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Tosh point taken


By Alex Blakley



I’m sure everyone has heard by now of the “rape joke” controversy surrounding comedian Daniel Tosh, but here’s a quick summary in case you missed it.

A couple weeks ago, Tosh was in the middle of a standup bit about how rape jokes are always funny, when a female audience member took offense to his opinion and interjected, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny,” according to the anonymous woman’s blog post, which, naturally, spread like wildfire across the Internet.

Tosh, in response to the heckler, speculated on the event of her being spontaneously and immediately gang raped by “a bunch of guys.”

Definitely not the best way to handle the situation.

Tosh later apologized to the woman on Twitter, yet this did nothing to quell the fury of those who had already caught wind of the incident.

What Tosh said was an overreaction to the heckling, but I can’t understand the outrage this incident has sparked across the nation.

Check that. I do understand it. Rape is a horrible crime, and I hate that it exists in the world.

But I think people are missing the point by making Tosh out to be a
villain.

What Tosh said was not a joke. It was a spur-of-the-moment attempt to defend himself from what he perceived as a verbal attack. And his words did the job he intended them to do; the woman was embarrassed and upset enough to post a blog about it.

As I said earlier, he definitely could have handled the situation better.

The conversation this incident has sparked — about what topics are joke-appropriate — is an important one to have every once in a while, if only to marginally enrich a few
ignorant minds.

What topics can we joke about? All of them. Everything is game. If you can’t joke about everything, then you can’t joke about anything. There are no sacred cows. There are no untouchables. That’s just how it is with free speech.

Once somebody determines one topic more appropriate over another, the whole system breaks down.

Certainly, there are inappropriate ways to talk about rape, but making jokes is not one. Joking is something we need. It’s a means of expression that must be allowed
unadulterated.

Tosh may have been wrong in his reaction, but he wasn’t wrong in
joking about rape. You don’t have to listen to Tosh or ever watch his show, but make sure you don’t vilify him for the wrong reason.

He did not cross any line by performing his comedy bit, which the heckler attended on her own accord, because no such line exists.

He admitted his error. Maybe she owes him an apology too.

­— aleblakl@indiana.edu

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