Thread: Rape Jokes
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Old August 1 2012, 02:48 PM   #40
Christopher
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Re: Rape Jokes

^The problem here, I think, is that Disruptor was going for irony or satire -- saying the opposite of what he really believes in order to expose and ridicule it -- but a number of his listeners took it as a genuine sentiment. This is a perennial problem faced by satirists of all stripes. Perhaps the problem is that the satirist believes the sentiment is so obviously absurd or self-contradictory that no one could be expected to take it as a serious belief, but that proves overoptimistic, because there are people in real life who actually do hold such views in earnest. So the satirists get mistaken for endorsers of the views they're ridiculing.

(For instance, Macchiavelli was actually satirizing the amoral, manipulative practices that he's become a namesake for, Twain's anti-racist satire Huckleberry Finn has often been censored in the belief that it's racist, Stephen Colbert is often mistaken by conservatives for a sincere supporter when he's actually ridiculing the hell out of them, etc.)

And I have to disagree with the attitude that genuinely painful and tragic things should never be joked about. Humor can be a valuable defense mechanism, a way of coping with genuine pain. True, it can also be used as an assault, a means of hurting or victimizing people, and that's wrong. But the blame lies with the way the tool is used, not with the tool itself, the same as if someone used a surgical scalpel as a weapon rather than a healing tool. People can use humor to cope with things that they themselves or people they care about have been hurt by, to give it less power over them by ridiculing it. This is why Mel Brooks, who of course is Jewish, has spent much of his career making fun of Adolf Hitler. There's nothing funny about the evils Hitler inflicted, but mocking Hitler takes away his power to frighten us, exposes his ideology as the pathetic load of nonsense it actually was.

It's the same with other painful subjects. You see it after major tragedies like Princess Diana's death and the 9/11 attacks -- really tasteless jokes soon start to appear. In most cases it's not out of genuine cruelty, but as a coping mechanism, a way of taking something horrifying and painful and taking away its power over us.
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