag it on with endless new evidence being presented.

I think we're kind of saying the same thing. He's just laying low and hoping it blows over, because he has a lot of money on the line. But that's not exactly an honorable position, and it's entirely consistent a horrible reality that's even worse than what we've heard, as well as with a much more understandable reality that's much better.
posted by msalt at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alas, La Cieca is gone, and so there is no way to point out that in none of his tellings did the woman actually interrupt Tosh.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. It seems like in her account she says she shouted out during the act because she didn't like what she was hearing, and Tosh said he considered it heckling.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't get that. I suppose one can infer an interruption, but it's not explicit. Also, I'm not in favor of an honest audience reaction being identified as heckling. Heckling is like trolling -- it's a deliberate provocation designed to provoke a reaction. Audiences respond honestly to things b all sorts of ways, and if you are going to go nuclear at a reaction that surprises you, you have limited yourself primarily to a white, middle-class theatergoing audience, because they're the ones who mostl bhave been trained to obey that model of audience behavior.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:24 PM on July 12, 2012


It seems like in her account she says she shouted out during the act because she didn't like what she was hearing,

In her account, she says that he kept repeating that rape jokes are always funny, and a rape joke can't not be funny, over and over. This is not normal comedy behavior -- it's the comedic equivalent of trolling. Not even making a joke -- if you accept her version, he was basically challenging the audience to respond.

Really, imagine it's a club that's half black and half white. And he suddenly kept saying, with no joke, over an over, "It's always funny when a white guy says nigger. It's never not funny when I say nigger!"

So, if one black guy in the audience says "No it isn't", you'd call that heckling and interrupting him? I don't think you would. And would you think it's cool for Tosh to say "Wouldn't it be funny if five good old boys lynched that uppity nigger? Wouldn't that be hilarious?" I don't think you would blithely dismiss that as normal heckler management.

Given the rates of sexual abuse, this was the equivalent of a club in Alabama in the 50s, and Tosh was "joking" about lynching.
posted by msalt at 3:33 PM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Are we just defining interruption differently in this situation? I think any unprompted commentary directed at a performer during a performance is an interruption. I mean, I've been to plays where my honest reaction was "This sucks ass!" but it would probably be an interruption to mention it, honesty or not. She even said it was "disruptive" but felt she had to proceed anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:36 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unprompted is the key word. In one telling of the story (by Tosh's friend) he explicitly prompted feedback. In the blogger's telling, in my professional opinion, he implicitly prompted a reaction.

Which is a perfectly fine thing to do, I do it myself sometimes to get a rise out of the audience, but I don't call someone a heckler if they take the bait.

Have you ever seen a comic announce what is funny to the audience? It is blatantly inviting a response, because of course the audience gets to judge what is funny or not.
posted by msalt at 3:42 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think if she felt she was prompted she would not have considered what she did "disruptive." I don't think the accounts are clear enough to judge what really happened, but I do not agree with the repeated assertion that no account claims interruption.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod:

The blogger says: I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature .... After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment.

"Disruptive" implies something that is disrupted. If this were a freewheeling audience participation, calling out would not be disruptive; it would be part of the discussion. So whatever was going on was not an open forum at the moment. That means that what was happening was Tosh was talking and she called out, i.e., she interrupted.

"Paused" further implies that he was speaking before she "called out." What other activity would a standup comedian have been doing that he would "pause" when someone suddenly "calls out?" But whether he was talking or juggling or miming walking against the wind, she "disrupted" this activity, which he then "paused." In other words, she interrupted him.

Tosh agrees with her. He characterizes what she did as "heckling" which inherently involves interruption.

So, she says she interrupted him. He says she interrupted him. They were there.

You say she didn't interrupt him, and you weren't.

How does that make sense?
posted by La Cieca at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was just going to post your link homunculus.

It's a really good piece, though I disagree about Borat, as to me he's making cheap jokes and trivialising it. And disagree with the Louis C.K. one, though I was more ambivalent, and had to think a bit as to why. I think it's because it reminds me of so much ironic racism, in that the joke is only funny for most people -- especially the people who have to live with being the target of the terrible thing he is being ironic about -- if they can feel safe, if they can be sure that everyone is on the same page, and you know you are not making things worse. (Imagine, if you like ironic racist or sexist jokes, what it'd be like if you are sitting next to someone you know is racist or sexist. Wouldn't the joke fall a little flat?)

But his joke about raping Hitler (and his more straightforward ironic "Well, what else are you gonna do" joke later) does not feel like they are on the side of people who have been raped, even with the part about the shower. And as many people here often bring up whenever there is a conversation about women being raped and they feel they have to redress some sort of balance by mentioning male prison rape and all the jokes about it -- it's strange how I have never seen anyone invest so much energy in arguing with them then about how a joke is just a joke? -- there are plenty of people who believe rape is justified and deserved as long as the person is a criminal, and can and should be used to teach them a lesson, and that rape can be used as a weapon. I've liked a lot of Louis C.K.'s work, but I didn't buy his last special (after getting the first one he sold off his website) because to me he's been getting lazier and lazier in just saying shocking or offensive shit where the shock or offence is the entire joke (not sure about his more recent stuff, he might've got better again.) His best work gives a shit about things, and about people, not just getting cheap easy laughs from the audience.

But the John Mulaney one mentioned in that link should be brought up as an example of how a man can make a rape joke. And the Ever Mainard one should be brought up every time someone comes into one of these conversations to tell the story, as if for the first time, about how some people need dark humour to process horrific things, don't you know? I think it is palpable in those two performances, to anyone watching who have been raped or assaulted, that both comics share their horror. They are not making light of it, trivializing it, let alone turning it around and using it as a weapon. They share the horror, and they give a shit. The John Mulaney one... I can imagine another comic who didn't give a shit, delivering almost the same routine, and ending up making fun of the woman's reaction, or even making it about how it's so hard to be a guy these days, with women so paranoid around you etc. But you can feel John Mulaney cares, that he is sympathetic to and horrified for the woman, that she has to feel and carry that fear around with her. And it makes a world of difference.
posted by catchingsignals at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think if she felt she was prompted she would not have considered what she did "disruptive."

I dunno, I think just in terms of the basic dynamics of stand up comedy crowd work what msalt's saying makes a lot sense. A comedian working the crowd is doing it because he knows it works as a bit; he's used to playing for responses, he's used to putting someone on the spot a little for a bit, etc. It's not a symmetrical thing; the comic's got the reins and someone can be simultaneously doing pretty much what the comic is hoping for and feel out of sorts or conflicted or embarrassed.

It's half the reason that stuff works as a general gambit, since people simultaneously laugh at the comic ribbing the audience member and sympathize with the audience member suddenly being the center of the comic's attention. I saw Jimmy Pardo play that to the hilt one time, making a guy a recurring part of his act over the course of fifteen or twenty minutes and just working that weird funny "oh, you're the guy who talks during my show, huh?" thing even while he was constantly, obviously baiting the guy. And the guy was clearly a little flustered by the whole thing but he was also laughing along, because Pardo was making it work.

Take that dynamic and then throw in some super bad feelings because the comic's gambit is not working and it's not hard to see something like this playing out.

I think random asshole hecklers suck, and generally don't even enjoy seeing comics dealing with them because it's almost always an uncomfortable and unflattering scene. But at the same time, stand up is not the opera, and a comic working the audience knows he's fishing for responses.
posted by cortex at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


How does that make sense?

I dunno? Tosh is an asshole and a liar?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's not a comedy professional; he is. He knows how crowds work.
posted by msalt at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I dunno? Tosh is an asshole and a liar?

Okay. But since he and the blogger are in agreement that she interrupted his act, what does that make her?
posted by La Cieca at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


EVEN IF. Even if she was heckling, if she was the worst heckler to have ever heckled, the Most Annoying Heckler Ever...

...how the hell does that justify an invitation to gang rape!?

the "did she heckle or not" is a huge red herring here. It doesn't matter. NOTHING justifies what Tosh said in reply.
posted by divabat at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


But since he and the blogger are in agreement that she interrupted his act, what does that make her?

The person who was baited into responding and then slapped down with more jokes about rape?

I don't know what you're fishing for here. You seem to think there is a mutually agreed upon standard of audience behavior, and she violated it, and this is what happens. I assure you, you're never going to find that absolute standard.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


She's not a comedy professional; he is. He knows how crowds work.

And she, innocent lamb off the farm, thought that a comedy club was like, what... a theater? Well, no, in a theater you don't yell at the actors. A movie? Well, no, in a movie you don't yell at the screen? A town meeting? Well, no, in town meeting you take turns talking.

I just want to understand exactly who this woman is whose knowledge of American culture is so narrow and limited that she thinks it's perfectly acceptable and reasonable behavior just to suddenly start yelling while everyone else is being quiet and there's a guy on stage talking to everyone else.

It's kind of distressing that people who consider themselves feminists would create such a construct of a woman so clueless and utterly inept at social cues that she would do such a thing so... what's the word? Disruptive.

Fortunately, the blogger seems to have a much higher level of self-awareness then you give her credit for: she at least admits that she disrupted the show, even if she thinks Tosh overreacted to the disruption.

Her, I think I could have a sensible discussion with.
posted by La Cieca at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


All right. She had it coming to her. You've made your case. Anyone who dares to interrupt a comic gets rape jokes right up in their face.

Congrats. Hell of a hill you picked to die on.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you haven't seen a bit where the comedian was purposefully, but not explicitly, seeking audience feedback in the service of a bit, then you need to watch more acts. I've seen this a lot.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the bit Tosh had planned is the very comeback that we're all upset over. Indeed, apparently most of the crowd found it hilarious, so he probably thought it went as well as hoped.
posted by gilrain at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2012


La Cieca: You're claiming this woman had no understanding of social cues? How is "letting rape jokes go by in case you get targeted by one for speaking up" an acceptable social cue?
posted by divabat at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


La Cieca - Yeah, she totally had it coming, huh? If that woman had respectfully kept her mouth shut while the man was talking, none of this would have happened. What a stupid, noisy lady. Good thing she was put in her place, right?

I'm staggered that you're still at this. Is Tosh a relative or something?
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I dunno, I think just in terms of the basic dynamics of stand up comedy crowd work what msalt's saying makes a lot sense.

I agree it does, and in combination with the account from the club guy it sounds like a very likely scenario. I was responding to the assertion that none of the accounts claim it was an interruption, when two of them clearly do. I am not arguing if that was the correct interpretation or not.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm staggered that you're still at this. Is Tosh a relative or something?

That's where it always ends.

posted by La Cieca at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really, imagine it's a club that's half black and half white. And he suddenly kept saying, with no joke, over an over, "It's always funny when a white guy says nigger. It's never not funny when I say nigger!"

So, if one black guy in the audience says "No it isn't", you'd call that heckling and interrupting him? I don't think you would. And would you think it's cool for Tosh to say "Wouldn't it be funny if five good old boys lynched that uppity nigger? Wouldn't that be hilarious?" I don't think you would blithely dismiss that as normal heckler management.

Given the rates of sexual abuse, this was the equivalent of a club in Alabama in the 50s, and Tosh was "joking" about lynching.


Since no one seems to be aware what abominably racist old rape joke I think Tosh was referring to when he said “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? ..." (a credit to you all, really) please pardon me for making it more explicit:

'How do you stop 5 [N-word]s from raping a white girl?

Toss them a basketball.'

I wonder whether Tosh is neither confirming or denying because he doesn't want this to occur to people.
posted by jamjam at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2012


Ugh. I wonder if he was implicitly referencing that old joke. God help him if he was.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2012


An analogical take on the situation by a prominent Austin comedian.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 4:53 PM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


If someone appears to be trolling, I would trust your gut and react accordingly (ie not at all.)
posted by msalt at 4:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


La Cieca: who this woman is whose knowledge of American culture is so narrow and limited that she thinks it's perfectly acceptable and reasonable behavior just to suddenly start yelling while everyone else is being quiet and there's a guy on stage talking to everyone else.

It's kind of distressing that people who consider themselves feminists would create such a construct of a woman so clueless and utterly inept at social cues that she would do such a thing so... what's the word? Disruptive.


Dude. The main reason that women in America are able to vote, and that married women can own their own property, charge husbands with spousal rape, etc, is feminists making a big stink about social cues that fuck over women and present the fucking over as unchangeable and normal.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2012 [27 favorites]


Wait a sec. I though one of the main things people are defending about Tosh is how he dares to violate social cues conventions in such a bold and edgy way, and how important it is to protect his important ability to do that from the PC nannies who want everything to be safe and comfortable.

So are we in favor of violating social cues or not? Or are only men onstage with microphones to be lauded for violating social cues?
posted by cairdeas at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


And in American society, joking about gang rape is still way more of a violation of social cues than heckling a comedian.
posted by cairdeas at 5:15 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tosh needs to issue a real apology. My hope is that John Stewart rips him to shreds on Monday.
posted by cashman at 6:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's tweet that to him.
posted by cairdeas at 6:19 PM on July 12, 2012


Daniel Tosh Chuckles Through Own Violent Rape
posted by msalt at 7:03 PM on July 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


Oh The Onion, how I love you.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:27 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


As the Jezebel article linked above pointed out:

Those of you saying that if she didn't want to hear that kind of joking, she shouldn't have gone to a comedy show - consider that if Tosh didn't want people to react to what he said (and, presumably, potentially disrupt what he was saying with their reactions), he shouldn't have gotten on the stage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Exactly. It's always an interaction with the crowd, and there is something a bit off in this idea that the audience can't respond to the performer. If you do provocative material, you increase the excitement and risk losing some or all of the people in the crowd. That's how the game is played.
posted by msalt at 10:27 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


rocket88: "I'm no fan of Tosh, but I love stand-up and the raunchier and limits-stretching the better.
Tosh said what he said not because he actually would find it funny if a girl got raped...


Tosh also aired a youtube video on his show, as well as linking to the whole video from his website that showed a teenage boy actually getting sexually assaulted, and laughed about it.

Trigger warning for description of sexual assault and violence-- here is a blog entry with a transcript of the video as well as evidence.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And of course Tosh is tweeting about Penn State....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That tweet just tipped me all the way over into "Tosh is just an asshole and doesn't deserve this level of emotional discussion about something he's said."

Seriously. What a reprehensible piece of trash.
posted by papercake at 5:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


*snerk* Apparently, Tosh is trying to do some spin control for his new TV pilot and according to an article, he's contacted producers about taking all the rape jokes out.

Now, when I read that first sentence of this article, my immediate thought was "shyeah, how much of the pilot would be left after taking his rape jokes out?"

And then halfway through the article I read:
The trouble is…that's what most of the pilot is about, a source [reported].
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not that I'm defending him, but that twitter account says it's a parody and not really his.
posted by gingerest at 6:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Between the TV pilot issue and the "showing a clip of a kid getting assaulted on his web site" and the standup thing, I'm wondering how close to "parody" it actually is.

I'm also wondering if maybe we've crossed from "Tosh is a fuckmop" to "....actually, I think he has some serious issues, yo."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, the transcript of the video is enough pretty much call his humanity into major question.
posted by gingerest at 7:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


A movie? Well, no, in a movie you don't yell at the screen

I can direct you to a number of theaters where that is indeed the prevailing custom.
posted by snottydick at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought fake accounts weren't allowed on Twitter, but they have run rampant recently, especially in sports.

Tosh's actual twitter account is @danieltosh and he hasn't tweeted much since the incident (6 tweets) and nothing in the past day or so.
posted by cashman at 8:46 AM on July 13, 2012


Spotlight story featured on Jezebel right now:

Daniel Tosh Reportedly Scrambling to Find Non-Rape Joke Before New Show Premieres Today

The source for that one and EC's, I think, is RumorFix.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012


I came back into this thread to post about that young boy getting raped on camera and Tosh laughing about it as well. He made jokes about someone actually getting raped and continued to leave racist comments on his YT upload.

You want rape culture? Here's your fucking rape culture. Why the fuck did no one stand up to Tosh before or after airing that clip? Why did it occur to no one to say "hey, that's rape happening on screen, right now, and someone got hurt"? Why is this the first time this incident is even getting a little bit of coverage? Why did those boys think what they did was okay, so okay that they sent it into a national TV network?

In short: What the fuck?
posted by Phire at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


But Phire, don't you understand? Tosh is only laughing, his audience is only laughing, and the boys are only sexually assaulting other boys on camera and uploading it online, because rape is just such a horrible thing and this is just their way of trying to cope with the horror of it. They are doing this because of how AGAINST rape they are!
posted by cairdeas at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why the fuck did no one stand up to Tosh before or after airing that clip?

Well, to be fair, you'd have to be the sort of person who watches the show in the first place.

I don't have cable/satellite TV, but I stumbled on his Web clips show at my parents house once. I thought it was just a YouTube clips show and couldn't fail (I mean, anyone can mine some gold on YouTube) ... and about 10-15 seconds in I got my first racist Asian joke .. another 10 seconds for a misogynistic remark.

I was embarrassed for the other people watching and embarrassed I'd put it on. I changed the channel and thought to myself "how is that garbage even on the air?"
posted by mrgrimm at 10:19 AM on July 13, 2012


At the very least, it astounds me that no one on the network thought "hey, depiction of sexual violence involving minors on nationally syndicated TV could get us into a shit ton of legal trouble".
posted by Phire at 10:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have been thinking a lot about the "hey, some of us just use comedy as a way to deal with horrible shit." I haven't known how to respond to it, but I think Jay Smooth is on to something when he says if you are not somebody who is hurt by racist language, you don't get to be the person to reclaim it.

I think there is something similar in comedy. If you haven't been hurt by the thing you are joking about, and, in fact, if you are statistically unlikley to be hurt by it, and you are a part of the group that statistic is responsible for most of the hurt, and your response is to use humor that minimize the hurt and makes it sound like you are mocking the victim, you're probably not the person who needs to use humor to come to terms with hurt, and you're probably doing it wrong.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I totally agree.

Plus, ya know, directly egging people on to commit sexual assault pretty much kills any pretense you could have that the idea of sexual assault just hurts you so much.
posted by cairdeas at 11:27 AM on July 13, 2012


Also, one of the biggest reasons for me that this is just plain old bullshit is - if you've never been raped and aren't ever likely to be raped, then the only reason that rape would bother you so deeply is empathy for other people. Your empathy would kick in to see their pain.

If that were the case for you, if you were experiencing that empathy, then the last thing you would want to do is upset those people more.

That is pretty much the opposite of the reaction of Tosh and his friends. Their reaction ranges from "Who cares what you think" to "Shut the fuck up" to "You should kill yourself."

So, yeah. Utter bullshit.
posted by cairdeas at 11:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Were there any outrage when this aired?
posted by mr.marx at 12:44 PM on July 13, 2012


Watching Louis CK is to watch an endless rollercoaster of excitement and disappointment. He has a knee-jerk defensiveness of his privileges, and it genuinely seems to take years for him to realize he has made an error. That Heckler episode was among the most poorly scripted of his shows, because, in the heckler character, he just created a strawman punching bag of his contempt for people who speak up during his shows, and didn't problematize it at all. He put all his presumptions forward with the understanding that his audience would simply share it and agree with him, but all I saw was him verbally abusing a woman in the most misogynistic way possible for having the temerity to speak up against rape jokes.

And his reason? Apparently, comics are sad, lonely creatures whose lives are ruined by audiences not simply fawning over them. Boo the fucking hoo. Grow the fuck up, Louis CK.You're getting their in inches, which puts you ahead of everybody else, but you could be doing much better.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:30 PM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Huh, I thought the conclusion of that bit-- where Louie's friend tells him he was this close to going home with the heckler, and Louie looks disappointed-- did a lot to undercut the show's own purported justification of his character in the smacking-down-the-heckler bit. It purposefully muddies his motivation.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:36 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have felt it would have been undercut more by giving the woman something more to say than "I am pretty and losers like you are just jealous of me. Also, I get to interrupt you and you don't get to make me feel bad." He deliberately placed the most bobble-headed complaints in her mouth when she actually confronted him, when her complaints during the supposed actual hecking -- that he was telling rape jokes, that he was going after her dead mother, that he was using sexist language, and that he refused to leave her alone -- were much more significant criticism.

And I don't think "I still would have fucked that" undermines the misogyny of the piece at all.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:43 PM on July 13, 2012


What you say makes sense. I'll have to rewatch it, because I don't remember having that impression at the time, but it's been a while.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:46 PM on July 13, 2012


Going up on stage and trying to be funny is really, really hard and comedians usually have each other's backs' on just about anything this side of crimes against other performers.

I hate the "everything's fair game in comedy!" excuse, because most comedians I know don't believe it. During one of my first improv classes some members of the class made an off-handed rape joke. Our teacher shut it down and said that we just shouldn't do rape jokes. I've seen this guy's shows and he lives up to his own guidelines, and as difficult as it may be to believe, he is freakin hilarious without having to resort to sexist, racist, and homophobic jokes. Someone else at the local club let a rape joke slip and immediately looked ashamed and the audience boo'd him. He didn't turn on the audience and rant about them getting raped - he knew it was uncool and he took his boo's. And that's the problem with Tosh's position - this had nothing to do with comedy, or free speech, it was a pissing contest. He either knew he was in the wrong but couldn't back down or honestly didn't see what was so wrong with it.

And that's what galls me - when I go onstage at the club I'm aware there are, in all likelihood, 10 rape victims in the audience - and that's in a small theater. How could comedians playing larger venues not be aware of this? ...and considering 1/5 women don't rape themselves, yes, there are probably rapists in the audience, too.

To do smart comedy you have to go all or almost nothing. As in, "people are stupid" or "my aunt is stupid". The middle ground "women are stupid" is not cool. This is not to say the middle ground won't get get you laughs - when another player jokes about women being stupid (that's it, "all women are stupid"), he will get a ton of laughs. But you know who is laughing at those jokes? Misogynists. Why the hell would I want to entertain them?

Going on stage and trying to be funny IS really hard - but people using that type of material are basically saying, "I'm too lazy to work hard at being funny. I'm going to take the easy way out."
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Remember Andrew Dice Clay? Tosh's future will be equally memorable. As in, "Who? Ugh. Don't remind me."
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Avenger: " And I need to laugh at horrible things sometimes so that they aren't as horrible to me.

See, this is actually a problem.
"

To be fair, dude puts dead people in suits. Sometimes those dead people died old, happy, and mostly intact, but sometimes young, unhappily, and with pieces missing. With that kind of job, sometimes being able to laugh at the "horrible things" makes sense.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:26 AM on July 14, 2012


Yeah, but the kinds of horrible things one needs to laugh at and how one laughs at them are context-specific. After my mother died, professional crime/death scene cleaners were involved in the cleaning of her apartment, and it was a difficult situation for me. My husband and I and a couple friends made many coping-jokes that would honestly have been much more horrifying than funny to anyone not directly involved. Topic-specific, and funny only to us. Rape jokes would not have helped, and unless he was playing to a roomful of people who'd experienced the same thing, a comic running material about it would probably have spurred investigation into his mental health.
What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure Avenger needs to laugh at specific horrible things to decrease the horror, not just any old horrible things.
posted by gingerest at 8:23 PM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"rape joke" is really just not specific enough terminology when talking about this stuff. a joke in which rape is referenced is not the same as a joke that makes fun of rape victims.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:04 PM on July 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Were there any outrage when this aired?

Of course, the obvious thing to do here would be to note that this scene is linked to in the OP, so it's probably not a shocking piece of evidence either way. But I think it's worth going back to some first principles here, because this isn't an equivalency.

Most obviously, the episode of Louie from which that extract comes is fictional, as are all episodes of Louie. It may be based on events in real life, and it certainly involved people talking in a comedy club, but it didn't happen in the way that the Daniel Tosh incident happened. It happened in the way that "James Bond fights Jaws" can be said to have happened - or perhaps more accurately the way a scene from Permanent Midnight could be said to have happened.

It's possible that it's based on an actual event in the life of Louis CK, but I don't think an answer to that question is immediately available. It doesn't ring true to me, not least because of her last line - which does throw sympathy back onto the character of Louie by making her seem shallow - and because she appears to be to a large extent sober: in my experience, people in the the front rows of comedy clubs who heckle, or talk too loud, are generally drunk. They don't wait until after the show to confront the comic, nor do they give that comic the chance to produce lengthy disquisitions on the life of the comedian.

(By the same token, she does not get to respond "but you are a millionaire and have the adoration of students everywhere, profiles in national magazines about your comedy genius and your own show - how are you claiming to be the victim here?" - for the same reason that people in zombie movies have usually not seen zombie movies, unless a point is being made.)

So, the character of Louie in the TV series Louie is a fictionalized version of Louis CK, going through fictional experiences based to a greater or lesser extent on the life of Louis CK and his peers. An actor talking to an actor is basically different from a stand-up talking to a member of the audience.

Compare this incident of Zach Galifianakis confronting a female heckler. She is clearly drunk, and he does what a comedian has the right to do - have her removed from the building to protect the enjoyment of the rest of the audience. And then he says he's planning to rape her later, which is... well, it's interesting that he went there. And certainly it ties into similar elements around the status of performance spaces and the stand-up as comic mask.

That doesn't mean that that scene was funny, or well-handled - those are different questions. But the relationship between Louis CK and Megan Hilty, the actress portraying the heckler, is not the relationship between "Louie" and "heckler", nor is it the same as the relationship between Daniel Tosh
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:53 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: “But the relationship between Louis CK and Megan Hilty, the actress portraying the heckler, is not the relationship between 'Louie' and 'heckler', nor is it the same as the relationship between Daniel Tosh”

I don't think anybody was confused on this point. Nobody thinks that what happened in the TV show was real. It can still be terrible and even execrable even if it's fictional.
posted by koeselitz at 8:45 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I'd certainly hope nobody was confused on this point. However, Mr Marx specifically asked:

Were there any outrage when this aired?

With a link to the Louie clips.

Which suggested, to me, that there was some confusion about the difference between a fictional heckler being abused by a fictional comic, and the actual people involved in the case of Daniel Tosh. Because "outrage" is a curious word to use, otherwise.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2012


"rape joke" is really just not specific enough terminology when talking about this stuff. a joke in which rape is referenced is not the same as a joke that makes fun of rape victims.

While I agree they aren't the same, the majority of rape jokes - even when not directly making fun of a rape victim - desensitizes people to the very real effects of rape. Even saying something like, "oh, I got raped by that test!" is shitty. No one's being made fun of but throwing rape out there in such a way causes you to consider the scenario where your roommate accuses someone of rape a little differently. "What's the big deal? I got raped by a test last week and I'm fine now."

So making fun of rape victims, jokingly inciting rape, or just "casual" rape jokes really do kind of blur together.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:06 AM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


rosf, I think the outrage was over the message of the show, not because people thought it actually happened. Check out Bunny Ultramod's reply above.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:11 AM on July 15, 2012


>Remember Andrew Dice Clay?

Actually, he's making gobs of money in Vegas, under the radar but catering to his hand-picked crowd.

I've actually wondered if Tosh didn't plan this incident as a way to transition to that kind of career. He's already said his Comedy Central show will end within a year, right? At 37, perhaps he knew he was going to lose his media platform, and wanted a big splashy martyrdom to guarantee he too will fill Vegas venues with his aging, rape-y fratboys for years and years to come.
posted by msalt at 11:33 AM on July 15, 2012


It's great that you want to help me, en forme de poire, and I do appreciate it. However, I am aware that Bunny Ultramod understands the difference between a scripted TV show and a live event, having read the thread.

I was responding to a specific question by a specific person - Mr Marx - who was asking if there had been equivalent outrage when the Louie episode aired. In which context, it is worth noting, I think, the difference in response between two situations - one of which was a scripted TV show, the other an encounter between a stand-up comic and a member of the audience in the real world.

I think it's also worth thinking about whether there was any outrage at the time - which again relates to the question Mr Marx was asking, and if not why not. I feel that the fictitious nature of Louie is one reason - that the abuse was not being directed at an actual person who exists in the world, by an actual person who exists in the world. As fiction, it can still be crude and badly handled and not funny - and it can, of course, still be triggering, or be judged not a fit subject for even fictional stand-up comedy. But there is a perceptible difference between the situations. Again, which was relevant to the question being asked
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No actual audience members were harmed in the filming of the Louie episode.
posted by msalt at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2012


Precisely! Which I think is a significant difference, and the answer to Mr Marx's question - or rather the answer to the question behind that question. Whether the character of "Louie" emerges with credit from the encounter is to an extent a question for the audience to decide about - and also whether this reflects the views of Louis CK, and so on... but there isn't an actual person in a comedy club being directly targeted or made to feel threatened.

The Zach Galafianakis response to an actual heckler is interesting, I think, because it's closer to the Tosh situation in some ways, while not being the same - in part because it is recognizably following a comic structure, which no account of the Tosh performance suggests was happening there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2012


I'm not sure I understand. Couldn't one feel outraged at a tv show, even if nobody got hurt in said tv show? Or are you talking solely about the implied equivalence in mr marx's comment between the Louie episode and the Tosh incident? Because, if so, I am not sure that the equivalence was even implied.

In short: I agree that there are interesting differences between the show and Tosh incident; I also, however, think outrage at the Louie episode might be warranted.
posted by koeselitz at 2:23 PM on July 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


rosf, I think another difference may be that viewers of "Louie" are somewhat self-selecting, while this incident was brought to the attention of a wider community. The "dildo assault" clip above might be a similar situation.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:24 PM on July 15, 2012


rosf, I think another difference may be that viewers of "Louie" are somewhat self-selecting, while this incident was brought to the attention of a wider community. The "dildo assault" clip above might be a similar situation.

That's a very good point - in particular, viewers of Louie are likely to feel charitably towards Louis CK, and also possibly invested in an idea of themselves as not sensitive and able to digest strong comic meat - I think often people who are not directly affected by a joke (and indeed people who are) are encouraged to think that responding negatively to it would be in some way weak*. By the same token, people seeing a Daniel Tosh show might (on a normal night) be ready for a particular kind of show.

(* We see this all the time, of course, in attempts to discourage men from supporting women in arguments by calling them "white knights", which has no doubt happened to plenty of people across the Internet over the Daniel Tosh issue...)

Couldn't one feel outraged at a tv show, even if nobody got hurt in said tv show?

Oh, absolutely: people feel outraged at all sorts of things all the time, many of which don't hurt people, or at least don't hurt people directly. I certainly don't think there's any exemption for TV shows. But I think the point is that it's a different kind of thing. Personally, I don't think that scene works, dramatically, because the dialog is stilted and the situation doesn't ring true.

It also makes me feel like the character "Louie" is deeply flawed and unpleasant - which may or may not be the goal of the creator. It's possible that Louis CK believes that he was writing a scene in which Louie "wins", and wins clean - the "heckler" character is not well-written enough really to make that clear to me. But dramatic portrayals of line-crossing attacks on audience members are a different kind of thing than line-crossing attacks on audience members, just as dramatic portrayals of violence are a different kind of thing than acts of actual violence.

Or are you talking solely about the implied equivalence in mr marx's comment between the Louie episode and the Tosh incident? Because, if so, I am not sure that the equivalence was even implied.

That's certainly possible - we might at this point be naming things we think might cause outrage, or about which we might ourselves feel outraged, without connecting them to the OP. I assumed that Mr Marx was connecting the scene from Louie with the report of the Daniel Tosh performance, and placing them both in the set of "statements by stand-up comedians to female audience members which involve rape" - although in a very different context. My point was that treating these as the same kind of offense against a person would be unwise.

So, outrage at the Louie is certainly an option - it just feels like it's outrage at something cosmetically similar to, but actually quite different from, the actions of Daniel Tosh. I think more interesting is the Galifianakis routine, in those terms.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:48 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


And then he says he's planning to rape her later, which is... well, it's interesting that he went there.

Is that what he's saying? He implies that she would be date-raped later (because she is drunk) and that he's saved her from that, but the "I wanna be by myself when I do it" sounds to me like a masturbation joke, not a rape joke.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:25 PM on July 15, 2012


I guess anything's possible, but that feels like an odd reading of what he says:
...if I didn't do that that woman was going to be date-raped later, and I don't want that to happen. (beat) I want to be by myself when I do it.
That's a pretty standard set-up and knock-down, formally speaking. The setup is that she was so drunk that if he hadn't had her taken backstage by security, she would have been raped by her date, and he doesn't want that to happen.

(So, he appears to be portraying himself as a good guy.)

Then the punchline is that he wants to do it himself, which is actually why he is separating her from her date. Unlike the reports of Daniel Tosh's performance, it's a very orthodox joke: a set-up and knockdown.

I could be wrong, but that feels like the way the joke makes most sense. Bringing in masturbation wouldn't make any sense as a joke. What's then interesting is the difference between "Zach Galifianakis" the onstage persona and Zach Galifianakis the performer of that persona - which is another angle on the Louis/Louie dichotomy. I think we can all agree that this is a bit - he is no more confessing his plans than Emo Phillips was actually raised in a cellar...
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2012


So the "I wanna be by myself..." Zach is "Zach Galifinafuck"?

(see his special if you haven't for that reference).

I'm of mixed feelings on that one, and I don't like it, really to hear that. At the same time, the sense of Zach, and I was really worried it was gonna be 10x worse, because I don't know who, exactly, I can trust in the comedy world, really... So, I'm glad he wasn't as bad as he could have been, but I had hoped he didn't have to bring it up at all. It was really fucking good until then.

*sigh*
posted by symbioid at 10:09 PM on July 15, 2012


Nobody watched the Daily Show tonight? Louis said it was all a big misunderstanding; he says he was on vacation in Vermont and had no idea what was going on.
posted by gerryblog at 9:10 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw it. I felt like Louis was just digging himself deeper and deeper, and he did that thing where you try to make it seem like both sides are wrong and both need to apologize. And Stewart just kind of sat there for the most part, which is disappointing.

But it's always hard to tell what Comedians really feel, and I did appreciate him talking about how he learned and absorbed that rape polices women's lives (I don't recall hearing that terminology before, though I may have).

But neither one of them condemned Tosh, and louis just went out of his way to make holocaust jokes. Comedians seem to love doing that - making an insightful point, to where you are impressed by the spark of truth that has been spoken, and then following that up with something that is completely offensive, or contradicts that. It's like well we can't actually progress and learn from something, so let me verbally fart before someone else does, and ruins it. I'm going to ruin it myself.
posted by cashman at 9:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


My take was different -- I thought Louis obviously wanted to sound like he was still cool, and definitely did that regrettable riff about humorless feminists, but overall seemed to be conveying that the online discussions had changed his thinking a bit. As you say, taking about how rape polices women's lives, which he seemed to take as a genuine revelation.

A line of the form "men should stop being such assholes and women should shut up for a second" is as close to an admission that the women are 100% right as Louis in TV-comedian-mode is probably capable of. I won't say it was full-in feminist, exactly, but it was definitely feminist-ish. Maybe since I like his comedy, it was good enough for me.

I also thought going out of his way NOT to defend Tosh was pretty much equivalent to a vigorous condemnation, given how no other comedian in the country was apparently able to manage it. Going on the guy's own network to horrifiedly distance yourself from him makes it pretty clear where you stand.
posted by gerryblog at 9:49 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Feminish. I prefer ish's to ists. I don't even like being Daoist, I much prefer being Daoish.
posted by msalt at 1:02 AM on July 17, 2012


I actually think this was the worst possible way he could have handled it.

First, he didn’t take any responsibility for supporting Tosh in the first place.

Then he implied that the reason there was any controversy was because feminists had no sensee of humor, throwing in the mild point of how comedians don't like criticism. Then, when he returned to the well about feminists not having a sense of humor and got booed by some audience members, he said “See!"

Louis CK then says that while his eyes were opened a bit about how the threat of rape limits women's daily life, he then explains that women hate being told their feelings matter so guys should listen then women should be told, okay you were listened to, now shut the fuck up.

Then he finished with a joke about killing jews-- I guess to be all, like edgy and show how comedians offend people or say offensive things.

It was super gross and kind of uncomfortable to watch (especially as Jon Stewart introduced his as "my friend" and didn't ask any probing questions or counters). It came off as him trying to appease more liberal followers while giving a wink or nod to dudebros. He didn't criticize anything Daniel Tosh said or did, nor acknowledge there being any reasonable ground to criticize it.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:46 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm late in the game here, but... I was trying to think of an analogy for the rape joke that Tosh told. Something that could convey to a bunch of men how some women feel - because they're women - when they hear rape jokes. Maybe this analogy sucks. But I'm going to tell it.

So there's me, a hipsterish lady with no combat experience, totally anti-war and all that, probably insensitive to many in the military and those with close family in the military. And I'm standing in front of a crowd of mostly hipsterish people, mostly without close family in the military, and I tell a joke about how funny it is that people are getting killed in Afghanistan, and some guy says "that's not funny" and I look up and he's got close-cropped hair and looks like a Marine and I say, "too bad you didn't get hit by an IED when you were over there." And he gets upset and leaves.

Is that an appropriate analogy? I don't know. But I think the outrage would be from different quarters. And I'd hope that the "she's a comic so she can say whatever she wants without consequence" would be muted. It's such a lame argument.
posted by blueberry sushi at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gawker article on Daily Show appeared gerryblog referenced: Louis C.K. Clarifies Tosh Support Tweet, Says He Was Unaware of Rape Joke at the Time

Takeaway quote:
"I've read some blogs during this whole thing that have made me enlightened to things I didn't know," he said. "This woman said how rape is something that polices women's lives...That's part of me now that wasn't before."

But C.K. said that despite his new-found respect for sensitivity, he "can still enjoy a good rape joke."
posted by maryr at 8:53 AM on July 17, 2012


I think that is quite an apt analogy, blueberry sushi.

It would be truly fascinating to see what would happen if a young, middle-class, female comic who was not a veteran, started making jokes about "our boys" getting blown up overseas and how funny it would be if the same thing happened to an audience member who was a vet.

It would be especially interesting to see how the self-styled staunch defenders of freedom of speech would react. Probably, the same as it always is when they encounter speech that they don't like.
posted by cairdeas at 9:21 AM on July 17, 2012


That's not a bad analogy, but still doesn't capture the proximity of a crowd that *could*, at least in theory, commit the rapes right there.
posted by gerryblog at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2012


I caught Louie on The Daily Show last night and thought he came across as an ass. His thing about feminists stereotypically not being able to take a joke misses the point entirely, because the people who are perpetuating that stereotype are still doing it from a position of power and to further that power differential, and they're implicitly saying that it's appropriate to joke about such things as rape when it's precisely that power differential and the appropriateness of rape as a subject for jokes that feminists are calling into question in the first place.

The fact that people are predisposed to thinking of feminists as not being able to take a joke instead of, say, being predisposed to thinking of comedians like Tosh as being incredibly unimaginative and flat-out hateful of a full half of the population doesn't reflect a problem with feminism, it's actually the very problem the feminists are attempting to point out.

blueberry sushi: This article has been making the rounds as an analogy to what Tosh said.
posted by alphanerd at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's also a reflection of the ongoing issue of thinking of feminists as a niche group of people with a particular agenda and singular outlook on all of the whole world rather than as the broad-strokes category of people who believe in equality.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


From tumblr--

MST3K’s Bill Corbett got some heat on Twitter recently too. His son bought a Transformer toy and named it Tranny. Bill tweeted, “I’d MUCH rather have my son playing with a Tranny-the-Transvestite doll than anything associated with Michael Bay.” Some people were like, “Uh, that’s offensive” and his response was that humor sometimes offends people and everyone should get over it. Sound familiar?

Then, a few days later, this post came up on his Tumblr. An excerpt from hiss post here:
Let me admit it upfront: I had no idea. I thought the term was a shorthand for more accepted terms — maybe not the most reverent, but certainly not all that offensive. I assumed it became offensive only in context, when used with malicious and even violent intent — when clearly meant to hurt and belittle. In those two tweets above, the first seemed like an amusing bit of reportage of what my kid actually said. In my mind, the second one was mostly a slam on Michael Bay. But the more I look at the second one, the more I see how it’s not that simple.



I also did a lot of research, not only about the nomenclature but about the science (my old friend!) of it all, and about the appalling level of violence against trans people. I understand a LOT more than I did a week ago. Still a relative noob, but much, much more informed than a few days back.

I won’t use the word again.

It can be challenging for people in comedy and art to find better ways to do what we do, and avoid hurting people who don’t deserve to be hurt. But that’s my problem to solve, not anyone else’s.

I want to make people laugh, and occasionally think, and maybe — wow! — both at once. I want to have fun doing it. It may always mean being irreverent, skeptical, absurd, even indulging quite a bit of cynicism and sarcasm. But I never want to depend on continually kicking people who are already down to do what I do. I’d rather find another line of work entirely. (Bowling alley attendant comes to mind, since that might have been my last honest job before getting all artsy-fartsy and comedyish.)

I want to stand on the side of humanity. I want to be humane, even when being a goddamned wise-ass. There’s no tried and true path through this, but it’s really worth trying to find it. I want to make people laugh, not feel shitty about life. ”Leave the world a better place than you found it.” A twisty task for someone in comedy, but others have shown that its not impossible.
In both cases, a comedian did something wrong. They made light of a subject that is very hurtful and personal to people. They joked about a topic that isn’t taken seriously by the police or the court system or most of society.* In Louis CK’s case, he educated himself, but learned nothing. In Bill Corbett’s case, he educated himself, learned something, and shared it with everyone else.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:09 PM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Louis seemed to learn something, he just didn't then agree with the conclusion that that knowledge means joking on the subject is off limits.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on July 17, 2012


Isn't that kind of a straw man, though?

I mean, I don't think many people are saying "nobody should ever tell jokes involving rape". They're saying something like "rape is a real thing that happens to real people, and a number of the people it has happened to are likely to be in your comedy club. It's not like having a piano dropped on you. It's not cool to say that it would be funny if a member of your audience were raped by five men, or to suggest that she already had been (depending on whose account you believe)."

Kate Harding, feminist and rape survivor, made a list of 15 rape jokes that worked for her as jokes - that is, which didn't make rape victims the butt of the joke, and which made her laugh.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:36 PM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uhh, I dunno. Some of them seem to make the victims the butt of the joke. I mean, isn't "I could have stopped Hitler by raping him" just an absurd extension of corrective rape or prison rape jokes?

I've always thought his "rapey vibe" joke was a much better example, the ultimate message is, "What kind of idiot would have sex without clear consent?"

I mean, who exactly is the butt of My grammy never gave gifts. She was too busy getting raped by Cossacks. or I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.

Louis, if you go by his f-word skit from the show, seems to think (right or wrong, I'm not sure) the important part is that you are conscious of the meaning behind what you are saying and how it impacts the groups you are talking about. But you should still use them if you do.

I don't get the sense that Tosh has anywhere near that level of awareness, which is a real difference between the two even if it leads to the same sorts of antics on the stage.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:10 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another good line from the f-word skit: "It bothers me when you say it, because you mean it." Tosh, to some degree, because of the lack of awareness sets off those same alarms more than someone with some insight. Comics will always say they don't mean it, but that's for the audience to judge.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:15 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uhh, I dunno. Some of them seem to make the victims the butt of the joke. I mean, isn't "I could have stopped Hitler by raping him" just an absurd extension of corrective rape or prison rape jokes?


That one didn't work for me, either. I was responding to the assertion that the case against Tosh was saying that joking on the subject was off limits, quod erat querendum...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:58 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can only surmise from the fresh round of outrage that nobody saw the most recent episode of Tosh.0 where the recurring between-video gag consists of Daniel chastising his audience for laughing at various categories of jokes that are "never funny."
posted by snottydick at 8:38 AM on July 23, 2012


I can only surmise from the fresh round of outrage

Insert "lack of a" after "the"
posted by snottydick at 2:04 PM on July 23, 2012


That makes more sense, yeah. And I'd guess that generally speaking the intersection of people who know how to use the Internet and people willing to sit through Tosh.0 is pretty narrow, as far as that goes.
posted by cortex at 2:12 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's also the part where people who already think Tosh is unfunny and gross aren't going to watch his show.
posted by gingerest at 6:08 PM on July 23, 2012


My sister really loves Tosh.0, but then, she also really loves Fall Out Boy and reposts from TheDailyFail to her Facebook pretty constantly.

So, I love her, but she's got her faults, is what I'm saying.
posted by maryr at 8:07 PM on July 23, 2012


Can Twitter Help Rape Victims Find Justice?
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's also the part where people who already think Tosh is unfunny and gross aren't going to watch his show.

True. I guess that tonight's new episode, in which he intends to address his female viewers "who like to complain about everything" isn't going to move any of those folks into the viewer column.
posted by snottydick at 7:20 AM on July 24, 2012


I do share the general discomfort with the idea of rape jokes, but you can't make anything off limits. I did actually hear a good rape joke one time - well, it's really a political joke, but that was the point.
In the middle of the "not in my name" protests in the UK prior to the most recent of the Iraq debacles, I saw a Dutch comedian who was discussing concepts of democracy. The set-up was a pretty long (but amusing) discussion on the need to listen to the majority , but the payoff was a line about how 12 out of 13 people involved in a gang rape were in favour of carrying on. It was a superbly crafted piece that used the shock of rape to illustrate the weakness of thinking that led to an illicit war (and, by extension, a comment on the tyranny of the populace).
The freedom to craft a piece like this is the reason that you can't make any topic off-limits. The shock that a well-crafted piece of this nature elicits is the reason why you shouldn't.
posted by Jakey at 5:15 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice. And, okay, so part of what makes that joke work is the presupposition that raping someone is ... not just unpleasant, or immoral, but actually completely straight-up stupid and deranged. Something that nobody in their right mind would do — such that the idea of stopping to deliberate and have some sort of consensus process in the middle of it becomes incongruous enough to be funny.

If your audience has to buy into a premise like that in order to get the joke, then I'd say it's a good joke to be telling.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:15 PM on July 27, 2012


Good example Jakey. But who exactly has advocated making rape (or any other subject) off limits?

I also object to this backlash idea that a comedian can't be criticized for anything they say (and I am a standup myself, who says shocking things). The example you give sounds great. But I've yet to see anyone defend Tosh's actual comments as funny, much less meaningful. And the fact remains that he pointed out a woman in the audience and tried to get laughs by talking about her getting gang-raped.

In other words, the problem doesn't seem to be the subject matter, but rather his execution of a joke on the subject matter. (Or you might say, his shitty writing, or tone-deafness, and his callous cruelty toward an audience member.)

Would you agree?
posted by msalt at 6:16 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice. And, okay, so part of what makes that joke work is the presupposition that raping someone is ... not just unpleasant, or immoral, but actually completely straight-up stupid and deranged. Something that nobody in their right mind would do — such that the idea of stopping to deliberate and have some sort of consensus process in the middle of it becomes incongruous enough to be funny.

If your audience has to buy into a premise like that in order to get the joke, then I'd say it's a good joke to be telling.


I've been out of the thread for a bit, but I saw this in my recent activity and wanted to chime in. I really don't think the premise of the joke is "rape is evil and deranged" so much as "rape is something really bad that would never happen to people like us." (It works the same way as prison rape jokes do, in other works; privilege is the prophylactic that protects the laughing audience from feeling at-risk.)

This is part of what makes the joke so ugly, in my opinion, and what maybe separates it from something like Sarah Silverman's "bittersweet" rape joke quoted up-thread (though maybe not).
posted by gerryblog at 7:15 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


msalt: "Good example Jakey. But who exactly has advocated making rape (or any other subject) off limits?"

From the blog post in the FPP that started the whole thing: I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”

So, in fact, the whole incident arose partly because someone did advocate making rape jokes off-limits.

msalt: "In other words, the problem doesn't seem to be the subject matter, but rather his execution of a joke on the subject matter. (Or you might say, his shitty writing, or tone-deafness, and his callous cruelty toward an audience member.)

Would you agree
"

I would certainly agree that, IMHO, the issue was not the subject matter nor even the idea that a comedian might humiliate and bully a heckler. What made me uncomfortable was the strong feeling of incitement that I got from the story of this incident. I could imagine the same thing in a racial context, with no sexual overtones, and it would make me just as uncomfortable. In either case it would be at the very least cack-handed or in poor taste, and at worst very threatening. Either way, it would deserves the criticism that has accompanied this particular episode.
posted by Jakey at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2012


I don't know if you read the whole thread. I don't think it's fair to describe the original blogger as advocating making rape off limits. She was in the audience, and Tosh asked the audience what he should talk about. He started a dialogue with the audience. That's crowd work, and it's not heckling to respond. She never said "Comedians shouldn't joke about rape." She just disagreed when another guy in the audience wanted Tosh to talk about rape.

Now, if Tosh had a decent comedic instinct, here's how the incident could have happened without probably anyone getting upset (due to different power dynamics).

Tosh: "What do you guys want me to talk about?"

Audience bro: "Talk about rape!"

Tosh: "OK, sure. Does everybody see this guy? Would it be hilarious if 5 guys raped him? Like right now, just gang-raped him? Wouldn't that be funny?" (sings the Alanis Morrisette song about irony)
posted by msalt at 4:20 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because male rape is FUNNY!
posted by unSane at 9:58 PM on July 29, 2012


Hrm. It's hard to say if fewer people would have gotten offended. I still would have found it offensive, but you may be right, msalt, that most people wouldn't. I mean, most people seem to find jokes about prison rape funny, so.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 PM on July 29, 2012


If Tosh had gone that way, I still would have felt grossed out by it. Because I think in that situation the subtext to Would it be hilarious if 5 guys raped him? Like right now, just gang-raped him? Wouldn't that be funny?" is something like, yeah, it would be funny because it would make him a BITCH! And GAY too! Ha ha ha!

But, yes, I don't think there would be such a furor and an uproar over that. It would still make me feel grossed out, depressed and discouraged, but I would probably not have my pitchfork out. That's because getting your pitchfork out on behalf of other people is not going to do anything very effective when those people aren't upset and don't care. Saying, "hey, male Tosh fans, I think it's bad and wrong for people to make jokes about you getting raped, and it harms society" would only get me laughed out of wherever I said that.
posted by cairdeas at 10:28 PM on July 29, 2012


I think the basis of msalt's proposal is that the Audience Bro who suggests that rape is funny ends up the target of the joke. The problem is that the joke's still not very funny (even with the Alanis song, which I regret to note came out 17 years ago and is thus an old-person joke), and The Onion already took it in the other direction about as far as it can go.
posted by gingerest at 10:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Audience bro: "Talk about rape!"

Tosh: "OK, sure. Does everybody see this guy? Would it be hilarious if 5 guys raped him? Like right now, just gang-raped him? Wouldn't that be funny?" (sings the Alanis Morrisette song about irony)
posted by msalt

Because male rape is FUNNY!
posted by unSane


No, male rape ISN'T funny. And that kind of was msalt's point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:19 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


unSane: "Because male rape is FUNNY!"

It's not that rape is funny, or that the joke itself would be funny. It's that it would probably have less of an emotional impact and be considered less of a threat against the audience member. A man joking about a woman being raped highlights a cultural power imbalance (and is an example that is incidentally rooted in historical precedent,) whereas a man joking about another man being raped ostensibly has both parties on equal ground.

An analogy was raised earlier that I thought was reasonable: if Tosh had said, "wouldn't it be funny if 5 white guys in hoods and flaming crosses came in and lynched you right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just strung you up" to an African American man, that might be a closer parallel. Because again, power imbalance/ historical precedent. The same thing said by one African American man to another doesn't have the same weight or impact, because it isn't as much of a threat.
posted by zarq at 7:16 AM on July 30, 2012


Women's Media Center: Rape Joke Supercut: I Can’t Believe You Clapped For That.
Our Video Content Manager, Elisa Kreisinger, has created a new video, "Rape Joke Supercut: I Can't Believe You Clapped for That." A collaboration between Elisa and us at the Women's Media Center as well as Fem 2.0 (a project of Turner Strategies) and Jenn Pozner at Women In Media & News, the video aims to suggest that there is a crucial difference between playing rape for cheap laughs, and mocking or exposing the deep-rooted sexism that feeds and sustains rape culture.
Found through an editorial at CNN: When rape jokes aren't funny.
When women are told that they shouldn't drink too much or walk alone at night or wear a revealing top, they are being given a guided tour of the boundaries of acceptable female conduct. Women are supposed to understand that these boundaries are policed by rapists. We cross the line at our own risk. And if we are caught, the brutal punishment is one we have earned.

A comedian who shoots down an audience member who objects to his rape jokes by joking about her being gang-raped on the spot isn't being funny. He's using rape to shut up a woman who crossed a boundary by speaking out of turn. That is unacceptable. Tosh was free to say what he said, of course. But that doesn't mean it wasn't morally repugnant. It was.

posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, in fact, the whole incident arose partly because someone did advocate making rape jokes off-limits.

Nope. She said that rape jokes were never funny, and she said later that she objected to being told by a comedian that she should find rape jokes funny. I don't see any move by her to make rape jokes off-limits.

It's exciting to blame the victim, but in this case at best she should be blamed for heckling - itself pretty tenuous - rather than CENSORSHIP.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:04 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I wasn't clear in my example, or was making unwarranted assumptions. But that bro yelled "Do jokes about rape!" from at best a callous position of privilege (young, male Tosh fan). I'm assuming he finds rape jokes funny for all the wrong reasons, and is drawn to the taboo subject of women being raped by people like him.

The humor (such as there is) would come from the perspective switch as is he becomes the victim of the rape in the joke. I think it's a fair assumption that this is not what he expected in requesting a rape joke.

Not my type of humor, but it's the same joke Tosh did make, with much better power dynamics and less cruelty to someone who very likely has had some painful experience with sexual assault.

Put another way -- if they issue is someone "heckling" then why didn't Tosh attack the bro who yelled "Do jokes about rape!" He's a much more promising target than a woman who doesn't want to hear about rape.
posted by msalt at 11:40 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


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