Rape jokes reveal injustice

Dear Editor,

I would like to bring to your attention the dangers of censorship as they pertain to comedy, specifically how they relate to the touchy subject of rape jokes.

Comedians and feminists have almost always been at odds, and rape jokes have been a central point of this contention. I admit I am biased in this debate.

I am a fan of comedy regardless of how crude it is and I believe either everything is OK to say or nothing is.

Am I saying rape jokes should be praised or encouraged?

No, but I believe wanting to censor or discourage crude and unbelievably offensive comedy is detrimental to society.

I feel I am a minority in this opinion, and at this point most readers probably think I am just some misogynist bigot; but an overlooked aspect of the recent scandal surrounding Bill Cosby’s repeated sexual assaults reveals a truth I hope will change your minds.

Cosby, a “clean” comedian, would call up-and-coming comics and reprimand them for their use of profanity in their act.

One such comedian, Hannibal Buress, made a joke that revealed the hypocrisy of Cosby’s profanity lecture by pointing out the numerous sexual assault charges brought against him over the years.

He essentially made society come to terms with the actions of a rapist who happened to be a beloved celebrity at the time. Buress helped bring a serial rapist to justice … with a rape joke.

As this scandal shows, context is everything in comedy, and context is something the law (and too often most activists) never fully take into account.

This is why censorship has absolutely no place in the comedy world, whether it be through legal means or social activism.

Bill Cosby’s sexual assaults were no secret in the comedy and celebrity world, but were unknown to most of the public.

I  believe this was because of his place in society and the popular perception of him as a wholesome household figure.

We seem to forget that even wholesome exteriors can hide disgusting behavior, something that comedy gives no quarter to.

We must put up with opinions and comments that we disagree with or find deeply offensive, because one day such opinions could be the only thing that bring truth to an injustice society is unwilling to face.


Joe Vautrin

Class 0f 2016