“So You’re Offended, So Fucking What?”

Daniel Tosh with Fans

~ Stephen Fry

Let’s skip the foreplay: Once again, a comedian has gotten themselves into trouble for a bit he did in his stand-up. This pretty much happens every other week. Offense was taken, the internet has thoughts. Here are mine.

Daniel Tosh (of Tosh.0 fame, though he was doing far better stuff before that) was making some rape jokes at a show, a woman got offended and interrupted his set, and then Tosh started aiming the jokes at her. You can read her account (or really, a friend’s transcript of her account) here.

This woman’s personal experience is her own, and I have no ill will towards her. I just don’t happen to agree with her assertion that, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”  Because, actually, sometimes they are. I mean, I laugh at rape jokes. Not every one. A rape joke is like any other kind of joke: If it makes me laugh, I consider that funny.

(Edit – For the record, even though I don’t believe this should have to be said, I’m going to say it: I don’t think rape is funny.  I think it’s horrific and should be punished.  But humor helps take away the power of horrible things. It’s a common refrain among Jewish comedians that they are so prevalent because, in their culture, they used humor to help get through the atrocities they faced. Humor is good. Dark humor is healing.)

I laugh at racists jokes. I laugh at dead baby jokes. I laugh at “The Aristocrats” (like, a lot). Louis C.K. has called his 3-year-old daughter an asshole and I have laughed uproariously. You know what all of those items have in common? They’re jokes. If they don’t make you laugh, it almost certainly says more about you than it does about the joke or the comedian telling it.

Comedy is a hard thing to talk about intelligently (even though I’ve attempted it in the past) because perhaps more than any other art form, it really does stretch the limit of subjectivity. Laughter is so involuntary and so powerful that it’s pretty much impossible to share or explain. If you’ve ever tried to retell a joke or explain one of those “You had to be there” moments, you know what I mean.

This woman’s response to Tosh’s material was her raw emotions, and that’s just as real as laughter. She has every right to feel that way. But, while I can’t defend Tosh’s response to her (though I’d have to have been there to form a real opinion), I still find what this woman did to be annoying because her actions were pointless (if people are laughing at a joke, you saying the joke isn’t funny is clearly incorrect) and basically just a way for her to act morally superior. If she was truly offended, the best thing she could have done was stand up and leave. Lecturing the comedian, and by extension the crowd who was there to see him, is ridiculous.

But what I find most obnoxious about this whole kerfuffle is that a site like Boing Boing picked up the story and is using it to seethe with moral indignation.

Take your offense and shove it

Here’s what bothers me: Taking offense. Taking offense and expecting other people to share your offense. Taking offense and expecting other people to share your offense, and if they don’t pretty much labeling them reprobates.

I will not be offended. Not for you, not for myself, not for anyone. Offense is a meaningless reaction. It’s completely reactive, never proactive. It says nothing about the offender and everything about the offended. 

What really grinds my gears is that people who get offended rarely care about other people’s offenses. The people who are offended by Gay Pride parades cares little about who their religious protests offend. People offended by graphic anti-abortion signs have no problem with overtly sexual works of art in public. If you’re offended, it’s the end of the world, but if your ideological opponent is offended, they’re just too sensitive.

Hypocrisy, offense be thy name.

I’ve seen Boing Boing stand up on behalf of groups and belief systems that other people would find offensive. For the most part, the site tends to lean pretty liberal, which means that by the very nature of having an opinion on anything, they are going to offend someone. Do they apologize every time one of their articles ruffles feathers? I hope not. If you’re going to take a stance, don’t be a chickenshit about it. But at the same time, if you’re going to be someone who is willing to offend, don’t expect people to care when you’re offended.

This goes for religion, politics or personal beliefs as well. If you’re offended, so fucking what?*

Get over yourselves. Get over your offense.

Offensive Comedy

The best comedy offends. At least, that’s my opinion. You might not agree if you find Reader’s Digest’s “Laughter, The Best Medicine” section to be the height of comedy, but otherwise let’s just all accept that comedy is largely about making light of real life which is, for the most part, miserable. We joke to feel better, and much of the humor comes from taking a serious subject and undercutting it with humor.

It’s understandable if a rape victim doesn’t find a rape joke funny. I wouldn’t expect a 9/11 widow to guffaw at a 9/11 joke (although, maybe she would).  Individuals for personal reasons may find certain types of jokes distasteful. I get that. At the same time, there are people who face their horrific past with humor. I had a generally fucked up childhood, so what do my siblings do when we get together (other than drink and fight)?  We joke about it.

There is no one-size-fits-all for comedy, and I’m tired of self-righteous bloggers and pundits trying to make it so.

If you don’t want to hear rape jokes, don’t go to a comedy show without checking out the comedian ahead of time.  Because I hate to break it to your virgin ears, but rape jokes are pretty popular. Off-color is the new black. Perverse humor sales, and for good reason: perversity offers a unique and enlightening perspective on life. Stand-up comedians don’t tell knock knock jokes, get used to it.

There are genuinely funny comedians who do pretty safe material, but even the nicest comedian will offend someone.  Because people are pussies. You, you are a pussy.

So stop telling me what jokes are funny.

P.S. I know a lot of Tosh’s fan-base are annoying frat boys and Bros, but for all you people claiming he isn’t funny, keep in mind he has at least one pretty solid supporter:

*Only one thing offends me: Willful stupidity.

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5 thoughts on ““So You’re Offended, So Fucking What?”

  1. YES. I wish I could post a link to this on my tumblr without all my social justice friends getting offended at me, sigh. So for now, just thank you again for saying the words that I couldn’t eloquently say myself.

    • It’s a shame you can’t post an article on not being offended for fear of offending someone, but I understand. We seem to be a species with very thin skin. It’s a wonder we’ve survived this long.

  2. Perfect!!! I’m so tired of the world thinking I should worry if I offended them. “you’re offended??”, good. Go fuck yourself. I don’t care what you think I don’t care what you feel. You have the right to ignore my opinion just as I have the right to ignore yours. Don’t for a second think you can force your sorry ass, weak, crybaby, ignorant, all encompassing, self destructive, entitled ways on me. I think you’re weak and stupid, being offended by anything that you don’t like or makes you uncomfortable or something that might get you some attention if you complain loud enough…. Fuck your feelings. Don’t ever expect someone to change their own life…. For YOUR feelings…… FUCK YOU. fuck your feelings. I’M OFFENDED BY YOUR STUPIDITY. I’M OFFENDED BY YOUR SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. GO FUCK YOURSELF AND TOUGHEN UP. Do YOU want to change your life and beliefs because I’m offended by YOU????? No. No, you don’t. So who is right? Me? You? ??? No. I think it’s me. Fuck you. That’s your take on it for yourself, isn’t it? So……….. Fuck you.

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