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He Said, She Said: Rape Jokes

Did comedian Daniel Tosh go too far?

This past week, standup comedian and television show host Daniel Tosh landed himself in the middle of an Internet fiasco when he made an inappropriate comment in response to a heckler. Tosh reportedly made a joke about sexual assault during a set at a Hollywood comedy club, to which a woman in the audience called out, ‘Actually, rape jokes are never funny!’

After pausing for a moment, Tosh replied, ‘Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…’ The woman left the club terrified and shaken and wrote about her experience in a blog post, which went viral.

Tosh eventually apologized via his Twitter feed, but added, “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.” 

Everyone, from the ladies of "The View" to countless comedians on Twitter, weighed in on Tosh’s comment. Some leapt to his defense, arguing that Tosh treated the woman like a comedian would treat any other heckler, which is to say whatever is necessary to quiet them and resume your standup act. Others derided Tosh for crossing a line and belittling a subject rife with trauma — completely unconcerned with who he might be upsetting with his comments.

In a well thought-out piece for the feminist pop culture website Jezebel entitled "How To Make A Rape Joke," Lindy West suggested Tosh went wrong when he made rape victims the butt of his joke. She asserted rape jokes can be successful and funny if done “in a responsible, thoughtful way.” Her article cites standup routines from comedians like Louis CK and Ever Mainard, who joke about rape culture and their own experiences. According to West, there is a big difference between observing the sexist atmosphere we live in today and directly suggesting that an individual be raped.

Hopefully Tosh will learn from this experience and be more careful about his act in the future. But considering his television show "Tosh.0" on Comedy Central is usually an amalgam of racist, sexist, classist and ableist comments, this does not seem very likely.

yoda July 23, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Janice, Sam is not miserable; he’s just very passionate when it comes to bring the truth to the table. He’s one of the most honest souls on this patch, did I say he was extremely educated too! I have never met him, but one day I will!
DAY July 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I am saddened that the Newtown editor for the Patch is linking to stories on the Puffington Host, or Huffington Post. It is not a credible media organization. As I've said before, this reporter would do us all a service by overtly disclosing her political leanings and affiliations.
Sam Mihailoff July 24, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Now Janice...what did I ever do to you and what did you add to the mix on this topic?
yoda July 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Truly, I don't care about surrounding towns, I just want to hear about NEWTOWN !
Newtown Resident and Teacher July 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I've noticed that often, the posters that get complained about reply with something along the lines of "If you don't like it, don't read it." I would extend that same suggestion to readers who don't like articles about topics/events/issues outside of Newtown. There are readers who don't mind seeing these oin the Newtown Patch.

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