Get Yer Ticket August 27, 2010 2:30 AM   Subscribe

I found Admiral Haddock's comment in the Ticketmaster thread so hilarious that I was determined to make an infographic. So I did. Get yer ticket here.
posted by quadog to MetaFilter-Related at 2:30 AM (518 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

I see some overlap there - aren't the Jonas Brother and Miley Cyrus considered Organizations that Make People Hate Music?
posted by jabberjaw at 2:51 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I disapprove of your image hosting choice, but approve a little bit more of your general moxie, so: thumbs up!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:53 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The casual, for-comic-effect references to rape around here make me sad.
posted by beniamino at 3:09 AM on August 27, 2010 [79 favorites]


What? No 10% for the M.I.C. to kill kittens. And nerve gas no less! But I like the graphic.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:38 AM on August 27, 2010


And, I'll shut it now. I stared at that thing for like five minutes and didn't see it. I think it's too late . . . err. . . early.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:39 AM on August 27, 2010


I approve of your specific moxie.
posted by aubilenon at 3:58 AM on August 27, 2010


There's also reference to a war crime. And the Jonas Brothers.
posted by DU at 4:09 AM on August 27, 2010


The casual, for-comic-effect references to rape around here make me sad.

Yes, I found that out of place also.
posted by nomadicink at 4:13 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The casual, for-comic-effect references to rape around here make me sad.

I too am extraordinarily sensitive and enjoy reminding others of this fact.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:46 AM on August 27, 2010 [76 favorites]


The casual, for-comic-effect references to rape around here make me sad.

You'll note, however, that the reference on the infografiticket is to "deep ass-rape". There's nothing casual about it.
posted by thusspakeparanoia at 4:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Is it just me or is Metafilter starting to really get out of hand with these oversensitive comments and their successive bandwagoning. Metafilter has always been a place where thoughtful conversation has found sanctuary, but this is just a way of threadshitting/derailing while taking some moral high ground as the defense.

Good for you for taking the initiative to create and contribute, quadog.

On preview: I'm guessing it's not just me.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:02 AM on August 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


GooseOnTheLoose- your username offends me as 'goosing' is a minor form of sexual harassment. The fact it is minor makes it worse as it gives permission for others to up the anti until we are all committing warcrimes. Blah blah blah.

Yeah I'm not sure if I'm getting more sensitive to everyone being oversensitive but we do seem to be having a race to the most anodyne standards of late.
posted by Gratishades at 5:17 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


guys, guys -- zoom in for the details.

Tinypic is bad, but this is good.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:18 AM on August 27, 2010


Go look up the estimated percentage of women who have been raped. Then go look up the percentage of women who read Mefi, maybe make a guess at how many read a given thread. Then you have your golden number: the number of people who've a) been raped, b) read that amazing rape joke, and c) read multiple users defending the rape joke and calling those who complain about it oversensitive.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:19 AM on August 27, 2010 [48 favorites]


Is it just me or is Metafilter starting to really get out of hand with these oversensitive comments and their successive bandwagoning.


Metafilter has always been a place where thoughtful conversation has found sanctuary

One of the things I've learned from the thoughtful conversations on Metafilter is that rape and abuse has a devastating affect on the individuals who survive it. They face years of emotional, mental and sometimes physical therapy to recover and even after that recovery, they're never the same again. They're marked by the knowledge of what it's like to be completely and utterly violated, to have their wishes and desires not only completely ignored, but sometimes violently overridden. They know what's it like to be on the wrong end of a power dynamic. Finally, even after enduring all of that, they often face accusations of "you were asking for it" or similar sentiments that question how they allowed such a "degrading" act to happen to themselves, never mind the fact that they didn't ask for it, nor want it.

So yeah, the comparison of rape with a company overcharging you for concert tickets does seem a little off. TicketMaster may be taking advantage of you, and of course that's wong. However, to put it on the same level as not just rape, not just ass rape, but deep ass rape (and all that sharply etched image implies) seems wildly out of place and not that sort of thing I'd expect to read, let along find humorous and made into infographic on a sanctuary of thoughtful conversation.
posted by nomadicink at 5:29 AM on August 27, 2010 [24 favorites]


That and the typography on the infographic was awful.
posted by nomadicink at 5:32 AM on August 27, 2010


Metafilter: Hyperbole and Kittens.
posted by TomMelee at 5:32 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


a joke that mentions rape isn't a rape-joke.

comparing two things for comic effect is called Hyperbole. Ticketmaster also isn't as bad as chemical warfare. Which is why this is funny.

this is funny and good.

goodnite.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:34 AM on August 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


a joke that mentions rape isn't a rape-joke.

Mentioning rape in jokes that aren't rape jokes, is that really the hill you want to defend?
posted by nomadicink at 5:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Beyond the whole making-light-of-extreme-trauma thing (which is really much more hilarious if you've never been raped or never been close to someone who's been raped), my biggest problem with rape jokes is that they simply use a heavily-fraught word in place of cleverness; it's like the adult male equivalent of a toddler shouting "POOP!"
posted by Greg Nog at 5:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [48 favorites]


I'm fairly certain prison rape jokes have been strenuously frowned upon around here (even deleted) for years. Not sure why a more general, run-of-the-mill ass rape joke shouldn't get the same treatment. You think rape jokes are funny, fine. But calling people who find them offensive oversensitive is pretty dismissive and obnoxious.
posted by Mavri at 5:40 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes I wish people wouldn't use anal rape as a shorthand for getting gypped.
posted by fleacircus at 5:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


fleacircus, were you being intentionally ironic by using "gypped"?
posted by ukdanae at 5:48 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was wondering why this wasn't posted in the original Ticketmaster thread, and now I see the reason is that it was destined to transform into a pro/anti rape-joke MeTa. Very prescient, quadog!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hate to jump on the thread derail (awesome ticket btw) but as a woman who has been assaulted, I'd like to say...

Get over yourselves and stop ruining other people's fun! The word 'rape' in a funny context does not make it about 'rape'. The world cannot conform itself to shelter everyone's sensitive feelings. If we tried, we'd never have another decent conversation again.
posted by patheral at 5:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [33 favorites]


Greg, oh yeah I'm with you there, it's an overused shockword, but it still doesn't make it offensive in all cases if used well. In this instance I would have gone with "Deep Ass-Plumbing" perhaps, or "Deep Fisting" "Power Gut-Pumping" or "Brutal Ass Fucking" but that still would be a joke that compared being exploited by Ticketmaster to being forcibly anally intruded, which is funny because it's overthetop and surprising to find in place of concert information. People who don't find horrible things funny, and I can hear you sharpening your pens, why not instead of getting mad: pity the poor commonfolk like me who can't help chortling at terribleness in the world, and are incapable of getting angry or contemplative over offensive jokes?

You're not going to shame us into being more sensitive. If anything, the shame we feel makes the next guttural solar plexus laugh even more satisfying. Pity us for our insecurities and our deep moral failings that make us take solace in wit instead of philosophy! And congratulations again on being whole and perfectly sane.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:51 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


When I read AOKs comments I do feel bad. However I am compelled to say that the terms 'taken advantage of', 'gypped' and a whole host of others, can also be challenged as problematic/offensive. If we were to liken Ticketmaster to house breakers then people could state in all seriousness 'being burgled is one of the most horrible and stressful things that can happen to you'.

If the mods want to lay down a line about acceptable metaphors then so be it.
posted by Gratishades at 5:52 AM on August 27, 2010


I too am extraordinarily sensitive and enjoy reminding others of this fact.

Way 42
Let him know when he's getting over-defensive about his right to be an asshole in the face of a polite request
One hundred loving ways
posted by terpsichoria at 5:52 AM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


Sorry, maybe i was being a bit of a dick with the "gypped" thing, but it just seemed like a perfect example of how a lot of language is loaded with things that can offend others and maybe we should give people the benefit of the doubt and take a joke in the spirit it was intended.
posted by ukdanae at 5:53 AM on August 27, 2010


I think you should all take this derail to Metatalk.
posted by bondcliff at 5:53 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


A word is only offensive if it is used in a way that is intended to hurt others.
posted by DU at 5:57 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: Hyperbole and Kittens.

I think instead of "going to go take a walk outside" taking a break from the thread should be referred to as "go google kittens." And people should actually do it.
posted by edbles at 5:58 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


"Go look up the estimated percentage of women who have been raped. Then go look up the percentage of women who read Mefi, maybe make a guess at how many read a given thread. Then you have your golden number:"

It depends on the likelihood of a given PERSON (men get anal-raped, too, which is why everyone can identify with this joke) reading MeFi to have been raped. Time and again, we've shown that MetaFilter is a self-selecting, non-representative sample. The % of MeFites who've been raped could be lower or higher than average.

And yes, I just casually used the word "rape" in discussing statistical analysis. I also used "analysis."
posted by Eideteker at 5:59 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A word is only offensive if it is used in a way that is intended to hurt others.

Intent! It's fucking magic!

men get anal-raped, too, which is why everyone can identify with this joke

Yeah, I was going to go back and add something like that, but I'm at work and thus have limited keystrokes.

I'm always confused by the defense of rape gags. Is it really that important to be able to crack about rape without people harshing your buzz?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


This thread in comic form.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


If the joke is that Ticketmaster does horrible things, and rape is mentioned as one of those horrible things, on a par with chemical weapons and the death of kittens, isn't that showing awareness of and sensitivity to the harmful effect of rape?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you zinged us good, Mayor Curley.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


'Sorry, maybe i was being a bit of a dick with the "gypped" thing'

I thought it was a valid point. Folks who say "gypped" (cheated, as if by gypsies!) might as well be saying "niggardly" or the like. All language has a history, and not everything means what you want it to mean to other people (which cuts both ways; "rape" doesn't mean the same thing to a victim and a non-victim).

The flip-side of the central commandment, "Be excellent to each other," is that you have to likewise assume that others are being excellent to you, and not assume fault unless the injury is grievous, hurtful, and intentional. It's okay to say, "this joke caused me trauma." But don't go looking for offense on behalf of others who may instead find healing through laughter. You don't know any more than we don't know. You can only speak for yourself.
posted by Eideteker at 6:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I do miss Bloom County. That strip was like another parent, which probably explains many things that occurred later.
posted by nomadicink at 6:09 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm always confused by the defense of rape gags. Is it really that important to be able to crack about rape without people harshing your buzz?

For me when I got all defensive about at the beginning of the whole PA dick wolves comic, I was getting all Free Speech, because I felt culpable for having laughed.
posted by edbles at 6:10 AM on August 27, 2010


It also shows an awareness of the harmful effects of Ticketmaster. I am afraid I must take exception to this. There are many fine people at Ticketmaster who have only gassed a relatively few kittens, who have only pushed nearly-blind old knitting ladies down dark stairwells once or twice.
posted by Mister_A at 6:18 AM on August 27, 2010


That was a response to that insensitive bastard Hall and Oates.
posted by Mister_A at 6:19 AM on August 27, 2010


Don't know about anyone else, but I could murder a cup of tea right now.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think we've reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach us.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:26 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm always confused by the defense of rape gags. Is it really that important to be able to crack about rape without people harshing your buzz?


It's always easy to find humor in something that hasn't happened to someone you love. When you know someone who has been raped it's just one of those things. I mean, I understand how easy it is to see it as just hyperbolic humor, but it stops being funny when it gets real.

It's easy to forget that we are talking to 80,000 other users here, and it's not that you shouldn't joke around, it's just that we've all got to remember that when we crack a HIlarous joke about a flaming plane crash, it'll be our luck someone reading our comment had a loved one on that plane. I mean if you really don't care that you are rubbing salt in the wound go ahead, but if you do then don't get all defensive just file that knowledge and try to do better. I fall down on this all the time, but like any good relationship it's better when people are honest with each other.
posted by nola at 6:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ok, I'll bite. For I too, hate Ticketmaster. I was all prepared to have a good morning laugh. But then I couldn't. And I couldn't help it. I saw the word 'rape' and I was unable to get past it to the lulz. It wasn't like I devolved into a puddle of tears or anything. I was simply reminded of something very personal and unfunny. That's the power of words - they have associations, intended or not. I was instantly envious of the privilege and power that some people wield...being able to use a word so casually, so flippantly, so free of emotional consequence or personal associations, of the intimate reminder that it implies. And the thing is that makes this particular word so potent is that the set of people who have personal associations with the word 'rape' is huge. It is skewed towards the marked gender. It is largely unknown. To be able to use the word in such a way implies that either you are lucky enough to not have those associations, or are in the strong position to be unaffected by them. And you naively assume that we're right there with you. Oh, how I wish I was.

I'm not that sensitive. My day is not ruined. Nor my morning. I just missed out on a laugh. There will be another one. I think I'm lucky, because some people are worse off than I am. The word is still too loaded or the reminder too recent. Or a whole host of other issues that come along with it. I am thankful for the privilege and power that I wield, able to move on from such a thing, aided by time and the kindness of others.

And being the opportunist that I am, I had an interesting moment of introspection about words and people's reaction to them. So, thanks for that, even though I know that it wasn't the reaction you intented. And of course, I still hate Ticketmaster.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2010 [90 favorites]


I fall down on this all the time, but like any good relationship it's better when people are honest with each other.

Um, you know I comment on other websites right? We agreed that's it ok, yes?
posted by nomadicink at 6:31 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seems like an oversensitive person is someone with a point that makes the privleged person feel unpleasant sensations.
posted by ShawnStruck at 6:32 AM on August 27, 2010 [30 favorites]


However I am compelled to say that the terms 'taken advantage of', 'gypped' and a whole host of others, can also be challenged as problematic/offensive.

'Gypped' is definitely offensive. Do we really need to rehash the Roma threads again? Or do people think using 'retard', 'gay', etc as pejoratives is also great?

And ugh, that Penny Arcade bullshit was... bullshit. If they didn't do the idiotic followup strip I might have been OK with it, but that just showed they really don't get it.
posted by kmz at 6:34 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's easy to forget that we are talking to 80,000 other users here, and it's not that you shouldn't joke around, it's just that we've all got to remember that when we crack a HIlarous joke about a flaming plane crash, it'll be our luck someone reading our comment had a loved one on that plane. I mean if you really don't care that you are rubbing salt in the wound go ahead, but if you do then don't get all defensive just file that knowledge and try to do better.

Agreed. As much as the sensitivity level of MetaFilter gets exhausting sometimes, it's good to remember that the reason people are so sensitive is that they're looking for this community to be a safe space to hang out. I've made some insensitive jokes that, while meant innocently, were in poor taste and I've been called out on it. It made me realize not that jokes are never funny, but there's a time and a place for certain things and it's really better to err on the side of "Y'know, I really don't want to offend someone, so I'm just going to save this one for later." with a lot of jokes.

It's not to say that the joke teller is a bad person, or means any harm at all by what they're saying. It's just to say that MetaFilter isn't necessarily the place for that joke - especially since via text it's a lot harder to read nuance and it's a lot harder to know someone's background to tell whether or not they're "really" kidding.

I definitely thought the ticket was funny and also fully understand that maybe MetaFilter was not the best place for that particular joke.
posted by sonika at 6:35 AM on August 27, 2010


Sorry to say this guys, but my father died on a hill, so nobody's allowed to use that analogy anymore OK?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:35 AM on August 27, 2010 [22 favorites]


Remember that magazine that got into trouble for the hyperbole of a cover likening Tiger Woods' media troubles to a lynching? Because the real-life tragedy of lynching was so ugly that it overwhelms whatever small cleverness the design had?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Gypped' is definitely offensive.

Most Americans have no idea what the origin of this word is. It's just part of the lexicon, and I doubt any significant fraction of the country harbor negative feelings toward the Roma (or even know of their existence in modern times).
posted by schmod at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2010


This thread (and the PA thing, for that matter) just makes it more obvious that lots of people are hypocrites when they call out the XBox Live/WoW forum/etc trolls.
posted by kmz at 6:41 AM on August 27, 2010


I do think the word "rape" can be bandied about in thoughtless ways sometimes, and that sensitivity is good -- I've been in relationships with two rape victims, and the scars are pretty fucking permanent.

That said, even though its metaphoric use might be ham-handed on occasion, I don't think it's making light of rape. It's more saying "Rape is a bad thing, and this is a bad thing," though not necessarily denoting equivalency. It's just a linguistic thing we do (though not always right).

Think about the words "killing, killer, murder."

"Man, they made a killing off that -- but the heat was fucking murder." You could get het up about the false equivalency of a large profit or a hot day with the worst imaginable crime of all, but somehow, that's a widely accepted cultural norm, linguistically. Perhaps because it doesn't involve gender and power issues that rape does, but it is otherwise sort of the same thing. but you don't see the family members of murder victims popping up every time the words are used metaphorically. It's just a thought I had while driving to work -- ponder, or dismiss at will.

I don't mean to defend or condone making light of rape, here, I don't intend to ever use it as a rhetorical device myself because I don't want to unintentionally offend, and I cringe at my own ham-handedness sometimes, so -- growth area, etc. and I'm not climbing a hill to die on it, but I think perhaps the angst is overwrought, and people are actively searching for something to be offended by here. We don't really need pitchforks on either side of this thing -- it's not worth the anger, in this case, I don't think.

On preview, le morte de bea arthur makes the same point in considerably fewer words.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


A word is only offensive if it is used in a way that is intended to hurt others.

That is not at all how that works, unless you want to have that conversation about casual use of 'gay' as pejorative.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is no right or wrong side here. It is perfectly natural that people who have been raped or have otherwise had personal experience with the horror of rape will be sensitive (not "oversensitive") to the word and concept and will, at a minimum, not find jokes employing the word funny (see iamkimiam's admirably balanced comment above); it is equally natural that people who have not had such experience toss the word around pretty freely without thinking about the feelings of those who have. This does not make them Bad People. When their attention is drawn to the situation, some of the latter will respond "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry," and make an effort not to use the word in that context again; others will respond "You can't expect everyone to go by your standards, and I will speak and write as I choose," and this does not make them Bad People. It would be nice if we could disagree about these things without trying to paint the opposing side as killjoys or sadists.

My Uncle Gene was a Marine in the Pacific theater in WWII. All his life he saw Japan and its people as the enemy. He hated Japanese products and made nasty remarks about people who bought them. On the one hand, I thought this was pretty silly; on the other, he'd been through shit on Iwo Jima that I couldn't begin to imagine (and that, needless to say, he never talked about), and I figured he'd earned the right to his knee-jerk reactions. He was a great guy in some ways and kind of a jerk in others. He was human, as are we all.
posted by languagehat at 6:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [34 favorites]


but I think perhaps the angst is overwrought, and people are actively searching for something to be offended by here.

Why yes, I did on the info-graphic link as part of my daily duties as Lead Offense Finder of Sector #239, how did you know?
posted by nomadicink at 6:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most Americans have no idea what the origin of this word is. It's just part of the lexicon, and I doubt any significant fraction of the country harbor negative feelings toward the Roma (or even know of their existence in modern times).

I thought this logic worked as well until I left NYC and starting hearing "Jewed" on a regular basis. These weren't anti-Semites saying it, or people with negative -- or even firm -- opinions about Jews. It was just a part of the lexicon. Didn't stop me from wanting to slap them right in the mouth.
posted by griphus at 6:50 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except that most people don't have personal associations with plane crashes. Or murder. Or dying on hills. But the number of people who have deeply painful, personal associations with rape or sexual assault (which often carries the threat of rape) - or know somebody close to them who has - is such a ridiculously unacceptible percentage of human society, such that we can't even compare their emotional impact to things like 'kill', linguistically or otherwise. They just don't mean the same thing.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:51 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


people are actively searching for something to be offended by here

Just to pick up on this, some people may be looking for something to be offended by, certainly, but many people really do have a reaction to that word that they can't control, ranging from it just damping their good mood a bit all the way to full-on PTSD flashbacks. And it's not necessarily every time, either: there's some stuff that will really set me off sometimes and which just rolls off me other times. It's unpredictable, and difficult to build rules around, and all you can really say when it happens is, "Please don't use that word like that," and maybe explain why and hopefully the reaction you'll get is an apology or a "I didn't mean to cause that reaction," but you'll probably get a "stop being so oversensitive," and sometimes, "You shouldn't be on the internet at all if you're so wet."

Trouble is, the natural response (for me) to "stop being oversensitive," is "stop being such a boorish prat," and then you're into insult escalation and all is suck.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:51 AM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


I thought this logic worked as well until I left NYC and starting hearing "Jewed" on a regular basis. These weren't anti-Semites saying it, or people with negative -- or even firm -- opinions about Jews. It was just a part of the lexicon. Didn't stop me from wanting to slap them right in the mouth.

If their main association with Jews is that they're greedy, then I'd think that they are anti-Semitic. But hopefully contact, whether through real life or media, will help them sort it out.

Still remember getting alarmed at a FL friend's casual use of "n*****-rigging" and how excluded I felt when I was the only one who vocalized an issue with it
posted by jtron at 6:54 AM on August 27, 2010


If you're going to make a rape joke, it better be an awfully goddamned funny rape joke. This one was nowhere close. That's really neither here nor there though.

What is here and there is that this isn't a very good metatalk post and should be closed up. It's been a weird 48 hours in metatalk. Takes me back.
posted by Kwine at 6:55 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


> 'Gypped' is definitely offensive.

It is to you; it isn't to others. As schmod says, most Americans have no idea what the origin of the word is, and they certainly don't hate the Gypsies/Roma. It's one thing to say "You know, some people find this word offensive because of its origin, much as some people find niggardly offensive despite its origin, and you might want to think twice before using it"; that's thoughtful and helpful. It's quite another to say OMG YOU USED "GYP" YOU ARE A BAD PERSON; that's exactly the kind of annoying "look at me, I'm so PC" crap people love making fun of. Using gyp is not in any way like using nigger, and it doesn't help to pretend it is.
posted by languagehat at 6:55 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why yes, I did on the info-graphic link as part of my daily duties as Lead Offense Finder of Sector #239, how did you know?

I'm perfectly willing to accept that I'm utterly in the wrong, here. Really, I tried to point out that I was attempting to be thoughtful, and that we could be rational and calm about this, instead of shouting and vilifying. I missed the mark, and I truly apologize.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm pretty sure that the means by which the rape joke is funny is in its shock value, isn't it? Wouldn't that mean that making a rape joke is an implicit acknowledgement that it is offensive?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Come for the mildly amusing quickie graphic that could have gone in the still open thread. Stay for the intelligent, yet polarizing discussion on the use of the word rape.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> 'Gypped' is definitely offensive.

It is to you; it isn't to others. As schmod says, most Americans have no idea what the origin of the word is, and they certainly don't hate the Gypsies/Roma.


Totally agreed. Tangentially: this reminds me when people are reminded not to use "gay" as pejorative and they nod and so "Oh yeah, you're right, that's bad" and immediately substitute the word lame.

*facepalm*
posted by sonika at 6:59 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Eideteker, "niggardly" was never related to "nigger," unlike "gypped" and "Gypsies."
posted by adipocere at 7:06 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


A word is only offensive if it is used in a way that is intended to hurt others

What absolute nonsense. Can anyone really believe this after thinking about it for a minute or two?
posted by not that girl at 7:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Seems like an oversensitive person is someone with a point that makes the privleged person feel unpleasant sensations.

If by privileged you mean "never been assaulted" you're wrong. If by privileged you mean upper class male, you're also wrong. At least in my case.

Really, I think it's okay to feel upset at being reminded about things. But is there a need to say something about it every. single. time? I REALLY hate it when people ruin everyone else's day because they feel bad. Sorry, bad things happen to everyone. I don't know one person who hasn't had at least one trauma in their life. I've been assaulted - it happened. No one here knows the details and I don't expect them too. I also don't expect them to walk on eggshells to protect my delicate feelings. It's not their job.

If I see something on the interwebs that reminds me of the past, then I'm free to click past that and move the hell on! Unless someone is directly attacking me, or deliberately being insulting -- which is not the case in here (except to Ticketmaster) -- then I do not feel the need to call them out on it. I don't understand why people have this desire to stop what I perceive (this time) as innocent fun.

And yes, I think that people are being way oversensitive if they cannot even see a word without getting upset and crying out "please, don't talk! It upsets me." Now instead of one person with hurt feelings there are several people with hurt feelings. Sometimes, it's better to just be silent and let everyone continue on with their day.
posted by patheral at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


I am a Bad Person.
posted by slogger at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2010


Here's my thing: did the force of the joke benefit from the use of 'rape'? I don't think it did. I think you could insert any number of things into that part of the joke and the joke works as well. Or better. Because obviously some percentage of people, myself included, are going to go clunk when they hit that word in this sort of context. So the joke is compromised to some percentage of people.

I guess there is a percentage of people for whom the fact that using 'rape' lightly makes some people uncomfortable makes the joke that much more hilarious, and well, I don't have much to say to that other than to point the way to 4chan and don't let the screen door hit you.

I'm going to guess that the Admiral and Quadog aren't in either group. They are not offended by it, nor are they all hurf-durf rape. It was just unthinking comedy shorthand. They surely did not intend to make this a thread about the use of 'rape' for humorous effect. A good way to have done that would be to avoid the use of 'rape' for humorous effect because, see it really does bother some of us. Maybe you don't understand why it does or disagree with the reasons it does, or see some sort of inconsistency in why it does and other things don't, but clearly it does. Unless you want that sort of referendum on your joke (not a MeTa thread, but an internal evaluation), if there is no benefit to using that as a component to your joke (I'm not aware of a good rape joke, but I can't mathematically eliminate it) why use it? What's the loss?
posted by dirtdirt at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's one thing to say "You know, some people find this word offensive because of its origin, much as some people find niggardly offensive despite its origin, and you might want to think twice before using it";

Which is pretty much what I was trying to say. The comment I was responding to was implying there could be no offense in the word at all. But whether intended or not, it's offensive in the same way using 'gay' or 'retard' as a pejorative is.

It's quite another to say OMG YOU USED "GYP" YOU ARE A BAD PERSON; that's exactly the kind of annoying "look at me, I'm so PC" crap people love making fun of. Using gyp is not in any way like using nigger, and it doesn't help to pretend it is.

When did I say any of those things?
posted by kmz at 7:12 AM on August 27, 2010


this reminds me when people are reminded not to use "gay" as pejorative and they nod and so "Oh yeah, you're right, that's bad" and immediately substitute the word lame.

Yeah, but where do we draw the line? I mean, I know when I call someone an idiot or a moron, it's because they've almost run me over in the crosswalk when they were yapping on their phone while driving, and not because I believe that their IQ falls within a specific lower-than-normal range as described by the first edition of the DSM. But it is conceivable that someone else out there will find this offensive and assume I am ignorant of the origin of the terms.

I understand and support the need to prevent bad shit from becoming an accepted part of our societal lexicon, but sometimes it's hard to know where to even start, much less where to let things go.

(sorry if this is somewhat incoherent, i am all hopped up on imitrex, which makes me drool a bit. tmi?)
posted by elizardbits at 7:15 AM on August 27, 2010


Using "gay" as a pejorative, or "bitches" for women, or "niggers" for black people is bad because by using it, you're implicitly attributing negative characteristics to the entirety of a non-privileged group of people.

Saying something like "Ticketmaster totally rape you on the booking fees" doesn't do that. That statement doesn't impute anything negative to the group of rape victims. When you object to that statement, you're moving into a different category of language objections.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:19 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Please watch what you're doing. You just stepped on my foot."

"Oh my god! You are so sensitive! It's so fucking oppressive to have to actually think about where I'm walking. Like having your foot stepped on is the worst thing that'll happen to you all day! I know people who've had their feet stepped on and they just shut up about it - why can't you?"

I think instead of "going to go take a walk outside" taking a break from the thread should be referred to as "go google kittens." And people should actually do it.
okay
posted by Karmakaze at 7:20 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"you'll get fucked"

Well fucking is usually a good thing, so I guess this means fucked against your will, right? So that's out too.

"you'll get hosed"

I guess that could also refer to penetration (in which case it's out) or maybe it means, like, sprayed with a hose and soaked? That is also something that people who were bullied might have quite negative memories of.

"you'll be taken advantage of"

Again, a power imbalance (possibly sexual connotations). And anyway this is getting more directly descriptive and losing any power.

"you'll be overcharged"

Now we are purely describing, and any potential ha ha is gone.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:20 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Hi everyone, here's a funny joke I made! The most immediate detail you will probably notice is a context-free, unnecessarily graphic description of a brutal act that may immediately cause some of you to stop reading or caring about my funny joke."

References that might get glossed over in a comment here or there are going to go do worse when made into their own freestanding post. Especially in the grey. Sorry, making the ticket was a funny idea but you failed to consider your audience.

I laugh about all kinds of things with my friends that I would never share on this site and expect others to laugh at. People calling out others on oversensitivity are missing the point in a big way, and it basically makes you look like an asshole in this case. Mention "rape" in conversation or joke? Risky but could work out for you. Lead with something like "DEEP ASS-RAPE" and you are fully entitled to a world of blank stares, unless it's your stage and people are paying to hear this kind of thing from you.
posted by hermitosis at 7:21 AM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


I understand and support the need to prevent bad shit from becoming an accepted part of our societal lexicon, but sometimes it's hard to know where to even start, much less where to let things go.

Agreed, but picking on the disabled is just as distasteful as picking on GLBT folk and even more ingrained in our culture as something that's "ok," as evidenced by the fact that you see "lame" as something that's on or at least near the line of acceptable. I'm not saying we should be offended by it, or that it means you're a bad person if you say it - just saying that we do pick and choose what to be offended by. It's ok for one group of people to be used as a pejorative, but not for others. So, yeah, where do we draw the line? Why is it ok to use "lame" but not "gay?"

I just try to stick with the descriptive: "I DO NOT LIKE WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW, SIR AND I WISH YOU WOULD RECONSIDER." It's awfully long to yell in traffic, but very satistfying.

(Also, for phenomena "That sucks" works just as well as "That's lame." Or "Man, that is a fucking sub-optimal situation." Yes, I really do say that.)
posted by sonika at 7:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


MeFi has been a good experience for me in broadening my scope of other people's sensitivities and has had a positive effect in how I interact with others. Prior to coming here, most of the people I had regular conversations with had the bar set pretty low in terms of what is offensive or inappropriate. Because most of us were familiar enough with each others histories it was pretty obvious what was joke and what was a touching on a serious issue. Unspoken parameters were set. With that familiarity comes a great deal of casualness and lessens the need to be on-guard about sensitivity. Occasionally an outsider would come into the circle or we would assume that a new friend was "up-to--speed" on the boundaries and they would be shocked, if not offended, by our cavalier approach to questionable topics and language. Quite often the rule seemed to be "if it's funny, it's OK". Great tragedies and horrific news stories weren't off limits, and I've laughed many times where I think most would feel it's taboo to make light. I've never understood the "too soon" concept. But I've always understood that what's appropriate for this small group of close friends and acquaintances may not be right outside of the circle.

When I first came to MeFi there were several times where somebody would claim to be offended by something and my gut reaction would be that it's their problem, not mine. I tended to think that if you're so "over-sensitive" that this might not be the place for you and the adjustment needs to come from your end, not those of us just looking for a good chuckle. But thanks to several strong cases made by articulate MeFites over the years I've adjusted my sliding scale of appropriateness and become much more aware of potential issues others might have with a comment. I still might not agree, but I've at least learned to pause and reflect before I jusge or comment. In this context the use of "rape" didn't offend me, but I learned enough to understand why it bothers others. If MeFi has done anything for me, it's given me a bit more empathy towards people with a personal dynamic and collection of life experiences far different from myself.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


If I make a joke about rape, some people are going to conclude that I'm an insensitive lout.

If I complain about jokes about rape, some people are going to conclude that I'm oversensitive.

If accuse someone of being oversensitive about jokes about rape, some people are going to conclude that I Just Don't Get It.

Part of being an adult and taking part in adult conversation is accepting that the things that we say affect the way that people perceive us. If I'm not ready to accept that truth, then I'm not ready to take part in adult conversations.

Our words say far more about ourselves than they do about anything else.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:23 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Still not your living room.
posted by edbles at 7:25 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I try and avoid pejorative language by just calling people fuck heads. It works in all contexts and its offense is limited to the target. Nice, tidy and clean.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:26 AM on August 27, 2010


Ticketmaster also isn't as bad as chemical warfare.

Cite?
posted by inigo2 at 7:27 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]




But is there a need to say something about it every. single. time? I REALLY hate it when people ruin everyone else's day because they feel bad. Sorry, bad things happen to everyone.

Does pointing out that a lot of people don't like seeing rape used as a metaphor or joke really ruin everyone's day? If it does, I might go as far to say that such people who are so bothered by a really obvious objection to casual rape references are in fact "oversensitive." If you're sick of people calling out rape jokes, then that means you are in no way shocked that people are bringing it up again, any more than you should be shocked when a thread about circumcision ends up being controversial. That's just the way it's going to be.

Personally, I don't think people are bad for casually referencing rape, or that jokes that involve rape are automatically not funny. But I do think a lot of people who casually reference rape don't realize the effect it has on some people. The issue comes up here on MetaFilter often enough that most people would be aware of it, but in real life people do it a lot without really realizing the effect of those words. People are free to make jokes about whatever topic they want, but if someone is offended by something they can and should at least express that they don't like it, if only to help everyone gauge how controversial any given subject is for that audience.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:32 AM on August 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Seems like an oversensitive person is someone with a point that makes the privleged person feel unpleasant sensations.

I liked this.

I think it behooves everybody to remember that things like this are complicated and gray, and to impute the best possible motives to others rather than the worst. Things like rape jokes are worse for some than others, even rape survivors. They may be worse for one person at a certain time than at another. A person may even make a rape joke in one context and feel hurt by one in another, because people are not perfectly consistent. So, in my ideal world, a person making a joke might take a microsecond to consider whether their only choice is a rape joke or whether something else could be substituted without doing harm to the humor, while a person who is offended by rape jokes would think, "Well, that's not funny to me, maybe I need to do a little self-care, maybe I should gently mention that some people are bothered by jokes like that, but I'm sure this person had no intent to do harm."

Myself, I am mildly uncomfortable with rape jokes, mainly because I know they are offensive or hurtful to others. I found that ticket funny but wouldn't have passed on the link because too many people I know fall into that group of "others." And I recognize that people can become sensitized sometimes to things it's not very rational to be sensitized to--when I was pregnant for the first time, pregnancy metaphors really annoyed me because it seemed to me that they were always about some pallid thing that had no relation to this incredible new life-changing experience I was having. I am no longer irritated by pregnancy metaphors, and unlike many adoptive parents I am also not offended by adoption metaphors (I don't think it's offensive to me and my family for people to adopt animals or highways. But this really bugs some adoptive parents who think it cheapens and demeans the way their family was formed). But it was an interesting experience in sensitization.

There's probably some continuum where you can put the truly clueless and offensive at one end, and the irrationally hyper-senstive at the other. But most of us are floating around in the big messy middle, maybe clueless on one issue and a little sensitive on another.

So, my advice when someone says something that triggers that uncomfortable feeling, is to not feel you have to respond right away or defend yourself. You really can go away and think about it for awhile. And you can then eventually decide whether you're going to change your behavior or not. My example for this is that I have learned a lot about racism from Black people (I'm white) and about disability from patient friends with disabilities. But I don't always agree with them.

I can remember one instance where a Black person said something to me like, "I can't believe you liked that movie, it was so racist." And I asked the person to please explain to me in what way the movie was racist. And she did. (I don't even remember what movie it was.) And I still couldn't see it. I wasn't entirely sure whether it was a kind of blindness that I couldn't see it, or whether she was really straining to make an analysis the film didn't support. Ultimately I decided it was the latter.

I might have been wrong. But I open-mindedly asked for more information, and then I used my judgment. In other similar situations I have had my eyes opened to forms of racism I hadn't previously known enough to see.

What is my point, neatly summed up?...OK, something like: you don't need to be defensive; nobody can stop you from making rape jokes if that's a kind of humor you like, or they just seem like hyperbole, or if they seem pretty much the same as the nerve gas for kitten joke or murder metaphors. It's good to listen as open-mindedly as you can, and then think, as you go about your life, about whether what a person said begins to ring true to you. If it doesn't, you can let yourself feel secure in your decision and actions, and then you can let the comments roll off your back.
posted by not that girl at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


> When did I say any of those things?

You didn't, and I didn't mean to imply you did; sorry.
posted by languagehat at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The use of the word 'rape' in this instance is not particularly amusing to me, personally. I don't like the way 'rape' is thrown around, among gamers, for instance, as a synonym for 'take advantage of' or 'pwn.' I think it's ridiculous hyperbole, much as 'epic fail' is a ridiculous hyperbole for losing an online match. Use of 'rape' in this context minimizes the horror of the crime by comparing it, in such a quotidian way, with minor setbacks or victories (using 'rape' to describe online wins is an extremely disturbing trend).

The humor of this joke ticket, though, was all in the hyperbole. We are pretty sure that Ticketmaster doesn't have departments dedicated to torture and murder, etc., but the general feeling in the US is that they are taking advantage, to the point of abusing, the ticket-buying public. Hence the hyperbole and comparisons to awful and sadistic crimes (Jonas Brothers, etc.).

Now, as I said earlier, I didn't find this ticket particularly funny. It's not because I haven't laughed at awful things—one of my favorite comedy pieces of all time is the Monty Python bit where Hitler is running for Council or something (I don't know English municipal/regional government titles very well). The joke is—he's Hitler! Hitler stands for all the horror we humans can perpetrate against one another. But damn if that's not a funny sketch! The cluelessness of the potential voters, though, is what really seals that one.

One of the problems with the use of 'rape' in this instance (for me) is that the ongoing trivialization of the word and, perhaps by extension, the crime, in a relatively large and mainstream sector of society (awful teenage boys and young men) makes it difficult to recognize hyperbolic humor that uses rape as a stand-in for 'something awful' as anything but a further extension of that trivialization and cheapening. Add to that the long history of 'getting fucked in the ass' meaning 'being taken advantage of,' complete with homophobic undertones, and you have a heavily laden little joke ticket there.

So I didn't like the joke. I don't think any less of the kid who made the ticket, because I know his intent was not to say, "Gee ain't rape just the funniest thing?" But I can see how it would touch a nerve. The issue that's coming to light here is that someone can take offense to damn near anything anyone says, and while we at MetaFilter are very far from that point, I feel like that is the direction we're going. I think it's wonderful that MeFi is a safe place for all but the willfully ignorant, but I want to voice my concern that complaints over nuances of tone and usage, and the implicit assumptions of bad faith that sometimes accompany these complaints, seem to be on the increase.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


as evidenced by the fact that you see "lame" as something that's on or at least near the line of acceptable

NO no no, argh, sorry I wasn't clearer - I don't find it any more acceptable than gay, but I, like you, see many people who don't make the connection that it's just as bad. I have trouble understanding this disconnect, really, because these are people who would never use the word "retarded". Mostly I guess I'm interested in figuring out the progression from bad thing to accepted thing, and vice versa.

I tend to just make dinosaur noises of crazy rage these days. It is immensely fulfilling and presumably offends no one, except perhaps a passing paleontologist or two.

(NOT PALEONTOLOGIST-IST)
posted by elizardbits at 7:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seems like a lot of hostility over a mustard turnip.


I was amazed to discover this was the "rape" referenced in Ministry's "The Land of Rape and Honey".
posted by quin at 7:43 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was human, as are we all.

It is increasingly strange to me that part of being human is having difficulty recognizing others as human.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:44 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's funny, because I think this is one of the rough spots where internet communication is very, very different from real-world communication. In the real world, jokes about rape – like jokes about anything, really – aren't bad without qualification; there are situations where they're told in the presence of somebody that might be hurt by them, or where they're an instance of actually degrading or cutting down someone who shouldn't be, but often they're just jokes. Hell, I have know rape victims who told rape jokes. Jokes are a way people deal with things sometimes. I've also known Jews who told Jew jokes, black people who told jokes about black people, etc. In normal, real-world conversation, these things work, sometimes brilliantly, because there is context, and because the audience is still small enough that the person telling the joke can know exactly who's going to hear it.

The internet is very different. On the internet, your audience is potentially the whole human race; anybody might read what you've put down, and take from it what they will. This takes conversation to a level that frankly almost seems stifling to contemplate if you think about it every time you comment; it means you have to consider every possible audience when you put something up here on the screen.

And in that context, I think rape jokes – and jokes about Jews, and jokes about black people, etc – generally become wrong. There are always edge cases, so I won't say they're always wrong, but most of them are, and it's worth it just not to make those kinds of jokes at all on the internet. Because every time you do, because of the breadth of distribution the internet has, you have to accept the fact that you are potentially telling a rape joke to someone who's just been raped.

Now, this can be a bit much for some of us to deal with, and that's understandable. And what's more I see that this can sound a lot like the standard liberal-guilt-induced drive to 'political correctness' that we've seen in the last few decades: an urge to sanitize everything of anything might be remotely offensive, in order to cleanse ourselves of our inner shame over racism. (That's what the cartoon that Mayor Curley linked is about.) But while I understand that concern, I think people have to realize that this is different; the internet is in many ways a wholly new form of communication, and as such it really needs a new method of approach. We really do have to act here as though we're telling our jokes to the friends who might be most hurt by them, and try to limit that hurt accordingly.

That's the responsible thing to do, but I know it's not really natural or easy. It's something we have to learn. And internet etiquette – even the idea that we have to have internet etiquette, that we have to change our mode of conversation in some deep way when we're on the internet in order to make sure we're communicating correctly – isn't exactly a simple or straightforward thing. But I think it's needful.
posted by koeselitz at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2010 [23 favorites]


It's something we have to learn.

It seems from this thread that there are a number of people here, including Mayor Curley, who believe they simply shouldn't have to.
posted by zarq at 7:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


As the owner of a beloved kitten that was killed recently in a freak chemical weapons attack, I do appreciate quadog's leaving out the bit about developing kitten-killing nerve gas.

See? It's funny because no one knows a kitten killed by nerve gas. Rape, and people exposed to Miley Cyrus? Not so much.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2010


Also although it addresses casual homophobia rather than casual rape references, I think everyone should watch the poker scene from Louie. The point of the scene is not that offensive humor is bad (the punchline of the scene is purposely offensive and everyone onscreen laughs), but that it's important to understand the impact that certain words and topics have and really think about how people who have had different experiences in their lives might have a different perspective about them.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"It is to you; it isn't to others. As schmod says, most Americans have no idea what the origin of the word is, and they certainly don't hate the Gypsies/Roma."

By this argument, there's no issue with the use of rape here. It's not offensive to the majority, so why should it be considered offensive? I'm not saying that's the case, but watch your logic. You might be arguing against the thing you're arguing for.

And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.
posted by Eideteker at 7:57 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz raises a really excellent point here. There's a trust issue involved. That is, when Spike Lee produces something like this, we have good reason to believe that his motive is not to demean black people and their struggle in America. We don't know everyone we interact with on sites like MeFi to trust their motives when they write something that could be taken the wrong way, or could be insulting. So, yes, we have to proceed more carefully online than we would with our 'real-life' friends, who know us and trust us. But please, let's all try to give people the benefit of the doubt online as well as in real life.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ass-rape, fucked you in the ass, you might as well fucking bend over and let them have at it etc., continually reinforced in our jokes and our cultures as forced submission to power.

Rape e.g. male prison rape, as assertion of power, the opposite of submissiveness, of weakness, of powerlessness.

No relation.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:59 AM on August 27, 2010


And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.

Uh, you might want to reread iamkimian's comment.
posted by edbles at 8:06 AM on August 27, 2010


"It's funny, because I think this is one of the rough spots where internet communication is very, very different from real-world communication. In the real world, jokes about rape – like jokes about anything, really – aren't bad without qualification; there are situations where they're told in the presence of somebody that might be hurt by them, or where they're an instance of actually degrading or cutting down someone who shouldn't be, but often they're just jokes. Hell, I have know rape victims who told rape jokes. Jokes are a way people deal with things sometimes. I've also known Jews who told Jew jokes, black people who told jokes about black people, etc. In normal, real-world conversation, these things work, sometimes brilliantly, because there is context, and because the audience is still small enough that the person telling the joke can know exactly who's going to hear it."

This also works both ways. When reading things on the internet, you have to understand that these people don't know you, your personal history, your trauma. Dealing with traumatic events is tough, but it's hard to argue for sanitizing the internet for the lowest common denominator of possible offenses (again, I haven't seen ANYONE say: I was raped, and this joke offended me). Those dealing with trauma hopefully have avenues to deal with this (e.g. therapy).
posted by Eideteker at 8:11 AM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, kim is not complaining that her day was ruined, not by my reading.
posted by Eideteker at 8:12 AM on August 27, 2010


Eideteker: Much as I get what you're saying, I think you can probably conceed that kim did not find the joke funny. Day ruining? No, but she certainly came out as being not amused.
posted by sonika at 8:14 AM on August 27, 2010


And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.

Well, kim is not complaining that her day was ruined, not by my reading.

I submit that these are two entirely different statments.
posted by edbles at 8:15 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Though every person who uses ass-rape as a metaphor is not necessarily someone who would considers their usage of the term is homophobic, the fact that its usage comes from a place where male-on-male sodomy - forced or otherwise - is something whose "ick factor" is thought of by many as the worst possible thing that can happen (and basically the entire reason why I couldn't openly serve in the military or get married) makes usage of it very uncomfortable in certain situations.

This is why, even if my life hadn't been touched by forced sexual assault or knew that others around her would be uncomfortable with it, I have a problem with casual usage of the term.

So you can say that there's no relation between actual rape and the joke version of ass-rape. And I'd say that yes, no relation, except totally and completely.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:20 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.

Don't you think this thread is kind of a hostile environment for anyone to share their experience?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:20 AM on August 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


But is there a need to say something about it every. single. time?

1) The original comment was largely ignore, it was this MeTa post that took the joke a bit further that seems to have bothered some people, me included.

I was fine with writing the comment seemed out of place and pretty much leaving it at that. It was the YOU'RE BEING OVERLY SENSITIVE that got my hackles up. Don't tell me how I should or should not feel or that what I'm feeling or thinking is wrong.

And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.

Of course she doesn't speak for everyone, nor all rape victims.
posted by nomadicink at 8:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But is there a need to say something about it every. single. time?

Is there someone here who is the person who objects to it every. single. time?

On the one hand, I didn't think the joke was funny, though not because it used rape as a metaphor. Its use made me wince a little but I pretty much forgot about it until I saw this meTa.

On the other hand, the fact that I didn't find it all that offensive doesn't mean it wasn't offensive to some people. Other people have said it better above, but apparently it bears repeating: no one person here is the arbiter of everything's offensive/not offensive status. Those who thought the joke was hilarious and the use of rape as a metaphor unremarkable are not bad people, and they are also not the only people whose opinions matter. Likewise, those who thought the joke problematic/offensive are also not Trying To Ruin Your Day, Man! by bringing up the fact that they found the joke offensive.
posted by rtha at 8:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Eideteker: Much as I get what you're saying, I think you can probably conceed that kim did not find the joke funny. Day ruining? No, but she certainly came out as being not amused."

But what's the issue here? My imprecise phrasing, or whether or not the joke should have been made? Again, it's fine to say you don't find the joke funny, but I don't see the point of getting offended on the behalf of others. As I said, one victim's coping mechanisms may be different. Someone might find it therapeutic (doubtful in this case, but still). All you can do (as I said above) is say, "I found this to be traumatic. For me." And the community will take that in regard, and recalibrate. What you're trying to do is game the calibration here by saying, "This was traumatic to potentially dozens/hundreds/thousands of people, I think, possibly."

It's no more fair to speak on behalf of other non-victims than it is to speak on behalf of victims. I understand it's hard for rape victims to speak up, but I still think it's up to them to decide if this is a big enough issue to speak up for.
posted by Eideteker at 8:23 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Its use made me wince a little but I pretty much forgot about it until I saw this meTa.

Yeah, I personally am not likely to call out every off-putting rape joke I see, but when the point of a MetaTalk thread is "Yo, isn't this funny?" it seems pretty reasonable for some people to be like "uh well not really, no"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


"That sucks" works just as well as "That's lame."

Pretty sure sucks is a homophobic and misogynist insult.
posted by ODiV at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is absolutely an issue of audience. If MetaFilter users in general wants to repel people who find casual references to hardcore forced penetration distasteful (as I do), then feel free to continue to make them.

The only other joke on that ticket that was mildly similar was "military-industrial development of nerve gas to kill kittens". This is hyperbolic in the universal sense - it's absurd. On the other hand, a government department specifically designated to rape people does not seem absurd to me, given the fact that rape is a common tactic of war currently being deployed all over the world.

(I also reject the idea that rape survivors are the only people who are allowed to object to the casual comparison of unpleasant things to rape)
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's no more fair to speak on behalf of other non-victims than it is to speak on behalf of victims. I understand it's hard for rape victims to speak up, but I still think it's up to them to decide if this is a big enough issue to speak up for.

You don't know if the people speaking out are victims or not. And they shouldn't be required to out themselves in order for their opinions to be considered valid here.
posted by zarq at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2010 [29 favorites]


"On the other hand, the fact that I didn't find it all that offensive doesn't mean it wasn't offensive to some people. Other people have said it better above, but apparently it bears repeating: no one person here is the arbiter of everything's offensive/not offensive status. Those who thought the joke was hilarious and the use of rape as a metaphor unremarkable are not bad people, and they are also not the only people whose opinions matter. Likewise, those who thought the joke problematic/offensive are also not Trying To Ruin Your Day, Man! by bringing up the fact that they found the joke offensive."

I have a problem with the word "offensive." As the Bloom County strip indicates, anything can be offensive. Taking offense is a personal, inward thing. No one can control what offends you. Only you can. However, even you cannot control the things that actually, actively hurt you. So if you're hurt, speak up. If you're offended, keep it to yourself.
posted by Eideteker at 8:28 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> By this argument, there's no issue with the use of rape here. It's not offensive to the majority, so why should it be considered offensive? I'm not saying that's the case, but watch your logic. You might be arguing against the thing you're arguing for.

I don't think you understand what my argument is, but that's fair enough, because I certainly don't understand yours, if in fact you're making one.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2010


I certainly wasn't expecting this discussion when I clicked into this thread. But like any self-respecting old coot I can weigh in with a story.

A few years ago, right after my daughter was born, I got involved in a community-theatre type production of Romeo and Juliet. I thought the initial plan for the fight scenes was pretty weak, and so I called up J., one of my college fencing buddies, to see whether he had equipment and expertise to lend us. J. and I were the first two people to show up at the next rehearsal. He gave me a big ridiculous wave as he drove up, and then told a joke about it: "How do you get a one-armed cripple out of a tree? You wave."

At that point G., the director of the play, drove up. G. is a middle-aged English teacher who, thanks to a birth defect, has legs that end below the knees (not obvious, since his prosthetics give him excellent mobility) and arms that end below the elbow. I introduced G. and J. and they shook hands --- G. shakes using the arm that ends in two digits, rather than the arm with none. Then G. hurried inside and J. turned to me.

"I'm a terrible person," he said. He was kind of a funny color.

"You'll live," I told him. "But rather than let you notice later, I'd better tell you now: my daughter was born with syndactyly, and has a hand with no fingers."

"I'm a terrible, terrible person," he said.

And he was wrong --- he's a great guy. But I hope he's retired that stupid joke.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:30 AM on August 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


"You don't know if the people speaking out are victims or not. And they shouldn't be required to out themselves in order for their opinions to be considered valid here."

I'm talking about the people who are being offended on behalf of others. You can tell by the language they're using whether they're trying to shield others.

"The only other joke on that ticket that was mildly similar was "military-industrial development of nerve gas to kill kittens". This is hyperbolic in the universal sense - it's absurd."

For me, the difference was between ass-rape and "deep ass-rape." The "deep" seemed obviously hyperbolic. I understand that won't work for everybody, but part of what I'm arguing here is that you can't control what something means to every last person.
posted by Eideteker at 8:32 AM on August 27, 2010


But what's the issue here? My imprecise phrasing, or whether or not the joke should have been made?

You first said that the only person to come out as a rape victim didn't object to the joke. When it was pointed out to you that this was somewhat inaccurate, you dug in your heels on the "Yeah, but it didn't ruin her day" line of reasoning. I was just trying to provide some middle ground to conceed "Ok, yeah, she didn't find it funny either." rather than this kind of entrenching you're doing here by getting defensive.

Pretty sure sucks is a homophobic and misogynist insult.

Which is why I also provided the totally neutral "THIS IS SUB OPTIMAL IN EVERY WAY" if you feel that way about the word "sucks" which personally, I associate with vaccuum cleaners and that horrible noise they make, but if someone told me that they really felt it was offensive, fine I don't need to use it.
posted by sonika at 8:33 AM on August 27, 2010


So if you're hurt, speak up. If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

No.

Sorry, but you don't get to dictate to us based on your personal assessment of whether they're worthy or personally experienced enough to voice an opinion.
posted by zarq at 8:33 AM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


whether we're worthy.
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on August 27, 2010


I am on the same page as iamkimiam—the stupid joke didn't ruin my day or anything, but it wasn't funny and its unfunniness cancelled out the enjoyment I would have gotten out of the rest of the joke's elements. (I hate Ticketmaster!) And now I need a brief break from the internet, so after I am finished this comment I am going to go across the street for coffee and a change of scenery. It's not like the joke caused a flashback or something, it's just an icked-out feeling and some grumpiness about the internet.

re speaking up: when a big chunk of the thread so far is about "aren't people just being too sensitive", I can tell that it won't be worth my time to talk about my experiences, AND I'll probably have to argue about them. Arguing about whether I have the right to speak up and ruin someone's fun when other people are exercising their God-given right to say whatever they want without consequences is not how I would like to spend my morning.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:36 AM on August 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


So if you're hurt, speak up. If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

How about if we just think it was a bad joke, and the poster should feel bad for making it?
posted by hermitosis at 8:36 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm talking about the people who are being offended on behalf of others.

This is not a problem. Why shouldn't a person be offended on the behalf of others is something offensive has occurred?
posted by nomadicink at 8:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone.
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]



And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.


So the only way something counts as REALLY OFFENSIVE is if the people who are being joked about come out and tell you "Speaking as a rape victim, this offends me personally?"

Maybe the reason you're not hearing from more "outed" survivors is because in the giant scheme of things, people shouldn't have to expose a deeply personal and traumatic event in order for their feelings to be registered and counted as legitimate.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


And again, it seems the only person to come out as a rape victim in this thread has no problem with the joke.

I'm not sure why only rape victims are allowed to be offended by rape?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Sorry, but you don't get to dictate to us based on your personal assessment of whether they're worthy or personally experienced enough to voice an opinion."

Did this joke personally hurt you? Did it cause you to relive a traumatic experience? Or are you anticipating this reaction from someone else?

I'm not arguing in the case of this specific joke. I'm arguing for the ability to make jokes, period. As we've demonstrated, stuff that you think that's not offensive (gypped) are/may be offensive. But that's cool; we're mature enough to say, "not cool," and leave it at that. But when you rule out an entire class of jokes based on a given criterion, based on the idea that someone might be hurt (when they just as well might not be), you hurt the discourse.

Rape sucks, and it's not particularly funny. But self-righteous indignation for its own purpose, or to make yourself feel better is similarly uncool.
posted by Eideteker at 8:44 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s, here's that great scene you were talking about. I really enjoyed it, thanks!
posted by Xoder at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I'm not sure why only rape victims are allowed to be offended by rape?"

See above, re: offense. Offense is irrelevant, pain is not.
posted by Eideteker at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2010


So you can say that there's no relation between actual rape and the joke version of ass-rape. And I'd say that yes, no relation, except totally and completely.

Just in case this is partly in response to my comment (it probably wasn't, but I might not have been clear enough), I was being bitterly sarcastic.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2010


Did this joke personally hurt you?

I'm a guy, and I've never been raped, and this joke personally hurt me.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:48 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm talking about the people who are being offended on behalf of others.

What's wrong with that? I mean, as with anything, I suppose it can be taken too far, but (for instance) I'm offended by the use of "retarded" as a slur even though I am not retarded and am not close to anyone who is. Am I not allowed to be offended, or to tell people that I think its use as a slur is offensive?
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

No.
posted by kmz at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But self-righteous indignation for its own purpose, or to make yourself feel better is similarly uncool.

Assuming you fully and completely understand another person's motives for pursuing a course of action is almost never a good idea, even more so behind a computer screen.
posted by edbles at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm talking about the people who are being offended on behalf of others.

I have close, personal friends who get triggered on this stuff pretty easily for reasons I don't have to describe. Are they "oversensitive"? Sure, if you're an asshole. Do I feel shitty when I read rape jokes because I'm offended on her behalf? No. It's because I've got this stupid "empathy" thing that goes off when I see or hear or read something that would genuinely hurt someone I'm close to.
posted by griphus at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


The Onion's Best and Worst Rape Jokes is pretty much my go to guide on if a joke mentioning rape is okay. Even the worst ones are pretty much okay.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I'm a guy, and I've never been raped, and this joke personally hurt me."

How? I'm not being sarcastic. I would like to understand.

"What's wrong with that? I mean, as with anything, I suppose it can be taken too far, but (for instance) I'm offended by the use of "retarded" as a slur even though I am not retarded and am not close to anyone who is. Am I not allowed to be offended, or to tell people that I think its use as a slur is offensive?"

I'm not offended by the casual use of retarded, but I can still dislike it and speak out against it. So the offense is not the key part here.
posted by Eideteker at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2010


If your goal is to get everyone who has registered their distaste at this joke to tell you what their personal experience with rape is so you can decide whether or not they have the right to be offended, I think you've got a long way to go.

Also, meh as far as comparing rape to self-righteous indignation. I get the rhetorical flourish. I'm sorry people are being so hyper-sensitive that you feel like you have to self-censor. But honestly. Whatever blips registered as a response to the original joke are now full on earthquakes as a result of defending the right to not find something funny and to remark that maybe people should think before making potentially hurtful jokes.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I understand it's hard for rape victims to speak up, but I still think it's up to them to decide if this is a big enough issue to speak up for.

There is a reason why rape victims are referred to as "brave" for speaking publicly about their experiences, and why organizations like RAINN tell them that they don't have to suffer in silence.

Historically, women and men who have been raped have been subject to intensely nasty accusations and dismissive ridicule when they went public. Self-blame is extremely common among rape victims. Suicide rates are higher in rape victims than in the rest of the population.

There are still people who believe and perpetuate the idea that rape is the victim's fault, not the other way around. There are people right here on MeFi who have said outright that by dressing a particular way, victims have asked to be raped -- a statement that essentially tells us that the victim deserved to be violated. I'd rather not link to them, but I can and will do so to one or two if you would like. Those attitudes are why most (if not all) states now have enacted Rape Shield Laws.

You have asserted that people who have been raped must announce this publicly to be taken seriously. Otherwise they should just shut up.

I strongly suggest you study up on the psychological aftermath of sexual assault in victims before demanding some sort of a public testimonial litmus test for victims in order that they be allowed voice their opinions on rape.
posted by zarq at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [21 favorites]


I'm not offended by the casual use of retarded, but I can still dislike it and speak out against it. So the offense is not the key part here.

Bzuh? My self-contradiction meter just broke. So it's ok to speak out against something if you "dislike it", but it's not if you're "offended"? What if offense is the reason I dislike it?
posted by kmz at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


WTF? The original comment also makes a joke of nerve gas. NERVE GAS.

I get that gendered victimization makes some things touchier than others, but as long as you're laughing at references to suffering, you may as well be even remotely even-handed about taking offence.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I have close, personal friends who get triggered on this stuff pretty easily for reasons I don't have to describe. Are they "oversensitive"? Sure, if you're an asshole. Do I feel shitty when I read rape jokes because I'm offended on her behalf? No. It's because I've got this stupid "empathy" thing that goes off when I see or hear or read something that would genuinely hurt someone I'm close to."

Well, I'm curious about this line of argument, so I'd like to follow it. How do you protect them from rape jokes everywhere else? Even if you succeed in keeping it off MetaFilter, how do you ensure they don't encounter rape jokes anywhere? What I'm saying is not that rape jokes are awesome or being hurt by them (not offended, hurt) is silly. What do those people do when they do come across a rape joke? Or anything that uses the word "rape"? You can't eliminate all the sharp edges in life, that's why we have band-aids. Similarly, you can't eliminate (though we can reduce, if we realize it's hurting people) pain in life; at some point everyone has to seek their own healing.

It sucks, but so does looking for bogeymen everywhere.
posted by Eideteker at 8:59 AM on August 27, 2010


I also note that this wasn't as much of an issue in the original thread. I think that's also what's setting off folks' "oversensitive-o-meters."
posted by Eideteker at 9:01 AM on August 27, 2010


Well, I'm curious about this line of argument, so I'd like to follow it. How do you protect them from rape jokes everywhere else? Even if you succeed in keeping it off MetaFilter, how do you ensure they don't encounter rape jokes anywhere? What I'm saying is not that rape jokes are awesome or being hurt by them (not offended, hurt) is silly. What do those people do when they do come across a rape joke? Or anything that uses the word "rape"? You can't eliminate all the sharp edges in life, that's why we have band-aids. Similarly, you can't eliminate (though we can reduce, if we realize it's hurting people) pain in life; at some point everyone has to seek their own healing.

Because we can't eliminate all suffering we shouldn't try to ameliorate any?
posted by edbles at 9:03 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't eliminate all the sharp edges in life, that's why we have band-aids.

But you can also tell people to stop stabbing randomly at strangers, and then get confused if someone says that they should continue because you can't eliminate all sharp edges in life.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


"You have asserted that people who have been raped must announce this publicly to be taken seriously. Otherwise they should just shut up."

I re-read what I wrote and I can see how it could be taken that way. I apologize. My issue is with people who tell victims how to feel, not the victims themselves.
posted by Eideteker at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2010


Which is why I also provided the totally neutral "THIS IS SUB OPTIMAL IN EVERY WAY" if you feel that way about the word "sucks" which personally, I associate with vaccuum cleaners and that horrible noise they make, but if someone told me that they really felt it was offensive, fine I don't need to use it.

I just thought it was odd that it was being recommended as a non-offensive replacement and figured you might not know about the origins of the word.

It's interesting to me what winds up being offensive and non-offensive. I tried starting a lame vs. retarded discussion in a resolved MeTa awhile ago, but the thread was closed. :(
posted by ODiV at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2010


You can't eliminate all the sharp edges in life, that's why we have band-aids. Similarly, you can't eliminate (though we can reduce, if we realize it's hurting people) pain in life; at some point everyone has to seek their own healing.

You keep making assumptions about those of us who expressed a dislike of this joke. Now you are assuming that we are trying to "protect" survivors.

Rape survivors, in my experience, can generally take care of themselves. I'm not superman, Eideteker. I just feel an incredible revulsion to those kinds of casual jokes about rape, and I try to avoid them. When someone says, "Wow, isn't this freaking hilarious?" I say, "No, it's not." Then I get attacked for it, and thereby I am taught that my opinion is valueless.
posted by muddgirl at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


The word immediately takes me to a place where I spent the night checking the doors and windows repeatedly at the insistence of a bruised and trembling fiance who finally fell asleep for the first time in two days after I promised I would stay awake and watch over her and make sure no one came in the house. Fuck you and fuck your attempt to dictate what people are allowed to say. No matter what the context for me personally it immediately goes to that night.

No one demanded that world not have any sharp edges. They asked if maybe people wouldn't go out of their way to embed knives in the wall. I don't demand that nothing ever reminds me of it. I do ask that you don't act oppressed by the fact that it causes a reaction in some that it doesn't in you.
posted by Babblesort at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


WTF? The original comment also makes a joke of nerve gas. NERVE GAS.

I get that gendered victimization makes some things touchier than others, but as long as you're laughing at references to suffering, you may as well be even remotely even-handed about taking offence.


We don't have a cultural problem with nerve gas, or people dying on a hill, for god's sake.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2010


"But you can also tell people to stop stabbing randomly at strangers, and then get confused if someone says that they should continue because you can't eliminate all sharp edges in life."

Who's been stabbed? I think that's where the issue arises. Some folks are saying "LOOK OUT SHARP EDGES" and at least one person (on my original reading of the thread) said, "Guys, it's no big deal. Yes, I'm hemophiliac, but I can handle myself and I'm not injured." That's the moment where I went from lolsnark to "Ok, let's stop making everything so dire and dramatic."
posted by Eideteker at 9:07 AM on August 27, 2010


(though we can reduce, if we realize it's hurting people)

Okay great, because that's all people are asking for here. No one is trying to get all mention of rape (or even all jokey ones) banned from MetaFilter. People are just saying, "I didn't think this was funny" or "I winced" or "I felt this was careless" which was clearly not the intention of the person who posted it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Pretty sure sucks is a homophobic and misogynist insult

LETS NOW HAVE A META REFERENDUM ON THIS USAGE
posted by everichon at 9:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Something in life is really, really bad, everyone, so we shouldn't ever talk about it because someone might not like that very much!
posted by reductiondesign at 9:09 AM on August 27, 2010


WTF? The original comment also makes a joke of nerve gas. NERVE GAS.

I get that gendered victimization makes some things touchier than others, but as long as you're laughing at references to suffering, you may as well be even remotely even-handed about taking offence.


I think this is primarily a factor of most of us mefites being lucky enough to live in place where we haven't ourselves or know anyone who has been subjected to nerve gas. If we had a more global userbase you can bet that there would have been objections to the nerve gas reference.

It's impossible to not offend anyone. What I usually try to do is pick up on what the community I'm a part of finds offensive and avoid it.
posted by ODiV at 9:09 AM on August 27, 2010


How? I'm not being sarcastic. I would like to understand.

In the same way that racism hurts me even though I'm white, and sexism hurts me even though I'm a dude, and genocide hurts me even though I'm sitting on my ass in Chicago. These aren't things that I'm idly miffed by because I'm overly sensitive or trying to put words in the mouths of victims or because I'm imagining, in an abstract way, that someone directly affected might be bothered by these things.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:10 AM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Something in life is really, really bad, everyone, so we shouldn't ever talk about it because someone might not like that very much!

Please read the thread before deciding to comment. Thanks!
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


My issue is with people who tell victims how to feel, not the victims themselves.

Nobody is coming in here saying "A rape joke! Victims! You should now be offended and triggered and upset!" Instead they're saying, "That's not all that funny." That's a valid statement whether or not you have a "reason." And, aside from reasons to find it not funny like visceral responses due to personal experience with rape or watching friends and loved ones experience rape, I think rape jokes aren't funny because they minimize and normalize an event which can be Huge and Scary and Out of the Ordinary.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:12 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think "20% Fee For Convenience Fee Collection Expenses" would have been funnier. Or not. "Ass Rape" is just lazy signifying. Taking a moment to craft a better joke would have decreased GRAR and increased LULZ.

And Admiral Haddock probably would have done so had he known his words were going to be picked over so closely.

*shrug*

Revisiting vocabulary and tone in light of the intended audience isn't necessarily censorship or political correctness run amok, sometimes it's just a way to write better jokes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:14 AM on August 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


I'm not offended by the casual use of retarded, but I can still dislike it and speak out against it. So the offense is not the key part here.

Okay. So people who have not experienced rape or are close to someone who has experienced rape can't be "offended" by rape jokes, but they are "allowed" to dislike them and speak out against them. Do I have that right?
posted by rtha at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have developed an updated infographic which addresses the problems identified in this thread.

I also maintain that mine is factually accurate.
posted by Mike1024 at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


It's impossible to not offend anyone. What I usually try to do is pick up on what the community I'm a part of finds offensive and avoid it.

That works for me.

I just find it peculiar that, in order to even make a joke about something like nerve gas, you have to turn off the part of your brain that says "My god, this is really fucked up", and then not do so for other kinds of suffering because of some other realization (experiences of members of the community) external to that process.

But then I don't make Hiroshima jokes just because I'm not standing to someone with personal ties to nuclear disaster, so I'm rather on the other side of this issue.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2010


We don't have a cultural problem with nerve gas, or people dying on a hill, for god's sake.

Our culture is as sick with war as it is with rape, and it has never been otherwise.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:21 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


standing next to, that is. Bah.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:25 AM on August 27, 2010


But then I don't make Hiroshima jokes just because I'm not standing to someone with personal ties to nuclear disaster

probably a good idea if they got the radiations!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:30 AM on August 27, 2010


To me, this isn't an issue of asking people to buck up and be stronger verses a right to make a particular joke. If I have some trauma in my life that is an ongoing issue for me, and someone makes a joke about it, I wouldn't make a big deal about it. But it might make me fell sad and disconnected from the community making light of it, and it'll probably make me bow out, at least for awhile. I'm wondering if this is what we want.

Jokes about serious things don't bother me, but I suspect it's because my life has been pretty pain free. At the same time, I'll try to not make a joke about something if I know it has the potential to dig up some hurt for someone else I'm hanging out with, because I don't want them to feel like they need to leave to be in an emotionally safe place regarding something that wasn't their fault. It's a question of connecting with people in certain ways, verses saying, there are times in which it might not be good for you to be here, and the onus is on you to avoid it.

This doesn't mean that jokes like that aren't appropriate in certain contexts. It means that in a place where there's a really good chance that someone is dealing with pain related to the joke, like a private party or a large community setting like MetaFilter, it's in good taste and polite to freely choose to not do something crass that dredges up painful memories for a person, for a laugh. I think that a particularly noble trait is being able to set aside a personal right to something in order to promote a greater good, especially when it comes to relationships. Having people not feel like they need to become disjointed from our community in order to deal with a painful memory based on something that was designed to get a laugh is a pretty great good, as well as being willing to walk with people through their pain, rather than asking them to step out of the room for awhile while we make a particular joke, if it bothers them so much.

There is a sense in which making light of pain can be healing, as it dismantles its power, or allows people to put things into context. Laughing about painful things can be good for culture at times. And although I'm sure that there are those who will argue that this joke promoted some good based on the strength of the metaphor and the evil of Ticketmaster, I'm not sure this is really a good example of this.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hi. I've been raped, I've been ass raped, and for the trifecta, I've been gang raped in an alley.

I didn't think I'd have the guts to come out here as a rape victim more directly than I have in the past.
So, I agree with this, times 1,000
If your goal is to get everyone who has registered their distaste at this joke to tell you what their personal experience with rape is so you can decide whether or not they have the right to be offended, I think you've got a long way to go.
posted by ChuraChura

And to answer this: What do those people do when they do come across a rape joke? Or anything that uses the word "rape"? You can't eliminate all the sharp edges in life, that's why we have band-aids. Similarly, you can't eliminate (though we can reduce, if we realize it's hurting people) pain in life; at some point everyone has to seek their own healing. from Eideteker
I've been to therapy, three wonderful years of DBT that helps a lot with my PTSD. What do I do when I notice jokes like this? I privately and calmly ask the person making joke to consider that it's hurtful. In this case, I did that this morning. But because of the way this metafilter thread is going, I feel like it's important for me to stand up and be counted here.

These jokes contribute something to my hurt. I know that metafilter is not a marshamallow swathed kingdom of unicorns and ponies, and I do appreciat that we've come quite a long way from the days of the cooter counter. But we still have a ways to go. So let's keep heading in that direction, because I guarantee you, there are other women on this site who will not stand up and say, "someone violated me in this way." It's taken me a long time and a lot of work to be able to do it, and actually, I'm just continuing to tap away at the keyboard here because I'm kind of terrified to send this into the world.

I'm tired of being told that it's ridiculous for people to be offended on my behalf. That it's ok for me to be hurt, but not ok for others to try to make this world a place where ass raping isn't funny. If ass raping is funny in some context then coming out as a survivor of it is really unappealing because when I hear jokes about people getting ass raped, what I am hearing are jokes about a night I was almost killed.

I don't think I'll ever be able to laugh about that night.
posted by bilabial at 9:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [94 favorites]


What's wrong with that? I mean, as with anything, I suppose it can be taken too far, but (for instance) I'm offended by the use of "retarded" as a slur even though I am not retarded and am not close to anyone who is. Am I not allowed to be offended, or to tell people that I think its use as a slur is offensive?

I think that there is a difference between "personal offense" and "offending one's sensibilities." Imagine if someone made a "retard" joke and I had a mentally disabled sibling. To me, that joke would be personally offensive. I could explain why the joke demeans the disabled, the personal history and hurt associated with such jokes, and generally that person will feel bad not for making a joke, but for hurting someone.

"Offending one's sensibilities" is a case where you have no personal relation or involvement to the topic, but your sensibility is that no one should make light or joke about said topic. I think it's perfectly alright to be offended in such a situation, but I think it's much trickier to say so. It's a much more abstract offense, because you yourself are not being personally hurt, your sensibility is. This can come off as arbitrary in some cases, for example you could say that you find a "retard" joke offensive, while you're alright with a "rape" joke. When you vocalize such offense, often times people perceive it as being "oversensitive" or "too PC." People often feel like they're being judged and that you think you're better than them, just because you don't use a certain word or make certain jokes. They get defensive. They say, "why do you care? You're not retarded." As if the only "proper" offense is personal offense. I think this has certainly happened in this thread.

I think if you are offended, for any reason, you should vocalize it. However, the manner in which you vocalize it is very, very important. Otherwise, you end up with a shit-storm of a MeTa thread.
posted by fryman at 9:38 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our culture is as sick with war as it is with rape, and it has never been otherwise.

Yes it is. But as far as I am aware, the cultures we live in do not currently have a problem with not understanding the damage caused by nerve gas, or blaming its victims. If it helps, I had a problem with Obama's joke about predator drones too.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also maintain that mine is factually accurate.

Not really, sorry. Having the "offensiveness" left-hand side of the ticket equal to the "offensiveness" of the right-hand side of the ticket is just starting to boggle me.
posted by muddgirl at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2010


Nice infographic.

What fonts did you use?
posted by the cuban at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2010


I used to tell a lot of yo mamma jokes in high school (it was obnoxious, I am an obnoxious person) and I stopped when I got to college and told one to a guy whose mother had died. It's definitely true that as you get older and start socializing more and more with people whose stories you can't yet know, certain jokes become riskier. My personal feeling is that my desire to make a joke doesn't justify the risk that the joke will make someone feel like shit. The likelier the joke is to make someone feel like shit, the less justified it is. Rape is so prevalent, and forcibly reminding someone of their rape is so potentially hurtful, that I just don't think rape jokes are justifiable.

I definitely used to be like free speech bitches deal with it and I was a kid then and so I now think of that attitude as juvenile. It's true that it takes thought and effort to avoid offending people, but I have a lot of trouble empathizing with people who feel that it just isn't worth it to try, or that it's their god-given right to speak their minds, therefore how dare anyone demand that they think before they do so...
posted by prefpara at 9:48 AM on August 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


As soon as I saw the ticket I knew this would be a thread about rape. Hopefully the point I'm about to make has already been made countless times above. I didn't read the previous 167 comments.

People make jokes about rape because they are ignorant. Ignorant in the true dictionary sense of the word. They simply don't know better. Odds are astronomically high that they've never been raped. In fact, I'm willing to bet the vast majority of rape jokes are made by men because rape isn't something we men usually worry about. If I'm walking around town after dark, I worry a bit about getting mugged... but sexually assaulted? Sexually assaulted and impregnated? These thoughts don't even cross my mind. I worry about being robbed or possibly jumped and that's about it.

Rape isn't funny. The idea that it's a case of political correctness or hypersensitivity is ignorant - again, in the true meaning of the word rather than the slang sense (although I happen to think it is that as well).
posted by 2oh1 at 9:52 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, I have to say that this thread keeps on reminding me of this little gem.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2010


What fonts did you use?

Would that he could have used Comic Sans...
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2010


So when I first saw this thread this morning, I clicked the link, went, "meh," and promptly forgot about it. But over the course of the morning, whenever I popped back into MetaTalk to see if there was anything new, I noticed that this thread about a stupid little joke image somebody made (why on Earth didn't it go in the original thread, anyway?) kept getting more and more comments. So with a sinking heart, I opened it back up, and found yet another nice, frothy MetaFilter rape grar in progress. What is going ON around here these days? Is there something in the water?

Mods, can we please get the new podcast uploaded ASAP, so we can have something nice to talk about?
posted by Gator at 9:56 AM on August 27, 2010


Really quadog's post would have been better served as a comment in the existing thread, but it probably would have ended up here anyway.
posted by hermitosis at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2010


Reading this tread reminded me of this comment from a FPP
Several minutes later, in his conversation with the woman he was with, he opined apropos of nothing that it is ridiculous how we can't use the "good words" any more; that "you can't use those good little words, like nigger...or nappy...they've taken 'em away. It's a shame."

If words are just words and can only hurt people when those offended by those specific words are around to hear them then then I suspect those arguing that POV have no trouble with those "good words".
posted by edgeways at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2010


Gator: “So with a sinking heart, I opened it back up, and found yet another nice, frothy MetaFilter rape grar in progress. What is going ON around here these days? Is there something in the water?”

Man, you may want to actually read threads before posting angsty, handwringing comments like this one. There isn't a single iota of grar in this entire thread. I defy you to point to a single person here who's pissed off, who's upset, who's not being perfectly reasonable. Metafilter is superlative in part because the community here tends to take moments like the linked joke as occasions for interesting discussions. If you really have a huge problem with interesting discussions, I don't know what to say to you.

Although I share your fervid anticipation of the podcast.
posted by koeselitz at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


So if you're hurt, speak up. If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

No. You do not get to make these rules or establish these norms. The fact that your empathy meter consistently runs on the low side does not allow you to insist that the rest of this community recalibrate our empathy down to your level.
posted by scody at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2010 [31 favorites]


Durn Bronzefist: I think it's likely that nerve gas isn't a "real thing" for most mefites.

It's kind of an interesting situation. "Deep ass raping" and "nerve gas" are basically both being used in the joke to signify horrible, undesirable, over the top shit. It's no surprise that someone would say "Hey, this thing you used to mean horrible is horrible so please think before using it in a joke."

But as far as I am aware, the cultures we live in do not currently have a problem with not understanding the damage caused by nerve gas, or blaming its victims.

The cultures we (as in most of us on MetaFilter) live in are almost completely isolated from nerve gas and its effects. I doubt the community would be okay with jokes like these if we actually had to deal with nerve gas. I'm also certain that there is plenty of victim blaming going on when Israel uses nerve gas on Palestinians.
posted by ODiV at 10:07 AM on August 27, 2010


Also, there's this weird reaction sometimes that I see in conversations like this one, and it looks like this:

Person A: [joke]
Person B: your joke made me feel awful, please don't make such jokes in the future
Person A: well you shouldn't feel awful for reasons [x, y, & z]

Look, you can have all the opinions you want about the correct reaction to a rape joke. Maybe you think people should have strong characters and refuse to let mere words get to them. Maybe you think people should accept that life is a vale of tears and pain comes with the territory. Maybe you think people should understand that freedom of expression is valuable and suppress their emotional, irrational reactions to better enable an uninhibited exchange of ideas.

I just don't see the relevance.

People don't feel the way you think they should feel. They have now told you how they do feel: awful.

Now you know. When you tell rape jokes, some people feel awful. You may not agree with their feelings, but you now know what they are. The consequence of you telling a rape joke is that some people will feel awful. And now that you know that, if you choose to tell rape jokes in the future, I'm going to judge you for hurting people on purpose.
posted by prefpara at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

You seem to be a little offended by others' offence.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:14 AM on August 27, 2010


To be fair, prefpara, quadog himself has not come to the defense of his joke or commented in this thread at all so far.
posted by hermitosis at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2010


To be fair, prefpara, quadog himself has not come to the defense of his joke or commented in this thread at all so far.

Sorry, I didn't mean to give the impression I was directing my comment at any one person. I was speaking to everyone who has defended the telling of rape jokes, as well as to everyone silently agreeing with the rape-joke-defenders. Also, um, to the whole mefi-readin' universe!
posted by prefpara at 10:17 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm not offended by the casual use of retarded, but I can still dislike it and speak out against it.

Aw, you're just doing it to look cool.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2010


How do you protect them from rape jokes everywhere else? ... What do those people do when they do come across a rape joke? Or anything that uses the word "rape"?

They are not my children, and it is not my duty, nor is it ever expected of me to protect them from the harshness of the world. Nor am I expected to be come some sort of Rape Joke Avenger and choose every instance as a hill to die on. They're traumatized adults, but they're adults just the same. Many have their own coping strategies whether it is to walk away, or do some CBT stuff or just say "hey I don't know if you know you're being an asshole, but quit being an asshole." If I am with them when it happens, I help in whatever way I can, but usually in a manner that reduces conflict and does not involve callouts. Especially because anyone who would make a rape joke in front of a rape victim is either not my friend, will cease the behavior if I call them out because they have sense, or stops being my friend at that moment. I don't start shit because, well, I'm a small guy who's never been in a fight, and physical altercation has a 99% chance of leaving me the loser.

In situations like the MetaFilter, where I literally cannot put myself in anything resembling danger by calling someone out, I do it because it tends to be a thankfully rare event here and if I can add to its rarity, so much the better.
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm just stopping in to say that this massive knicker-twisting and dismayed wringing of hands over slightly more than absolutely nothing is one of the reasons I don't go on Metafilter as much as I used to.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:19 AM on August 27, 2010


with a sinking heart, I opened it back up, and found yet another nice, frothy MetaFilter rape grar in progress.

I know, right? By now you'd think that most people would realize that a majority of Metafilter users don't find rape amusing.
posted by taz at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


"That sucks" works just as well as "That's lame."

Pretty sure sucks is a homophobic and misogynist insult.


Wow - that reminds me of a black acquaintance in college who insisted that pool was a racist game because you spend the whole time trying to avoid the black ball, and that white people were afraid of the dark because it reminded them of black people's skin.

Etomology aside, you're trying too hard. I've never understood this need people have to be offended. What's in it for you?

Now you know. When you tell rape jokes, some people feel awful.
A: There was no rape joke; there was rape hyperbole.
B: We knew that after the last 300 "that makes me feel awful" comment threads, but thanks for the update.

And now that you know that, if you choose to tell rape jokes use rape hyperbole in the future, I'm going to judge you for hurting people on purpose.

Oh, no - not that!
posted by coolguymichael at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Woah, I'd been assuming that this was a thread about infographics and hadn't looked at it until just now.

Jokes are always about reception -- jokes aren't funny or un-funny on their own; they are funny or un-funny in the context of a specific audience and moment. One of the things I really like about MetaFilter is that rape jokes (prison or otherwise) are kept to a minimum, as are a variety of other jokes that are only funny in very, very specific contexts.

I don't need to be a victim or personally offended by a joke to be able to tell that it is the wrong joke for the context. It's not about the PC police or someone stealing your free speech rights away. It's about interacting in a community context and not being unnecessarily jerkish.
posted by Forktine at 10:23 AM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't go on Metafilter as much as I used to.

I wondered why we don't have as many comments as we used to about how Metafilter used to be better than it is now. Ah, those were the days.
posted by found missing at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


knicker-twisting

Bingo!
posted by muddgirl at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm just stopping in to say that this massive knicker-twisting and dismayed wringing of hands over slightly more than absolutely nothing is one of the reasons I don't go on Metafilter as much as I used to.

An interesting statement considering your MeTa history.
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


...massive knicker-twisting and dismayed wringing of hands over slightly more than absolutely nothing is one of the reasons I don't go on Metafilter as much as I used to.

If that is your opinion of a (mostly) reasonable, informed and flameless conversation on a horrible act that effects, at least, one out of every six American women, you will not be missed.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Much of value has been said upthread.

It was my comment that begat the ticket mockup at the start of the thread, which, in turn, begat this discussion. If I could unbeget, I would; it probably will come as no surprise to anyone that I did not spend much time thinking about the post when I wrote it. While I can't promise that I'll never post in haste again, I can say that rape has left my "comedic" vocabulary.

Why? Because someone who was raped asked me to give some thought to my words, and now that joke isn't funny anymore.

I meant no harm, but I did some. I'm sorry about it, and I'll do differently in the future.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2010 [93 favorites]


So basically, to break this down, some folks think there is something funny in comparing getting charged an additional $30 for an entertainment event that they choose to go......... to someone violating them by holding them face down while painfully inserting something into an orifice in their body against their will.

That would be really funny if it was a joke by someone like Richard Pryor during his early years, when he had whole routines riffing on issues of class and privilege and how Americans are so self unaware and self absorbed that we are really kind of stunted. Sort of a 'Dan Aykroyd as "Louis Winthorpe III" in the movie Trading Places' situation.

But in it's current format...meh, it's about a 2 out of 10 on the funny scale - but only because I'm shaking my head and laughing at the guy who made the joke, not with him.
posted by anitanita at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To reiterate- it's not a joke I would have made, because it comes across as rather crass and there's so many other, better ways to be funny.

But really. Is this what we've been reserving our grar for?
posted by dunkadunc at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2010


So can I enjoy the occasional joke about something horrible like rape without being an asshole? I watch and love Mel Brooks movies which include jokes about rape (not to mention lynching, religious persecution, and other things which are downright horrible). And while I don't make rape jokes myself I don't think he's an asshole or insensitive for making them. Are the quality and target of the joke mitigating factors? Or is rape just something that should not be joked about?

I'm not saying that anyone's trying to make Mel Brooks stop making movies (I think he's done anyway, unfortunately) or that anyone here is in favour of banning them. It just seems like there are examples of well-intentioned jokes about horrible things like rape that I don't find offensive. I don't think that Mel Brooks is hurting people on purpose and I don't think he's an asshole.
posted by ODiV at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we say "plus-fours twisting"?
posted by everichon at 10:33 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm just stopping in to say that this massive knicker-twisting and dismayed wringing of hands over slightly more than absolutely nothing is one of the reasons I don't go on Metafilter as much as I used to.

And there are indubitably people who have stopped or decreased their participation due to casual use of offensive material.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:33 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Admirable, Admiral.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:33 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Anyone who thinks this thread contains a prohibitive level of GRAR or knicker-twisting definitely isn't ready to be defending, let alone making, rape jokes. Especially in MeTa.
posted by hermitosis at 10:34 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cultures we (as in most of us on MetaFilter) live in are almost completely isolated from nerve gas and its effects. I doubt the community would be okay with jokes like these if we actually had to deal with nerve gas.

Yes, I agree.

I'm also certain that there is plenty of victim blaming going on when Israel uses nerve gas on Palestinians.

I don't want to derail this thread, but I'm unable to find a reliable source on this. Can you cite?

Regardless, if I made a joke about nerve gas, and someone told me it's not funny because they know people who have been hurt by it, I would just say sorry, and be more careful in the future. I don't understand this mentality, of my joke is bigger than your pain. It's not a big deal, the world is full of funny things that don't hurt people. And I don't have any problem with Admiral Haddock or quadog. But I thought it has been stated many times by Jessamyn at least that rape jokes are not accepted here. I'm not actually one for saying something cannot be joked about at all — anything can be joked about, done the right way, and in the right context — but do it in a way that doesn't make things worse for others, that's all.

On preview: thank you Admiral Haddock. I'm sure everyone knew you didn't mean any harm by it.
posted by catchingsignals at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think that Mel Brooks is hurting people on purpose and I don't think he's an asshole.
posted by ODiV at 12:31 PM on August 27 [+] [!]


I think that ignorant really was the correct word choice.
posted by Jpfed at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2010


dunkadunc: “But really. Is this what we've been reserving our grar for?”

This grar you speak of – where is it? Can you give me an example?

I think people are coming in here, seeing that there are a lot of comments, seeing the topic, and assuming that means there's a big shitfight going on. That's really annoying, because it distracts from an interesting, respectful, and thoughtful conversation.
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Very classy, Admiral Haddock. I wasn't ever offended by the joke, but that's a damn fine apology.
posted by sonika at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying that anyone's trying to make Mel Brooks stop making movies (I think he's done anyway, unfortunately) or that anyone here is in favour of banning them. It just seems like there are examples of well-intentioned jokes about horrible things like rape that I don't find offensive. I don't think that Mel Brooks is hurting people on purpose and I don't think he's an asshole.

We're not talking about Mel Brooks unless there's a user named Mel Brooks on the site. We're talking about making the site a hospitable welcoming place for the greatest number of users. What does that have to do with a guy who made comedy movies in the 70s, and adhered to the cultural values of that time?
posted by edbles at 10:38 AM on August 27, 2010


sonika: “Very classy, Admiral Haddock.”

Hear, hear. That was awesome. We need more people like that.
posted by koeselitz at 10:39 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I've learned from this thread:

1) take a cue from professional comedians and replace all potential uses of the word "rape" with "skullfuck". See also: Jon Stewart.

2) the reaction to how offensive a word may be will shift if the word is in a textual or graphical format.

3) different people assign a different value to context when weighing the potential offensiveness of a word.

I assure you no offense was intended. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion, everyone.
posted by quadog at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm also certain that there is plenty of victim blaming going on when Israel uses nerve gas on Palestinians.

Not to derail, but I've never seen a story from an objective source that shows this has ever happened. The most I've seen are anecdotal stories, without any sort of actual evidence.

But if you have a cite from an unbiased source, please share it
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Admiral Haddock, that was extremely well said. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once again, MeFi, thank you for helping me become a better person. It is nice to know (for me) that at my age I can still learn life lessons. Not to make this about me, because that's not the point, but rather by sharing what I learned, I can perhaps bring another person along.

I like incongruously funny things, and I will admit that upon first view, I thought that the infographic that started this thread was funny. I read though, how that laugh was at the expense of others and I began to reflect on that. And it didn't take very long for me to understand that although a violent physical attack is unlikely to happen to me, its humor value is tremendously suspect because it is a very real trauma for many. I have probably used ass rape expressions without weighing its effect on others.

I am a person who finds race jokes uncool unequivocally. I live in an area where, though, my friends and I can joke about race differences and find them funny. The humor is not in the loaded trigger words, but shared experiences that are viewed differently through the lens of race. And this is not new for me, it is the way I was raised--even when I was young (10? 12?) it was plain to me that making jokes about someone because they were black, or Asian, or Mexican was idiotic.

This thread, as well as the MeTa that developed out of the one-line thread that koeselitz referred to, have added joking about rape to my uh--no, not funny--consciousness.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought it has been stated many times by Jessamyn at least that rape jokes are not accepted here.

Oh man, I skipped this thread entirely because I saw the infographic and was like "oh, heh" and didn't think much more of it. And I don't have much to add to this except that generally speaking we like when there are fewer rape jokes here. We like it when people don't snark at people who say their feelings have been hurt. Some people are predictable jerks about this one way or the other. And really, this is one of those Site Things. We're not really cool with rape jokes, but it's not one of those things where we'll ban you for making them. And sometimes they happen and we'd like people to accept that.

So, if you think people shouldn't be offended by rape jokes, great. If you're not offended by them, great. If you are offended by then, okay. Basically, just like concentration camp jokes and other sorts of humor that may not work as well on a giant website where everyone doesn't really know each other, this sort of ironic humor often falls flat. Doesn't mean you're a bad person for trying [unless you're becoming that rape joke guy] but it's a good thing to keep in mind moving forward.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


ODiV, I remember this being mentioned in another thread as a funny rape joke.
posted by catchingsignals at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The reaction to how offensive a word may be will shift if the word is in a textual or graphical format.

I think this is an illogical conclusion.

Many people didn't actually read the original comment until you highlighted it as "hilarious" here on MetaTalk. It has been reported that several people took exception to the comment in-thread. Since you'd already started a MetaTalk post, what would be the point of creating a separate one just for the comment.
posted by muddgirl at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) take a cue from professional comedians and replace all potential uses of the word "rape" with "skullfuck".

Um. While "different" and avoiding connotations of actual assault... I don't know if "skullfuck" is really better. I think what would probably be the best thing if you absolutely have to make a joke because your blood pressure will rise if you don't, would be to be descriptive. If you're complaining that someone is taking all your money, instead of saying they are "ass raping [you]" you could compare them to pirates or something. "ARGH! Ticketmaster sends 30% of its shares to pirates who use it to polish their peg legs!" Ok, so that wasn't the world's best joke, but you can be funny without going to easy "go-to" laughs that are funny by virtue of being mildly to moderately offensive.

Not saying you have to do this all the time, but on a text only site with a couple of thousand users who you don't personally know, erring on the side of caution when making a joke is plenty prudent. I say this as someone who got rightly called out for making a tasteless joke that was meant completely innocently, but was made in a space that was not the right time or place for that particular joke.

Jon Stewart and other professional comedians are paid to be funny. You are probably not. They are speaking to an audience that understands that part of their act - and it is an act - is to be outrageous. MetaFilter is not that audience.
posted by sonika at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2010


take a cue from professional comedians and replace all potential uses of the word "rape" with "skullfuck". See also: Jon Stewart.

Also, I find skullfucking to be pretty distasteful, too, especially if it is unclear whether or not the skull is alive or dead.

Anything that uses "Forcible and Unwanted Penile Penetration" as the center of a joke is just going to bring up negative (and un-funny) mental images for me. Ask me someday how I feel about the recent overuse of "cram it down our throats" as a symbol of forced submission (hint: It makes me a bit nauseated).
posted by muddgirl at 10:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ask me someday how I feel about the recent overuse of "cram it down our throats" as a symbol of forced submission

Oh wow, I never use this term, but have always associated it with parents making their kids eat vegetables and not anything involving penises. Interesting.
posted by sonika at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2010


You know, if this thread went on for eight hundred more comments full of god-knows-what, it would still be worth it, just for Admiral Haddock's comment. For one person to undergo a change like that is worth all the GRAR in the world.
posted by griphus at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


catchingsignals/zarq: Totally didn't mean to derail re: nerve gas. I was just finding it interesting how two really horrible things can be found different levels of objectionable and was trying to figure out why. I don't have a cite at all about nerve gas and don't really know anything about its modern use. I did a google search for "nerve gas casualties" and saw Israel pop up, so I used it as an example. Totally sloppy and unexcusable. Should have just used "Nation X" and "Nation Y".

I also wasn't trying to say "Hey, nerve gas is horrible too so you should be equally offended!"

edibles:
We're talking about making the site a hospitable welcoming place for the greatest number of users. What does that have to do with a guy who made comedy movies in the 70s, and adhered to the cultural values of that time?

It didn't seem to me like that was the case any more. I was reading a lot of comments that looked to be applicable to society in general. If I misread, I apologize.

My Mel Brooks comment reads a bit defensive re: enjoyment of rape jokes and I'm realizing that it is because I get reflexively defensive while reading the thread. It's uncomfortable to be told that you're hurting people and I've got to try to take that discomfort and turn it into something positive.

So while I'm genuinely concerned about the future of offensive jokes of Mel Brooks' calibre, I've also got to realize that they might be a necessary casualty of trying to make the world a better place.
posted by ODiV at 10:59 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting.

At first i was like, "Maybe they're thinking about those ducks that get force-fed so that they make nice tasty foi gras," but that doesn't explain the almost visceral delight they take in imagining and evoking a situation where something is Jammed/Rammed/Crammed/Shoved down their throats.

A parent force-feeding a child is pretty close, actually, to their general conception of domination/submission. Either way, by hell or high water they won't be the submissive one, even if that means they must be the ones to do the ramjamcramming.
posted by muddgirl at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2010


Ask me someday how I feel about the recent overuse of "cram it down our throats" as a symbol of forced submission (hint: It makes me a bit nauseated).

I'm not sure of the original etymology of that phrase, but am nearly positive that it should be "ram it down [our] throats" not "cram."
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2010


Once again, MeFi, thank you for helping me become a better person.

Yes, that holds true for me too. Metafilter has helped me a lot to take into consideration the feelings and experiences of people besides me and my circle of acquaintances.

And I'm totally down with, if you have to make a rape joke, just substitute the word "skullfuck" for "rape."
posted by marxchivist at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2010


Not that Jon Stewart doesn't get things wrong sometimes (I don't get why he so often mocks foreign-sounding names that are not that hard to pronounce, for example), but didn't he mock the internet for saying how he skullfucks his opponents into submission?
posted by catchingsignals at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2010


That would be really funny if it was a joke by someone like Richard Pryor during his early years, when he had whole routines riffing on issues of class and privilege

Louis CK, mentioned upthread, sails one by in the name of privilege:

I don’t want to go to the future and find out what happens to white people because we’re going to pay hard for this shit, you gotta know that ... we’re not just gonna fall from number 1 to 2. They’re going to hold us down and fuck us in the ass forever and we totally deserve it.

A (knowing?) insensitivity to the statistics of inter-racial rape aside, I don’t see how a cliffs notes grasp of progressive cant separates the unholy rape joke from the "edgy" rebel-angel act.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


catchingsignals: "I don't get why he so often mocks foreign-sounding names that are not that hard to pronounce, for example"

This mocks news reporters' laziness, not the people's names. Basically, you'd think that CNN or FOX would have a position saying "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" is pronounced like this, but they still have anchors stumbling over foreign names.

Or maybe I'm too charitable, dunno.
posted by boo_radley at 11:10 AM on August 27, 2010


OK, now I want LanguageHat to weigh in, because in googling the phrase I found that the phrase has been used with "jam," "shove," "ram," and "cram," and may just be sourced originally to Catullus 16. So muddgirl, I may be wrong.

LH, if you happen to read this, what's the original use of the idiom and where did it come from?
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on August 27, 2010


Yeah, I'm pretty sure Richard Pryor would have gotten flamed off MeFi pretty quickly.
posted by languagehat at 11:10 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sometimes MetaFilter discussions feel like this. (But actually this thread was rather nice and Haddock's response was spot on.)
posted by yaymukund at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don’t see how a cliffs notes grasp of progressive cant separates the unholy rape joke from the "edgy" rebel-angel act.

Louis CK is awesome. I am literally watching some of his stuff on YouTube right now (why yes, the children are napping, why do you ask?). However, if he made the same astute commentary on MetaFilter, he would be rightly called out. I know for me, I'm certainly not saying "don't make rape jokes!" I watch plenty of comedians who make rape jokes. I'm saying - and I think most people in this thread are making the same point - what makes you edgy offline can kind of make you come off as a jerk here. It's not the joke itself necessarily (though some jokes are just flat out awful), it's the time and place.
posted by sonika at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


> LH, if you happen to read this, what's the original use of the idiom and where did it come from?

No idea, sorry! But I doubt there was a single "original use"; it seems like a natural enough idea to have been invented many times independently, in different contexts.
posted by languagehat at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


ODiV: No worries about the gas thing. It was kind of a knee jerk reaction on my part anyway.
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2010


muddgirl: Ask me someday how I feel about the recent overuse of "cram it down our throats" as a symbol of forced submission

sonika: Oh wow, I never use this term, but have always associated it with parents making their kids eat vegetables and not anything involving penises. Interesting.


Yeah, I had to think about that one, too. I had to take a lot of medicine orally as a child and I can remember my mom telling me that she would ram it down my throat. Never a pleasant occurrence, but I never have associated it with oral-penile penetration. I looked up a little etymology and I came up with:
The third gentleman now stepped forth. A mighty man at cutting and drying, he was; a government officer; in his way (and in most other people's too), a professed pugilist; always in training, always with a system to force down the general throat like a bolus, always to be heard of at the bar of his little Public-office, ready to fight all England. To continue in fistic phraseology, he had a genius for coming up to the scratch, wherever and whatever it was, and proving himself an ugly customer. He would go in and damage any subject whatever with his right, follow up with his left, stop, exchange, counter, bore his opponent (he always fought All England) to the ropes, and fall upon him neatly. He was certain to knock the wind out of common sense, and render that unlucky adversary deaf to the call of time. And he had it in charge from high authority to bring about the great public-office Millennium, when Commissioners should reign upon earth.
Dickens, Hard Times

Not to say that one can't make other associations, but that I always had that medicinal connotation to something being forced down my throat, and Dickens is commonly cited as the origin for that one, in describing that day's Glenn Beck.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


No idea, sorry! But I doubt there was a single "original use"; it seems like a natural enough idea to have been invented many times independently, in different contexts.

That makes a lot of sense. Ah well... thanks anyway. :)
posted by zarq at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2010


This mocks news reporters' laziness, not the people's names. Basically, you'd think that CNN or FOX would have a position saying "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" is pronounced like this, but they still have anchors stumbling over foreign names.

Or maybe I'm too charitable, dunno.


I would love that to be the case, as I think he does great work generally — maybe he started an in-joke about it at some point, and I just missed that one? Still, even if that were the case, like many such ironic jokes it runs the risk of becoming what it's satirising.
posted by catchingsignals at 11:16 AM on August 27, 2010


However, if he made the same astute commentary on MetaFilter, he would be rightly called out.

It's strange that Louis CK has been tossed in to this conversation, because I was just considering naming him in the patron saints of MeFi thread, and on reflection, I wonder whether he's as beloved as I take him to be.

The new blue sensitivity of which I was unaware until a recent MeTa is Hitler. I mean, Nazis are the stand-in for over-the-top Enemy of Humanity since long before the internet, so it surprises me to hear mods pipe up and say "cut that Hitler shit out". You wouldn't have to just be new to Metafilter to be shocked by that. You'd have to be new to the internet.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2010


It's strange that Louis CK has been tossed in to this conversation, because I was just considering naming him in the patron saints of MeFi thread, and on reflection, I wonder whether he's as beloved as I take him to be.

Louis CK's act is greatly beloved, it's true. I cite his stuff about kids all the time. He's hilarious. But. It's an act. If there was a user named, I dunno, "Louis Screwy" who made the same observations, verbatim. In text form. Without citing a stand-up comedian. On MeTa...

It would not go well.
posted by sonika at 11:19 AM on August 27, 2010


The new blue sensitivity of which I was unaware until a recent MeTa is Hitler. I mean, Nazis are the stand-in for over-the-top Enemy of Humanity since long before the internet, so it surprises me to hear mods pipe up and say "cut that Hitler shit out". You wouldn't have to just be new to Metafilter to be shocked by that. You'd have to be new to the internet.

Uh what? That's about Godwin's law, not about offending people.

Wiki passage:

"Godwin's law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact."

In other words Hitler comparison's do not lend themselves to reasoned calm discussions.
posted by edbles at 11:21 AM on August 27, 2010


Admiral Haddock, that was a classy apology. And the following jeremiad isn't directed at you.

Here's my take: Rape jokes in general are, at best (and "best" is a stretch), dumb -- even if they're done the "look-at-me-being-edgy" way. At worst, they're indefensible. (And the spectrum between the two is not all that broad.)

But ass-rape jokes specifically? They're not even edgy. Ass-rape jokes are just such lazy, and overused, go-to material.They remain totally acceptable in movies, on TV, in advertising. Because "ass-rape" is nearly always an allusion to prisoner rape. And a shocking number of people not only don't care that well over 100,000 people [men, women, and children] are sexually abused in American detention facilities every year -- they consider it part of the punishment.

There are people who make ass-rape jokes who would never make jokes about a woman or a child getting raped, because that would dehumanize the victims of a horrible crime. But to them, ass-rape jokes don't dehumanize anyone, because those victims aren't even human to begin with.

I find rape jokes in bad taste. Those who are in the "nothing's sacred in humor, you should try to be less sensitive" camp -- that's fine, and on some level I agree. I don't always comment on why I think a particular joke is offensive.

But the reason why I will always make a point of telling people why I don't find ass-rape/prisoner rape jokes funny is because a frightening number of people have never even considered that making fun of victims of prison rape is the same thing as making fun of all victims of rape.
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:22 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other words Hitler comparison's do not lend themselves to reasoned calm discussions.

Only Mel Brooks is capable of doing Hitler well. Tickets for The Producers are now available through Ticketma-

And thus, we come full circle.
posted by zarq at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


This was about jokes, not serious comparisons, edbles. But thanks for the education on Godwin.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2010


I don't dispute the origin of the phrase, but the contexts of present (over-)usage do not come off as particularly maternal. Regardless, once I made the association I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with the use of that phrase.
posted by muddgirl at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2010


The Hitler thing is more "don't shitbomb a thread with lazy Hitler chaff" than "please don't mention Hitler because it bothers people" as I recall it. Same thing as recipes recently.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2010


Wow, I really opened up a can of worms (and then spent the day at work, not here). I should say that I'm not offended by the joke (though I do empathise with those who are). Mostly, I'm sad to see it in a place where I expect better. Also, I think that if this kind of joke becomes the norm, it will make some cool, interesting people drift away from MeFi. Avoiding the cheaper rape jokes is a small price to pay for keeping those people around.

Admiral Haddock: Thanks for your extremely gracious apology.
posted by beniamino at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't dispute the origin of the phrase, but the contexts of present (over-)usage do not come off as particularly maternal. Regardless, once I made the association I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with the use of that phrase.

Fair enough. You made an excellent point (one of many you've made in this thread,) and I really shouldn't have derailed it by refocusing on something trivial like etymology of an idiom. Sorry about that.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2010


I don't know, zarq. I thought the Whose Line "Cosby and Hitler" debacle was pretty funny. Probably funnier than it would have been as a straight up song, though, truth.

On preview: ah, understood. Thanks, cortex. That hadn't been my impression at all.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2010


I'm kind of shocked to find myself taking the position I'm about to take, but as someone who generally dismisses the attitude of "oh, everybody's too politically correct" as rank stupidity, reading this thread has given me some insight into that attitude (although I still do not agree with it.)

Also, note to self: don't try to make people laugh on MetaFilter. The potential downside is too big.

Also, the spacing of the nerve gas sentence made it doubly funny, well done there
posted by davejay at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm pretty sure Richard Pryor would have gotten flamed off MeFi pretty quickly.

I doubt Pryor engaged in casual conversation the same way he performed his standup routines, and there's a fairly big difference between offensive things in an 'Here I am, performing!' context and a community weblog context.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2010


We could replace a fair amount of Meta* content with a slightly rewritten Eliza program. Post on the Blue regarding slow motion visual examination of professional female tennis players?

Eliza will notice and auto-generate a thread 92% devoted to how and to what degree offense should be taken. Rape joke/hyperbole given prominence, invoke Eliza with slightly different values passed to the parameters.

The difficult corner case would be something like the great sexism wars of a few years ago, which produced some changes for the better. But these are rare and Eliza will have the full db at its disposal for comment generation; in such a rare occurrence Eliza could simply memail the affected parties when it became time to use community pressure to shift norms.

I foresee fewer flameouts, more free time for everyone, and lower blood pressure generally.

So .. someone besides me please request a pb + AI programmer pony to handle 99% of the outrage (or less than outrage but "let's examine this unsettling use of language") threads such that we need not know what we're saying therein in our names, but can trust it's what we'd want to say if Eliza hadn't saved us the trouble.
posted by cucumber at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2010


My favorite story about Richard Pryor is from Nina Simone's memoir; she didn't know him very well but he opened for her in New York City a couple of times. Right before he was supposed to go on one night she found him hiding just offstage, trembling with fear. She came up behind him in the dark, wrapped him in her arms and just started rocking hem gently, soothing him out of his stage fright until he was fit to go on.

She claims she did this two nights in a row.
posted by hermitosis at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


i got a time out for using A-R. act
but it was from context not content.
a few less notes a wa-la.
stavs give 3 drams from your 12 yr Glenmorangie


hic*(sic sp)*well.


OK, now I want LanguageHat to weigh in... 11:10 a.m.


No idea, sorry! But I doubt there was a single... 11:11 a.m.

coincidence?, that's quicker then the bat signal.


A CALL FOR PAPERS!
or in this case one of those program thingies you guyz do.

A LaguageHat Alert (LH flag,Lsignal, "Button the Hat" is good)
a flag
a flare
call it The HatFlare
IM through IT lets get it under 45 seconds. response times very and LH reserves to have a little hat answer this call in cases in in disposition like thinking or writing or having lunch etc.
posted by clavdivs at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Red Foxx, i doubt would use that term unless a heckler was foolish enough
to challenge the master
foxx
posted by clavdivs at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2010


But thanks for the education on Godwin.

My sarcasm sense is tingling. Yeah, I should have realized you'd be aware of Godwin and asked you to clarify, sorry for the knee-jerk response. I wasn't clear on what you were referring to and jumped at what I thought you meant.
posted by edbles at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2010


"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." - Brigham Young (yes that one)
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


> A LaguageHat Alert (LH flag,Lsignal, "Button the Hat" is good)

There used to be one of these, back in the glorious days of the img tag, a quite lovely HatSignal, but time eater of all things lovely has et it. Selah.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


cucumber- if I punched you right now, you'd be upset. Don't bother voicing the fact that you're upset- it's all too predictable. God, I could make a computer program to generate likely responses to getting punched.

Rather than going through the obligatory motions of telling me not to punch you any more, just rest assured that I already know about the upset I'm going to cause by punching you, and you needn't bother.
posted by Jpfed at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I... had no idea Brigham Young was a jedi.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:47 AM on August 27, 2010


I think Brigham Young was a gullible fool, so I don't quite care what he makes of anyone else.

It's always interesting to see who makes the first mention of "offense" in a post like this, and who rushes to condemn those who are "offended".
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


crumples paper
posted by clavdivs at 11:51 AM on August 27, 2010


I love Louis CK and Richard Pryor, but they get/got things wrong too. Great people get things wrong. Great comedians get things wrong. Listen to Richard Pryor talking about how he changed his mind about the word "nigger". He also did racist material about Chinese people, and a lot of men-are-like-this, women-are-like-this stuff. Things have changed since then, and I would like to think were he here with us now he would see many things differently.

The Louis CK poker scene mentioned upthread was him being thoughtful and reflective about his material and who it affects, which impressed so many people because we rarely get to see that from comedians. Jon Stewart gets it wrong too. We all get it wrong sometimes. We look at many things from decades ago and we think God, I can't believe how awful people were!! But it would be somewhat arrogant of us to think we have somehow arrived. Our children and grandchildren I'm sure will see us as we see previous generations, and one way we get there from where we are now is through conversations like this.
posted by catchingsignals at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


We might lose Richard Pryor but we'd gain Bill Bailey but don't make me choose.
posted by yaymukund at 12:03 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am I the only person who visualized (for as long as I can remember, since childhood) "cram it down your throat" as forcing someone to swallow something inedible? Not like a medicine or even like a penis, but more like paper, or an object? Kind of as if someone would not accept something (an order?) and the only way to make them accept it was by mouth? Is there a book or tale that has that kind of thing?
posted by pointystick at 12:04 PM on August 27, 2010


Wow, Admiral Haddock, I just read your comment at 10:28. I'm going to have to remind myself to stay that classy when someone asks me to consider something I didn't consider before. Well done.
posted by anitanita at 12:07 PM on August 27, 2010


posted by reductiondesign Something in life is really, really bad, everyone, so we shouldn't ever talk about it because someone might not like that very much!

I'm about to bring the GRAR (there hasn't been much/any to this point). Watch out.
Reductiondesign? Go fuck yourself. This isn't about what I like. This is about what reminds me (and others. certainly not every rape survivor, but enough of us that specific modalities of therapy address this directly) of an experience so horrific that I break into a cold sweat at the thought of it still, more than a decade later. There are scents, and sounds, and textures that I just don't do well with. And the phrase "ass raped" is such a trivialization of what anitanita described pretty accurately as
... someone violating them by holding them face down while painfully inserting something into an orifice in their body against their will.

We're talking about an event that was painful, humiliating, scary, and for which I have been at times subtly (or not so subtly) blamed. These encounters may be brief but let me tell you it feels like forever. And in some ways, it is forever.

I might not like Brussels Sprouts. Rape hyberbole and jokes are so abhorrent to me that the concept of dislike doesn't even come close to describing how I feel about them. Not within a god damned country mile.

When you reduce violent rape* hyperbole and/or jokes to something that someone might not like, you reduce the level of discourse here in a way that we just don't need.

(to be clear, I think all rape is violent, but I can confidently say that some forms of rape feel more violent than others.)
posted by bilabial at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


When we need a ne-plus-ultra term for an unpleasant action by one person/entity/agent upon another, can we not just resort to "ticketmastering", or "to be ticketmastered"?
posted by everichon at 12:11 PM on August 27, 2010 [16 favorites]




Star Wars
Episode o.5

....In the early days of the republic the formation of the Jedi council into federation politics caused a rift with in the senatorial powers of the outer rim. Chancellor XIagyg-sol formed the council of elders and from this council the appointed master yoda sent his emissary brigham yung and his padawan (sic sp) jessel jamus Strang to the Butarey sector to finalize the peace. The padwan strang broke off from this master were he fled to various systems settling on a Island in Lake Michigan later assassinated in the cargo bay near a federation ship had come to talk terms of his recent Proclamation of being emperor.
but yung travelled on....
posted by clavdivs at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


anitanita: "So basically, to break this down, some folks think there is something funny in comparing getting charged an additional $30 for an entertainment event that they choose to go......... to someone violating them by holding them face down while painfully inserting something into an orifice in their body against their will."

It makes me feel like an adult to be creeped out by this kind of eroticized rationale.
posted by rhizome at 12:28 PM on August 27, 2010


Metafilter: It makes me feel like an adult to be creeped out by this kind of eroticized rationale.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2010


I think we should just drop in the word 'ticketmaster'. It's not even worthy of morphological processes.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:55 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


bilabial thank you for being a brave person.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:56 PM on August 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


For curiosity sake, the phrase "ram it down your throat" gets ~33K results on Google, whereas "cram it down your throat" gets ~106K. On the other hand, in the COCA corpus, 'ram' is a top 10 collocate for "it down your throat" and 'cram' didn't make the list. Also, I picture a fatted goose with either word. :(
posted by iamkimiam at 12:58 PM on August 27, 2010


"jam it down our throat" gets over a million hits, with the first link being FreeRepublic.

In fact, the first search term for each of "ram/jam/cram it down our throats" is a right-wing D/S fantasy.
posted by muddgirl at 1:02 PM on August 27, 2010


Cram is a biscuit-like food made by the Men of Esgaroth and Dale.
posted by everichon at 1:02 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


languagehat: "much as some people find niggardly offensive despite its origin"

what origin is that? if you think it is related to the N word, then there is no connection.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22

"Niggardly" (noun: "niggard") is an adjective meaning "stingy" or "miserly", perhaps related to the Old Norse verb nigla = "to fuss about small matters". It is cognate with "niggling", meaning "petty" or "unimportant", as in "the niggling details".

"Nigger" derives from the Spanish/Portuguese word negro, meaning "black", and probably also the French nègre, which likewise has become a racist insult in American culture. Both negro and noir (and therefore also nègre and nigger) ultimately come from nigrum, the accusative case of the Latin word niger, meaning "black".

posted by I am the Walrus at 1:06 PM on August 27, 2010


Okay, now do the word "despite".
posted by ODiV at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2010 [29 favorites]


I am the Walrus, Languagehat was saying exactly what you're saying, just without a cite. "Despite its origin" means, even though the word actually historically means something that isn't racist.
posted by bilabial at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2010


despite its origin
I think languagehat knows a thing or two about where niggardly comes from.
posted by sanko at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing about "niggardly", which others have been gesturing at in this thread, is that though it may not have any etymological roots in common with "nigger", it still sounds like that word. That resemblance makes it a poor choice for deployment in the real world, IME.
posted by everichon at 1:13 PM on August 27, 2010


I think languagehat knows a thing or two about where niggardly comes from.


Ain't nobody niggardlier
posted by found missing at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2010


Just dropped in to say admiral haddock, you are a class act and also add some appreciation for quadog for his apologetic comment.

I also want to thank and applaud bilabial for her courageous comments. Way to go.
posted by bearwife at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"jam it down our throat" gets over a million hits, with the first link being FreeRepublic.

In fact, the first search term for each of "ram/jam/cram it down our throats" is a right-wing D/S fantasy.


That's due to the whole "jamming health care down our throats" thing.
posted by Big_B at 1:16 PM on August 27, 2010


No mention of the Dickwolves?
posted by studentbaker at 1:17 PM on August 27, 2010


Right here.
posted by ODiV at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2010


It was mentioned earlier here, which is what reminded me of the whole ugly thing.
posted by kmz at 1:22 PM on August 27, 2010


This thread has entered some kind of Inception space where each word and phrase being critiqued brings us closer to limbo. Here's a kick back out the blue.
posted by quadog at 1:27 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am the Walrus you cannot possibly be for real, goddamn.
posted by boo_radley at 1:28 PM on August 27, 2010


Let's think about this pragmatically. You are a citizen who does not know the origin of the word "niggardly," though you know what it means and you're not someone who really feels the need to use it because "stingy" covers those bases just fine. You go into a bar and someone is talking about their penny-pinching cousin and uses the term "niggardly." You inch a bit away from them, not sure what kind of point they're trying to make here, and imply like "Um, hey, that word..."

At this point, that citizen brings out the full etymology of the word "niggardly" and how it differs from the word "nigger" in such detail that your eyes glaze over. Do you find this person now to be less insufferable?

It's just not a good word to use. Not explaining it sends the wrong impression. Digressing into word origins in places that aren't MetaFilter don't make you look like the most social creature either. (Unless you hang out in places where that's the norm, in which case, have at it!)
posted by sonika at 1:28 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's due to the whole "jamming health care down our throats" thing.

Yeah.

I know.

That's what I'm talking about. That's why I brought it up in the first place. It used to be a cliche'd phrase that blew up a couple months ago. I find it distasteful because it reminds me that a lot of conservative folks seem to delight in imagining themselves in a submissive role, and then turning that role around and dominating in their turn. I don't have a problem with D/S but I do have a problem with describing your opposing party in that sort of Mommy/Daddy/Child Dominionist language.
posted by muddgirl at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2010


Let's think about this pragmatically. You are a citizen who does know the origin of the word "niggardly," and you know what it means and you're not someone who really feels the need to use it that often because "stingy" covers those bases just fine, but you hate using "stingy" over and over again. You go into a bar and tell a story about your penny-pinching cousin and use the term "niggardly," since you've already hit "penny-pinching," "stingy," and "cheap." Someone inches a bit away from you, not sure what kind of point you're trying to make here, and say like "Um, hey, that word..."

At this point, you casually mention that the word is Old Norse, not Latin, and that is it completely different from the word "nigger," in scarcely more time than it takes for their eyes to blink. The person looks askance at you anyway. Do you find this person now to be less insufferable?
posted by adipocere at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


At this point, that citizen brings out the full etymology of the word "niggardly" and how it differs from the word "nigger" in such detail that your eyes glaze over. Do you find this person now to be less insufferable?

I mean, do I get to behave in any other way to this man telling me the etymology of 'niggardly,' or does this hypothetical situation also dictate my response?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2010


           It has now been
                 __
               / _ \  
              | | | |
              | | | |
              | |_| |
               \___/
         days since the last   
         stupid MeFi callout

Someday, I hope to be able to retire this sign. Until then, think safety!
posted by chrisamiller at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


> The thing about "niggardly", which others have been gesturing at in this thread, is that though it may not have any etymological roots in common with "nigger", it still sounds like that word. That resemblance makes it a poor choice for deployment in the real world, IME.

Yes, I quite agree.

(Thanks, bilabial and sanko!)
posted by languagehat at 1:41 PM on August 27, 2010


Sorry, Chrisa. This wasn't actually a callout. It was a shoutout gone wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am the Walrus you cannot possibly be for real, goddamn.

This. I mean, how would a walrus work a keyboard with those unwieldy flippers?
posted by Mike1024 at 1:42 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean Chris.
posted by muddgirl at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2010


Seems like a lot of hostility over a mustard turnip.

I was amazed to discover this was the "rape" referenced in Ministry's "The Land of Rape and Honey".


Oh yeah, quin? Imagine my surprise, age 18, when I asked my professor what all those pretty yellow plants were in the fields when our study abroad group was headed to Vienna for a week:

"That's a rape field."

(me, thinking: that's a WHAT?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:46 PM on August 27, 2010


I was totally about to photoshop a donkey into a big canola field but then I realized that I am older than that now.

But I thought of it.
posted by everichon at 1:48 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


re: the 'jam/ram/cram down throats' thing...the political messages, healthcare, etc. of late is why I chose to Google and COCA search with 'ram/cram it down your throat' rather than 'ram/cram it down our throats'. The use of 'our' is more likely to be co-opted and propagated by a group of people, rather than 'your' which is more likely to be an individual using it more naturally. Just a thought. It's interesting how much can change, results-wise though when you change a little pronoun, huh?

Also, re:niggardly...wasn't there a state representative or senator that resigned because of a misunderstanding (followed by media hellfire) about his use of the word 'niggardly' in a taped meeting?
posted by iamkimiam at 1:53 PM on August 27, 2010


Yeah quadog, I was wondering if that was inspired by this here thread...
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on August 27, 2010


From your link, quadog Second, the violation must be perceived to be benign.

I think the listener or reader is the person doing the perceiving in question, no? If the speaker intends something to be benign, or believes that something is benign, but the listener disagrees....the joke isn't funny.

I appreciate that you made a sort of apology earlier in the thread, but I'm baffled here that you might be suggesting that rape jokes are/ought to be perceived as benign. I'm not saying that anyone ought to be offended on my behalf. I am saying that I am offended on my own behalf.

Sure, some people think nothing of such jokes. But some other people are I'm trying to be delicate here. It's been a long day for me. freaked the hell out by rape jokes. Such jokes are triggery and induce flashbacks in me. Vivid, blood pounding in my eardrums, can't hear conversations around me, feel like I need to puke, assorted unpleasant physical sensations that thankfully, I can get a handle on relatively quickly, because I've been training myself to be aware of my body for three years.

Jokes that leave me feeling this way don't fit any definition of benign language that I can think of.
posted by bilabial at 2:05 PM on August 27, 2010




I don't usually do this sort of thing, but I am heartened by —and even a little proud of— the way this community has discussed this loaded and emotional issue.
posted by Mister_A at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2010


schmoopy>grar
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:17 PM on August 27, 2010


I like the idea of schmoopygrar. I love you all so much I want to yell and punch things.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:19 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Schmoopygrar.

I like this word.
posted by nomadicink at 2:23 PM on August 27, 2010


It's a fucking stupid joke because it's not true enough in a hyperbolic sense.

Cause, y'know, no-one is FORCING you to buy concert tickets at all.
posted by desuetude at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2010


The casual, for-comic-effect references to rape around here make me sad.

I too am extraordinarily sensitive and enjoy reminding others of this fact.
posted by Mayor Curley


Did I miss something? That came across as an asshole, dismissive response.
posted by ambient2 at 2:27 PM on August 27, 2010


Did I miss something?

No
posted by found missing at 2:28 PM on August 27, 2010


Now, if the ticket featured some hyperbolic version of an unpleasant scenario that people are willing to accept in order to get the (consensual) sexin', that would at least be consistent with Ticketmaster fees.
posted by desuetude at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2010


There's a lot of honest disagreement that can be had in this discussion, and it's good that, for the most part, it has been civil. However, we have it every few months, literally in response to every rape joke, and it's always a bit disappointing how many people instantly respond to the issue with pure dismissiveness.

The case has been made, completely and in exacting language, that these jokes aren't merely a bit insensitive. That for people who have experienced rape, they call to mind a horrific trauma. And that there are a lot of people that this describes in this community.

Even if you disagree with the request that rape jokes be approached with extreme caution, your decision to engage that discussion by dismissing and mocking the other viewpoint is an extremely troubling one. It's just so contemptuous of somebody else's pain, and so unconcerned about it. It does not speak well of the people who do it. This is a topic that deserves to be treated with respect. I don't know what causes some to reflexively spit on it, but it's bad social behavior, and should be reconsidered.

I would not be surprised to discover it is what privilege looks like when it defends itself. I expect I have been similarly reflexively dismissive and contemptuous when my privilege is threatened, and it is something I would be wise to watch for, if I can.

But I don't know this is why these jokey, hostile responses happen. I just know they shouldn't, because they basically say "Your concerns mean nothing to me; the only appropriate response is mockery."

It's sexual violence we're discussing here, for fuck's sake. Even if you think it's the appropriate subject for humor, you would do your own viewpoints a better service by expressing them seriously, rather than treating the discussion as beneath consideration.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2010 [26 favorites]


What found missing said. Set phasers to "ignore."
posted by languagehat at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2010


Set replicator to "Cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and Vanilla milkshake".
posted by nomadicink at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't usually do this sort of thing, but I am heartened by —and even a little proud of— the way this community has discussed this loaded and emotional issue.

I'm not. For many of the reasons voiced by Astro Zombie.

Every time this subject comes up, there are members who are obnoxious, insulting and dismissive of those who voice concerns or upset. Has anyone who accused us of being overwrought or moralistic acknowledged that we may have a valid reason to be concerned? No.

So this will continue. As it always seems to. The next time the subject comes up, I'm quite sure that the usual suspects will mock those of us who feel (rightfully) that we can contribute something meaningful to the conversation. They'll complain we're being too sensitive. Create a contemptuous and challenging environment that, sadly, will probably turn those away who would otherwise tell their personal stories.

I started the day off by telling myself that this thread was going to become a clusterfuck and I'd be better off not commenting in it. But I did anyway. I'm glad Eideteker apologized. Thank you for that, sir.

But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this thread changes anything around here.
posted by zarq at 2:46 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


bilabial, I don't want to speak for quadog, but I didn't read his linking to that post as suggesting that rape jokes are (or should be considered) benign. Rather, I got the impression that he was pointing out the ongoing discussion of a theory of humor currently on the Blue, in the context not so much of the discussion of rape joke but of the additional discussion of the etymology of various words and turns of phrase in this thread. I assumed he was trying to lighten the mood.

I agree, however, that his "what I learned" comment earlier was a sort-of apology at best, so maybe this is a case of me giving the benefit of the doubt.
posted by nickmark at 2:47 PM on August 27, 2010


But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this thread changes anything around here.

The person who made the original joke popped in and said that they now understand why rape jokes aren't funny - in a very classy and straightforward apology. That's a damned good start, even if it won't change the site as a whole. You have to take progress where you can get it.
posted by sonika at 2:50 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It took them a year to repave the street outside my apartment. I don't expect fundamental assumptions about comedy and sexual violence to change quickly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:52 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would not be surprised to discover it is what privilege looks like when it defends itself.

It is. In terms of social commentary, for awhile we've been moving away from our identity coming at least in part from our social relationships, where we take into account our interactions and obligations to others as an essential part of that identity, and towards the glorification and inherent rights of the individual as being most important. Individuality is important, and so are our rights of expression. But the variable we are losing more over time is our social obligation, in terms of family and broader communities. It's the privileged individual that doesn't want to give up those personal rights for the sake of the community, and will often bristle when asked to do so.

Interestingly, the thing that best breaks us out of this is a close experience of other people's pain. When really faced with it, we become more likely to give up our rights in order to not hurt other people. The problem is, that as we tend to become more isolated over time, we are less likely to run into other people who have genuine need, and thus it becomes a theoretical idea that gets argued on a community discussion board -- How dare you tell me not to make that joke! -- than having a practical application in people's lives. Notice that in this case, when someone was able to talk about how painful this was to them personally, it had the power to change the tenor of the discussion and people's minds.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:53 PM on August 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think you're right, SpacemanStix, and very well said.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:55 PM on August 27, 2010


I'm clearly not the only one who sees this thread as kind of disturbing, but I just want to point out (with verbose dismay) the bunch of moral, semantic policing that's going on this thread.

I think it's great that MeFites feel such attachment to the idea of Metafilter that so many of us are ready to step up and voice our ideological and linguistic concerns as one of the offended, and to commit our time and thought to try to make it a better place for the maximum number of people possible. But we can also extend some of that community feeling to the people who are part of this community, especially when there's no basic or particularly meaningful ideological difference involved (that rape is wrong and terrible, not trivial).

You can argue that jokes not only reflect the things we think but also further them, and you can argue that all jokes trivialize the subject of the joke. But what makes them funny is the reflection part, and what's hopeful about telling a joke is that we believe it's a shared reflection. And okay, not everyone reflects the same way or identifies in the way that the joke teller assumed they might, but I beg to differ from the opinion that the solution is to behave like things that aren't funny for some people, or even most people, are not funny to anyone, and should just stop being made.

Yes, we should educate people in a way that makes them find certain things not funny, of their own volition, like making fun of other people's pain, or putting them down based on an identity marker. But that's not what's going on in this here joke. This joke relies on shared experience (of anger), a shared victimization by a selfish, mean entity (Ticketmaster) and a shared identification with the pain and humiliation of rape. So no matter how well thought out your argument is, I am not ready to review my own feelings about this ticket or to using the word rape in sentences like "the banks are raping the rest of us." It's a "we" joke, not a "them" joke, and a very common one in the current climate. It's a way of sharing pain and anger and actual, well-deserved outrage. I am certain that we can, as individuals with such high reading comprehension and skills for argumentation, tell the difference. Between finding a joke funny and thinking that its subject is trivial or worth ridiculing.

And the subject of this joke isn't even rape -- it's exploitation. Rape is an evocative metaphor. And metaphor can be funny, but that depends a great, great deal on our ability to distinguish metaphor from a straight-up truth claim, and to keep those differences important. So maybe tomorrow if I see this joke elsewhere, I'll remember first what's wrong with it as opposed to what's funny, or what's meant to be funny. But I don't know if I can be "educated" out of understanding where the humor lies.

And it does lie there, in our capacity to understand it. Do we want to stop understanding jokes? Do we want to make jokes not about painful things, even where the joke lies in our identifying with that pain instead of mocking it? Really?

We don't need to live in a culture where rape is trivialized, but do we want to live in a culture where people are made or expected to feel sorry about a well-intentioned, working joke about a shared experience? Where the rest of us patiently and patronisingly point out how we've laid claim to the meaning of a specific word and don't think it should ever be used as a metaphor, regardless of context? No, thanks. Not in this case. Not even as a rape survivor.

IMHO neither that kind of linguistic self-policing nor that kind of community policing of expression makes the world (or this forum) objectively better, not only because a lot of us are at heart cynics about human nature and don't think we're capable of much better as a we, but also because to most of us positive interpretations of our actions are much more pleasant than chastisement and a growing list of things against which we should check ourselves before hitting post. I want to feel safe in a community, yes, but I also want to feel like things which are not malicious will not end up in my having to apologize. The very fact that I shared a joke with you (instead of yelling it at you as you walked down the street or using it to put you down) means that I not only meant well but that I trusted you to understand what's funny about it to me and to find it funny yourself. About our shared perspective. Context is not just key, when it comes to a joke it is everything.

Admiral Haddock apologized, great. But I'd love to see the rest of us also take some responsibility and not feel so vindicated by it. And I'd love to see us put less pressure on people in the future when they make jokey comments or find things funny. Because, yeah, those who find this funny also exist, and we are not pro-rape or pro-rape-jokes or believe that rape is a joking matter. The two are not linked, really, except for those who find it *not funny* for that reason, which is of course your right. I don't understand why that should mean, even for a second, that those who find this funny find it so for that reason. That's purely an assumption, and it's a fairly offensive and uncharitable one. This doesn't feel like a community, this feels like a classroom. The principle's room, actually. Is that what MeTa is?

And yes, apologies reduce GRAR (as does giving someone the benefit of the doubt), but GRAR is not the worst thing in the world. Especially on MetaTalk, where at least I come to see a good solid argument where I can make up my own mind about the relative merit of a viewpoint. If you're coming here to witness a shaming, or to feel better by winning an argument at the expense of being charitable, that's the kind of thing, GRAR-less or not, that I can definitely live without.

The way I see it, it's much easier for me to work on being offended, even when I am inadvertently hurt, than to demand that other people stop offending me. It's much easier for me to assume that someone on an internet forum is well-intentioned than to verify their intent and find out whether they knew the etymology of some word and arbitrate about whether they should or should not continue to find the phrase deep-ass raping funny. And it's easier in part because it's nicer, but mostly because it has a much better chance of making this community a better one. Because I'm working on it too.

And yeah, it's upsetting me that someone who spent time trying to make something funny for us ends up having to apologize.
posted by mondaygreens at 2:55 PM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thank you, bilabial. You speak for many of us.
posted by catlet at 2:56 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


And yeah, it's upsetting me that someone who spent time trying to make something funny for us ends up having to apologize.

I know the intentions were noble. Sometimes we accidentally end up hurting somebody. I don't fault quadog, not ascribe any malice to the joke. But if I accidentally do something that upsets people, even if I meant well, I would like to know. Communities don't do each other favors by not addressing concerns.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:01 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a "we" joke that alienates many of the people you are trying to include as part of the joke. I'm not talking about "being offended" and I personally never have been. I'm talking about feeling like an outsider because I don't believe that Ticketmaster is "raping" anyone and I don't understand the perspective who insists on describing their voluntary experiences in that way.

Which, I feel I have stated over and over, is fine by me. I am willing to take myself elsewhere as I have done in the past. But I won't allow myself to be erased or minimized.
posted by muddgirl at 3:04 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The person who made the original joke popped in and said that they now understand why rape jokes aren't funny - in a very classy and straightforward apology. That's a damned good start, even if it won't change the site as a whole. You have to take progress where you can get it.

This isn't progress. It's a return to the status quo -- an underlying problem that goes beyond Admiral Haddock and quadog.

Someone else is eventually going to make another rape joke. The usual suspects will then attack anyone who complains.

What good is "a damned good start" if it doesn't change anything in the future?
posted by zarq at 3:04 PM on August 27, 2010


"Ceci n'est pas une pipe"
posted by quadog at 3:08 PM on August 27, 2010


What good is "a damned good start" if it doesn't change anything in the future?

Well, Metafilter just gets bigger and bigger, and not everyone reads the grey, and even those that do may not read every thread (especially not ones where the discussion is so different than the post, like this ones). So short of putting all members into a re-education camp, I think constant education and awareness is absolutely bound to be the expected pattern and to think otherwise is not realistic.
posted by Rumple at 3:10 PM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


but I beg to differ from the opinion that the solution is to behave like things that aren't funny for some people, or even most people, are not funny to anyone, and should just stop being made.

Should stop being made in general? No, probably not. Should stop being made here? Well, since the alternative is to have this same conversation every single time the jokes are made, it would seem like decreasing the frequency of distasteful jokes would go a long way to having better conversations about the actual topics at hand and fewer MeTa threads and derails about whether or not certain jokes in questionable taste are actually worth defending.

. I want to feel safe in a community, yes, but I also want to feel like things which are not malicious will not end up in my having to apologize. The very fact that I shared a joke with you (instead of yelling it at you as you walked down the street or using it to put you down) means that I not only meant well but that I trusted you to understand what's funny about it to me and to find it funny yourself.

I've been there. I've shared jokes on MetaFilter that were in questionable taste and I was called out on it and did eventually apologize. I absolutely meant well. But the trust goes both ways - I trusted people to find me funny, they trusted me to not be an asshole. Since it can be awfully murky to tell on a text based forum what someone's tone and intentions are... it can be hazy as to whether "Hey, did she really mean that or was she kidding?" And as soon as you have to ask, it's not funny anymore. To me, while the debate about "Guys! I was kidding!" is indeed exhausting, I would honestly rather give up making jokes in poor taste and recognize that MetaFilter is not my living room and contribute positively to the site than get defensive and try to make someone understand my "joke." As with all humor - if you have to defend or explain a bad joke, it's not funny anymore.

And I'd love to see us put less pressure on people in the future when they make jokey comments or find things funny. Because, yeah, those who find this funny also exist, and we are not pro-rape or pro-rape-jokes or believe that rape is a joking matter.

There's a huge difference between the camps of people who find it funny and the people who don't. The difference being that many of the people who don't find it funny feel that way because it reminds them of horrible things that they've been through. Those feelings are very important to respect and I, for one, would rather work on making people comfortable than defending the right to joke about unpleasant subjects.


The way I see it, it's much easier for me to work on being offended, even when I am inadvertently hurt, than to demand that other people stop offending me. It's much easier for me to assume that someone on an internet forum is well-intentioned than to verify their intent and find out whether they knew the etymology of some word and arbitrate about whether they should or should not continue to find the phrase deep-ass raping funny. And it's easier in part because it's nicer, but mostly because it has a much better chance of making this community a better one. Because I'm working on it too.


Absolutely 1000% agree. But that doesn't mean that these kinds of conversations aren't also necessary because not everyone is on this page. Not everyone is able to take a step back and work out their own issues before posting. Not everyone even necessarily thinks it through before making an off-hand remark. I absolutely think that we need to be respectful of other community members - but there's also no harm done in pointing out "What you said bothered me." There's no reason to cross the line of "... and you're a bad person for saying it" which happens sometimes, but simply pointing out "Y'know, I think you're probably making a joke, but that comment rubbed me the wrong way" can be very helpful to someone who simply did not think through what they said.

I think that we all need to be more patient and respectful of each other on MeTa, but I don't see the call-out of things that make members legitimately uncomfortable as a bug. If it's a bad joke that's not funny - and it comes up every time a similar joke is made - I think it's worth talking about that hey, you're not a bad person if you like this joke, but this just isn't the place to make it. The fact that this comes up so often is proof that it really is a divisive issue for a lot of people - not that we should be humorless and walk on eggshells to avoid offending people - but that really, this one type of joke is better made somewhere else.
posted by sonika at 3:11 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone else is eventually going to make another rape joke. The usual suspects will then attack anyone who complains.

What good is "a damned good start" if it doesn't change anything in the future?


One member is already not going to make another rape joke. That's one less time the "usual suspects" will bring up the conversation again. Journey of a thousand miles, single step, etc. I imagine that more than one person has decided "Wow, that really isn't funny" as a result of this thread. While we can't expect to change the whole site with one conversation, it's conversations like this that incrementally change the discourse on the site and - as we've seen with the boyzone threads - it does help the overall tone to be able to point back and say "Look, we talked about this."
posted by sonika at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What good is "a damned good start" if it doesn't change anything in the future?

I would suggest that the only thing that we know for sure is that it doesn't change the minds of those who keep coming back to argue the same point. There are a lot of people who lurk, read, even discuss, that won't drop in to say that something changed their mind. Or those people who find themselves better able to articulate why something bothers them regarding certain jokes, but didn't have the semantics for it previously. These are good discussions to have, even if they are unavoidable, due to the size of the group.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I've missed something in all of the passive aggressive offended-at-you-being-offended defense of rape jokes, but why do you defenders of freedom think it's so important for people to make rape jokes? What exactly does rape bring to a joke that you can't get from any other word? If no more rape jokes or jokes that somehow involved rape were on metafilter, ever, do you think we would have lost something? Is it really that important to you?
posted by stavrogin at 3:17 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


muddgirl, I am not trying to include anyone as part of the "we" who doesn't feel like they "get it" -- I'm pointing out that it's not a them joke, or even a you joke -- it's a joke about the situation of the people who get it.. And I don't understand why someone not finding a joke funny, or as making an "accurate" comparison, for gosh's sake, should feel like an outsider. Okay, it's not funny to you. But it is not minimizing, let alone erasing your experience. It's drawing on our ability to identify with it and understand what that feels like. And it's just a joke -- it is what is trivial, and it knows its own trivialness.

I don't understand the perspective who insists on describing their voluntary experiences in that way.

Again, you insist on seeing only the "coercion" comparison between rape and financial exploitation, and that too in a very narrow way. A large part of the anger against TicketMaster seems fueled precisely by their kinda monopolistic nature and lack of accountability, and the "us" humor draws on our (consumers, in this case) feeling like we don't have any real power (because, hello, if we did, we'd be there instead). This comparison is not a truth claim, and quibbling about the levels of voluntariness again seems to me a very semantic argument. It's... exaggeration, but it's not an inherently alienating one. The point where the joke is comparing itself with rape is: they get away it. We are put through it. I can take that comparison and leave the rest be. If you can't, that... should be okay, too.
posted by mondaygreens at 3:18 PM on August 27, 2010


Zarq, I think people become more empathetic one person at a time. That recognition of someone else's pain and experience which creates empathy is an individualistic event.

I also think MetaFilter is constantly in tension between two very strong values: our liking for free, blunt speech -- assuming proper spelling, grammar and font, plus some evidentiary support, of course -- and our appreciation for people with the ability to care about and show sensitivity to others.

I personally think that courtesy towards other's understandable and reasonable feelings, like bilabials, is no threat to free speech rights. One can have the right to express what one wants but decide to choose other words, as for example the Admiral has graciously chosen to do in future on this topic.
posted by bearwife at 3:18 PM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


And metaphor can be funny, but that depends a great, great deal on our ability to distinguish metaphor from a straight-up truth claim, and to keep those differences important.

It also depends a great deal on context, and audience, as does humor in general. Hanging out with my gay male friends to watch Battlestar Galactica, as we used to do - well, the faggot jokes flew like you wouldn't believe. They also weren't jokes that any of us would tell at work, or in front of little kids.
posted by rtha at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


...because, hello, if we did, we'd be there instead exercising it instead.
posted by mondaygreens at 3:22 PM on August 27, 2010


Well, Metafilter just gets bigger and bigger, and not everyone reads the grey, and even those that do may not read every thread (especially not ones where the discussion is so different than the post, like this ones). So short of putting all members into a re-education camp, I think constant education and awareness is absolutely bound to be the expected pattern and to think otherwise is not realistic.

You're not understanding me. Let me be clearer:

There seem to be a core group of MeFites who believe that they must mock and/or challenge anyone who even gently complains about a rape joke.

It's not just rape jokes. It's voiced sexism, racism, etc. Attacks against anything that at least one or two of of the usual suspects have mockingly termed "outragefilter."

This creates a hostile environment.
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I beg to differ from the opinion that the solution is to behave like things that aren't funny for some people, or even most people, are not funny to anyone, and should just stop being made.

The value of being funny should be weighed against the expected costs of attempting to be funny.

This joke relies on shared experience (of anger), a shared victimization by a selfish, mean entity (Ticketmaster) and a shared identification with the pain and humiliation of rape. So no matter how well thought out your argument is, I am not ready to review my own feelings about this ticket or to using the word rape in sentences like "the banks are raping the rest of us." It's a "we" joke, not a "them" joke, and a very common one in the current climate. It's a way of sharing pain and anger and actual, well-deserved outrage.

The joke fails spectacularly to capitalize on any "shared identification...", though. Paying a little more to ticketmaster is not in the same ballpark as the pain and humiliation of rape. It's not even the same game. Is there any interpretation of the joke that makes this incongruity work in favor of the joke rather than against it?

If the incongruity is to be ignored and instead the viewer is supposed to say to themself, "Hell yeah! These exhorbitant prices are like rape!", then that is a profound trivialization of the experience of rape.

If the incongruity is instead the source of humor, and the viewer is supposed to say to themself "Rape is so much worse than Ticketmaster's gauging that to see them equated is humorous", then the problem is that the joke actually then implies "Ticketmaster isn't really as bad as all that", which undermines the idea that "It's a way of sharing pain and anger and actual, well-deserved outrage." In this interpretation, the joke takes the side of those in power, which automatically makes it less funny.
posted by Jpfed at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it is not minimizing, let alone erasing your experience. It's drawing on our ability to identify with it and understand what that feels like.

I don't think this is an apt comparison to make with a joke involving "rape" as the ability for someone to identify and understand what rape feels like isn't going to compare that to ticket pricing. I understand what you're saying, and the joke did not offend me, but it's also not minimizing or erasing any experiences that I've had as I have - fortunately - not been raped. Had I been, I can absolutely understand why it might not be funny to me to have that compared to Ticketmaster.

It's been mentioned that the other comparisons that were made were, while in poor taste, pretty innocuous, but that this one as something that's actually been experienced by members of the community just fell short of the humor mark. We can all identify and understand what it feels like to overpay for something, but we can find ways of expressing that frustration without involving rape.
posted by sonika at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2010


There seem to be a core group of MeFites who believe that they must mock and/or challenge anyone who even gently complains about a rape joke.

It's not just rape jokes. It's voiced sexism, racism, etc. Attacks against anything that at least one or two of of the usual suspects have mockingly termed "outragefilter."


With all due respect, that's not how this conversation has gone (for the most part) and that's not an issue that the community will ever be able to change. Spending enough time here, finding those one or two users and tuning them out is fairly easy. No, not everyone is going to change, but these conversations are still productive even if they're not having the end result that you are specifically hoping for.
posted by sonika at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2010


muddgirl, I am not trying to include anyone as part of the "we" who doesn't feel like they "get it"

Maybe I'm not making myself clear clear. You think the joke is inclusive because "Ticketmaster is totes violating everybody, amirite?" But to lots of people, this sort of allusion is automatically exclusive - they see the word "rape" and they have an intense, almost physical reaction. Or they remember their friend/family member who was raped and how hard that was and how violated it makes them feel. Or they think of all the women who were raped my militia forces in the Congo last week and how helpless we are to stop rape as a tool of warfare. TicketMaster's evil business strategy was the last thing on my mind when I saw the mock-infographic.

And then on top of that, my feelings were criticized and teased and rejected and minimized. Not exactly the best way to engender feelings of group cohesion.

It's not about "getting it", so you don't have to keep explaining the "joke" again and again. I understand why you think it's funny. Do you understand why it turns my stomach? Why I don't want to hang out in a place where this sort of joke will be a regular (or even occasional) occurrence?
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on August 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


With all due respect, that's not how this conversation has gone (for the most part) and that's not an issue that the community will ever be able to change. Spending enough time here, finding those one or two users and tuning them out is fairly easy. No, not everyone is going to change, but these conversations are still productive even if they're not having the end result that you are specifically hoping for.

I would like you to re-read this thread and consider how the conversation might have gone without Mayor Curley's and Eidetaker's comments. How would it have gone if people hadn't been challenged, mocked, attacked and told to shut up because they dared to voice an opinion?

Tuning them out in a thread like this is impossible. Their comments clearly steered this thread in a direction it most likely would not have otherwise have gone.
posted by zarq at 3:43 PM on August 27, 2010


I'm just surprised to find myself in this position because I agree with so much of what's been said upthread. It's not a particularly funny joke, and it's not in great taste. I just have issue with wilfully misunderstanding it, or with believing that a particular reaction is more valid because it is stronger or more personal. And if you react viscerally to the word rape, to extrapolate that reaction into being offended or arriving at the place where the joke-teller needs to apologize or never make such a joke again -- I don't get that. If you are hurt by a joke I make, of course I'll apologize by saying: I didn't mean to offend you. Here's what I really meant. And I'll point out exactly what I meant, and why my finding the joke funny had nothing to do with trivializing your experience in the least. (This is what I tried to do, on the teller's behalf, above.) And then I would expect you to step up to the plate and be as open to understanding me as I am to understanding you. And to putting this particular context above your desire for having the word "rape" mean something specific not only to you but to me as well. If you keep saying, but this is what I understood from it and that's why you should never say this word jokingly, I will feel like you're not even listening.

I got what it means to you. Do you get what I meant? Can we accept that words can mean different things to different people or even to the same people in different contexts? MetaFilter is not *ideal* for such a joke, certainly, but it's either a community or a forum where we have equal rights to express ourselves -- and either way, I don't want to be leaving my jokes, even the thoughtless ones, at home. I'd rather say it, and then realize the ways in which I might've been thoughtless, and explain my own side of it, and reserve all rights, for ever and ever, about what words I can and cannot use here (unless they disagree with site policy). And I am ready to talk about an off-color joke for as long as I feel that people who disagree with me are arguing in good faith with an open mind. The intra-member policing and attribution of offensive motives-- that I don't abide.
posted by mondaygreens at 3:44 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mondaygreens. Comparing the voluntary payment of $30 (or $100 or $14,000) more for a concert ticket to any form of sexual assault definitely trivializes sexual assault.

I for damn sure would pay absolutely any amount of money to undo any day that a person held me down and put things into my body without my consent and despite my terrified tearful pleading.

If you can't see the trivialization there....I just....really? Comparing $30 fees to that sort of brutal behavior? Really?

Paying $30 more than I expected has never felt anything like what you're comparing it to. If/when you've been raped, feel free to tell your friends or therapist, 'it was like clicking through to pay for concert tickets and finding out they were $80 instead of $50. Bummer.'

But don't ever expect me to use that metaphor to describe an experience so harrowing and far reaching. (would I become pregnant, had I gotten a disease, would they come back, who can I tell, who else might do this to me?)

While I'm here, I'm wondering what comparison you would consider be a trivialization of sexual assault? You don't need to answer that here, but it might be an interesting exercise for you to consider it.
posted by bilabial at 3:46 PM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I agree with you on this, zarq, which is why I spoke out against that sort of behavior. I think it should be discouraged as strongly as possible. I imagine the mods have already taken a position on this -- not in regards to rape jokes, per se, but regarding the shittiness of just dismissing a valid point with a blast of pyre contempt. I suspect it would help if, when they see it in threads like this, they would voice that stance, as they typically do, to reemphasize that, as a community, we take this discussion seriously. But that's their call; all I can do is condemn it when I see it, knowing that I may well be mentally categorized as a spoilsport who is too sensitive and is out to ruin people's fun, even if the people who characterize me that way should know that I am, in fact, hilarious.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:48 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


pyre?

My hands frequently betray me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:50 PM on August 27, 2010


"Can we accept that words can mean different things to different people"

This makes me curious. What does the word rape mean to you?
posted by 2oh1 at 3:50 PM on August 27, 2010


No... muddgirl, I don't think the joke is inclusive because Ticketmaster is violating everybody. I think the joke is about the people who get the joke, whoever they happen to be -- not about people who don't get it (those who're outside the joke, in your words), or about any "other" group, including rape victims and people who don't "feel raped" by Ticketmaster.

I don't know how much clearer I can be, but I do think I've said my piece. I certainly don't want to argue this in any way that can be perceived as minimizing people's experiences of rape, or in support of trivializing rape. But okay, I've been through it too. Count me as someone who reacted differently from you regardless. And as someone who felt shitty that the joke-teller was expected to apologize for the sake of my perceived pain at coming across the word "rape" in a hyperbolic comparison intended to elicit a harmless chuckle or two.

I guess that's all we can do here -- take sides and get counted.
posted by mondaygreens at 3:57 PM on August 27, 2010


If you are hurt by a joke I make, of course I'll apologize by saying: I didn't mean to offend you. Here's what I really meant. And I'll point out exactly what I meant, and why my finding the joke funny had nothing to do with trivializing your experience in the least. (This is what I tried to do, on the teller's behalf, above.)

I grew up with some racist, cracker-ass bigots. Racist and bigotted jokes were everywhere. Some of those jokes are really, really funny. But if I walked up to a random non-white person and told them one of those jokes, of course I would expect that they are going to be offended. The very basis of the jokes are offensive -- that's their point, and that's the source of the humor. It doesn't mean that those jokes can never be told -- but it does mean that it is fully on the teller of the jokes to be sure of their audience. It's not the audience's responsibility to meet you way more than halfway and patiently help you work through why of course your humor wasn't meant to be "trivializing."
posted by Forktine at 3:57 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Some people are predictable jerks about this one way or the other. And really, this is one of those Site Things. We're not really cool with rape jokes, but it's not one of those things where we'll ban you for making them."-Jessamyn

Understood that there is middle ground between no mod communication and banning people, but I would hope that predictable jerks are told they're being predictable jerks and at some point it's not tolerated.

Seems like some people are predictably jerks, that it doesn't change.
posted by ambient2 at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2010


Can we accept that words can mean different things to different people or even to the same people in different contexts? MetaFilter is not *ideal* for such a joke, certainly, but it's either a community or a forum where we have equal rights to express ourselves -- and either way, I don't want to be leaving my jokes, even the thoughtless ones, at home. I'd rather say it

Got that, mondaygreens. But in a community where we all try to treat each other with respect, it's not too much to ask that members consider overcoming their preferences and choosing to leave some of their jokes at home -- in particular, the ones that rely on laughing about experiences that have really happened to people here and have hurt them.

I don't think anyone needs to go to the principal's office, I just wish that some people who prefer not to self edit would choose to take the time and effort to do so, out of courtesy and respect and compassion for others.
posted by bearwife at 4:01 PM on August 27, 2010


"I don't want to be leaving my jokes, even the thoughtless ones, at home. I'd rather say it, and then realize the ways in which I might've been thoughtless, and explain my own side of it, and reserve all rights, for ever and ever, about what words I can and cannot use here"

... are you seriously trying to romanticize rape jokes now? "Reserve all rights?" "for ever and ever?" I'm glad you find yourself so incredibly funny that the notion of "leaving your jokes at home" is unfathomable, but I'm not laughing.

We get your side. We get why you think it's funny. We don't need you to sit us down and explain what you really meant and haha, that's funny, amiright? I used to be a person who laughed at rape jokes. But I grew up and realized that I had a choice between perpetuating pain for the sake of mediocre comedy, and making the world a tiny bit easier to bear for the survivors of a horrific experience who deserve some respect and empathy, damnit.
posted by keep it under cover at 4:03 PM on August 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


The value of being funny should be weighed against the expected costs of attempting to be funny.

I don't get it. I'll admit I find a lot of potentially offensive things funny. In my profession I deal with a lot of "I'M TRAUMATIZED & IT'S YOUR FAULT GIMME $$$" situations, which regardless of merit are not fun things to deal with, and at the end of the day a bit of levity about what by all accounts are serious, distressing things people deal with helps me unwind. You may not find it as funny as me, but ultimately I don't really care what calculus someone else might use to "value" whatever jokes I might laugh at. I mean, I still find a lot of slapstick violence hilarious even though in real life people have been killed or paralyzed falling down the stairs, etc.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:07 PM on August 27, 2010


(FWIW: I have read almost all this thread. I find the original joke unfunny and, like beniamino, was sad to see it here, more than outraged)

What always stuns me about this kind of MeTa thread is how the vast majority of the hair-trigger touchiness, reactivity and offendedness is on the part of the people defending the comment or joke. It goes like this:

1. Person makes a joke or comment.
2. Various people respond that they were offended by it, or found it hurtful, or were upset. None of them, or very nearly none of them, demand that the user be banned, or the image deleted, or that a moderator makes a new ruling about never mentioning the subject on Metafilter. They simply make their feelings known.
3. Various other people respond: Why are you demanding that others stop offending you? Why are you trying to silence us? Why are you saying that certain things can never be said???!?1?!

The oversensitivity in this thread is entirely on the part of the rape-joke defenders.

(I can't help wondering if that's an inadvertent response to the realization that they're here on Metafilter spending their Friday and their energies defending rape jokes...)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:09 PM on August 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


take sides and get counted.

This isn't a vote or a referendum.
posted by muddgirl at 4:09 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sigh. All right, keep it under cover. If you have some respect and empathy left over after distributing it to all the people who *deserve* it due to their horrific experiences, maybe you'll have some left over for me. I'm not holding my breath though.

And I'm pre-emptively apologizing if my comments came across in any way as attempting to be funny. I don't really know how that kind of reading is even possible, but you've managed it and I'm inclined to take you at your word. And to accept the blame.

I didn't come into the thread and start explaining right away why it's super hilarious funny. I came in after 300+ comments, the majority of which were about why this joke should not be made. You can argue on (after I've left the thread -- soon, don't worry) about the rights of victims to have a safe environment in which no one ever jokes about subjects that are painful to them, but hey: I'm here, and you've just spoken to me, and I hope you'll listen to me when I say: your interpretation of my comments is incredibly meanspirited and makes me much less hopeful about being heard than people who laughed out loud at this joke.
posted by mondaygreens at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2010


Various other people respond: Why are you demanding that others stop offending you? Why are you trying to silence us? Why are you saying that certain things can never be said???!?1?!

Maybe I should read it again, because I didn't see much of that.
posted by ODiV at 4:13 PM on August 27, 2010


Zarq, I think people become more empathetic one person at a time. That recognition of someone else's pain and experience which creates empathy is an individualistic event.

I tend to agree. "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

I also think MetaFilter is constantly in tension between two very strong values: our liking for free, blunt speech -- assuming proper spelling, grammar and font, plus some evidentiary support, of course -- and our appreciation for people with the ability to care about and show sensitivity to others.

I tend to agree, but are you sure this instance is a free speech issue? I'm not convinced.
posted by zarq at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2010


are you sure this instance is a free speech issue?

No, I don't think it is a free speech issue, I think it is a sensitivity and courtesy issue. But I think people who get criticism for their phrasing and become hostile about that feel it is a free speech issue.
posted by bearwife at 4:20 PM on August 27, 2010


I've been romantically involved with several women who were raped in the past. Quite a few of my relatives were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust. I was molested by a babysitter at a young age. My best friend was killed when we were 19. My father has fallen off the wagon twice in the past three years and was near death on one of those occasions. I'm not gonna weigh in on whether or not Metafilter is a good forum for these types of jokes, but if it weren't for dark humour, I wouldn't be alive today.
posted by gman at 4:22 PM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


ODiV, maybe you should. Just for starters:

mondaygreens: The way I see it, it's much easier for me to work on being offended, even when I am inadvertently hurt, than to demand that other people stop offending me

patheral Get over yourselves and stop ruining other people's fun!

Eideteker Dealing with traumatic events is tough, but it's hard to argue for sanitizing the internet for the lowest common denominator of possible offenses

Eideteker: If you're offended, keep it to yourself.

That's just on a glance through this thread.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:22 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


at the end of the day a bit of levity about what by all accounts are serious, distressing things people deal with helps me unwind.

Oh, me too. I used to work in sexual assault, and our annual Xmas party was a very NSFW, tasteless event. One ongoing joke was that after working in our field, we always saw the raunchy side of everything -- we expressed that by saying, as my husband still does to me sometimes, that you could dress us up, but you couldn't take us out.

Another example is that I used to work a lot with homicide detectives. They had a button that said "Our Day Begins When Yours Ends." We thought that was very, very funny.

But, of course, we weren't having the Xmas party with our sexual assault victims, and the detectives didn't wear their buttons to meet with murder victims' families. That's just basic courtesy -- to find a discreet place to express the humor that helps to cope with secondary stress.
posted by bearwife at 4:27 PM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


> This creates a hostile environment.

So, just so we're clear, unless every single person on the site is maximally sensitive, and no one ever objects to anything anyone says about something being offensive, MetaFilter is a hostile environment? Because 1) that seems insane, and 2) you seem to be setting yourself up for inevitable and constant disappointment.

I am not defending the joke, which was tasteless. I confess to being somewhat mindboggled by your maximalist approach to this.

> Maybe I've missed something in all of the passive aggressive offended-at-you-being-offended defense of rape jokes, but why do you defenders of freedom think it's so important for people to make rape jokes? What exactly does rape bring to a joke that you can't get from any other word? If no more rape jokes or jokes that somehow involved rape were on metafilter, ever, do you think we would have lost something? Is it really that important to you?

Congratulations! You get your Mister Sensitive pin and a guaranteed seat behind home plate for MeFi home games! Now maybe you can read the thread and actually pay attention to what people are saying rather than your Evil Rape Joker straw man.
posted by languagehat at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I did read it and and I didn't see a justification for the use of rape jokes at all, just people saying that it wasn't meant as offensive. I didn't see anyone explain why being able to use rape jokes, with or without anyone criticizing them, is so important to them. Maybe you can stop your mister sensitive straw man shit.
posted by stavrogin at 5:01 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I often wonder, how difficult is it to say "Hm, I didn't realize that what I said would be upsetting to some people. I'm sorry"?

Pretty difficult, apparently.
posted by ErikaB at 5:04 PM on August 27, 2010


Even more difficult to say: "Wow, I never really thought about what that word actually means..."
posted by 2oh1 at 5:08 PM on August 27, 2010


stavrogin, as a rape survivor, I appreciate the question. I run into rape jokes everywhere online and I've asked that question before. No one ever really answers it except to talk about how they didn't mean it that way and intent is magic and you're just oversensitive and other bullshit like that. For what it's worth, you may not get to sit behind the home plate but you can sit by me if you like. I'll even scoot over a little to make room for the straw men.

I also want to say thank you to the other survivors in the thread for speaking up. And to give credit where credit is due, I appreciate the overall flow of the thread. There are very few communities online where this conversation would have gone as well as it did. It should have gone better, much better, but for the internet it went fairly well.
posted by LeeJay at 5:09 PM on August 27, 2010


Did I miss something? That came across as an asshole, dismissive response.

Dismissive, I'll grant you. "Asshole" is subjective and I don't give a shit what you think; Outragefilter sucks.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:12 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised that people feel so oppressed; there are a ton of places on the internet that love a good rape joke, or even a bad one. A ton! Some of these places might seem kind of stupid and boring, but if they were smart and interesting... they'd be more like Metafilter, and less like a place that likes rape jokes.
posted by taz at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Languagehat, you know zarq was talking about comments like this:
I too am extraordinarily sensitive and enjoy reminding others of this fact.
So now you're joining in too, with the Mister Sensitive pin? The thing is, I'm sure I've seen you on the receiving end of this. You know most people mean well. If you disagree, disagree. I'd like to think you are better than joining in with that.

zarq, I know what you mean, but I think Jessamyn has made it clear where the mods stand, and while I don't agree entirely, I see her reasons for where she draws the line, as she has to balance other things. I don't think that is going to change. To be honest, this thread really has gone relatively well, compared to many others. I know well that feeling, of how it feels like it's always the same; but at least a couple of people changed their minds here, and many might have changed their minds just reading, but you won't necessarily know about it. There are always going to be people being shitty and hostile -- as long as we do what we can so people like bilabial do not have to feel alone or isolated in face of that hostility, I think we are doing okay. Change is slow.
posted by catchingsignals at 5:22 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I often wonder, how difficult is it to say "Hm, I didn't realize that what I said would be upsetting to some people. I'm sorry"?

Pretty difficult, apparently.


Give people a little bit of credit. Admiral Haddock, who made the original joke, came in this thread and said pretty much exactly that.

The person who made the joke apologized. The rest of the thread is just going around in circles as to the subject of rape jokes in general.

Even more difficult to say: "Wow, I never really thought about what that word actually means..."

Again, the person who made the joke has come in and said exactly this.
posted by sonika at 5:32 PM on August 27, 2010


mondaygreens, I never said your comments were attempting to be funny. I was addressing your blind insistence on sharing jokes, no matter how thoughtless, devoid of value or benefit, hurtful and upsetting they may be. There are countless very funny comments from many of the MeFites speaking out against rape jokes in this thread. They don't need a lecture on how to be funny. Read the above comments re: "intention is magic" to see why insisting that anyone upset by a rape joke must also listen to an explanation of your intention is every bit as pointless as the intention itself, and is insulting to boot.

zarq and bearwife are absolutely correct that this has nothing to do with rights or freedoms. You can say whatever the hell you want, but you can't expect to be insulated from unfavorable reactions. We ALL live with that, so I can't say I have any sympathy for anyone's inability to make rape jokes on this site without repercussion.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:44 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can say whatever the hell you want, but you can't expect to be insulated from unfavorable reactions.

And in turn, the people expressing unfavorable reactions can't expect to be insulated from more unfavorable reactions, and they can't expect to be insulated from subsequent unfavorable reactions to infinity. At some point someone needs to just STFU. I nominate me.


Starting now.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2010


sonika, I'm pretty sure EricaB and 2oh1 were referring to others. Admiral Haddock's apology was definitely one of the high points of this discussion.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:51 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"And in turn, the people expressing unfavorable reactions can't expect to be insulated from more unfavorable reactions, and they can't expect to be insulated from subsequent unfavorable reactions to infinity. At some point someone needs to just STFU."

There is only one side here that is claiming freedom of speech. If that went completely over your head, then please do STFU.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:56 PM on August 27, 2010


I'm a bit disappointed this is being seen as an issue with "sides" instead of some people having a discussion.
posted by ODiV at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2010


I'm more than "disappointed" that countless people are expected to suffer in silence for the sake of juvenile, shock jock humor. I'm so "disappointed" that bilabial had to come in here and pour her heart out, only for people to continue being all, "That's not my problem! Yay rape jokes!" And then insinuating that they are also being marginalized, because their right of free speech is being oppressed? I have no words.

I'm well past the point of being polite about my distaste for these attitudes, so I'll bow out now. I apologize to the mods for losing my composure.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:57 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think you're being impolite.
posted by ODiV at 7:02 PM on August 27, 2010


Yay rape jokes!

Pretty sure nobody here was saying anything even remotely like that.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:05 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Several people seem to be really badly misunderstanding what mondaygreens is saying, and should probably go back and read those comments again before disagreeing and/or mischaracterizing them as some kind of absolute defense of shitty rape jokes rather than an attempt to develop this into a better discussion about humor and its community-negotiated boundaries. There are some (IMO) quite important points being made there that seem to have been missed so far, and the rush to pass judgment on such thoughtful comments is really unpleasant to see — especially since it seems to have led mondaygreens to disable her (?) account.
posted by RogerB at 7:26 PM on August 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I would like you to re-read this thread and consider how the conversation might have gone without Mayor Curley's...comments.

The above is good general advice for any of the threads in which Curley decides to crap out a little dismissive turd.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like you to re-read this thread and consider how the conversation might have gone without Mayor Curley's...comments.

And just to pop in again, we do see that sort of thing and worry a bit about what to do with it. The sort of aggressive "I don't care about you" sort of thing has never really been an actionable sort of behavior here, but has been starting to be more of a problem. It comes across as trollish when people are trying to have a conversation, especially when all the thread IS is conversation.

And let me be clear, people pretty much need to be able to ignore one or two jerkish people because the site is never going to be jerk-free which is, from my perspective, sort of how it should be. I think it's more important to pay attention to sitewide trends and attitudes. So while you can't be free, probably, of off-color jokes and general one-off shitty behavior, you can be more or less secure that that sort of thing isn't really that great and generally gets dealt with.

This is really one of the better conversations on this topic we've had here and I think these conversations generally speaking are getting better and not worse [i.e. more productive, less yelling] as the site gets older. That said, they're not great things to wade into and I can understand people's reluctance to engage. As sonika said most of the people who said things that people had a hard time with have come back to the thread to apologize or talk about it or whatever. That leaves us with one or maybe two people who are just sort of ... not into this sort of thing. While we'll keep an eye on them we don't ban people for being jerks and yes we do expect people to sometimes just walk away from someone's jerkish comments.

Not sure what else to add here, Team Mod has mostly been gone a lot of today, so we've been around less than we'd like.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, just so we're clear, unless every single person on the site is maximally sensitive, and no one ever objects to anything anyone says about something being offensive, MetaFilter is a hostile environment?

No. That's not what I am saying. I will try to be clearer.

We should be striving for open, honest discourse here on MeFi. Personal attacks should always be the exception, not the rule. Members here should not have to worry that if they voice their opinions, they will be belittled, mocked or told to shut up. They shouldn't have to fear this community will be disrespectful, judgmental and condescending if they share an intimate story with us.

There is a small group of regular members here who consistently treat other members like shit through personal attacks if they voice disagreement on various topics. We all know that given certain topics, there will be specific people who won't play well with others. If you attack their sacred cows, they descend upon you like a pack of wolves. We've discussed this at length in other MeTa threads.

I'm not innocent here, I know. I can be guilty of this myself.

I believe this is a long-term problem. There's certainly nothing wrong with disagreement, or heated dialogue. But consistently, the reactions to mild comments like beniamino's at the start of this thread are nasty and personal. This can only be a welcoming community when we act decently towards each other. Shouldn't that be worth striving for?

Because 1) that seems insane,

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same action repeatedly, each time expecting a different reaction than the last. So...

and 2) you seem to be setting yourself up for inevitable and constant disappointment.

...I have begun to wonder this myself.
posted by zarq at 8:03 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd like to add to my list of disappointments that I'm terribly disappointed in the way I've handled myself here. I was unnecessarily mean and harsh, which neither helped to make my point nor improve the discussion. Kirk Grim, indeed, shutting up would have been a good choice.

mondaygreens, I'm sorry that I hurt you with my mean-spirited responses. It was very unkind of me to lay into you like that when you were speaking honestly and in good faith. I hope you come back soon.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:11 PM on August 27, 2010


mondaygreens: "And yeah, it's upsetting me that someone who spent time trying to make something funny for us ends up having to apologize"

Intent doesn't mitigate impact.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:14 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


RogerB, mondaygreens also seemed to be misunderstanding and (unintentionally I'm sure) mischaracterising much of what others were saying throughout her comments. I understand that was how it seemed to her, and I understood she was sincere and wanting to engage, and started writing a reply to her, but just ran out of energy somewhere along the way. Would you like to continue the conversation, and talk about what you thought were some of her important points? I genuinely would like to understand.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:24 PM on August 27, 2010


And just to pop in again, we do see that sort of thing and worry a bit about what to do with it. The sort of aggressive "I don't care about you" sort of thing has never really been an actionable sort of behavior here, but has been starting to be more of a problem. It comes across as trollish when people are trying to have a conversation, especially when all the thread IS is conversation.

I want to make clear that I'm not asking for Team Mod to take any sort of action here. I know y'all wouldn't anyway in MeTa. I'm sort of hoping people might attempt to be more mindful of the way they're interacting with each other.

And let me be clear, people pretty much need to be able to ignore one or two jerkish people because the site is never going to be jerk-free which is, from my perspective, sort of how it should be. I think it's more important to pay attention to sitewide trends and attitudes. So while you can't be free, probably, of off-color jokes and general one-off shitty behavior, you can be more or less secure that that sort of thing isn't really that great and generally gets dealt with.

True. When shitty comments and behavior manage to poison an entire thread it can be extremely frustrating.

This is really one of the better conversations on this topic we've had here and I think these conversations generally speaking are getting better and not worse [i.e. more productive, less yelling] as the site gets older.

Multiple users have commented over the last few months that MeTa has seemed much more fighty than usual. I do get that (from your explanations) that this is confirmation bias on their (and my) part. But still, it's a hard idea to shake when so many high-profile people are leaving and/or taking the BND option.

While we'll keep an eye on them we don't ban people for being jerks and yes we do expect people to sometimes just walk away from someone's jerkish comments.

OK
posted by zarq at 8:43 PM on August 27, 2010


But still, it's a hard idea to shake when so many high-profile people are leaving and/or taking the BND option.

The BND option is a pretty value neutral thing though. If someone wants to close out their account and start over with a new one, I don't see that as any sort of a "this is a problem" situation, personally. And yeah people have been closing their accounts and sometimes it seems like they're clustering, but we ran the numbers fairly recently and account closures didn't seem to be accelerating, but yeah maybe there were a few more names that we've noticed.

I mean I get what you're saying. I also know thanks to Twitter that you're at a bit of a crunch time at work. And I think it's worth making a note that whenever there's a debate where people are pissed off at each other and someone says something like "I'm not innocent here, I know. I can be guilty of this myself." [you did this recently, but other people do it all the time] that the easiest thing to do is to make the change you want to see start with you.

And again, not to point. Everyone can do better, including me. But making sure you're coming to the table having had enough sleep or enough coffee or whatever you personally take to be functional and not prickly, if everyone could do that then the presuming good faith stuff that we'd like people to do but that comes so difficultly to many people might be easier.

Put another way, I think most people in this thread really have been mindful. And we're not going to see, nor are we aiming for 100% mindfulness. So, given that, thinking about what useful next steps are since the few assholish people may not change and most people really do seem to be on okay ground here. And I worry if we're doing too much "this is really a HUGE PROBLEM" doomsaying then we're also not moving on in the FIAMO style.

So, far be it from me to say "this isn't a problem" if there's an ongoing issue, but wondering if this is a site problem or just a perspective problem at this point. And I'm really not sure.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2010


"...Eidetaker's comments. How would it have gone if people hadn't been challenged, mocked, attacked and told to shut up because they dared to voice an opinion?"

I wasn't going to come back here, especially not after Admiral Haddock had his say. But I'll always feel free to respond to a personal charge.

First, you misspelled my nick. That's cold.

Second, I never mocked or attacked anyone. I even apologized in response to a comment you made, directed at me. I've tried to argue impersonally and dispassionately.

My initial reaction was to Army of Kittens' comment. That comment says, "congratulations, you just offended X number of people." Which was both statistically inaccurate (my initial complaint, incl. the possibility that it might be too low), and disingenuous. AoK wasn't saying, wow, I can't believe you said, that, you just hurt me and/or someone I love. That's a straight-up argument from numbers pulled out of one's butt. THAT was the initial comment that set me off. Re-read my comments again and see if that doesn't recast things in a different light.

I clearly stated I don't the particular joke here funny. But I defend the right to make the joke, the same as any free-speech claim. Was it dumb? Insensitive? That's what we're here to discuss (Yes, on both counts, btw). But don't invent imaginary injured parties to justify *your* particular animosity.

There was a recent thread on MetaChat where we discussed swearing and kids, and I asked the parents in the crowd how they handled it with their kids, without being all "OMG FORBIDDEN" which just makes the kids want to know more about it. One avenue that I happen to think makes sense is explaining to kids that swear-words are used when people's imagination fails. Uncreative people need to resort to swearing. Unfunny comedians use it when they're grasping for a cheap laugh. And it's the same here. I say make rape jokes. Make all the rape jokes in the world till they're seen by all the world as just not funny. Making them taboo just grants them that much more cachet. I mean, look at it in this instance. It's a cheap grab.

I also have a hard time believing that adult people capable of dissociating from something like nerve gas (which has been mentioned a few times in this thread) also can't contextualize a rape joke. As someone else said, doesn't the fact that it's used in line with a war crime kind of reflect the enormity of the offense? We *know* it's terrible. And even though you're basically forced to use ticketmaster to attend a major concert, no, no one is forcing you to go. To suggest that someone is saying that is at best, childishly ignorant, and at worst disingenuous. There's no humor that's inoffensive; it's going to happen. I'm saying we give people the benefit of the doubt; that's all.

I'm completely down with the folks in this thread who have said, "not cool" "inappropriate" "not funny" and especially those who shared their personal trauma with us. I apologize (as I did above) for making you feel that you needed to do that. But what set me off was arguing on behalf of some imaginary others, trying to bring the force of some imaginary number to back your argument. We're a community, we can handle this.
posted by Eideteker at 9:15 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


(FWIW, this comment was an attempt at the same sort of "hurr hurr lolsex" "let's get this over with in the stupidest manner possible because it's a stupid joke but someone's going to make it so let's show 'em how dumb it is." The fact that it got as many favorites as it did means I've got a long way to go in the battle against unimaginative humor (that, or (my preferred explanation) mefites are so insightful, that they figured it out and were praising me for my anticipatory wittiness). I say make stupid jokes, and call them out as stupid when they happen so people learn to kick their game up a notch.)
posted by Eideteker at 9:26 PM on August 27, 2010


Sorry mondaygreens, but IMO any joke that needs that much explaining and defending really isn't a funny joke, or one that ought to be blithely made the subject of an entire post for discussing here before the MetaFilterian multitudes.

It was presented (as funny) to the whole community, and a large amount of people responded with either "not funny!" or "not here, please!" The issue is 100% with the post and the poster, and I don't think it bodes either ill or well for the rest of us.
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eideteker, why does it anger you so much when people speak up on behalf of those who are too afraid or in too much pain to defend themselves? Really, why is that a bad thing? You never replied to those who asked you, must one be gay to speak up against homophobia? Must one be a racial minority to speak up against racism? Must one be female to speak up against sexism? I sure hope not. That's not a world I'd want to live in.

Army of Kitten's point was that sexual assault is so prevalent that there are really very few audiences for which rape jokes are appropriate. Yes, statistically, a huge percentage of the population has personal experience with rape, either themselves or a loved one. I don't see anything disingenuous or misleading about that. Disingenuous is claiming that your arguments remain unchallenged unless a real live rape victim pipes up and proves you wrong. bilabial didn't have to tell us about her experience in order for us to know that rape happens all too often, and how brutal and terrible it is. She shouldn't have had to in order to satisfy someone that her experience was not "imaginary."

You seem to think "imagination" is necessarily a lie. That's not true - imagination can also be empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand to some degree what they went through. That's not something to be discouraged.

This was especially confusing to me: "But self-righteous indignation for its own purpose, or to make yourself feel better is similarly uncool." How does my feeling offended make me feel better? What selfish purpose could this possibly serve? Reading this thread made me feel like utter shit. I wish I could stick my head in the clouds and ignore these issues entirely. That would be sweet. Then I remember that ignorance is bliss, but only for the ignorant. People in this thread spoke of 'privilege' because there are so many people who do not have the privilege of turning a blind eye to rape.
posted by keep it under cover at 9:58 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]



I also have a hard time believing that adult people capable of dissociating from something like nerve gas (which has been mentioned a few times in this thread) also can't contextualize a rape joke.


If there are survivors of nerve gas warfare reading the thread, or members who live in daily fear of being nerve gassed when they leave their house, or in fact of being threatened with nerve gassing, or what the heck, just experienced a daily discourse of how some people like them deserved to be nerve gassed, in addition to the several rape survivors who have spoken up, I would buy into your argument a little more. As it stands you are really making a kind of weird comparison with something that is abstract and not quotidian, with something that is very much the waking daily reality of a large segment of the population - and simultaneously you seem to be demanding that those with empathy for that context try to somehow abstract their empathy. You are missing that this is an emotional context and not a forum where pure reason holds.
posted by Rumple at 10:02 PM on August 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would you like to continue the conversation, and talk about what you thought were some of her important points? I genuinely would like to understand.

I very much appreciate this, but I'm not at all comfortable doing that at this point, given what happened after mondaygreens' comments. It seems like this thread is just the wrong place for that discussion to emerge, perhaps because it began in such a bad way. I don't think I have the energy either, or the ability to forestall the perception that, in desiring Metafilter to remain a place that's open to humor (with all its attendant risks), I'd be defending that particular crappy, lazy joke, or that I'd be minimizing or deflecting any of the genuinely felt and impressively communicated pain here — neither of which I'd ever want to do.
posted by RogerB at 10:56 PM on August 27, 2010


"Asshole" is subjective and I don't give a shit what you think; Outragefilter sucks.
posted by Mayor Curley


Kind of you to support the contentions that others and I have made about your attitude.
posted by ambient2 at 11:20 PM on August 27, 2010


gman said: ...if it weren't for dark humour, I wouldn't be alive today.

Amen to that. And I say that as a childhood rape survivor, a molestation survivor, an abuse survivor.

I had what I would call a "cringe moment" when I first clicked the link and saw the wording on the ticket, but I closed the window and moved on with my day. I understood that the OP wasn't trying to offend me or harm me. I think the OP's effort would have been much funnier without the existing wording, but I understand the very human tendency to joke about horrific things. I think the whole genre of "sick jokes" (the "THAT'S NOT FUNNY!" things) exists because we need a way to take some semblance of control over the unpredictable things that hurt us and frighten us. Black humor is one way to accomplish that.

I also understand that some people aren't quite "there yet" in being able to laugh at jokes and vulgarities that hit too close to home. So, basically, I'm rambling, but I'm trying to say that I am not offended by the OP's humor, but I empathize with those who are.
posted by amyms at 11:39 PM on August 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of "any of these words could offend any given number of people, what are we supposed to do about it?" in this thread.

Here's what you're supposed to do about it: when someone tells you that a word is offensive, and you don't know why, ask them. Then, stop using that word. Even if that word only offends some people (as if the number of people offended should be the determining factor), just don't use it. It's not going to inconvenience you to stop using a word here and there, and it eliminates the chance that people who are offended/upset by that word will be uncomfortable in a conversation with you.

There are an amazing number of words at our disposal--more words than any of us could ever hope to use in our lifetimes. Nobody's discussions will suffer if we eliminate a few words from our vocabulary.

I'm going to semi-Godwin this thread now, but in this case, I feel it is warranted.
Oskar Schindler: I've been speaking to Goeth.

Itzhak Stern: I know the destination. These are the evacuation orders, I'm to help arrange the shipments, put myself on the last train.

Oskar Schindler: That's not what I was going to say. I made Goeth promise to put in a good word for you. Nothing bad is going to happen to you there, you'll receive special treatment.

Itzhak Stern: The directives coming in from Berlin talk about "special treatment" more and more often. I'd like to think that's not what you mean.

Oskar Schindler: Preferential treatment. All right? Do we have to create a new language?

Itzhak Stern: I think so.
posted by tzikeh at 11:39 PM on August 27, 2010


My initial reaction was to Army of Kittens' comment. That comment says, "congratulations, you just offended X number of people." Which was both statistically inaccurate (my initial complaint, incl. the possibility that it might be too low), and disingenuous. AoK wasn't saying, wow, I can't believe you said, that, you just hurt me and/or someone I love. That's a straight-up argument from numbers pulled out of one's butt.

I initially wrote a heartfelt thing as my first comment in this thread, but the whole OH LOOK CAPTAIN SENSITIVE IS HERE thing made me cringe (and I've seen, as I said later, "Hey, you hurt me," turn into "STFU" a few too many times). I thought the statistical argument might work a bit better; turns out it works with some people but not with others. And yeah, I underrepresented (I think I admitted as much somewhere in this giant thread) but it was only intended as shorthand. I know for a fact that people other than cis women get raped, and not just in prison.

I basically didn't want to dig out my personal history and that of my friends since at that point I didn't think it would benefit the thread (and it certainly wouldn't have benefitted me). I may have been wrong, but I wasn't trying to be disingenuous.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:53 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm really, really against the notion that one must testify about the details of their own assault(s) or other personal history in order to prove that they have the right to be disturbed. Many have spoken up both here and in other related threads, but I don't think anyone wants to feel like they have to dredge up their "credentials" on demand (or implied demand) every time the topic is broached.
posted by taz at 3:14 AM on August 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


> So now you're joining in too, with the Mister Sensitive pin? The thing is, I'm sure I've seen you on the receiving end of this. You know most people mean well.

Yeah, but I get sick and tired of pompous questions like "Is it really that important to you?" I know the intention is good, but come on, pretending that someone is going to go "Oh my god, you're right, now that you've asked those questions that never occurred to me even after the previous three hundred comments, my eyes are opened to my own insensitivity!" is ridiculous and comes across to me as posturing. If you want to say rape jokes are bad, just say it, and I'll agree with you.

> There's certainly nothing wrong with disagreement, or heated dialogue. But consistently, the reactions to mild comments like beniamino's at the start of this thread are nasty and personal. This can only be a welcoming community when we act decently towards each other. Shouldn't that be worth striving for?

Yes, absolutely, and I'm glad you put it like that. That's very different from your original "hostile environment" statement, which didn't seem to differentiate MetaFilter from the corner bar.

> I think the whole genre of "sick jokes" (the "THAT'S NOT FUNNY!" things) exists because we need a way to take some semblance of control over the unpredictable things that hurt us and frighten us. Black humor is one way to accomplish that.

Well said. And there is no way to magically balance the need for humor with the need for sensitivity, so we're going to keep on having these conversations, and I hope they all go as well as this one (ignoring the turds flung by the regular turd-flingers, obviously).
posted by languagehat at 6:16 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


As one of the most recognizeable people in this thread saying 'that's not funny,' I want to clarify my position a bit.

I'm not saying I want people to never talk about rape, or to never ever ever joke about rape.

What I want, and asked the original posters for, is an extra moment or two of thought about the potential effects of this type of humor.

Please don't think that my experience and reaction is a universal standard for trauma processing. These reactions that I have are even stronger in some of the people I've attended therapy with, and less intense for others.

Do I wish that I'd never see or hear rape hyperbole again in my life? Sure, just like I wish I had a full time job. And my feelings about those wishes not being fulfilled at present are pretty similar: I'm disappointed, but I recognize that I make the best choices I can with the information I have. I share information with others in the hope that their decision making process can benefit from additional viewpoints. I am not, however, going to show up at an office and demand to know why a company hasn't hired me, but if a company tells me they don't see me as competent at task X, if it's on my resume I'll point it out. They may not hire me, but I know I've given it an honest try.

Rape jokes and hyperbole will likely continue to appear in metafilter (and beyond!) some form or another, and as time passes I will probably freak out less inside. I know (intellectually) that people posting and defending such comments aren't waking up in the morning with a burning desire to give me the shakes, these jokes aren't about me on the surface.

To all the people who sent me kind and caring messages, thank you. I was able to thank most of you in MeMail from work yesterday, but outside of work my Internet access is limited.

To the people who will continue to make, employ, and/or enjoy rape (racist/sexist/homophobic) jokes, hyperbole, and humor, I understand that it can be an efficient tool, but I'd like you to consider whether it's effective. (and one more time! yay therapy!)
posted by bilabial at 6:59 AM on August 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know, if the joke were that people who live in a blissful state of first world comfort catastrophize the effects of paying a little extra for a concert ticket to the point where they actually equate it with horrific levels of human suffering -- if the joke were that you were so privileged, and so far removed from anything really bad in your own real life that you could see a parallel between something truly horrible and having to fork over a few extra bucks to see your favorite band (that, as we all know by now, totally sucks) -- then I could almost see the humor working here. I mean, is that the joke? Or is the joke really that TicketMaster is like a rapist, in that it forces you to give it some money that is almost certainly well within your means to part with?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:35 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The joke is that TM are assholes who take more than I want to give them, often by deceit. Like a rapist.
posted by rhizome at 8:33 AM on August 28, 2010


The joke is that TM are assholes who take more than I want to give them, often by deceit. Like a rapist.

Hilarious! What a real knee-slapper.

A rapist isn't the first person to come to mind when I think of someone who deceives me into giving them more than I had anticipated. There wasn't any deception involved when I was raped, and I also hadn't wanted to give them anything in the first place. Also there was a fucking knife.

Please stop explaining the joke. I know why it's "funny" and I understand the comparison that's being made. I just think it's trivializing and idiotic and reflects badly on the person who told it, or the people who keep explaining it like the only reason anyone would not think it's funny is that she didn't get it.

Thanks for apologizing, Admiral Haddock. That was extremely classy of you.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:53 AM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but the problem is that the sense of scale is off. Way off.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:54 AM on August 28, 2010


First, you misspelled my nick. That's cold.

Yes, I spelled it both correctly and incorrectly throughout this thread. Sorry about that.

I'm at a wedding all day and evening, but wanted to say that much at the very least. Will respond to the rest of your comment either late tonight or during the day tomorrow.
posted by zarq at 9:50 AM on August 28, 2010


The joke is that TM are assholes who take more than I want to give them, often by deceit.

The first thing that comes to mind in this scenario is not "rapist." It's fraud, or being cheated. When I think of people or institutions who take more than I want to give, I think "my bank," or "iTunes," or "that shop that won't let me pay with plastic unless I spend $10 or more." And, of course, I'm perfectly free to not give them anything by not using their services. Nowhere am I forced to buy tickets to a show.
posted by rtha at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2010


What I am having a hard time understanding about those who feel their rights have been abrogated by the suggestion that they think of their audience before they tell the joke, is that as far as I can tell, no one will feel physical pain, or mental pain, by not using those phrases in a joke. It causes zero harm to tell a different joke, or reserve the joke for a receptive audience. I am not one to use rape as a joke set up anyway, but on reflection, when I was in the corporate world, forcible rape metaphors were common, especially when dealing with price increases or other unexpected and unpleasant results.

So, I wrote earlier that this thread made me think about this. Then I thought of friends & relatives who have been physically assaulted, and I thought, yeah, I can easily do without that metaphor at no loss to me--even if I felt some loss, I would still think that not causing others needless pain in this forum is a greater good.

I somewhat understand the resistance to have to pre-edit ones thoughts & words before commenting in the blue/gray/green, but again--from my first experience in MeFi over 5 years ago til today, I have recognized in myself that the various MeFi fora, the community, and the mods, have been a positive influence on me. I still rant sometimes, but I am far more likely to hit the back button, rephrase, and make a far better comment.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:30 AM on August 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not going to defend the joke that started this thread, at least not really. It's kinda lazy; the connection between rape and Ticketmaster's pretty weak.

But I am going to point out a couple of things. First is that while there's no single theory that encapsulates well why humans find things funny, there's a pretty big tradition of arguing that all humor includes aggression or division—that even seemingly innocuous jokes divide into in-groups and out-groups, and that there's no such thing as a truly inclusive joke. There's also the Benign Violation theory, whereby every instance of humor involves referencing a violation while simultaneously removing the direct negative consequences of that violation. How rape humor fits would be left to the individual reader to determine how well that violation has been made benign. Some moght argue that rape could never be contextualized well enough to make it benign, or at the very least, could never be contextualized well enough on MetaFilter. And even Plato and Aristotle believed that humor was incumbent upon having a victim to whom the laugher feels superior.

The second is that the idea of making language inoffensive is good-hearted, but frequently employed in misguided or obnoxious ways, and is incredibly susceptible to slippery-slope rejoinders. In this thread, people have taken offense to metaphorical rape, to hyperbolic mentions of retardation, as well as to the purported ableism of "lame," and to sucks, to ram/cram/jamming down throats. That things have been declared insane doesn't yet seem to have drawn criticism for stigmatizing the mentally ill, but there's no consistent reason not to decry it, save that it didn't trip anyone's personal triggers. Doesn't poor also refer to the monetarily disadvantaged? Who wants to be reminded that they're poor? Aren't the poor often referred to by idiom as broken? That there is good reason to be sensitive about the usage of anything exclusionary does not mean that attempting to turn that into a categorical imperative doesn't quickly reduce to the absurd.

Likewise, the idea that Metafilter should be inherently a safe space for all is a nice thing to put forth, but frankly, the argument that it's better to have that than have Louis CK here and commenting just doesn't jibe with my priorities. I realize that it's callous to say that my entertainment is more important than other people's feelings, but every day I spend time on Metafilter that I could be using to volunteer at shelters, alleviating suffering in a direct manner. We've all made a choice that our entertainment is sometimes more important than doing something else for others—in large part, this is a conversation about what kinds of entertainment are acceptable here, how much any one person is allowed to enjoy themselves at the indirect expense of others. And that discussion, about balancing the entertainment of two different people, goes both ways. It's not just that making a thoughtless joke comes at the expense of others, but also that by restricting those thoughtless jokes, that's putting personal entertainment priorities over someone else's too, and while it's easy to say that it's obvious that protecting people from hurt feelings is more important than thoughtless jokes, that's something that's easy to disagree with as it doesn't and won't represent the priorities of everyone. All the tubthumping about hostile environments and how knowingly going forward with a joke that's of questionable taste in mixed company makes me an asshole isn't really going to convince me that your priorities are more legitimate than someone else's, and seems blind to the fact that other people can have legitimately different priorities. In fact, it makes me say, well, you think I'm an asshole? Fuck you. Especially when it seems that this isn't something personal, but rather dogma you ascribe to and want to rhetorically cudgel everyone else into obeying.
posted by klangklangston at 12:34 PM on August 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


bilabial and a few other posters have been trying to make it personal. If someone tells you that something hurts them and asks you to stop, and your reaction is "fuck you", then, uh, fuck you too, I guess.

I didn't want to bring the grar, but goddamn.
posted by bewilderbeast at 12:59 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Few would say that I strive to be inoffensive in my comments, or that I contribute to MetaFilter being a completely "safe" space. I get bitchy and make nasty, sometimes personal remarks about other people.

But there's something about framing a entire post around a risque joke or comment that made this entire thread feel completely warranted. Admiral Haddock's original comment was surely laughed at by some and cringed at by others, but the level of importance placed on an individual comment is so relatively low that there was practically no chance it would have ever been called out in MeTa, unless it was part of some larger pattern.

Any user-made infograph posted as a stand-alone MeTa thread would probably have been dissected and torn to shreds. Mainly that's because MeTa isn't really a place where you ever want the whole site's collective attention to turn and swivel in your direction, unless you have something pretty relevant to say. And even then it can be a tough room.

What you post and how/where you post it frames how others will respond. I can think of a dozen situations in which this could have been posted that would not have resulted in a site-wide dialogue about rape and rape-humor. I don't think we are ever going to experience a lack of inappropriate humor on the site, we're all a bunch of smarties and sickos at heart. I don't think awesome minds are going to find us so prim and sensitive that they avoid contributing here; I love it every time there's a thread in which the mods remind people that MetaFilter is ultimately to be considered NSFW, I find it downright inspiring. I think everyone's been in that situation in real life where someone cracks a really inappropriate joke, but because of some miraculous alignment of the stars, it actually goes over really well and has a good laugh. I see that exact same thing happen in MetaFilter all the time. Just not here, not this time, and the people who have been good enough to explain why that's the case should be listened to.
posted by hermitosis at 1:12 PM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


does not mean that attempting to turn that into a categorical imperative doesn't quickly reduce to the absurd.

That's why I think it's useful to both talk about the generalized issue but also to point out where the line is here on MetaFilter, and why it's there. Rape jokes are generally over the line, but if you're offended by people who call other people dicks or pussies, this might not be the place for you. I get your general argument klangklangston, but realistically I'm not sure if it's arguing that thigns should be different here or that the way they are is okay but that you sort of object?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2010


That things have been declared insane doesn't yet seem to have drawn criticism for stigmatizing the mentally ill, but there's no consistent reason not to decry it, save that it didn't trip anyone's personal triggers. Doesn't poor also refer to the monetarily disadvantaged? Who wants to be reminded that they're poor? Aren't the poor often referred to by idiom as broken? That there is good reason to be sensitive about the usage of anything exclusionary does not mean that attempting to turn that into a categorical imperative doesn't quickly reduce to the absurd.

Funnily enough, that's all stuff that I avoid using in some web environments, because people there have spoken out against them. I post in a lot of places where I'm one of the most privileged people there, despite being trans, because there are plenty of people out there who have been fucking crushed by the system in all sorts of horrible ways such that innocent-seeming words like insane can be triggers. And I respect that, and I don't use those words. It's not exactly difficult to find another word, and really, what's so great about the sentence Bush is insane (for example) that can't be preserved with another wording?

I don't consciously carry that over to Mefi but I'm sure I've internalised that limitation to some extent, and I've never found myself not able to make my point because of it. Sure, sometimes I fail to make my point because I'm a failbot, but that's another matter.

Mefi will never be a safe space in the way that some of the other places I hang out are designed to be (and Mefi has never seen the like of the sort of language flip-outs that go on in radical trans web communities, holy shit no, this place is tame) but it's unrealistic to expect it to ever come close. By the same token, just because I know that I'm going to run across stuff here that might trip a trigger doesn't mean I won't make with the dudewhatthefuck?

I have idea where I'm going with this comment, really.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:21 PM on August 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Especially when it seems that this isn't something personal, but rather dogma you ascribe to and want to rhetorically cudgel everyone else into obeying.

Truly and honestly, the most cudgeling I've seen, both here and in real life, is on the other side. For the most part, people don't have to ward themselves against the awful cudgeling threat of rape victims.

And the personal has been brought up here, both in this thread and past threads, though I've said that I think demanding that people somehow "validate" their opinion by describing their first- or second-hand rape experience is ridiculous. (Not that sharing that experience is ridiculous, but someone else demanding that they recite their suffering as some requisite before they can offer an opinion is. Why doesn't anyone demand that they have to expose their own being-raped experience before they can bloviate?).
posted by taz at 1:41 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


but someone else demanding that they recite their suffering as some requisite before they can offer an opinion is

What? Who did this?
posted by kid ichorous at 1:58 PM on August 28, 2010


All the tubthumping about hostile environments and how knowingly going forward with a joke that's of questionable taste in mixed company makes me an asshole isn't really going to convince me that your priorities are more legitimate than someone else's, and seems blind to the fact that other people can have legitimately different priorities. In fact, it makes me say, well, you think I'm an asshole? Fuck you.

I would not call you the a-h word, of course, Klangklangston, but I will say this comment surprised me and disappointed me a lot. I usually expect empathy and insight from you.

I'm also not really big on the argument that making jokes that trade on other people's difficult to terrible experiences, from mental illness to violent victimization, is OK because it is entertaining. The world is full of entertaining things that don't hurt.
posted by bearwife at 2:10 PM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


What? Who did this?

* (this was repeated several times over several comments), and when klang says "when it seems that this isn't something personal, but rather dogma you ascribe to" it seems to me that in order for your opinion to matter, it has to be personal — as in "My rape: let me show you it; now I can haz comment?"
posted by taz at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really get what klangklangston is saying and agree in terms of "entertainment" - I don't want my TV shows or my beloved comedians to shy away from touchy subjects to avoid offending people. I guess the difference between how I view that kind of "interaction" and how I view MetaFilter is that the latter isn't solely about entertainment, but also contains a community aspect. I definitely want a community that I am part of to work to make its members feel like contributing and sticking around is more productive than not. I've definitely had mixed feelings about MeFi in this respect, but ultimately, I think that conversations like this are valuable in setting the tone for "Ok, where is the line and what kind of repercussions ensue from crossing it?"

I was in no way offended by the ticket joke. I just can also see that what is acceptable in a context of entertainment where you can take it or leave it isn't necessarily something that works in a community setting where one of the goals is to have a conversation with people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds.
posted by sonika at 2:21 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


nd Mefi has never seen the like of the sort of language flip-outs that go on in radical trans web communities, holy shit no, this place is tame

I agree. Whenever we have these OPPRESHUNS OF LANGWADGE conversations I always have to snicker a bit, because I try very hard to be sensitive to concerns about word choice and I still fuck it up regularly in places infinitely more sensitive than we are here. It is something that happens.

I think there's a difference between trying, fucking up, trying again and just being indifferent, which I feel is at the root of the issue. Some people don't see that there's a point to trying if you're always going to be making mistakes. But there is a point. There's nothing wrong with being human, but if someone says ow and you keep stomping on their foot, well, then you're just being an ass.

If I'd seen the original comment, I'd've winced and gone on. But making a whole post out of it is a different thing. I appreciate the Admiral's comment about how this really made him think.

I have never been raped. But I have known enough people who have been raped that it's a painful thing to see it made into a joke. It makes me remember the bloodless, strained face of a friend of mine when she came home one day and told me that she had just been raped in a park in daylight. That is the association I have with that word - her bewildered anguished face as she shook on my couch. I cannot imagine that anyone thinks that a joke is a great way for me or anyone else to remember those kinds of moments in their life.
posted by winna at 3:02 PM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, aside from personal stuff, these conversations make me think of people I'll never see again, because they're dead.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:13 PM on August 28, 2010


This discussion is disturbing to me on a level that other debates/internet-shit-storms have not. Imaginary injured parties? Dogma?! Willful ignorance is one thing, but going as far as questioning and dismissing the validity of people's distaste because they haven't produced satisfactory evidence of their personal experience? The characterization of empathy and compassion as disingenuousness and oversensitivity? Even worse, self-righteous indignation to make oneself feel better?

Where does this come from? What kind of world view supports the notion that rape survivors and their loved ones must out themselves, relive the nightmare of it, and leave themselves vulnerable to criticism and judgment in order to be taken seriously? That they shouldn't have the support of others who have been fortunate enough to not have suffered the same? Why try to take even more away from those who have already had so much taken from them?

Someone please explain this to me because I do not get it.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:19 PM on August 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


George Carlin (may he rest in peace) used to do a routine about houses and stuff. "Ever notice how your shit is stuff and everybody else's stuff is shit?"

I'm reminded of that as I read this thread. One person's trauma is another person's comedy. But if that other person experiences the trauma, suddenly it isn't funny anymore.

I knew a guy who was a homophobe. His favorite insult to anyone he thought was gay was to crack AIDS jokes. Long story short: he's probably still a homophobe, but he stopped the AIDS jokes when he caught an STD. No, he didn't catch AIDS. He caught herpes and lost his girlfriend in the process, which was how we all found out about it. He'd cheated on her and she had no problem spilling the details to anyone who would listen. I can only assume that catching herpes hit a little too close to home because I never heard him crack an AIDS joke again.

I don't understand the mindset through which rape is funny. The internet is doing an amazing job of connecting people, but I sometimes wonder if it's doing an equally good job of pushing us further apart, turning us all into ones and zeros rather than fellow human beings.

I don't know.

I think the world would be a better place if empathy were a more common character trait.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2010


I've just discovered George Carlin; sleepless nights with the iThing have got a lot better.

It's a strange thing with rape. Like domestic violence, it primarily effects women, it is under-reported, its victims are often not taken seriously by authorities, and it is often used in jokes. I can't help but feel that some of these things may be related.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:36 PM on August 28, 2010


I had just come from reading the thread about Glenn Beck's "Reclaiming the Civil Rights movement" rally. Yesterday I was going to make a joke at some point about how at least nobody here has offered to reclaim the word "rape". And over there in the thread, people were asking, what was it the people at the rally were demanding, really? Why is it they seem to feel so persecuted and under siege?

And here, I am left with the same question.
In this thread, people have taken offense to metaphorical rape, to hyperbolic mentions of retardation, as well as to the purported ableism of "lame," and to sucks, to ram/cram/jamming down throats. That things have been declared insane doesn't yet seem to have drawn criticism for stigmatizing the mentally ill, but there's no consistent reason not to decry it, save that it didn't trip anyone's personal triggers. Doesn't poor also refer to the monetarily disadvantaged? Who wants to be reminded that they're poor? Aren't the poor often referred to by idiom as broken? That there is good reason to be sensitive about the usage of anything exclusionary does not mean that attempting to turn that into a categorical imperative doesn't quickly reduce to the absurd.
The hypersensitive and self-righteous, coming to take our words to give to the excluded? And I could answer the fears one by one: no, klangklangston, people were only discussing the ram/cram/jamming down throats thing... no, klangklangston, nobody says monetarily disadvantaged, and you are being absurd... no, klangklangston, it is not a categorical imperative, as people keep emphasising... and so on, and so on. And it won't matter.

Because:
In fact, it makes me say, well, you think I'm an asshole? Fuck you.
because it always comes back to this. Mefites who have been raped made themselves vulnerable in a public forum so that they can imply that you are an asshole. It is, as ever, about you.
Especially when it seems that this isn't something personal, but rather dogma you ascribe to and want to rhetorically cudgel everyone else into obeying.
I don't think you are an asshole, klangklangston. I am however left to wonder, if you just missed the comments from the Mefites who have been raped, as surely it was personal to them; or whether you are just cold, that you can say that with a straight face, say it isn't personal, say it is dogma.

I started writing about my dogma/personal story, but never mind, I'll just say this: I was once in a therapy session, where I took the role of standing in for my friend's rapist, so that she could relive what happened, say what she needed to say, and reprocess it in a way that return to her more of a sense of control. And these sessions, they always seemed ridiculous to start with, the idea that you could act it out and relive it, and then heal in some way. Until something surfaced in her, and her face turned dark. She threw something at me, that narrowly missed my head. (It wasn't anything dangerous, I'm sure). And then I watched her crumple into the corner, sobbing, while the staff therapists held her and consoled her and let her cry it out. And she was my friend, and I watched, and cried for her, and that was all I could do.

It doesn't mean shit, my story, except to let you know that all those people you think are only doing it because of some dogma, that it might be more personal to them than you think.

But what was I thinking, people have already made themselves vulnerable, opened up their wounds for Eideteker to examine, and it wasn't enough personal for you.
Likewise, the idea that Metafilter should be inherently a safe space for all is a nice thing to put forth, but frankly, the argument that it's better to have that than have Louis CK here and commenting just doesn't jibe with my priorities.
It is not possible, that there is a budding Louis CK, who is also vulnerable to something. It is not possible, that bilabial or bewilderbeast or some other Mefite who is just reading but has been affected by this, it is not possible that one or more of them might have something as great to offer as a Louis CK. Hermitosis mentioned upthread a story about Richard Pryor, about his vulnerability. That was always what struck me most about him, and I think a large part of why people love him so much. Vulnerability, his heart on his sleeve.

Every time there is a conversation like this, we have people coming in, talking about dark humour, gallows humour, as if people like us don't know what it is, don't use it, don't enjoy it. I myself don't tend to make jokes here nearly as much, as there are many, many funnier, wittier Mefites who do it quicker and better, but you look at many of the other Mefites who had a problem with this joke, and there are some funny people there. And I assure you, I make jokes and use "edgy" and dark and gallows humour and say offensive things and sometimes enjoy jokes for their shock value and say things to friends and then say Oh god, I am a terrible person and we laugh and it's okay. I have most likely even made jokes about rape, and probably will again, for nothing is off limits. Except I make those jokes in private, to people I know would not be hurt by it, to whom I know my joke would not trivialise rape in some way. It is contained, I know who is on the receiving end, and I am responsible for my jokes — I know what they are going to do.

On Mefi, we can't, because we don't, can't, know all our audience. We don't know what we are releasing into the world. So some of us thought we could take a little more care, especially after hearing from people who have been affected.

But it doesn't jibe with your priorities. Okay, of course. I wish you had just said that. You don't have to make the torturous comparison between volunteering at shelters and not making a joke. It's okay.

I hope here that I can tell you something that will soothe you. You see, the original joke is still on the Blue, racking up favourites as we speak. Jessamyn has already stated that while she might like less of them, there is no site policy against rape jokes. So people like myself here, we can "tubthump" all we want, but really, we are pretty powerless. And if you are worried that we are "sanitizing the internet for the lowest common denominator of possible offenses", it's okay — if you peek outside the door of Metafilter for just a moment, you will find a whole internet out there that, I assure you, don't give a flying fuck about anyone's sensitivities. So it's okay man — you have the world you want. You have your entertainment. It's just all talk, from people like us; it is futile, as it always was. You are not under threat, your jokes are not under siege. Did you feel like people talking about how rape jokes affect them hurt your feelings by implying you are an asshole? I'm sorry klangklangston, I assure you that most of them weren't thinking of calling you or anyone an asshole for liking jokes. There, there. Is that better? I will now cede to you this space, sir, and your entertainment to which you are entitled.
posted by catchingsignals at 4:52 PM on August 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Much as I'd love to offer a sarcastic rejoinder to what I see as a wild misreading from Catchingsignals, that's against the intent of what I wrote.

What I was responding to was a handful of comments well up the thread (at least by now) from folks like Zarq and Keep It Under Cover and Sonika, with the formers' pretty hyperbolic misrepresentation of folks they were arguing with's positions, and the latter's explicit discussion of safe spaces.

I do note that I was too broad in the use of the rhetorical "you." I tried to avoid it, but obviously got lazy as the comment wore on.

Nowhere in it did I say that people are required to bare their wounds on MeFi, nor that doing so was required to take legitimate part in the conversation. And none of the people who have talked about personal sexual assault experiences are (so far as I can tell) trying to cudgel others into obeying their shibboleths or taboos.

But suggesting that the proper alternative to "sucks" is "sub-optimal in every way" is itself sub-optimal in every way, and refusing to recognize that this is working to shape language in a way that is at best of dubious value to any real good and frankly ridiculous is inane. Refusing to realize that "insane" is innocuous both here and in the larger world is silly.

One last thing I'd like to clarify: The bit about asshole/fuck you is about not recognizing that people can legitimately disagree about both the purpose of Metafilter, or what's appropriate, or what's funny, and that because there isn't and can't be an outside arbiter, just calling someone an asshole or saying that they, say, willfully turn a blind eye to rape, isn't persuasion, it's just blustery insult. "Fuck you," is just the blunt reply to blustery insult.

I'll be happy to answer more questions if anyone wants, but I'm really not going to do a Battle All Comers thing here.
posted by klangklangston at 6:56 PM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every time there is a conversation like this, we have people coming in, talking about dark humour, gallows humour, as if people like us don't know what it is, don't use it, don't enjoy it.

I hope you didn't read my Mel Brooks comment as if I was trying to point out that certain people wouldn't be aware of dark humour. Or use it as a defense of rape jokes on MetaFilter.

Reading bilabial's first comment was pretty moving. She says, "...when I hear jokes about people getting ass raped, what I am hearing are jokes about a night I was almost killed." which made me feel pretty guilty about enjoying rape jokes altogether.
posted by ODiV at 7:12 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


But suggesting that the proper alternative to "sucks" is "sub-optimal in every way" is itself sub-optimal in every way, and refusing to recognize that this is working to shape language in a way that is at best of dubious value to any real good and frankly ridiculous is inane.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I was speaking completely tongue in cheek to make the point that no, there is never a need to be offensive. I don't think "sucks" is offensive at all, but if I was chatting with someone who got bent about it, I can say exactly the same thing in different words. Language is flexible and there is never a dire need to say something that someone else has indicated to be hurtful. That was my point, not that "sucks" is in and of itself a harmful word, because I certainly don't think it is.

I say plenty of off-color shit in my life, but if I'm chatting with someone who is obviously put off by it, I can just as easily avoid it. Where I "draw the line" personally is on a case by case basis. I certainly don't think that MetaFilter needs to be sanitized and the only insinuations I can see from that are people who are arguing that if we don't use rape jokes, pretty soon we won't be able to call things crazy - and that kind of slippery slope argument just doesn't hold up in reality. We'll talk about whether or not calling things insane is hurtful when someone is hurt by it. Until then, there's no point in speculating that cautioning against saying one thing that's hurtful is the same thing as censoring anything that could be hurtful.

I'm not calling for a moritorium on the word "sucks" or even the word "lame" (which I've mentioned bugs me), the only thing I'm advocating for in this thread is that it doesn't hurt anyone to be aware of the greater community when they're speaking and if MetaFilter is a place where rape jokes are harmful to said community, I'm perfectly happy not making them and don't see any real reason why they're necessary here.
posted by sonika at 7:29 PM on August 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


One last thing I'd like to clarify: The bit about asshole/fuck you is about not recognizing that people can legitimately disagree about both the purpose of Metafilter, or what's appropriate, or what's funny, and that because there isn't and can't be an outside arbiter, just calling someone an asshole or saying that they, say, willfully turn a blind eye to rape, isn't persuasion, it's just blustery insult.

The righteousness of both sides comes into play here, but as I tend to agree with klang it is the certainty of the "safe environment" people that most gets my GRAR up. The comments along these lines (paraphrasing):

1) well if we have just changed one mind, then we've done worthwhile work here
2) there are some people that just don't want to be educated
3) keep vigilant if we want to build a better world

...read as though the right-thinkers are Freedom Riders, that the morality of their position is indisputable and any who argue against them are the forces of darkness and ignorant souls that need to be brought into the light of the modern world.

Please be aware that there are not just "turd generators", trolls, etc., that are arguing the other side here. There are honest and legitimate arguments being made on both sides.

And in this case please spare the "you are not an asshole, you just have an asshole opinion", because that is putting this debate on the same footing as dealing with racists and hate speech.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:43 PM on August 28, 2010


"Nowhere in it did I say that people are required to bare their wounds on MeFi, nor that doing so was required to take legitimate part in the conversation."

Sure, not required. But then I can't claim it to be personal. Whatever I say is just dogma. It's really because I enjoy rhetorical cudgeling, not that this actually affects me or people I care about.

Oh, have I misrepresented your position now?

And really, if you want to rush to Eideteker's defense in response to my blustery insult, could you please explain how referring to people's private experiences with rape, and statistics of the prevalence of rape, as "imaginary," and thus not of his concern, is not at all like turning a blind eye?
posted by keep it under cover at 7:48 PM on August 28, 2010


...read as though the right-thinkers are Freedom Riders, that the morality of their position is indisputable and any who argue against them are the forces of darkness and ignorant souls that need to be brought into the light of the modern world.

If you're including my comments in this, which I'm assuming you are, this isn't at all what I'm intending and I'm not sure how to fix it if this is how I'm coming across. I totally see the point in what people are saying w/r/t self-censoring and the value of black humor. I don't think that the people who are on the "other side" are forces of darkness or ignorant or anything else. I suppose my comments that "Well, this thread has been worthwhile because we've changed people's minds" have that kind of bent to them, but what I mean is that this conversation hasn't been a waste of time - not that we need to change people's minds or bring them into the light, but having a conversation about it has not been fruitless.

It's a distinction that I think is important to make because these types of conversations very quickly develop "sides" and I think that it bears pointing out that mutual understanding is more important than "conversion" in either direction. Some people have understood why others find rape jokes hurtful. That's a productive use of MetaTalk. Which is useful to point out in the face of people who think that total change is the only kind of "useful" change on the site. That's pretty much impossible.

It's no skin off my nose if someone wants to continue making rape jokes - I can say with near certainty that you'll never see me call someone out for that. But I can also say that it's more important to me to feel comfortable in a community than to make a joke and I support the people who feel like they would be much more comfortable here if people wouldn't make rape jokes. I have yet to see a response to convince me that there is a need to make a joke here on MetaFilter that hurts someone else, but I'm open to hearing about it. I do agree with quite a lot of the points on the "other side" about entertainment and dark humor, but where I part ways is feeling like that's necessary on MetaFilter.
posted by sonika at 7:53 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sanitizing language is never good. Replacing possibly offensive words in a joke with bland certainly inoffensive words results in a bland unfunny joke. If you'd rather never be offended than have funny jokes, fine, but I'd rather be offended regularly than to live in a world where humor can never be edgy.
posted by schyler523 at 8:36 PM on August 28, 2010


I'd rather be offended regularly than to live in a world where humor can never be edgy.

I don't think the discussion is about The World. I think it is about Metafilter.
posted by scody at 8:45 PM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


s/live in a world/visit a metafilter
posted by schyler523 at 8:53 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could I ask, schyler523, that you actually read the thread, and previous threads about the topic, rather than reiterate a point that has been addressed repeatedly in this thread and a hundred like it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I hope you didn't read my Mel Brooks comment as if I was trying to point out that certain people wouldn't be aware of dark humour. Or use it as a defense of rape jokes on MetaFilter.
Not at all ODiV, I appreciated what you meant. :)
it is the certainty of the "safe environment" people that most gets my GRAR up.
You say with such certainty that "There are honest and legitimate arguments being made on both sides". Both the side that says there are honest and legitimate arguments being made on both sides and the side that says there are honest and legitimate arguments being made on one side have honest and legitimate arguments.

That is to say, I don't know what the hell you want us to do. People on "the other side" are certainly not hedging their words. They are not saying Yes, I get you but... or Help me try to understand why it's important to you... But people "on this side" (I hate even talking about sides, I don't care about sides, but don't know how else to describe it) have been trying to understand:
I understood she was sincere and wanting to engage, and started writing a reply to her, but just ran out of energy somewhere along the way. Would you like to continue the conversation, and talk about what you thought were some of her important points? I genuinely would like to understand.
Where does this come from? What kind of world view supports the notion that rape survivors and their loved ones must out themselves, relive the nightmare of it, and leave themselves vulnerable to criticism and judgment in order to be taken seriously? That they shouldn't have the support of others who have been fortunate enough to not have suffered the same? Why try to take even more away from those who have already had so much taken from them?

Someone please explain this to me because I do not get it.
because for me, and I think for keep it under cover, it would actually make us feel much better if we understood — because I really, genuinely don't want to feel how I feel about people right now.

And when people believe in what they are saying and think it is important, they sound righteous. That is a meaningless criticism, because you would not have a problem with that kind of righteousness on here if it were on other topics. You would not notice the kind of righteousness with what languagehat said on this, because he is somewhere in the middle, and you might agree more with him. We notice most the righteousness in those with whom we disagree, especially if we think (note, think) they are trying to make us feel bad about ourselves.

1) well if we have just changed one mind, then we've done worthwhile work here
2) there are some people that just don't want to be educated
3) keep vigilant if we want to build a better world
These are your words, that cast what we say in the worst possible light. 1) It was good that we saw someone who made a rape joke agree that though he clearly didn't mean harm, it was not worth it to hurt others. It didn't end, as it often does, with the poster getting entrenched and people piling on and the poster flaming out. That was a Good Thing. 2) I searched for the word "educated" in this thread, but the only matches were from you and mondaygreens. There are some (many) people that just are not going to agree. I was trying to help zarq make peace with that, because it sounded like it was getting to him. 3) vigilant — again your word, the worst, most Big-Brother-sounding word you can come up with. We never said anything like it!
...read as though the right-thinkers are Freedom Riders, that the morality of their position is indisputable and any who argue against them are the forces of darkness and ignorant souls that need to be brought into the light of the modern world.
right-thinkers, Freedom Riders, indisputable, forces of darkness, ignorant souls, light of the modern world...
Please be aware that there are not just "turd generators", trolls, etc., that are arguing the other side here.
...turd generators (where are you quoting it from?) — all your words. And I'm wildly misreading? I wouldn't even think any of those things about other people. The problem isn't ignorance or needing any education. It is, to my mind, a pair of scales, on the one side of which is a rape-joke, this tiny little thing, and a small apology (that was warmly welcomed), another tiny little thing; and on the other side, it is all the hurt and pain of people who have been raped or assaulted who is affected by a joke like this. If someone had said, "I'm really sorry for what you have gone through, and I'm sorry, but I'm not sure it's realistic to hope that people would stop making jokes that might hurt you or trigger your experiences. I hope you take care." or something along those lines — that acknowledges the pain of the people who are our fellow Mefites — that I can understand. But that is not what I'm seeing. Instead it's this ever-tiresome wild misreading of what we are asking for — the slippery slope, the bland and inoffensive and oversensitive vs. humour, fun and entertainment.

I am not going to add to this thread anymore, because I just realised I may be prolonging this for some of the people who I'm trying to care for, and making them read ever more aggression, dismissiveness and indifference. I'm sorry.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:35 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Second, I never mocked or attacked anyone. I even apologized in response to a comment you made, directed at me. I've tried to argue impersonally and dispassionately.

If you missed it, I explicitly thanked you for apologizing.

Here's what I said in response to Mister_A: I would like you to re-read this thread and consider how the conversation might have gone without Mayor Curley's and Eidetaker's comments. How would it have gone if people hadn't been challenged, mocked, attacked and told to shut up because they dared to voice an opinion?

I was referring to Mayor Curley and not you when I said "mocked" and "attacked." I was referring to you when I said "challenged" and "told to shut up." I should have been clearer about that division in my comment. You did not mock or launch personal attacks against people here, and if my comment inadvertently implied that you did, that was wrong of me.

You challenged people in a way that I thought wasn't cool, where you essentially told the non-victims to shut up because their perspectives are somehow invalid. I explained why I thought it was seriously problematic at length in several comments. (I don't see a need to rehash those arguments again.) You apologized. I thanked you for apologizing.

I have a problem with Mayor Curley's initial comment in this thread. It bothers the hell out of me that when someone voices a mild objection to anything offensive, some folks here reliably belittle them as being "too sensitive" and start complaining about "outragefilter." He is not the only person here who does so.

I clearly stated I don't the particular joke here funny. But I defend the right to make the joke, the same as any free-speech claim. Was it dumb? Insensitive? That's what we're here to discuss (Yes, on both counts, btw). But don't invent imaginary injured parties to justify *your* particular animosity.

I realize you're most likely talking about AoK here, but for the record, I did not invent imaginary injured parties to defend.
posted by zarq at 9:53 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


All the tubthumping about hostile environments and how knowingly going forward with a joke that's of questionable taste in mixed company makes me an asshole isn't really going to convince me that your priorities are more legitimate than someone else's, and seems blind to the fact that other people can have legitimately different priorities. In fact, it makes me say, well, you think I'm an asshole? Fuck you. Especially when it seems that this isn't something personal, but rather dogma you ascribe to and want to rhetorically cudgel everyone else into obeying.

klangklangston, please go back and re-read my comments in this thread again before you complain about them.

I clarified my comment about hostile environments last night, like 15 hours before you said this. You still seem to be misinterpreting what I'm trying to convey. I have not said a thing about the joke in the infographic. I haven't said anything about entertainment value or lack thereof regarding rape jokes on MeFi. I haven't weighed in on whether I think the joke is tasteless, entertaining or both.

I really don't know what else to tell you here.
posted by zarq at 10:05 PM on August 28, 2010


Yes, absolutely, and I'm glad you put it like that. That's very different from your original "hostile environment" statement, which didn't seem to differentiate MetaFilter from the corner bar.

Unfortunately true. Thanks for trying to restate what it looked like I was saying. It helped me be more coherent.
posted by zarq at 10:15 PM on August 28, 2010


I also know thanks to Twitter that you're at a bit of a crunch time at work.

Coming soon. In two weeks. Gonna be a long September, as usual!

And I think it's worth making a note that whenever there's a debate where people are pissed off at each other and someone says something like "I'm not innocent here, I know. I can be guilty of this myself." [you did this recently, but other people do it all the time] that the easiest thing to do is to make the change you want to see start with you.

And again, not to point. Everyone can do better, including me. But making sure you're coming to the table having had enough sleep or enough coffee or whatever you personally take to be functional and not prickly, if everyone could do that then the presuming good faith stuff that we'd like people to do but that comes so difficultly to many people might be easier.


Agreed. FWIW, I'm trying to be more aware of it. And I am definitely trying to follow my own advice here.
posted by zarq at 10:19 PM on August 28, 2010


With all due respect zarq, you just commented four times in a row in this 440 comment thread. This sort of thing doesn't scale. I think part of the awareness is that we all have to wind up being okay with this whole exercise without each of us getting whatever closure we feel that we need. At least that's my read.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:23 PM on August 28, 2010


jessamyn: "With all due respect zarq, you just commented four times in a row in this 440 comment thread. This sort of thing doesn't scale. I think part of the awareness is that we all have to wind up being okay with this whole exercise without each of us getting whatever closure we feel that we need. At least that's my read"

Yeah geez, it's like zarq was replying directly to issues raises, some of them even with comments directed directly at zarq.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:32 PM on August 28, 2010


I don't think zarq's comments would fail to scale if he responded to each of the people he addressed in one lengthy comment instead of four shorter ones. What difference does his formatting make? Also, he promised earlier to return with responses to a comment. -- in the interim others including klangklangston dropped by with new critiques. Zarq should be able to respond if he'd like.
posted by bearwife at 11:07 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


schyler523: “If you'd rather never be offended than have funny jokes, fine, but I'd rather be offended regularly than to live in a world where humor can never be edgy.”

scody: “I don't think the discussion is about The World. I think it is about Metafilter.”

Exactly. And, more to the point, the discussion is not about being offended – this is an essential point that I think many of us seem to have missed. The point is not that some people find themselves offended at certain jokes. The point is that some people find themselves hurt at certain jokes.

There is an essential and stark difference between being offended and being hurt. And I get the impression that most of the misunderstanding in this thread has been the result of the fact that some people have been talking about one and some people have been talking about the other.
posted by koeselitz at 11:07 PM on August 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I forgot to leave my hamburger up there. Sorry.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:09 PM on August 28, 2010


You know, much love to the guy who took the time out to make a graphic, which is certainly more effort than I've put into anything all day, but I would like to talk for a minute about what offends me, and that is drawing comparisons between Louis CK and Richard Pryor and George Carlin and this ticket graphic. One of these things is not like the other. I think if you're gonna make a joke about "deep ass rape," you need to make sure that your joke is really fucking hilarious. I promise, everyone will laugh. But if your joke is -- I'm sorry, man -- kinda lame and obvious? No one's laughing at your shit. The difference between being the guy of whom people say, "Oh -- did he go there? Oh! Oh. Yeah, he went there" and being the guy of whom people say, "Jerk-ass," is really as simple as that. Saying "deep ass rape" isn't funny, because ass rape isn't funny. Ass rape makes people unhappy. A successful joke about a subject that makes people unhappy will kill, because the last thing anyone expected was to get a laugh out of something horrible, and because you've taken something horrible and taken away its power for a second. Smiles all around! But this joke was about TicketMaster, which is both a trite subject for humor and not really a big deal. So the joke doesn't really work, because paying extra for a concert ticket isn't like rape, and rape is such a bigger deal than TicketMaster that people just see "rape" and forget what else you were talking about. If you wanna solve this problem? Don't excoriate people for being too sensitive. Just learn to tell some better jokes.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:09 AM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


... if you're gonna make a joke about "deep ass rape," you need to make sure that your joke is really fucking hilarious.

I'm sure you're correct, but isn't this joke about TicketMaster and not rape? Is it a rape joke because it uses rape as an element in it's construction? But people have pointed out that another element could have been safely substituted, so it seems the rape part is non-essential - the joke is not about rape then, any more than it is about nerve gas.

Or are we not talking about the ticket anymore? This has been a long thread and I'm more confused now than I was at the beginning.
posted by Ritchie at 2:17 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Astro_Zombie: I did read this entire thread, and the vast majority of the other similar conversations on MeTa. I'm stating my opinion that in this case, an infographic that was making a joke about ticketmaster being horrible, one of the examples given to show that ticketmaster is indeed horrible made people feel bad.

I have friends and family members that have been assaulted, I have friends and family members that are "retarded" and so on...sometimes the jokes aren't funny. But I still feel that people need to be able to make them, just as you have the right to try to make them feel bad for making that joke. Some people make jokes to lessen the hurt, or the pain.

Just because I voice an unpopular opinion doesn't mean that I haven't read the entire thread.
posted by schyler523 at 5:49 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


With all due respect zarq, you just commented four times in a row in this 440 comment thread. This sort of thing doesn't scale.

I realize you have no way of tracking this, but I do that all the time.

I don't respond to multiple people in single comments any more, unless what I have to say is going to apply to them all equally. Here's why: I feel my comments are misinterpreted around here a lot. Sometimes that's my fault. Sometimes people don't read my comments carefully. Other times, I will say something in a long thread and it will be missed. I feel like I say some variant of "please re-read my comment" *way* too often. I've come to the conclusion that this is not confirmation bias on my part. A number of people here have told me privately that they don't understand why people keep misunderstanding me.

Jessamyn, if you'll please re-read the four comments I made last night, you'll see that I was addressing instances in which all three of those problems actually seem to have happened. Eideteker apparently missed my thanking him for his apology. I inadvertently lumped him in with Mayor Curley in another comment, so he rightfully complained and I had to clarify. And Klangklangston is complaining that I said something I didn't.

I replyed to Eideteker, as not doing so would have been really rude -- especially since I said I would do so earlier in the day. Also, I needed to not have him think I was miscasting him as someone who had engaged in personal attacks. I can't correct that impression without also comparing his actions here with Mayor Curley's.

Oh, and I thanked languagehat for helping me see that something I'd said was too ambiguously worded.

I think part of the awareness is that we all have to wind up being okay with this whole exercise without each of us getting whatever closure we feel that we need.

Yes, and I've said I'm okay with that.

But I'd like you to be explicitly clear about this, please: Other people in this thread are continuing to talk about (and misinterpret my meaning regarding) points I raised. They are addressing me directly by name.

Are you telling me I should not have replied to them? Even though I did so politely and not in anger?
posted by zarq at 6:03 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like I say some variant of "please re-read my comment" *way* too often. I've come to the conclusion that this is not confirmation bias on my part. A number of people here have told me privately that they don't understand why people keep misunderstanding me.

I'm saying this as someone who really, really likes reading your comments here, and am absolutely not telling you to participate less or anything like that.

However: the common factor in your problematic interactions is you. If you keep getting misunderstood and misinterpreted far more often the rest of us, the issue isn't other people's reading comprehension. Your response to this problem (breaking up comments, repetition, involvement in lots of GRAR incidents, etc) reminds me of the stereotype of an English traveler of a certain age trying to speak with "the natives," substituting volume for fluency. It isn't helping, and it isn't acknowledging your active participation in creating the problem that is frustrating you.

tl;dr: If what you are doing isn't working, doing it more won't help.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just because I voice an unpopular opinion doesn't mean that I haven't read the entire thread.

What makes it feel like you haven't read the thread is that you pop in at the end with a point that has been thoroughly addressed, as though it's a new point. I suppose I might have thought you had been familiar with the topic had you said, well, you all have addressed this, but let me expand on my point. But there was no expansion. It went like this.

EARLY IN THE THREAD:

-- We have to be able to tell jokes, because it's how some people deal with pain, and comedy flirts with tragedy, and the world would be boring without edgy humor.

-- Well, there's going to be different opinion about this, and we'll probably have to deal with jokes as they come up, but it's worth approaching the subject matter with extra care and sensitivity, because it's probably that this sort of thing will actually hurt people in this community, and it's worth being sensitive to the community as a whole.

Thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread thread ...

-- We have to be able to tell jokes, because it's how some people deal with pain, and comedy flirts with tragedy, and the world would be boring without edgy humor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:31 AM on August 29, 2010


I just wanted to put my own two cents in here as a data point. I tell jokes a lot and sometimes I offend people. When they tell me that, I apologize and then never tell them jokes again. Metafilter is now like that and I think that is a bad thing. If this was about a different subject, the majority of people here would just be saying FIAMO.
posted by schyler523 at 6:40 AM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to put my own two cents in here as a data point. If this was about a different subject, the majority of people here would just be saying FIAMO.

FWIW, I've read this whole thread too and felt tempted to do the same thing. I didn't think the joke was offensive, but the way the conversation about it has progressed, it feels like saying anything in defense of it will be perceived as hurtful and disrespectful to people who have experienced a trauma, which I would never want to do.

I can totally get on board with the idea that in certain settings, certain kinds of jokes or speech is not acceptable, for the sake of civility. For example, where I work there are a lot of religious people, and using the Lord's name in vain is a big no-no. I am fine with that, not only because I don't want to lose my job, but also because I am fond of quite of few of the people there and don't want to make them uncomfortable, even though I don't understand their POV at all.

If this is the case with casual, jokey references to sexual assault on Metafilter, then I think that should be something decided by the moderators, and those types of comments/threads deleted, like anything else considered inappropriate. Leaving it this way, with 400+ threads where people feel they have to dredge up their painful experiences to be taken seriously, duking it out with the people who feel they can't make a joke for fear of being nailed to a cross in Meta, makes me extremely uncomfortable and is one of the reasons I mainly lurk here.

I'm sure nobody cares, but that's my two cents anyway.
posted by cottonswab at 7:17 AM on August 29, 2010


> Thanks for trying to restate what it looked like I was saying. It helped me be more coherent.

And thank you for responding so graciously; you're one of the people I respect around here, and I don't like feeling we're at loggerheads.

Jessamyn, I think you were too quick with the trigger in chastising zarq. He hadn't been here in a while and was responding to several things he felt it important to respond to, and he feels that one long all-inclusive comment is less likely to be read and heard, and I think he's right.
posted by languagehat at 7:28 AM on August 29, 2010


Other people in this thread are continuing to talk about (and misinterpret my meaning regarding) points I raised. They are addressing me directly by name.

Are you telling me I should not have replied to them? Even though I did so politely and not in anger?


I'm saying that people are sometimes going to misinterpret you, happens to all of us. And that whenever there's a really long thread in MeTa, any one person who feels the need to reply individually and/or at length to each person who doesn't seem to be getting their meaning is often derailing the larger sort of group process. It spawns more separate "okay now I need to reply to THAT" side conversations which become less and less beneficial to the thread at large as there become more of them. And that while this doesn't seem to be true for you, for the most part when we see that happening on MeFi it's the start of larger problems and it's worth pointing out in my opinion. Again, not specific to you but we've had several high profile users whose objection to being misunderstood have turned into sitewide conflagrations so this sort of thing sort of perks my ears.

I enjoy and appreciate your contributions here, period. That said, this is becoming a trend that I'd like to point out and that's it just point it out. Everyone in the thread, for the most part, is trying to be understood and to avoid being misunderstood.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


MeFi
posted by Eideteker at 8:18 AM on August 29, 2010


Ritchie, I just wanna say that you're right, and that I mistakenly said the joke was about rape and about TicketMaster at various points, when what I should have said was that the joke was about TicketMaster and had rape as a punchline. I think that would really only work if the joke were on the teller himself -- if the joke is, here am I, someone so involved in my own frankly kinda trivial concerns that rape is to my mind of a consequence equal to the general douchiness of TicketMaster. I do think that would be funny, because at that point the joke is about how a pampered person can "identify" with someone who has real problems (e.g., my car doesn't have enough passengers for me to take the HOV lane; I am a modern day Rosa Parks. That's not really all that funny, but you get the idea).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2010


> You would not notice the kind of righteousness with what languagehat said on this, because he is somewhere in the middle

I am somewhere in the middle, and it's an uncomfortable position. I have the feeling that a lot of people who find themselves on one side of this debate don't really "get" the objections of the other side; those who defend the jokes tend to be dismissive of the objections ("If you'd rather never be offended than have funny jokes, fine, but I'd rather be offended regularly than to live in a world where humor can never be edgy"), and those who object to the jokes tend to be aghast at the idea of humor that crosses their lines ("why do you defenders of freedom think it's so important for people to make rape jokes?"). I myself am moved by the personal stories people have told and hate the idea of their being hurt unnecessarily, and yet I love edgy humor and have laughed at jokes at just about every conceivable topic. Yes, of course there's a difference between a public venue like MetaFilter and a small group of like-thinking friends, but how exactly do you navigate that difference? We obviously cannot make MeFi a safe haven for everyone who's suffered, so that they will never be uncomfortably reminded of their pain; to some extent, you pays your five bucks and you takes your chances. On the other hand, it's uncivil to deliberately say things that you know or suspect will hurt other people. I'm pretty sure people who tell edgy jokes aren't intending to hurt anyone, but what should they do when called on it? Everything depends on the circumstances of the joke and the callout, but I think it's likely to go better when the callout presumes good intentions and acknowledges the appeal of edgy humor ("I know you didn't mean to hurt anyone, and I appreciate a good joke as much as anybody, but I wanted to let you know that...") than when the callout presumes the person is just being an asshole and seems to take for granted that humor is utterly unimportant compared to people's feelings. The former is likely to produce a "Sorry, I didn't realize!" response; the latter a "Fuck you and your oversensitive sensitivity."

But people are never going to behave ideally, either in telling jokes or in responding to things that bother them, so we're just going to have to navigate these waters as best we can.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


schyler523: “I just wanted to put my own two cents in here as a data point. I tell jokes a lot and sometimes I offend people. When they tell me that, I apologize and then never tell them jokes again. Metafilter is now like that and I think that is a bad thing. If this was about a different subject, the majority of people here would just be saying FIAMO.”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: I don't think you're getting what some of us are talking about. We're not talking about how certain jokes might offend people. Everybody's talking about Richard Pryor and George Carlin – well, they're examples of the fact that sometimes being a little offended by a joke but laughing at it anyway and being willing to learn and open your mind in the process can be a great thing. And I think that's what you're getting at: the edgy, sometimes outstanding humor that makes us reconsider our mental limits.

Those things are good because taking offense is something we do when a joke transgresses our perceived social limits. We have certain rules in our minds about how social interaction is supposed to happen, and we get offended when those rules are violated. And – I'm pretty sure this might be how you feel about it, I don't know – maybe we ought to spend more time questioning those rules. In fact, one of the best things about humor is that it can shake us up, make us a bit uncomfortable in a pleasant way, and force us to question whether maybe the rules and limits we've set for ourselves might be a little too restrictive, a little too tight.

And that's a fine thing; I can get behind that project. Make no mistake: I think it's great when humor can shake us up a bit and make us wonder if maybe we've been too staid, too ponderous, too serious.

But – even though I feel that way – I'm still certain that neither George Carlin nor Richard Pryor nor Sarah Silverman nor any of the other shocking comedians that I think is interesting would ever tell a rape joke directly to somebody they knew had been recently raped. If they did, I wouldn't respect them any more at all. They wouldn't tell jokes that would only result in hurting the people they're telling those jokes to.

And that's the essential difference I was talking about above. At a certain level, it really doesn't matter if someone is offended by a joke; it most likely means they need to stretch their social horizons and think a bit about the restrictive mores they subscribe to. But if a person is hurt by a joke, that's not something they could have avoided; it's just part of who they are and what their experiences are. And I don't think anybody would dream of telling people to just stop being hurt by certain jokes; nor would we want to hurt others intentionally.

Maybe the best thing is to keep in mind that it's all right to offend people once in a while – but remember that if something might be hurtful, it's probably a good idea to avoid it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Everything depends on the circumstances of the joke and the callout, but I think it's likely to go better when the callout presumes good intentions and acknowledges the appeal of edgy humor ("I know you didn't mean to hurt anyone, and I appreciate a good joke as much as anybody, but I wanted to let you know that...") than when the callout presumes the person is just being an asshole and seems to take for granted that humor is utterly unimportant compared to people's feelings. The former is likely to produce a "Sorry, I didn't realize!" response; the latter a "Fuck you and your oversensitive sensitivity."
The thing is, in this case the call out was a very mild "this makes me sad" which still earned a "Fuck you and your oversensitive sensitivity" a handful of comments later. Given that, I can't really agree that the problem is that the people calling out the issue just aren't being nice enough.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:37 AM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


"But – even though I feel that way – I'm still certain that neither George Carlin nor Richard Pryor nor Sarah Silverman nor any of the other shocking comedians that I think is interesting would ever tell a rape joke directly to somebody they knew had been recently raped. If they did, I wouldn't respect them any more at all. They wouldn't tell jokes that would only result in hurting the people they're telling those jokes to."

Hurt's a hard thing to determine prior to the act for almost all edge cases. I have a hard time dealing with America's Funniest Home Videos; I laughed my ass off at a card that told me to "break a leg." In my group of friends, my trauma's been trumped recently by brain fever and by cancer. Amongst the very few who know both, there's some dispute over which is funnier.
posted by klangklangston at 9:46 AM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


> The thing is, in this case the call out was a very mild "this makes me sad" which still earned a "Fuck you and your oversensitive sensitivity" a handful of comments later.

Right, and I wasn't addressing the events of this particular callout, just musing about how these things go in general.
posted by languagehat at 9:48 AM on August 29, 2010


koeselitz: "I'm still certain that neither George Carlin nor Richard Pryor nor Sarah Silverman nor any of the other shocking comedians that I think is interesting would ever tell a rape joke directly to somebody they knew had been recently raped."

I think the law of averages contradicts this, and I think analogizing this to a MeFi poster actually cuts against your point. In any sufficiently large group of people, someone is going to have the experiences we've been dealing with here, yet they still told their jokes.
posted by rhizome at 9:59 AM on August 29, 2010


In my group of friends, my trauma's been trumped recently by brain fever and by cancer.

I WIN
posted by scody at 11:01 AM on August 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


koeselitz, but who defines "something might be hurtful"? I think we jump the gun a little too often about the intended motivation behind words around here. It just feels like one side is asking for the other to avoid the land mines without telling us where they are. Not entirely sure that's a reasonable request considering what may push my buttons in regards to this is going to be different from what will push another's. I don't know if there will ever be a way to get around it.

Oh and, Meatbomb? In my part of the universe getting hosed means picking up a two fer at the local LBO and getting stupid drunk eh.
posted by squeak at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2010


Hurt's a hard thing to determine prior to the act for almost all edge cases. I have a hard time dealing with America's Funniest Home Videos; I laughed my ass off at a card that told me to "break a leg."

I can absolutely verify this. He's told me for years that my watching AFV lowers my IQ 10 points every time I do it. At this point, I think I am approaching absolute zero on the Kelvin IQ scale (Kelvin is a neighbor of mine). That said, I wish I had a video of klang wrecking his bike and his leg. I would send it to AFV in hopes of the 100K prize & I'd pay his medical bills & maybe have enough for a good bottle of Scotch to toast him with.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


We had a pretty interesting thread commemorating the publication of Deliverance a few days ago which instantly became about the movie, of course, not that Dickey would object, I expect, since the movie undoubtedly put the rarest whiskeys on a finer table in a better house in a more beautiful setting than he ever would have been able to have if it had never been made, and afforded him as much leisure as a man could ever hope for in which to sip it.

Mayor Curley happened to kick that thread off with a comment very different in apparent tone from his first in this thread:

Lets limit comments about homosexual rape and inbreeding to actual discussion of the book or film.
posted by Mayor Curley


Perhaps we do him a disservice by imputing irony to

I too am extraordinarily sensitive and enjoy reminding others of this fact.
posted by Mayor Curley


But the Deliverance thread reminded me of an old interview I heard Larry King do with Ned Beatty back when King was only on radio. When they took callers (Larry never screened), some guy came on and went after Beatty, calling him a punk and saying things of the general tone of 'he had you squealing, didn't he piggy?' and the like as if he had no clue the scene in the movie hadn't actually happened to Beatty!

On one level it was profoundly, deeply ugly and disturbing, and dismaying that America could be fostering even one such trogdolyte, but one step up, I thought it was a great tribute to the acting ability of the greatest character actor of his generation, and funny as hell to hear malignant stupidity making such a complete and utter fool of itself.

I was laughing, until it became clear to me that Beatty himself, the real person, felt very hurt by this! It was stunning to hear him stumble around and say things about acting, and allude to the effect it had had on him that so many people couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't, and so forth, and the whole tone of the interview shifted into a decidedly minor key. I think Ned Beatty actually regretted ever making Deliverance in the first place, despite the fact it was was one of the greatest turns an American actor has ever done, and about the bravest.

And that's why, as if there could have been any doubt, no parent undeserving of the tortures of Dante's hell will ever be putting videos of his child's rape up on YouTube no matter how many bills it would pay.

And it showed me, to my satisfaction anyway, what I now see as one of the major reasons rape jokes exist, persist and multiply, and why men (almost exclusively) laugh at them. They allow maker and laugher to assert (please, please god hear this prayer!) that it's never happened to them and it's never going to forever and ever amen!
posted by jamjam at 3:34 PM on August 29, 2010


I've lost several friends to cancer in the last year and a half. Their loss still hurts me. I still, however, can laugh at jokes about cancer. I still tell jokes about cancer. Just because it hurts doesn't mean I can't laugh.

I worked with a guy for a while during the "Your mom" joke craze...he'd join in with the rest of us and tell really over-the-top edgy jokes about people's mothers. Only after we'd been telling jokes for a while would he let on that his mom had recently died of cancer but he still thought that the jokes were funny. He said he never wanted to tell us before we started telling "your mom" jokes because then we wouldn't tell him the good ones.

I get it though. No longer will any edgy joke that might hurt someone leave my keyboard on this site, and I feel that this site will be the worse for it.
posted by schyler523 at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once again, though, and I sympathise very much with those who have lost friends and family to cancer, but victims of sexualised violence are belittled by authority, friends and family in a very particular way. Rape and other forms of sexualised violence often find blame shifted at least in part to the victim, and the process of arriving at a prosecution, rare though it is, is so traumatic that it's been referred to as "the second rape".

Rape really isn't like the other things it's been compared to in this thread. That's not to say the other things aren't fucking awful, but surrounding rape is this whole complex built on sexual power and some really nasty shit. I've known people who've died to sexualised violence and then I've seen it suggested in the news that they really should have known better, it was their fault for leading them on, et cetera et fucking cetera. I've been told that I deserve stuff that's happened to me just because of who I am/where I was.

Please don't think this means you can't joke about things here. All it means is that some people have asked you (that is, the general you) to think a second longer before throwing out that casual reference to rape; maybe it could be something else instead?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:51 PM on August 29, 2010


Mayor Curley happened to kick that thread off with a comment very different in apparent tone from his first in this thread:

>Lets limit comments about homosexual rape and inbreeding to actual discussion of the book or film.
>posted by Mayor Curley


I did that because I think that Dickey's book is an amazing work, and yet my first thought when anyone brings it up is Banjo Boy. I figured that if I got it out in the open early in the thread, people would not just post "C'mon and squeal!" stuff. It had nothing to do with distaste for rape jokes.

That said I do think that jokes specifically about rape, should they exist, are in irredeemably bad taste. I don't think someone using hyperbole to equate price gouging to "deep ass rape" is making a rape joke or belittling rape victims in any sense. This much earnest discussion about it is ludicrous, which is why I haven't said anything since the beginning of the thread. I don't think that anybody really believes that equivalence-- some people really just revel in projecting themselves as the most sensitive person in the world, defenders of Everything that is Good. Even worse are the people who then think that makes them the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse-- "If I find it objectionable, it should not exist. Certainly I shouldn't have to worry about being offended." It's blatant self-centered behavior dressed up as concern for everyone.

My initial comment said this much more succinctly.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:09 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rape really isn't like the other things it's been compared to in this thread. That's not to say the other things aren't fucking awful, but surrounding rape is this whole complex built on sexual power and some really nasty shit. I've known people who've died to sexualised violence and then I've seen it suggested in the news that they really should have known better, it was their fault for leading them on, et cetera et fucking cetera. I've been told that I deserve stuff that's happened to me just because of who I am/where I was.

Okay. Now this is a serious question: How does stopping someone from making a casual reference to rape in a joke do anything to change this? I know lots of people who are racist who would never say n-----r.
posted by cottonswab at 5:14 PM on August 29, 2010


I have been working with a freelancer who we hired to take over a book I was slated to edit this summer/fall because I'm going to be going on leave soon because of, you know, the ass cancer and all. And every couple of days he calls me up moaning about all the (irritating but routine) challenges with this book project: the curator is curt with him, the authors are late and didn't include full citations with their endnotes, the bibliography is in terrible shape, the essays don't live up to his standards, etc.

The other day, in fact, when he called and I asked him (rhetorically) "how are you?", his response was to sigh heavily and say -- and I quote -- "oh my god, it's just worse than anything I can imagine." And, having refrained from playing the cancer card for the last several months of his complaining, I finally snapped, "Really? What about getting a third of your colon removed on Tuesday, followed by at least six weeks of shitting into a bag, followed by 4-5 months of chemo? Does that seem worse to you?"

And after a brief pause, he responded, "yes, I know, I've been very concerned about you, and wondering how you're holding up. ANYWAY, about the bibliography..."

Anyway, comments like this...

No longer will any edgy joke that might hurt someone leave my keyboard on this site, and I feel that this site will be the worse for it.


...put me very much in mind of that conversation.

tl;dr: It's beyond me why A) you think that the lesson here is NO MOAR EDGY JOKES EVAR and B) why you're being so relentlessly self-pitying about it.
posted by scody at 5:41 PM on August 29, 2010 [21 favorites]


some people really just revel in projecting themselves as the most sensitive person in the world, defenders of Everything that is Good. Even worse are the people who then think that makes them the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse-- "If I find it objectionable, it should not exist. Certainly I shouldn't have to worry about being offended."

There's been about zero, zilch and nil of that in this thread. Someone who used the term "Outragefilter" and that it "sucks" comes across as... outraged.

Too, This much earnest discussion about it is ludicrous... .

You said straight out "I don't give a shit about what you think" about something that is subjective. So people should give a shit about your opinions because...?
posted by ambient2 at 9:36 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, after trying to explain myself and being accused first of not reading this thread and the other epic threads dealing with similar issues, I decided to just acquiesce and never tell a joke that might hurt a person's feelings. I feel that in light of the above-referenced threads that isn't a bad tack to take.

Then I'm taken to task for that? Ridiculous. I'm out.
posted by schyler523 at 10:15 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Okay. Now this is a serious question: How does stopping someone from making a casual reference to rape in a joke do anything to change this?"

A: No one is stopping you from making rape jokes. If that sort of humor represents who you are and what makes you feel proud... well... I have no idea what to say other than do what you have to do I guess.

B: By giving the appearance or suggestion that something is acceptable, people also teach others that it is acceptable, even if unintentionally. Racism is a fine example of this. It's no coincidence that so many people in my family are racist. Like so many of society's ills, racism is passed on from person to person and generation to generation, sometimes through the telling of "harmless" jokes. Here was one of my family's favorites: "How can you spot black people in the dark?" The answer should have been "because a fucking racist is always around to point them out." The answer to my family's joke actually was "Teeth and eyeballs." I remember hearing my y year old cousin repeating that joke. I was 9. I scolded him, telling him it isn't ok for kids to say that. Years later, I'd realize it wasn't ok for adults either.

Read this thread again. There's so much that should be downright embarrassing. One guy seems to think that if he can't tell rape jokes, he might as well not tell any jokes at all. That's both sad and crazy.

I would love to see the results if someone crunched the numbers on this thread regarding who responded to this joke how. I think the results would be obvious.

Knock knock.
"Who's there?"
A joke that represents the worst of how human beings treat each other.

...my advice? Don't open the door.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:50 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


How does stopping someone from making a casual reference to rape in a joke do anything to change this?

It won't. But I hope I was able to illustrate at least in part why sexual violence can be so damaging. For many people it's a whole bunch of traumas rolled up together: the violence and violation of the original attack, the terror that it might happen again (with knock-on effects like fear of leaving the house alone), the shame of being relentlessly questioned about it by authority figures who looked at the clothes you wore and decided you probably came on to him...

I was trying to address to the comparisons I'd seen in this thread of rape to other horrific crimes, and I was trying to show how it can scar a person in unique ways, and thus why it can be such a trigger for some people. Also, I was trying to show why I think the people who will never crack a joke here again are mistaken and should reconsider.

This much earnest discussion about it is ludicrous, which is why I haven't said anything since the beginning of the thread. I don't think that anybody really believes that equivalence-- some people really just revel in projecting themselves as the most sensitive person in the world, defenders of Everything that is Good. Even worse are the people who then think that makes them the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse-- "If I find it objectionable, it should not exist. Certainly I shouldn't have to worry about being offended." It's blatant self-centered behavior dressed up as concern for everyone.

If you're getting that people revel in this conversation, and that we think we should be the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse, and that this whole thread was about just being offended, then I don't see how you can have read this thread. I'm really not going to go into why stuff triggers me sometimes, and how it feels, because right now that's like going to confession with a priest sitting there nodding and smiling at me with his middle finger jabbed in my face.

You can disagree, sure. But you're painting people's reactions as something other than what they have repeatedly described. If you're not interested in having this discussion, then why did you bother shitting in the thread in the first place since you must have known this was going to kick off?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:00 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mayor Curley: “This much earnest discussion about it is ludicrous, which is why I haven't said anything since the beginning of the thread. I don't think that anybody really believes that equivalence-- some people really just revel in projecting themselves as the most sensitive person in the world, defenders of Everything that is Good. Even worse are the people who then think that makes them the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse-- "If I find it objectionable, it should not exist. Certainly I shouldn't have to worry about being offended." It's blatant self-centered behavior dressed up as concern for everyone. ¶ My initial comment said this much more succinctly.”

You leveled a blanket dismissal at the very start, and now you've expanded that dismissal and readdressed it – but you are apparently too afraid or too concerned with your image or just too damned lazy to tell us who you mean the dismissal for. Which means you get to vaguely gesture toward a group of people you believe are massive fuckups on metafilter – these terrible people who are self-centered and who dress it up as a concern for everybody else – but you never actually have to say who it is you fucking mean when you say that.

So, go on – tell us. Who the fuck are you calling "self-centered"? Who the fuck are you accusing of painting themselves as the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse? Or is actually calling people on their bullshit so difficult for you that you'll happily descend to these drive-by insults?

I held myself back from saying this earlier in the thread – I only addressed you obliquely, and frankly rather politely, I think – because I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, even though I think I know you well enough to know what you were getting at. But honestly, Mayor Curley, though I value your contributions quite often, you are coming off as a massive prick in this thread. That has nothing to do with the subject at hand. It has everything to do with what you've done so far: you've dropped angry dismissal after angry dismissal here, and now you've flat-out accused... well, all of us, apparently, of being haughty liberal do-gooders drunk on our own self-righteous and holiness and high on the inferiority of others.

That's out of line, man. If you think somebody here has done that, fine. Tell us who it is. Point to a comment, and say how that comment is projecting what you think of as a holier-than-thou, sole-arbiter-of-acceptable-discourse air. As I see it, nobody in this thread has done that at all – pretty much everybody, from Eideteker on over, has tried to express themselves with some grace and thoughtfulness, and if we've failed at certain times it hasn't been through lack of trying.

And since I've seen nobody do what you've vaguely accused people of doing here, I can only conclude that your bitterness and anger about the whole thing ("I don't give a shit what you think"? Seriously?) are something personal having nothing to do with Metafilter. If you've got shit going on in your personal life, fine, I understand; but try not to take it out on people here. You just come off as a complete tool when you do that. And if you can't be a civil human being, maybe you shouldn't be on this goddamned site in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 12:22 AM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


A: No one is stopping you from making rape jokes. If that sort of humor represents who you are and what makes you feel proud... well... I have no idea what to say other than do what you have to do I guess.

It's not that I care so much about the ability to make rape jokes. It's that

1.) I disagree that the joke in this case was a "rape joke", period, and
2.) While I can accept that different people have different experiences and POV's, and I respect that, that's not the same thing as agreeing with it. I don't say 'goddamnit' around my very religious boss, but OTOH I'm probably not going to joke around her much, because if she is upset by my saying that, then it's likely that other things I say/do will bother her also. I don't think that's being self-pitying, and it's not that saying 'goddamnit' is so important to me and represents who I am, just that I try to save certain kinds of language/humor for settings where I know everyone is on the same page.

So yeah, while there are a lot of things about this site that I like and appreciate, this particular situation illustrates a side of it where I read stuff and go, "hmmmm....yeah I really don't fit in with the general attitudes here" and that's okay.

It won't. But I hope I was able to illustrate at least in part why sexual violence can be so damaging. For many people it's a whole bunch of traumas rolled up together: the violence and violation of the original attack, the terror that it might happen again (with knock-on effects like fear of leaving the house alone), the shame of being relentlessly questioned about it by authority figures who looked at the clothes you wore and decided you probably came on to him...

I was trying to address to the comparisons I'd seen in this thread of rape to other horrific crimes, and I was trying to show how it can scar a person in unique ways, and thus why it can be such a trigger for some people.


I really do understand how certain things can trigger someone who's experienced a trauma. I personally have dealt with panic disorder and PTSD in the past (and no, I am not going to go into detail about the causes, as I'm really not up to listing my personal tragedies so complete strangers can judge whether or not they were 'traumatic' enough for my opinion to be valid, thankyouverymuch), and I do realize what a person goes through, BUT I disagree with the idea that because something triggers someone, then it is the triggering word or event that is the problem. The pain and hurt that's being relived is terrible, but it's not caused by someone's inadvertent remark--it's a side effect of the original event. And yeah, I do think it's okay for a person who's gone through that to ask people close to them to be sensitive of that, but I personally don't think that's really appropriate in a public forum. I do think it's being oversensitive, and I really really hope that's not taken as belittling victims' very real pain and anguish, because that's not my intent at all.
posted by cottonswab at 5:29 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I do think it's being oversensitive, and I really really hope that's not taken as belittling victims' very real pain and anguish, because that's not my intent at all.

You know, it's not that I completely disagree with you about humor and editing oneself and all: it's that no matter how this discussion works out, I don't think people get to have it both ways like you're asking.

If you think some people are being oversensitive, and say as much, those people will probably feel that their experiences are being belittled, even if you say it's not your intent. That is the trade. If you feel that your experiences are being belittled, and say as much, some people will tell you that you are oversensitive, even if you say that's not what you mean.

How many people will be of each opinion in either case, depends on the circumstances, but there are people who think that no matter where you are on the spectrum of humorous commentary. Even if they don't say it on the forum, people are still free to think it, just as you're free to think you have to be a bit humorless around your boss.

It's just not possible for you to have what you want.
posted by Sandford Police Service at 5:44 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Okay. Now this is a serious question: How does stopping someone from making a casual reference to rape in a joke do anything to change this?"

It puts in the public record a small statement about the acceptible things to talk about and ways to talk about them. When you don't call out statements that you or others might find offensive, there isn't much difference between you and the person who feels the same as you, but much more extremely (to the point that you two actually don't agree on a moral or ethical level). It may be that other person thinks so extremely that something like a rape joke is not only lighthearted comedy fodder, but something that reinforces and supports their world view. YOU may think the joke is funny but rape is definitely not ok, but you're in the camp with the guy who thinks the joke is funny and may not see sexual assault or rape the same way you do, i.e. rape is not that big of a deal.

This distinction or subdivide is something that is usually not publicly indexed, unless one person or both people take a stance one way or another. Calling out a rape joke not only creates psychological distance between you and the idea of 'rape is ok', but creates and amplifies the distance between you and people who are more casual about rape and sexual assault, i.e., people who lean more towards the 'rape is not that big of a deal/rape is ok' end of the spectrum.

It is an opportunity to help others not be insensitive jerks, while not being didactic or condescending about it – expressing disapproval over something like a joke is a much easier way to say, "Hey, these ideas offend me." than, say, disapproval over a buddy's suggestion to go hogging. And it is likely that that buddy will think twice about going hogging or inviting you to go hogging with him if you've expressed disapproval at their earlier joke. In other words, if it turns out that you're 'ruining somebody's fun' by calling them out, then it may be that your and their idea of fun aren't the same thing.

Calling out casual references to rape creates distance from the jerk standing next to you who doesn't get what the fuss is about, as well as creating distance between normal behavior and the idea of rape itself. So that when rape happens it is that much more unacceptible and outrageous. And yes, it is sad, but we actually need people on this one, reinforcing this idea, at all levels of communication. The pragmatic conversational default is currently such that a rape joke groups together people who are ok with rape and those who aren't cool with it but aren't affected by it, are ambivalent about it, are neutral, or are not personally offended (but actually care about others who are). Your voice can untangle that mess in a way that the people over in my camp can't. Which also inevitably shortens the psychological distance between you and me. It is those small steps that others have made - and I've noticed - that have been crucial in a healing process that has taken me years. I can't tell you how much those simple voices matter and how grateful I am every time I hear them.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:08 AM on August 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Forktine: I'm saying this as someone who really, really likes reading your comments here, and am absolutely not telling you to participate less or anything like that.

Thanks.

However: the common factor in your problematic interactions is you. If you keep getting misunderstood and misinterpreted far more often the rest of us, the issue isn't other people's reading comprehension. Your response to this problem (breaking up comments, repetition, involvement in lots of GRAR incidents, etc) reminds me of the stereotype of an English traveler of a certain age trying to speak with "the natives," substituting volume for fluency. It isn't helping, and it isn't acknowledging your active participation in creating the problem that is frustrating you.

I'll have to think about that. Fwiw, When people don't understand me, I usually figure that's my fault and try to express myself more clearly.

Recently I've been trying to decrease my participation in GRAR threads. In this one I've (ironically) tried to keep my contributions somewhat minimal. Less about the topic of what is or isn't offensive and more about the way we're treating each other.

tl;dr: If what you are doing isn't working, doing it more won't help.

That's very true.
posted by zarq at 6:57 AM on August 30, 2010


And since I've seen nobody do what you've vaguely accused people of doing here, I can only conclude that your bitterness and anger about the whole thing ("I don't give a shit what you think"? Seriously?)

Unlike Pablo Picasso, I got called an asshole and was responding to that directly. As in "you're an asshole." "That's fine, your characterization does not matter to me." Except I went stronger to match the accusation.

As for "And since I've seen nobody do what you've vaguely accused people of doing here," being disingenuous is NOT something that anyone's going to own up to (usually not even to themselves), so I'm not shocked that you haven't seen anyone do it. I'm not going to single anyone out (this thread is mean and shrill enough on all sides), but if you check the posting history of some of the objectors you will find that they get irate about a wide variety of perceived insensitivities. That's normal when you're 18 and you see the world in black and white. When you're an adult and you're looking for reasons to get offended-- I'm not going to finish that thought because you know what I'm getting at.

Anyway, my previous response would have been better as a MetafilterMail to the person who's comment I quoted. I shouldn't have said that everyone objecting was posturing, and I apologize for that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:39 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to say that your gracious apology says worlds about your maturity and your classiness, Mayor Curley.
posted by bearwife at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley: “Unlike Pablo Picasso, I got called an asshole and was responding to that directly. As in "you're an asshole." "That's fine, your characterization does not matter to me." Except I went stronger to match the accusation.”

I understand that the word probably stung, and I appreciate that you're trying to be cool here. That's admirable. I only want to point out that ambient2 never called you an asshole; what he said was this:

ambient2: “Did I miss something? That came across as an asshole, dismissive response.”

And, frankly, he was right. Whether you're actually an asshole or not (I don't think you are), whether you intended to sound like an asshole or not (I don't think you did) that comment came off that way. Yeah, it's probably not a good idea to throw words like "asshole" around, but it was a relatively benign usage of the term.

“As for "And since I've seen nobody do what you've vaguely accused people of doing here," being disingenuous is NOT something that anyone's going to own up to (usually not even to themselves), so I'm not shocked that you haven't seen anyone do it. I'm not going to single anyone out (this thread is mean and shrill enough on all sides), but if you check the posting history of some of the objectors you will find that they get irate about a wide variety of perceived insensitivities. That's normal when you're 18 and you see the world in black and white. When you're an adult and you're looking for reasons to get offended-- I'm not going to finish that thought because you know what I'm getting at.”

Yeah, it was an empty challenge on my part up there, actually, thinking about it now. You make the wise choice in declining to list people by name here and now who you think are wrong.

“Anyway, my previous response would have been better as a MetafilterMail to the person who's comment I quoted. I shouldn't have said that everyone objecting was posturing, and I apologize for that.”

That's a fair thing to say, and I agree with bearwife. Thanks for that. For my part, sorry I came on so strong on this last night; it's something that simmered a bit for me, but I don't want to make this personal. It's just metafilter, and you and I will probably always disagree on this, but the disagreement itself doesn't bother me.
posted by koeselitz at 9:50 AM on August 30, 2010


Jessamyn, I understand completely. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2010


I don't want to make this personal. It's just metafilter

I totally agree. No one's even going to remember this thread in a week.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:26 AM on August 30, 2010


Mayor Curley: "I don't want to make this personal. It's just metafilter

I totally agree. No one's even going to remember this thread in a week
"

Except for the people who have said that this thread has helped them think about the impact thier words and actions normally have.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except for the people who have said that this thread has helped them think about the impact thier words and actions normally have.

Totally. And those folks will stick to their diets and call their moms, too.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:23 AM on August 30, 2010


A lot of folks are in fact capable, your dismissive shitting upon the idea notwithstanding, of actually learning and changing as a result of conversations they have. And mefites have long memories—people have in this very thread referenced previous discussions from months and years ago in the context of what was going on in here. The idea that this thread will be forgotten universally and abruptly within the week is naive. The idea that people being bothered by stuff you aren't bothered by makes them conclusively disingenuous is ugly and uncharitable.

Your dismissive little comment at the top of the thread was crappy but at least it was defensible as an ill-considered one-off or something. At this point, yes, you seem to be just trying to be a jerk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:34 AM on August 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


cortex, have you ever run a query on the infodump that can predict how likely it is that people will close their accounts the longer a MeTa thread goes? I bet that would be illuminating.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:29 PM on August 30, 2010


Totally. And those folks will stick to their diets and call their moms, too.

I call my mom every day! Can't say much about the "diet" though...
posted by sonika at 12:33 PM on August 30, 2010


Calling my mom puts me off eating for a while. Two birds with one stone!
posted by Mister_A at 12:36 PM on August 30, 2010


Your dismissive little comment at the top of the thread was crappy but at least it was defensible as an ill-considered one-off or something. At this point, yes, you seem to be just trying to be a jerk.

All I'm saying is that people don't change. Like Hardy said, character is fate. You can walk away dusting your hands and saying "well, most of us learned something." Unfortunately, you're deluding yourself. We all get to read another thread in a couple weeks that will be for all intents indistinguishable from this one (except that I'll stay out if it). This thread has the same social value as an episode of "Blossom," but with more swears.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2010


(except that I'll stay out if it)

But wait I thought people don't change.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:40 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


We all get to read another thread in a couple weeks that will be for all intents indistinguishable from this one (except that I'll stay out if it).

I have no problem with you feeling that way if you'll actually follow through on acting that way. Believing in your heart that people never change is your prerogative and you're welcome to that conviction, but crapping in threads is just shitty behavior and it'd be tremendous if you'd defy your own fatalism enough in the future to refrain from doing it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:48 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


But wait I thought people don't change.

I said "next time," which is not forever. Once I called my mom three weeks straight!
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:51 PM on August 30, 2010


All I'm saying is that people don't change.

Now who's seeing the world in black and white? I mean that politely and respectfully, btw.

I think everybody changes over time. We learn, adapt and grow as we get older and (hopefully) more mature. This site is a motherlode of new information and shared experiences that can help that process along. You're right. We're adults. We're capable of learning to assess circumstances realistically and with nuance, rather than knee-jerk outrage.

If that's what you want, then isn't it worth encouraging?
posted by zarq at 2:59 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


All I'm saying is that people don't change.

balderdash
posted by found missing at 3:09 PM on August 30, 2010


Mayor Curley means "Mayor Curley doesn't change," and mistakes Mayor Curley for "people."
posted by languagehat at 3:17 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


"All I'm saying is that people don't change."

People who refuse to change don't change. Others constantly change as they learn and grow.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:45 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think that anybody really believes that equivalence-- some people really just revel in projecting themselves as the most sensitive person in the world, defenders of Everything that is Good. Even worse are the people who then think that makes them the sole arbiters of acceptable discourse-- "If I find it objectionable, it should not exist.

Nonsense. People believe all sorts of things, really and truly from the bottom of their hearts. Try to get out more.
posted by Kwine at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"All I'm saying is that people don't change. Like Hardy said, character is fate. You can walk away dusting your hands and saying "well, most of us learned something." Unfortunately, you're deluding yourself. "

Wow, that's depressing. And wrong. Maybe even delusional.
posted by keep it under cover at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2010


Nobody puts rape victims and rape victim sympathizers in their place like Mayor Curley. Fight the power, Curley!
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:02 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Calling my mom puts me off eating for a while. Two birds with one stone!

More like, one bird, two stones, amirite?
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:06 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eh, I can kind of understand what Mayor Curley is getting at, and I've gone through periods where I would've agreed wholeheartedly. Individuals might change a little bit, but people as a whole don't, or so slowly that it only becomes noticeable over the course of generations. The rules that govern the way we interact change and are varied, but not our propensity to have rules.

The periods I've gone through when I would've said with conviction "people don't change", I was laboring under a major depression. So, you can dismiss it as a sign of cognitive impairment if you like. Except for the research they done into depressive realism. And I'm not saying I think it's likely that Mayor Curley is depressed. Maybe he has convincing evidence that people don't change. Maybe you have convincing evidence that they do.
posted by Ritchie at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2010


Nobody puts rape victims and rape victim sympathizers in their place like Mayor Curley. Fight the power, Curley!

Are you really suggesting that my objections are based on contempt for rape victims? I don't think that I should be the villain at the end of the thread if you're going to stoop to that shit.

Also, if someone's looking to boost their favorites count, that person should comment "Mayor Curley eats poop!" or something equally erudite and scody will add it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:10 PM on August 30, 2010


Mayor Curley eats poop!*



*for certain values of "poop"
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:22 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


something equally erudite and scody will add it.

maybe they've just got me on some swell drugs flowing thru the ol IV right now, but I have to say i think it's very charming that for all your misanthropy, the insult you come up with for me is that I am a loose woman when it comes to doling out favorites. Yes, tis true, I am a comment slattern! A fast favoriter! I have the Sporting Life Blues (and Greens and Greys)! You have found me out, sir, and I shall never be able to hold my head up when I go back to the old neighborhood again.
posted by scody at 7:08 PM on August 30, 2010 [29 favorites]


Slatterns are my favorite!
posted by rtha at 7:13 PM on August 30, 2010


Ha! :D Fantastic response, scody. :D
posted by zarq at 8:35 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm sure this is not at all the actual case, as I've never met the slattern herself, but since 2003 I've generally heard all of scody's comments in the voice of C.J. Cregg, and her last comment pretty much sums up why.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:53 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Slatterns are so 2009; it's the year of the doxy

protip: 2011: "professional" 2012: "hospitality coordinator"
posted by jtron at 8:54 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


but... but everyone knows favorites can mean anything, and is just a way for people to keep track of certain comments/posts. Perhaps the slattern is just keeping track of the comments for some other reason and actually hates those comments?

{\}
posted by edgeways at 9:23 PM on August 30, 2010


the insult you come up with for me is that I am a loose woman when it comes to doling out favorites.

I pointed out that you're applauding people for weak shit that amounts to "you're an asshole" and most recently "when did you stop beating your wife?" Way to strive for better discourse.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:36 PM on August 30, 2010


This is going nowhere - just leave it be, guys.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:02 PM on August 30, 2010


Yeah, it's the wanton favoriting that's lowering the discourse. WTF.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:11 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not a fan of the insinuation that MC was calling anyone a tramp or any variations thereof, even figuratively; it's really not cool and is the sort of thing that can stick to a username ('Hey, that Curley guy, didn't he call someone a whore a while ago?'). Ditto the suggestions that he doesn't give a fuck about people who've been raped, etc. His opposition is to how people on MetaFilter behave in a very specific context, and while I've seen and participated in enough MeTas wherein he's weighed in against what he perceives as futile/obnoxious behavior that I wish he would just fucking leave these types of conversations be, he is at least honest - albeit jerky - in what he says and how he says it. That's not to say honesty automatically imparts merit or value, excuses jerkiness, or that an angry or frustrated response to him isn't understandable, but it's really unfair and beneath us to respond to it in such a disingenuous manner.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:24 PM on August 30, 2010


For the love of the MetaGod, people. The conversation has run it's course. We have learned much. Catharsis has been achieved. Now, this thread needs to be aborted.

Fuck. Forget I said that. I mean this thread should be brought to an immediate end.
posted by quadog at 12:09 AM on August 31, 2010


Been mostly afk for a day. Still been thinking about this thread (I've been thinking of you! awww!).

It's interesting to me that the central issue is "safe space" here. The creation of a safe space for some destroys what others consider a "safe space". Obviously, being safe from rape is more important than the safety to joke about it (even if it's not a "rape joke") without being taken too seriously. But I think my central point was that, in an internet community of thousands of folks who, for the most part, have never met... well, there *are* no safe spaces. At best, it's an illusion. I'm all for making the world better bit by bit, though. And I think that this proves my point; establishing a safe space for some is antithetical to what others consider a safe space.

Since the thread has run its course, I'll limit my comment to that. I hope that if anyone harbors any lingering resentment, or has any unresolved issues with me, that they'll do me the service of taking it to e-mail. I've definitely said some stupid stuff (it's easy to argue yourself into a corner*, innit?) here, but I've tried to portray myself as open-minded (and believe you me, it's hard for this guy to argue for something he dislikes; 's why I never got into Debate, and this thread stands as a monument to why I was SO right in that decision). So even if you don't feel like I've been respectful, I appreciate your respect in dealing with me, personally, NOW; not later when this thread has been closed and I can't rebut/reply. If you come out of this thread thinking of me as "that rape guy," well, I think that does us both a disservice (IOW, let's be friends!).

Or, you know, tell me off via e-mail. You'll probably feel better.

* It is apparently a short hop from saying, "the only person who has outed themselves as a rape survivor here has said you're being too sensitive, so I'm standing up for that" to making it sound like you're requesting a personal history.
posted by Eideteker at 2:56 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


fwiw Eideteker, I don't think of you as 'that rape guy' and I don't have any issues or resentments with you. It's comments like this last one of yours that makes me feel like this was a good conversation and that there is some common ground we can party on. And I get the sense that you've listened and asked some questions and have taken in some of the perspectives shared here and are working it all out. Maybe not at the pace or distance others would like, or expressed in the most diplomatic way, but the overall direction is good and you seem like a decent dude, if *cantankerous* at times. So, thanks for being present and thoughtful during this long thread, for acknowledging others' experiences (including my own) and returning to respond with an offer to carry on the discussion in private for those who wish to do so (myself, I'm kind of burnt out on this thread, but it's been worthwhile).
posted by iamkimiam at 5:35 AM on August 31, 2010


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