Lindy West vs. Jim Norton: Are Rape Jokes Okay?

Comments

1
Raping and terrorizing bitches is hilarious.
2
This is excellent!
3
Never ok.

Just ask all the men raped in prison or in the armed forces (about 90pct in prison, 50+ pct in armed forces).

No, it wasn't that funny. Now, drones, that's funny, especially when they blow up a wedding.
5
I had no idea you were so pretty, Lindy! You should go on TV more often.
6
That was a good debate with both points of view fairly represented. I don't think I've ever said that before!
7
Way to go Lindy.
8
Awesome Lindy!

If you are making a joke that makes fun of rape victims or trivializes rape, you are intentionally hurting people, including a very large percentage of women. If you're okay with that, go ahead if you must, but like Lindy said, you're a monumental dick.
11
Jim Norton destroys his own side when he mentions that comedy is about speaking truth to power. Rape victims have no power. Making jokes at their expense is not only offensive it is bad comedy. If you want to make good comedy about rape it should start with being at the expense of the rapist(s) and their enablers.

So, yes a joke involving a rape situation could potentially be 'okay' but it certainly is more of a minefield than say... how many Starbucks' are in Seattle.
12
Way better discussion than I thought it would be. I was glad when Lindy started out by saying it was a dumb question, since it was a dumb question.

Jim is not convincing or compelling when he says that things are okay to say as long as they're intended to be funny. The question to ask is, who thinks it's funny? Who is it intended to be funny for? Are all those people jackasses?

Otherwise, I agree with Jim on what comedy is capable of, and that it's capable of (though not guaranteed) to relieve trauma and suffering rather than reinforce it. It's also very good at exposing horrible attitudes and positions (exposing victim blamers, for instance), not just at trivializing someone's suffering. I agree with Lindy that words actually do matter, but repetition and mimicry go a long ways towards exposing rather than reinforcing whatever it is that's being parodied.
13
Next time, insist on a better opponent, Lindy. He was clearly not listening to a goddamn word you said, and thought he had a bulletproof argument worthy of repeating over and over.
14
Well, blackface is intended to be funny.
15
Totally screwed himself on that stunningly dick-headed last line, didn't he?
Is it just my paranoid imagination, Lindy, or did audience applause break down more or less along gender lines?
16
Shit, that guy still does NOT get it.
17
Well debated on both sides. I've seen rape jokes done well and done very, very poorly. It's an interesting topic. Stay awesome, Lindy.
18
Norton apparently thinks this is a First Amendment/free speech question. I have yet to read anything (from the 'feminist' standpoint) that has couched this question in those terms.

Norton needs to read a little more and stop being a such a dumbass.



19
Talk about a feeble opponent. Jim Norton, really? Louis CK, Patton Oswalt, even Daniel Tosh could have done a better job at defending comedy.

I do believe, as Carlin said, it is all in how you construct the joke. But, it's more than just what the exaggeration is. It's also who is the butt of the joke. If it's the victim, that's almost impossible to make funny to anyone, aside from a rapist. Just like with race humor, context is paramount. So, while it is best for the novice to avoid, I don't think rape, or any other topic, is off limits to comedy.
20
but wait!

Danny makes rape jokes!

about raping Rick Santorum (ick) and Sarah Palin (yummmmm....)

does that make it OK?
21
Man, I had such a well written comment that the internet ate. Oh well. The gist of it was: racism and rape are ongoing. People continue to be newly traumatized by these forces every day. The temporary relief that comedy provides from these horrible truths comes at the expense of retraumatizing those victims.

West defeats his own point when he discusses Hitler jokes. Hitler jokes aren't okay in a room of Holocaust survivors. You'd have to stop rape, stop racism, and wait for the victims to die naturally in order for rape jokes to be okay.

West also fails to argue why, if I don't agree with him on "everything or nothing" , I should continue to support him via his advertisers.
22
Jim Norton is my least favorite comic. I would have strongly preferred to watch Lindy talk to anyone else, but it was good. You rock!
23
@20 - Oh shit, you got us. As everyone knows, liberals are a monolithic body that always agrees and never makes mistakes. To believe otherwise would completely undermine the liberal way of life, and there you've done it.

Doesn't matter that Lindy has repeatedly called Dan out on the language he uses. Nope. Liberalism destroyed. Come by the office Monday morning to collect your medal.
24
@5 - I can't tell if that is metahumor about trivializing women or if the entire point just went way over your head...
25
Why not have Amy Schumer or Sarah Silverman or any number of female comics who think that you can make a joke about rape (or murder or pedophilia or terrorism or abuse or suicide or cancer or torture or genocide, etc.) arguing Norton's point?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_urvjCXg…
27
@25 which is fair question. And the producers probably have little interest in doing so. This segment's format is a much used, hackneyed "Crossfire" schtick that precludes the chance that anything can come from it [pit celebrity representatives of two diametrically opposed, fixed standpoints and prod them to box each other for shits and grins... "Oh, wouldn't you know, that's all the time we have, lol].
28
Jim Norton has always been disgusting. But, like Marc Maron said about Norton's close friend Patrice O'Neal, he's hilarious--and scarily, probably correct.

Lindy West's first joke about W. Kamau Bell's question being "dumb?" That's offensive to some. (Is she still holding out on the r-word?) I'm offended that she uses gender-specific word "dick" to describe Norton. What about that?

Alas, talking about comedy?--it's a lot like that dancing about architecture thing to me. Either you laugh or you don't. NEXT!

30
Match point: Young Frakenstien.

Madeline Kahn is raped by the monster. It's a major plot point. And the twist is she falls in love with him. It's as hilarious as it is absurd.

"...it's seven or eight quick ones and off with the boys to boast and brag!"

Inflexible rules about comedy are going to fail.
31
@21 Mel Brooks has an anecdote about precisely that: telling Hitler jokes to Holocaust survivors. And he killed it. They were precisely the crowd to make fun of Hitler in front of.
32
Just so we are clear there are rape jokes that fully fall on the NOT funny side of the equation. For instance just about every Family Guy Quagmire rape joke. Mostly becuase Quagmire, the rapist, is making the act of rape itself the punch line. Like whoa there he goes raping again. That's pretty fucked up.

But it's not a black white or clear issue. As with the Young Frankenstein example. Where it defitely IS a rape joke. And it defitely is funny and the climax of the story wouldn't work with out it. And I have never heard Lindy or anybody else complain about that joke.

Saying you can never joke about rape or race or any other taboo is to completely misunderstand comedy and frankly is placing your own pet ideological filters above any attempt at understanding or art. And when you do that you are no different than right wing zealots.
33
@21: Yeah, he totally lost me at the Hitler comparison. Making insensitive Hitler jokes to holocaust survivors is one of the jerkiest things a comedian could ever do. A boycott would be entirely appropriate. So he thinks rape jokes are similar?

Comedians do have the right to joke about whatever they want; the rest of us have the right to criticize and boycott their sponsors if we choose to. These are all forms of free speech. You can't have one without the others. This guy is silly for thinking that he's entitled to exercise his rights but the rest of us should refrain from exercising ours.

Lindy is clearly right.
34
@31: I'm thinking the jokes that make fun of the rapist aren't the ones making people mad. I could be wrong, though.

It's also worth noting that Brooks, as a Jew, belonged to the community that had been victimized in the holocaust. I'm not sure the survivors would have found his jokes funny coming from a German.
35
Lindy was great. Norton is a dickhead. How do you compare mocking rape victims to mocking Hitler? And that whole "speaking truth to power" line was total nonsense. I don't think censorship is the answer, but if advertisers steer clear of entertainers who offend huge segments of the population, how can he possibly cry about that? It's called the Free Market. Dumbass.
36
@34 What about a German Jew?

Look you have people here making ridiculous absolutist edicts. "You can never make Hitler jokes to holocaust survivors." When we know people like Brooks have pulled it off with out being set on fire. Though he always had his detractors. For instance Rhe Producers originally faced exactly these types of absolute moralism. From mostly Gentiles. And now The Producers is a classic.

You all wanna join the likes of the Jerry Falwell. That's where filtering art through ideology leads.
37
@34 oh. And as in Young Franenstien the rapist is not really the butt of the joke. The rape itself isn't either. Bu Kahn's reaction to brute sexuality IS the focus of the joke. So it's indeed a fine line. And one an absolute ideological prescriptivist view doesnt have the finess to appreciate.
38
Now I want to hear that Joan Rivers set.
39
Lindy isn't taking an "ideologically prescriptivist" view, tkc. She expects a a degree of awareness (of audience & context, of the asymetrical character of assault, of the essential absurdity and real-world effects of masculine mythology...) that 99 out of 100 comics don't possess.
41
@37: I didn't make any absolutist claims, other than that free speech is a right that belongs to everyone (not just comedians). Everyone already knows this. This is simply a fact, but Norton seemed to have overlooked it.

You take issue with "filtering art through ideology", and I get your point about absolutist bans, but you're not acknowledging that art sometimes conveys an ideology, and that that ideology can harm people (seatackled mentioned blackface--that's a good example of what I mean).

I think this what Lindy is talking about--that some rape jokes mock the victim and therefore add to the suffering of the victim, and possibly reinforce a culture that is likely to create more victims.

It's perfectly reasonable to criticize or even boycott art that goes too far in that direction. It could be argued that it would be irresponsible to *not* criticize it.

But there is some question as to where to draw the line.
42
@4: There's a certain point at which George Carlin went from being funny to a centrist crank. I stopped caring about his humor when he got old.
43
@36, no one said he can't make his asinine "jokes", if he thinks that's "art". He can say all the stupid crap he wants, and Lindy can call him a dick. Rape is not some distant historical thing we can look back at and roll our eyes over how silly people used to be. It's a culture alive and well in the world right now. If a "comic" made jokes to make nazis more comfortable while the holocaust was in full swing, would you call that art?
44
@11 It's interesting that you mention the argument that comedy is about "speaking truth to power," or standing up to something more powerful, because I actually see rape jokes as being on the side of women and rape victims... At least, in a broader context of cultural progression. For a few reasons: First, when a comedian is making a rape joke they are saying that they feel weak, and women are the powerful oppressors they are standing up to. Yeah, that sounds fucked up, but once upon a time rape was quietly tolerated as often a part of life (one couldn't be raped by their husband, and hey, one couldn't even be raped if they weren't already chaste!) Now, everyone is told in a high school assembly that having sex with someone who is drunk, even if you are drunk yourself, is automatically rape. Not mutual rape of both compromised individuals, the rapist is always the man. So, some men get confused about whether partying, drinking, and hooking up is acceptable, or if it is rape. Most men aren't comfortable with the line between rapist and not rapist being anything less than a mile thick. That their is any ambiguity in what qualifies someone as a "rapist" is understandably troubling to any decent man. It does not feel powerful to be considered a potential rapist, it is emasculating, and that is why men feel weak when we talk about rape. Joking about it is how a comedian says "I am uncomfortable, and I want to talk about this, but I don't know how to talk about it."

Lindy says that racial humor was particularly vile in a time when racial oppression was particularly bad, but the comedy didn't create the culture of oppression, the culture of oppression was in the process of being overthrown. Comedians made vile jokes as a reaction to seeing the culture change, not to try to take it back, but to work out their (and their audiences) ambiguity and discomfort with a topic that no one knew quite how to talk about. No one wants to talk about race in the 60s if they're afraid they'll appear either racist or radical, so the comedian goes further out on the limb than we imagined so the simple little thoughts and questions we want to discuss seem relatively polite. It's hard to talk about rape without sounding like a humorless "feminist" or a misogynist. I thank the comedians who, however crudely and ineptly they can be, are willing to go there so we can have an easier time discussing these topics and going through these changes as a culture. They are actually doing a very important job, and that is their intention.

Once (this is very dated) I heard someone say that when The Simpsons makes fun of you, that's how you know you've made it. When the jokes are at their worst, that's how I know a turning point is being reached. This issue has finally "made it" as something that we are discussing as a culture, and we are finding ways to be better.
45
Lindy assumes that every victim of sexual assault, or even most, will respond to rape jokes, all rape jokes, the way she does. This is just nonsense.

Lindy's argument is basically, "Just imagine if all the victims of sexual assault feel as bad or worse than I do when they hear a rape joke. Therefore, people who tell rape jokes are dicks."

And, yeah, why IS it okay to call a guy a gender specific name like "dick," anyway? Is it okay now to call women "cunts" if they tell jokes you don't like?

"Have you ever wanted to rape a clown, but when you followed him into his car, you end up having to rape, like, twenty clowns?" -- Dana Gould
46
the key issue here is who becomes the butt of the joke. in rape jokes, as lindy points out, this is almost always the victim. if the majority of rape jokes were made at the expense of the rapist, in a funny and successful way, it wouldn't be as much of a problem. if you're making nazi jokes, 99% of the time you aren't making fun of the jews, you're making fun of hitler. mel brooks did it. you're poking fun at the oppressor, and that is the context norton was trying to get at about laughing at it for an hour to relieve the tension. but it's all about the context, and norton is an idiot if he thinks mocking the victim is going to relieve the tension. the psychological release that happens is by flipping the power in the situation, and allowing the victim to feel empowered, to take control of their responses to the situation that was out of their control in the first place. mocking the victims, or taking the part of the rapist (which will be read as an attempt to sympathize with the rapist every time) does the opposite; it seeks to further empower the oppressor at the expense of the victim. comedy can be successfully used as commentary on society, but only if it is pointing out the problems in the culture and giving power to the oppressed. otherwise it's just reenforcing the worst aspects of it, at the expense of those already suffering.
47
I've never seen this show but I like the candidness and thorough and well thought-out answers in this case on both sides. However, I think he makes the best arguments.
48
This conversation would've made more sense to me if they'd given (or played) some examples of what kind of humor they're talking about. What kind of awful comedy is Lindy watching anyway? I'm not doubting that it exists (this debate must've come from somewhere), but I guess I haven't been exposed to the "Haha! I raped that girl! -- that's the joke!" humor to which she refers. Or are we conflating pathetic teenage boys with comics? I honestly don't understand.
49
Jim lost any credibility he might have had when he ended with the "Lindy and I should make out" line.

Jesus fucking christ.
51
@50 Thanks for the link. The Tosh joke was very un-funny and offensive and dickish. The fact that the outcry made such news on that day suggests to me that it is a remarkable anomaly, though.
52
@51: It's not just Tosh though. I don't remember who wrote this article, but it's been mentioned on slog. This white guy did a set where a lot of his jokes were about raping women. One in particular, that sticks out in my mind, went something like this. "I was having sex with this black girl, and she kept saying the "n-word" the whole time. 'NO.'" Here's another Lindy mentions: "Last night I brought this girl home, but she was being really loud during sex, so I told her, 'Sssshhh, you don't want to turn this rape into a murder!'"

It's common. The most famous comedians aren't doing as much of it, but those who are lower-down? Absolutely.

As for the debate, I'm with Lindy. I've seen this argument over and over from Jim's side, and frankly, the problem is that he (and many other male comics who take up this argument) erroneously believes that the problem is that rape is getting joked about. That's not the problem. The problem is that rape victims are the punchline of the joke. Look at the examples above. The problem with that joke is not that it's about rape, it's that it's treating rape as if it's some incredibly rare situation that only happens to people in fiction, and that this situation doesn't happen ALL THE TIME.

The problem is that it is totally likely that there are both women in the audience who have been raped and guys in the audience who have raped women. And I wish that comedians would think about who they really want to find their jokes funny before using something just because it's funny to someone.
53
Will, you cite pretty different numbers from what I'm getting when I do some superficial research. Helen Benedict’s 2007 Salon story says it's ONE percent of men (don't have the link but you can Google) who have been raped in the military.

And wiki says 9-20% in prisons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_rape….
55
@50: Also, I'd like to point out that the reason for the outcry lately is not that this is weird. It's that women of my generation were brought up in a culture that believes it is post-sexism, and as we're becoming adults, we're noticing that this is not true and we are getting angry about it. We're fed up with hearing that feminism is no longer necessary, because we've realized it's a line we've been fed to try to make us accept our inequality- it's not actually true.
56
There's a difference between 'Hitler jokes' and 'Holocaust jokes'. The rape jokes and the misogynist attitude that are being objected to are jokes that mock and demean the victims, not jokes that mock and denigrate rapists.

And yeah, the 'Lindy and I should make out' comment at the end perfectly punctuated Jim Norton's dismissive and trivializing attitude. It was 'street harassment' on stage, a blatant yet casual attempt to demean Lindy, cut her down and shut her down. (Lindy: I was rolling my eyes in sync with yours.)
57
her article was much better presentation of the subject. theses one-on-one cable 'discussion' shows are so tired, and mostly awful. why do people still go on them? they're a terrible format

http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a…
58
@57, I agree about the article being better. Mostly because I felt like the point about who the joke is "about" (is it at the expense of the raped or of the rapist) was made very well in the article, and not so well on the show. That was a really interesting insight for me, and it applies to many kinds of potentially borderline humor (is a racist joke at the expense of ignorant racists? Or at the expense of the people who have been oppressed?).
59
Straight white guy tells everyone else how to feel and act: so refreshing.
60
Wow, that Norton guy I've never heard of before is a dick. It's remarkable that he doesn't get the key issue about who has social power in a situation or a joke, and who (or what) is the butt of the joke.
61
but wait!

Danny makes rape jokes!

about raping Rick Santorum (ick) and Sarah Palin (yummmmm....)

does that make it OK?
62
One vote for Norton, here. He managed to dismantle every point she made while pulling his punches so as not to look like he was coming down too hard on Lindy.

It's funny how Lindy's brand of feminism is supposedly a counterculture movement when it's actually socially unacceptable to make fun of it, for fear of being branded a misogynist. He had to walk a fine line, while she did not.

She was arguing a prudish line, while he was arguing a permissive one. I can't believe no one is picking up on that.

And honestly the 'we should make out' line was perfect BECAUSE it offended her. In one stroke, he got her to expose her lack of humor for all to see. One sentence got her to clutch her pearls and make that... face... and it showed which one was reasonable, and which one was the prude.

I'll be honest, if you think Lindy came off as anything other than the Family Research Council of feminists, you're too deep in your ideology and need to take a step back.
63
Always a bad idea to debate a stand-up comic.
64
@5 - you are blind.

he was right, she was wrong.

"you hurt my feels," is not an argument for censorship, regardless of audience. . .
65
@62 - apparently you saw a different segment than I. Norton framed it as a freedom of expression issue. Which is what Lindy said; never. Which is what this issue is about; not.

Her line wasn't "prudish", it was Aristotelian. Judgement, Turtle.... judgement.
66
@62
And honestly the 'we should make out' line was perfect BECAUSE it offended her. In one stroke, he got her to expose her lack of humor for all to see. One sentence got her to clutch her pearls and make that... face... and it showed which one was reasonable, and which one was the prude.


That was more of a grossed-out face. He's not very attractive, but she could hardly make a crack about it on TV without looking like a jerk. She was smart to let it go.
67
For comparison, imagine a set in which a comic performs for an audience of veterans, and makes jokes about dead soldiers.

@62, what? How did he dismantle every single one of her points? He brought some good points to the table, but every time Lindy reiterated her point--which is basically the same the whole way through--he came up with a different reason for why rape jokes are fine. It was one rational statement vs. 10 flimsy excuses.

Lindy has a great sense of humor, just not about the tired sexist shit which masks itself as humor but really is just a way to dig at people who give a shit about things like equality and ending violence. That's why it's funny, right? Because some people--weaker people--are offended because they care too much and are humorless, right? "Don't take it so seriously" is the statement of a person who has never (and probably will never) *had to* take it seriously. Because it's not real to them.

Anyway, all she really claimed is that language has power, and you can say whatever you want--just be prepared to get called out on it, and be sure you're ready to stand by your words.

Do you believe African Americans were too entrenched in their "ideology" of civil rights in the '60s? Or now, even? Should they have just played along with the humor that degraded them and acted like it was no big deal?
68
@67 and everyone here who thinks she did nothing but repeat 2 points or so.
"10 flimsy excuses," more like she came with two points she thought were so absolute that when confronted with so many counter-arguments she couldn't help but to repeat herself other than resign herself. Hence the minute or so of her stammering at the end. The level of intellectual dishonesty here is astounding.
69
Entropy is fast approaching. Everyone likes links to further reading, right? Get the party started!! Hehe. He. So...

Three similar and concise articles that summarize theories of humor from different disciplines:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_of…

https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/monro.html

http://www.iep.utm.edu/humor/

Gruesome, academic analysis of parody; yet despite its canonical status it can yield tasty nuggets of analytical awesomeness:

http://www.medina502.com/classes/subvers…

And.. Poe's Law:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law
70
@66 - HE'S not very attractive?
71
Lindy's argument has no real life example.

Norton stated that no comedian has ever incited a crime against a woman. She couldn't counter with one example where it has. Instead she mentioned some vague stuff about "culture" making a "butterfly flapping its wings in Indonesia" type of slippery slope argument.

My family is from India. If you read the news...you know that Indians LOVE to rape (that's a joke, hope you weren't offended). But seriously, the do. Look at the stats. There's plenty of gang raping, groping, child rape, man-on-man rape, it is horrible and tragic.

Now if you look at comedians, movies, and all forms of pop culture in India, rape is among the things that it is taboo to talk about. They won't even kiss in movies (only very recently did a few films allow this). Their pop culture is incredibly prudish. Yet at the same time, it hasn't stop the "rape culture" from taking over. So the point that eliminating jokes about rape will reduce the real life cases have no merit.

Additionally, Lindy referred to making jokes about race. Well guess what? For a long time, America's pop culture was prudish. Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, etc. Bob Hope was on stage not making jokes about race, or rape for that matter.

But was it a reflection of reality?

As well, Lindy called Norton a "Dick" but if he called her a "cunt" which is the equivalent, it would have been a feminist Chernobyl on the Internet.

Its pretty easy to the unbiased eye that Jim Norton won the debate with ease.
72
Lindy's argument has no real life example.

Norton stated that no comedian has ever incited a crime against a woman. She couldn't counter with one example where it has. Instead she mentioned some vague stuff about "culture" making a "butterfly flapping its wings in Indonesia" type of slippery slope argument.

My family is from India. If you read the news...you know that Indians LOVE to rape (that's a joke, hope you weren't offended). But seriously, the do. Look at the stats. There's plenty of gang raping, groping, child rape, man-on-man rape, it is horrible and tragic.

Now if you look at comedians, movies, and all forms of pop culture in India, rape is among the things that it is taboo to talk about. They won't even kiss in movies (only very recently did a few films allow this). Their pop culture is incredibly prudish. Yet at the same time, it hasn't stop the "rape culture" from taking over. So the point that eliminating jokes about rape will reduce the real life cases have no merit.

Additionally, Lindy referred to making jokes about race. Well guess what? For a long time, America's pop culture was prudish. Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, etc. Bob Hope was on stage not making jokes about race, or rape for that matter.

But was it a reflection of reality?

As well, Lindy called Norton a "Dick" but if he called her a "cunt" which is the equivalent, it would have been a feminist Chernobyl on the Internet.

Its pretty easy to the unbiased eye that Jim Norton won the debate with ease.

Also, a lot of people here saying "this isn't funny, that isn't funny." The only people who judge that are the people paying for the ticket to the comedy club, the movie, the cable bill or listening in or reading the blog, etc.
73
I'm going to just cut and paste this post I made a few weeks ago about a male grad student who called a woman a cunt in front of another woman who then called him out on it. I think it translates pretty well, with the caveat that the comedy club puts you in EVERYBODY's company:

Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I'm a gay man, and I don't like being called a faggot. I know there are millions of straight men who use the word and I actually believe them when they say they're not actually homophobic- but the word certainly is and I don't want to hear it. There are also many gay men who don't give a shit. Defer to the company you're in if you don't want to be confronted or embarrassed. Using words like "cunt" or "faggot" don't necessarily make you a bad person, but if you do you should anticipate being judged for it- like anything else that comes out of your mouth. So the swears-he's-queer-positive straight man who says "faggot" and the considers-himself-a-feminist grad student who says "cunt" really shouldn't bitch when they're "misunderstood". Of course you have every right to say whatever you want- and other people have the right to point out that you sound like an asshole.
74
@70- Nobody's judging you for finding Jim Norton attractive, guy. It's just that the rest of us have better taste.
75
@70, seriously. I'm happy someone said it. Whew.
77
And a serious discussion about the boundaries of comedy and rape culture devolves into a fuckability contest. And people wonder why women are fed up with this shit...
78
@72, 73: It does not boil down to something simple, like, jokes about rape perpetuate rape culture and if you eliminate that, it will go away. A culture which is tolerant of rape is that way for many different reasons. In India, there is obvious and shameless sexism, and that contributes to rape. Not having rape jokes makes no difference in that case. The culture has to have respect for women in order for the first steps to be made; India and many other countries don't have that, and no joke or lack thereof would change anything. What if people treated women as valuable individuals *and* didn't laugh at them being victimized?

Lindy is not saying that comedians alone incite rape, and you are wrong for thinking that's what she means. No, there is no "real life example," and she never argues that point. Your response is very simplistic.

Also, I'm so sick of this "dick = cunt" argument. It's so stupid. "Cracker" is not the opposite of "nigger," because one word is used against an already denigrated population, and the other is the very ineffective attempt by the minority to have an insult for the ruling class. White people don't give a shit if they're called a cracker, because at the end of the day, they're still white and receiving automatic privilege wherever they go.

*Literally* sure, dick and cunt mean the same thing. It doesn't mean they have the same effect when you use those words.

Aaaaanyway, I have definitely had a laugh at some rape jokes. And I believe that laughing at something horrible is a way to exert power over it on your own terms. But I can't say I'd feel that way if I had ever been raped. There's a good chance it would make me feel awful to have some asshole mock my trauma like that. And I see her point better than I do his.
79
I also would've liked to see Lindy talk about this with a female comedian, I think it would've been more interesting.

This is not really a "versus" talk. They agree on the same thing, which is that one should be allowed to make rape jokes and someone should also be allowed to call them a dick for doing so. Everyone has the right to joke about whatever, and everyone has the right to not think it's funny and say "hey that's shitty of you."

Her point is simply that you have to accept the consequences of hurting lots of people who hear your joke, and be okay with that. You can't just tell someone to not be offended by your words. What was his point?
80
@75 die in a bonfire
81
The difference is that we all agree that 9/11 and the holocaust were tragedies, but we live in a culture that conditions us to feel like rape is pretty much inevitable (boys will be boys!), that the onus is mostly on women to prevent it (cover up, ladies!), and that women who get raped are often at least partly to blame (maybe she shouldn't drink so much next time!). And unlike 9/11 or the holocaust, rape isn't a past tragedy, it's an ongoing threat that affects every woman's life. The difference is that there continues to be a massive imbalance of power, and that most of the people telling the jokes -- dudes -- seem either oblivious to this or unwilling to admit it.
82
@81, well said.
83
@78: What the hell are you talking about? When, in any point in my post, did I even deviate from exactly what Lindy was saying? Perhaps you meant to direct this at 72, but my argument in the repost was that every one has the right to free speech not consequence-free speech. If you make a callous, Tosh-like joke about rape you have every right to do so but don't whine (and certainly don't claim that YOUR rights are being stepped on) when other people think you're a monster and tell you so. Also, I never said Lindy's message boiled down to 'insensitive comedy incites sexual assault' because she never said that. She said it was a contribution to an already existing culture of disrespect towards women and I agree.
84
Also, to address some comments above about Lindy West calling Jim Norton a dick (what if HE called HER a cunt??)

Men don't really mind being made fun of for being men. They like being men. They're proud to have penises. It's like trying to make fun of white people for being white.
85
@83, I meant 71, 72; my apologies!

We're on the same page.
86
@85: All good :)
87
@71: So you're saying we should bring back blackface, unless someone can tie it directly to an instance of racial injustice? I'd rather we didn't. It's non-trivial to prove a connection between individual acts and culture. Sometimes we have to rely on judgment.

Their pop culture is incredibly prudish. Yet at the same time, it hasn't stop the "rape culture" from taking over. So the point that eliminating jokes about rape will reduce the real life cases have no merit.


Lindy never argued that rape jokes are a necessary or a sufficient condition in order for rape to occur, so the absence of rape jokes in this or that rapey culture has no bearing on her argument.

The article cited by @50 clarifies her point better than the TV clip; I suggest you read that if you'd like to understand what's being discussed.

88
Jim Norton is more than capable of shaming that idiot. Lindy West came up at The Stranger, which, let's face it, is full of terrible writing, dull thinking and low editorial standards. She does not rate the level of notoriety she now enjoys, and the stress is showing. She calls for censorship, but she won't call it censorship, 'cause she's against censorship. She's making an enormous ass of herself.
89
@88: West literally told Bell that his censorship question was dumb. And it was, because that's not what the discussion was about. Norton's assertion that people shouldn't be able to fuck with a comedian's money (i.e. losing endorsements due to unpopular humor)-AFTER invoking the free market in defense of the "edgy" comedian- was the hypocritical asininity on display. West simply pointed out that you can't push and then cry foul when there's pushback.
90
@88: How are you defining "censorship" in the context of your comment? Lindy explicitly disavowed enforced censorship in the interview, as @89 noted. But she is suggesting that we think about how our speech affects others and to possibly "censor" ourselves (or face criticism if we don't).

If you read the article cited by @50, this is what she has to say about self-censorship:

This fetishization of not censoring yourself, of being an "equal-opportunity offender," is bizarre and bad for comedy. When did "not censoring yourself" become a good thing? We censor ourselves all the time, because we are not entitled, sociopathic fucks. Your girlfriend is censoring herself when she says she's okay with you playing Xbox all day. In a way, comedy is censoring yourself—comedy is picking the right words to say to make people laugh. A comic who doesn't censor himself is just a dude yelling.


What specifically do you take issue with here? Do you think self-censorship is harmful in some way? Is Lindy wrong to suggest that criticism is appropriate in cases where comedians choose not to?

Under what circumstances is it impermissible to criticize the speech of others? Just when the speaker is a comedian? Any kind of an artist? Or for everyone, always? In other words, exactly how would the multi-tiered model of free speech you're advocating work?
91
@90, Some people think they should be able to say whatever dumb and offensive shit they want without any criticism in return. They do not see the irony of whining about censorship while imposing their own tortured understanding of censorship on others who dare to criticize them.
93
@91: It strikes me as ironic, too, but I've never seen one of the people who hold this view explain how they reached their conclusion. Tom_X/@88 professes strong views on writing and editorial standards, and he's also an enemy of "dull thinking". So I'm thinking he should be in an ideal position to explain this phenomenon.
94
@88 You and all the other morons who think Jim "won" this discussion simply aren't hearing what Lindy is saying. You're only hearing what you want to hear.

She does not believe in censorship, but simply considering, just maybe, how your words affect others. If you're cool with that, by all means, go for it. Just don't get all ruffled when people call you an asshole for being an asshole. I don't have a problem with anyone going after advertisers--ultimately, whatever makes them most money is what they'll go with. If your content is popular, no matter who it offends, companies will continue to pay.

I also find it funny when people come to the Stranger, read their content, and then comment about how much the Stranger sucks.
95
@53 of those raped.

Hey, I know, let's be like Japan and make jokes about raping millions of Chinese and Korean women and how FUNNY that was.

Like I said: NOT funny. Ever.
96
This whole thing is stupid.

West never said forced censorship was the way.

Norton never claimed people should not be held accountable for their words.

It is not even a "debate," because they are not even talking about the same damn thing, and both parties just keep repeating the same arguments that neither is making or arguing against.

I am just trying to figure out why anyone pays any attention to either of these clowns. Jim Norton is incredibly unfunny, and Lindy West is somehow just as humorless. Neither shows any original thought, and they both are painful to read/listen to, as they are both convinced that their tired gimmicks are hilarious and fresh.
98
@67: "It was one rational statement vs. 10 flimsy excuses."

Not so much. It was one opinion statement versus ten rational arguments. Lindy's entire position comes down to "logic doesn't real, only feels."
99
@84: you know what men think? Hmm...
100
@98: Her opinion: You can say whatever you want, but also expect to be called an asshole about it, and be ready to hurt some of your audience members.

Jim Norton agrees. But I seriously don't understand what his point was. He explains why rape joke are fine to tell, in his view, and explains that one's intention when saying something matters. There is no logic on either side; they were both simply stating opinions, and that is fine.

96 is correct, they agree on the principle of free speech, and this was not a debate so much as it was Lindy sharing why she thinks rape jokes are wrong and offensive, and Jim sharing why he thinks they aren't or shouldn't be or whatever.

101
@96:
Norton never claimed people should not be held accountable for their words.


Well, he did say it was not OK to try to "get someone in trouble" for things they say (at about 3:30). The example he gave was listeners complaining to advertisers when comedians say things they don't like.

So he advocated a limited form of accountability, but not no accountability at all.

By the time Lindy got to speak, the host had changed the subject. So it's impossible to say whether she agreed or not.

So yeah, not much of a debate.
102
@101 That was my main problem of the whole thing...

They got of to a great start, both sides agreeing that there wasn't a credible threat of actual censorship, that bad jokes were bad and that it should be perfectly acceptable to call a comedian out on the things they say.

Unfortunately, Kamau took them away what should have been an interesting discussion on if it was okay to try to go after comics economically.

As such, I have only liberal talk radio host Stephanie Miller, who stakes out similar territory as Norton, claiming that going after advertisers hurts everyone in the industry.
103
Most stand up comedy is bad, and negativity only leads to more negativity.
104
Best part for me was when West said that you can't claim that comedy is a sacred, no-holds-barred way of telling truth to power--and then turn around and say "Hey, it's just a joke!"
105
I don't think Lindy ever has to worry about being raped. Unfuckable.