As we reported yesterday, Daniel Tosh is still reaping the fallout of his perhaps ill-considered rape joke made at the expense of a heckler, and the debate has polarized Twitter and the rest of the entertainment community, where everyone seems to either 100% support or reject the comments Tosh made on stage at a comedy club.
Daniel Tosh is, like many comics, known for his penchant for breaching social taboos through humor, and rape is one of the most joked about and still taboo things in our society.
Comics greater than Daniel Tosh have been exploring the “is rape funny?” question since the dawn of comedy, but for some particular reason Tosh’s recent heckler outburst touched many nerves — perhaps its quick spread through social media.
And on social media sites across the web, intense debates have ensued over whether Tosh’s reference to rape was uncalled for (fair) or whether rape is not particularly different from any other offensive subject — Tosh peppered his official apology with the hashtag “#deadbabies” to drive the point home.
On the “censorship” side, a slew of mostly male, mostly comedian defenders whine that the rape culture thing is just oversensitive handwringing:
Maybe Daniel Tosh was confused about where he was. He wouldn’t have offended anyone over at the Rape Factory. #ThisTweetWillBeDeletedSoon
— Doug Benson (@DougBenson) July 11, 2012
An offended audience member repeating a comedian’s act from memory is worse than, literally, anything.
— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) July 11, 2012
RT @vworpingshit: @JimNorton Wow, didn’t expect you to be a rape apologist. Disapointing.– Obviously, you’ve never been on a date with me.
— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) July 12, 2012
On the anti-rape culture side, a bunch of mostly-female, mostly outspoken feminist critics say:
RT protected: The whole Tosh debacle is like a novelization of “Men fear women will laugh at them; women fear men will kill them.”
— Skud (@Skud) July 13, 2012
It’s 2012, if Daniel Tosh really wanted to get controversial he should’ve said that every human being deserves health care.
— Damien Fahey (@DamienFahey) July 12, 2012
Guys, Daniel Tosh was heckled. And that’s the real crime.
— katiehalper (@kthalps) July 12, 2012
And of course, it seems the moral of the story appears:
The moral of the Daniel Tosh story is don’t ever try to do anything ever.
— Adam Fogle (@adam_fogle) July 11, 2012
It’s definitely difficult to dismiss either argument here — while comedy should have a broader permission to be offensive than speech, it is also true that reinforcing rape culture makes rape more pervasive, whereas dead baby jokes don’t kill more babies.
Do you think Daniel Tosh was just doing his job as a comic when he cracked that joke, or are rape jokes a trad-carefully area in comedy?