Much has been said about the incident between Daniel Tosh and a young woman in his audience. Whether he said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she were raped by like 5 guys?” or “Wow, she must’ve been raped by like 5 guys,” (both of which sound like him because he does talk like a Valley Girl, like) he apologized and, whatever. We’re square. He’s off my Christmas list, but he’s about as relevant to me as he was before.
Then came everyone and their fucking llamas.
Well. Here I am. Here’s my llama: Freedom of speech and why no one has tried to take it away here.
Look, Tosh was never in danger of being arrested for what he said. A lot of people seem to be gravely ignorant about what freedom of speech means.
It means that you may say just about whatever screwball thing that enters your brainpan. What it also means is that you get to enjoy the responsibility of having said it.
See, Tosh said, “Rape jokes can be funny.”
Heckler said, “Rape jokes are never funny.”
(to which I, rape survivor and woman say, “They can be.”)
And Tosh said, “Whatever, get raped, you were raped, blah blah blah. Defying logic, I wasn’t prepared for anyone to disagree with that premise because I thought my primary audience were date rapists.”
Now, heckler felt violated, as the heckler has every right to feel. Tosh felt annoyed, as a comedian on stage who is being heckled is very likely to feel.
Heckler and/or heckler’s friend wrote about those feelings in a blog post (which, because freedom of speech, wasn’t illegal) and other people who were not heckler, heckler’s friends, or Tosh, commented the shit out of it. Which they also had the right to do, because freedom of speech.
Tosh had the right to double down, ignore the whole thing, or apologize. Maybe he could’ve apologized better. Or checked himself into rehab. Or sent the heckler flowers. Whatever, he was free to respond how he wanted. Everyone was free to accept that or not.
You see all of this freedom? You see any censorship here?
Now, will Tosh stop telling rape jokes? Unlikely. Will he be more careful about landing them? I hope so. Will people who dislike rape jokes go to his shows? Hopefully not. But if they do, hopefully Tosh will have formulated a better response for when he’s heckled over it.
The moral to the story is: If your premise is that rape jokes can be funny, BE FUCKING FUNNY.