Joking about rape isn’t funny


by Cath Elliott    
12:00 pm - January 16th 2010

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I disagreed with a whole heap of stuff in Ellie Levenson’s “The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism” when it came out last year (see my Mswoman comments under this CiF piece for specific examples).

But apart from her odious assertion that “we do women an injustice when we say that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. It is, after all, just a penis.” top of the list was her claim, repeated in the Independent, that in some contexts so-called rape ‘jokes’ can not only be deemed to be acceptable, but they can also in fact be funny.

Because they’re not. Ever. They never have been and they never will be. They’re not funny when Ricky Gervais tells them, and they’re not funny when a Tory Councillor tells them either.

Here for example is Eddie Wake, a charming man who, up until Monday evening, was a Conservative councillor at Sunderland City Council (and who’s still a school governor at Oxclose Community School):

Wake was expelled from the Conservative party on Monday after word got out that a few weeks ago, at the end of a meeting where councillors had been discussing rape prevention measures with police, he decided to crack a rape ‘joke’, to a  senior police inspector no less. A rape joke that was so cutting-edge and side-splittingly fucking hilarious that it led to a female councillor leaving the room in tears.

Interestingly, actually no, not interestingly, more like boringly soddingly predictably, Wake refused to apologise at the time. Instead, when he was challenged about his comments by Labour Councillor Dianne Snowdon,  he whined “Come on, Dianne, you can’t joke about anything these days” and proceeded to tick off the list of oh-so-funny subjects the pc gawn maaad brigade have banned him from pointing and laughing at: like women and black people for instance.

It’s only now, now that he’s suddenly found his name splashed all over the papers and his fellow Conservatives treating him like he’s just stepped in something really really noxious, that Wake’s decided to come over all repentant.

Except that he hasn’t, not really, not when you look at the actual content of his pathetic apology:

“I made the remark when the meeting had closed, to a colleague.”

That’s not an excuse, as anyone who holds public office should know.

“It was an old joke and not a very good one and I bitterly regret the offence it has caused.”

This just comes across as an apology for telling a crap joke, not an apology for the offensive subject matter of the joke. And if he was really sorry for causing offence, then why didn’t he apologise at the time to the person who clearly was offended, instead of justifying it with all that pc gawn maaad Daily Mail shite?

“I am an effective councillor who asks awkward questions and I am not politically correct in any way but this time I have allowed that to cloud my judgment”

Translation: “I’m a bit of a  tosser and I don’t intend to change, but in future I’ll try to be more careful about who I tell my sexist racist little anecdotes to. Maybe a council meeting where I’m likely to be overheard by a humourless femnazi isn’t the best place, but I bet the lads down the pub’ll still appreciate them.”

Or in other words “I’m sorry I was caught out this time” not “I’m sorry to any rape survivors out there who may have been upset by my crassness and complete insensitivity”

So anyway, to get back to Ellie Levenson and her view that so-called rape ‘jokes’ help break down the “rape taboo”, and that “humour is one of the natural ways humans work through their thoughts and feelings about difficult issues”: as I made clear at the beginning of this piece, I fundamentally disagree. After all, people like Eddie Wake aren’t interested in breaking down taboos, they’re only interested in demeaning and insulting women: rape jokes to men like them are just another weapon in an already vast arsenal.

As any survivor of sexual violence will tell you, there’s nothing funny about being raped. There’s also nothing funny about listening to yet another sexist bore trying to make light of it. And one of the last things we need in this context is alleged feminists giving the green light to such twisted misogynist bullshit.

But anyway, I’ve got a joke now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a man walks into a council meeting and spouts a load of sexist tripe. Next thing he knows he’s been expelled from his party and is being investigated by the council’s standards committee.

What? What do you mean that’s not funny? Personally I think it’s fucking hilarious!

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About the author
Cath Elliott is a regular contributor. She is a feminist, a trade union activist, and a freelance writer and blogger. Also at: Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Crime ,Equality ,Feminism ,Sex equality

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Reader comments


That particular rape joke is not funny. Doesn’t mean they can’t be funny.

A very large proportion of jokes contain slights, insults or jibes at some group, persons, thing. It is about context. That doesn’t mean a bad joke becomes good in different contexts (this joke would still be bad down the pub, not just in front of people who might be offended).

Interestingly the normal PC-gone-mad brigade were quick to jump on Jimmy Carr’s joke about amputees in the forces. Turns out its only PC-gone-mad when people are telling them off and not the other way round.

By the by – it would be easy for me to get narked at your assertation that the ‘blokes down the pub’ would find a nasty joke about rape funny whereas a civillised female councellor couldn’t. I am very often a bloke in a pub, and I and many others do indeed stand up and tell people when a joke is out of order. Even more blokes in pubs actually are able to understand the difference before they even tell the joke – unless your impression of ‘blokes in pubs’ is lifted straight out of something like ‘Life on Mars’. But I’m not narked by it, just thought it a bit lazy, but then you were just that as a quick way of illustrating the piont.

Your wrong. If I subscribe to a liberal website, and they start telling me what is and is not acceptable, comedy wise. I may just call it a day, take some long-term sleeping pills mixed with a bottle of vodka, and join the fairies in the clouds or worms in the soil.

Sorry for making light or alcohol abuse, suicide, manic depression, superstitions, religious doctrine, worms and soil.

Comedy is context.

Let’s all cry and moan and be negative, instead of laugh. Laughing should be banned. Laughing is not funny.

Every single joke offends somebody or something or some awkwardness or ignorance or social convention.

The podcast delusion did a very similar piece about Russell Howard making light of male rape with a chant about Marlon King, and being bum-raped in prison. It was funny, I laughed. Check it out. I even laughed at people saying we should not laugh about it.

This world is fucked up. It is corrupt. If we can’t laugh, we may as well be dead.

1) “Joking about rape isn’t funny”. A definition of ‘funny’ is “amusing and likely to make you smile or laugh.” Therefore, if someone tells a joke about rape and others are amused to the point of laughing, that joke is (by definition) funny. It may be in bad taste, or offensive, or any number of other conditions, but it is still funny. There is no such proviso in the definition, i.e. “funny = likely to make you laugh about subjects you consider appropriate for humour”. Presumably the OP meant “Joking about rape shouldn’t be funny”.

2) Is rape the worst thing that can happen to a woman (or man)? Personally, between a bullet in the brain or a penis in the butt, I’m keeping my brain safe. I’d also choose rape over extended physical torture, lifetime incarceration, severe physical disfigurement, serious brain damage, starvation etc. Clearly, “It is, after all, just a penis” is indeed odious, but the first part of the claim seems factually accurate, at least for some.

N.B. I don’t think we should joke about rape, but the article is heavy on belligerence and short on reasoned argument.

Who made you the final arbiter of taste, humour and acceptability?

Much as you and your companions might like to dictate to me, I will continue to decide for myself what’s funny.

Thanks.

“Why is rape so rare?
Because women with their skirts over their heads run faster than men with their pants around their ankles”

FUnny? Not funny? Who knows. Actually the funniest thing is how authoritarian so many ‘liberals’ have become.

The wiki-god says “Classical liberalism [...] is committed to the ideal of limited government and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, and free markets”.

And on social liberalism it says that “The Liberal International is the main international organisation of liberal parties, which include, among other liberal variants, social liberal parties. It affirms the following principles: human rights, free and fair elections and multiparty-democracy, social justice, tolerance, social market economy, free trade, environmental sustainability and a strong sense of international solidarity”

I’m still struggling to put together tolerance and freedom of speech with being investigated by a standards committee for telling a joke that some find distasteful. As Voltaire never said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

If the joke is that bad, he can get fucked by the ballot box (is that an attenuated rape joke?).

Anyway, an academic sociologist who specialises in jokes reckon they have never successfully been deployed as a weapon against anyone: http://www.vimeo.com/8195088

I would point out to those intellectual minnows that are so keen to label Cath Elliott a fascist or illiberal that you are talking crap.

This is Cath Elliot exercising her free speech, she’s nowhere called for you to be banned and nowhere said this speech should be subject to state censure. So she is not really being illiberal, is she? Unless you feel intimidated by Ms Elliott?

The election of BNP members has led to a rise in hate crime in those areas. Language has an effect, I don’t think Cath is being unreasonable.

I have to disagree unfortunately, humour is what you make of it. But can you fucking whining bastards get a new record?

Liberalism doesn’t demand acquiescence, merely tolerance. And I can tolerate you while calling you “fucking whining bastards” can’t I? And Cath can tolerate you while telling you you’re really really not funny.

9. Dick the Prick

I do like the similie – I was sweating like a rapist. Not sure it’s funny though.

Joking about rape isn’t funny…unless you’re joking about raping a clown.

@13 Yes you’re right!

Whites are the victims! Its all a big nasty plot to get the whites. Racism is definitely worse if you are white! Good argument! Well done!

Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Goosen said: “None of the offences reported in the area since 2006 can be directly attributed to an elected member or political organisation.”

That’s your killer quote. “Police offer remains neutral” – wow, what a scoop!

So the guy loses his political career for relating a bad joke. And Cath wants him kicked off the school board too.

Sorry but that is too vicious for me (though of course I am not a humourless femnazi rape survivalist).

@ left outside.

You are right – language does have an effect. Sadly for you calling people you don’t agree with ‘intellectual lightweights’ only goes against you not for you. Why not just put ‘if you don’t agree with me you’re stooooopid’.

No one said the article was trying to ban rape jokes as humour. The vast vast majority of us would agree however that asking someone to consider where they are and who is around them is just professional.

We are questioning tha validity of saying jokes are wrong because someone finds the subject matter distasteful. If that were the case nearly all jokes become wrong because someone somewhere will find them distasteful.

Plus,

A week ago this blog suggested it is entirly correct to be glad that someone whose views you disagree with should get a nasty disease (mental or physical). Indeed it was suggested it is perfectly accesptable to hope for this fate for those who you agree with.

And yet telling a joke is considered so wrong?

Granted the person in questions views are particularly deplorable, but is it really better to wish a debilitating illness on them than to tell a distastefull joke?

“that “humour is one of the natural ways humans work through their thoughts and feelings about difficult issues”: ”

Well, that bit actually is true. Death itself ain’t all that funny but there’s myriad jokes about it. The joking being one of those ways that we deal with awful things.

Rape ain’t funny, starvation ain’t funny but, as anyone who has ever seen Marvin in South Park will tell you, it’s possible to make very good jokes about starvation.

@ I’m sorry if you are offended by my use of the words intellectual lightweights, but there’s very few ways to put it politely.

They complain about someone being illiberal, when they are not being illiberal, just virulently arguing their corner.

What has prompted me to use the phrase intellectual lightweight isn’t because its offensive. Its because those above are seeking the pretension of a solid intellectual foundation to their arguments. Trying to use one of the most basic and well worn schools of western thought and getting it wrong is deeply irritating.

Perhaps I’ve seen to many threads on Lib Con descend into “liberals aren’t liberal” and I get snappy. But the point remains, why do people feel they can’t disagree with Cath Elliott without calling her a hypocrite?

Constantly Furious (and others)

“Who made you the final arbiter of taste, humour and acceptability?

Much as you and your companions might like to dictate to me, I will continue to decide for myself what’s funny.”

I’m not dictating anything to anyone. Last time I looked this was a blog site, you know, that thing where you express an opinion and then other people get the chance to express theirs too, whether that’s in agreement or not.

If I wanted to dictate anything to you I’d get myself into a position of power then hand down an edict or something, but I’m really not about to do that, so relax.

I don’t know what is more depressing, the twat in the story who made an inappropriate joke and is paying the price for it, or some of the comments attached to this post, which are either bubbling under with misogyny or have enabled our far-right anonymous commentators to post racist nonsense about rape being the fault of non-whites.

The mind boggles.

This, alas, is why the Left often has a reputation for being po-faced. It’s almost as if this article was written according to a Daily Mail stereotype of the loony left.

Oh, and by the way: The Girls of Riyadh

Stopi it at once, Sunny Seacole Liddle!

Why are you responding to your own posts and trying to carry out a conversation with yourself? (for those who don’t have writer/editor rights on this site, I would just point out that a large proportion of the comments/names on this page are all coming from the same email address)

‘Cos that’s not funny either: it’s just fucking sad.

Cath Elliott, I love it when Internet trolls get called out on their sock puppet shenanigans, awesome stuff and shame on them.

Agreed Cath.

@ 4 “Is rape the worst thing that can happen to a woman (or man)? ”

My answer is that the only way my body will be raped again is if it were dead. Why not engage brain before pressing submit?

@ 31 The comments on this post are throughly depressing.

Earwicga: look beneath you and you’ll see another anonymous, coward troll spitting out their bile. Ominous stuff that a post like this attracts such cold, heartless, vulgar losers to spam it.

Some people aren’t worth trying to save are they?

24. Luis Enrique

Cath,

No, you’re not dictating in that sense (because as you say you lack the power) but what are you doing? You’re not saying ‘jokes about rape are not funny’ because you think as an empirical fact nobody laughs at jokes about rape. Presumably you know some people might find some jokes about rape funny, but you are saying they ought not to. How else to interpret: “jokes about rape aren’t funny’? That’s saying more that “I don’t find jokes about rape funny”. You are telling people what they ought to think (not a million miles away from the word ‘dictate’). And people might well respond with: ‘you can’t tell me what to think’. And I’m sorry leftoutside, but telling people what they ought to find funny, or not, is not the most liberal of things to do. It’s quite a conservative thing to do. (This doesn’t mean I sympathise with the oh so persecuted white middle aged males).

Cath, I think this is a rather strange article to have written. Why not say something along the lines of: “jokes about rape are liable to cause such offense, that they are best not said and certainly not in the workplace”. You could even try to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable jokes about rape – like we may differentiate between racist jokes and jokes about race, for instance (there are lots of very funny jokes about race). Making an assertion about what is or isn’t funny is a bizarre way of approaching the topic, which is an inherently subjective judgement. I might laugh at a joke about rape (it depends on how funny I find the joke), just like I might laugh at all manner of offensive jokes, but that does not indicate that I somehow regard rape as a joke or as nothing to take seriously. It doesn’t mean I’d choose to tell a rape joke in a council meeting either.

@39 But Luis, doesn’t it sort of paint liberals into a corner. The point of liberalism is a pluralism of opinion. And if you can’t pursue those opinions vehemently then what’s the point?

I don’t agree with Cath, but I don’t think its particularly helpful to imply sees some sort of wannabe dictator.

Apparently I missed the memo that being a considerate human being was somehow ‘illiberal’. Yes, being a liberal suggests that you’re inclined to be relaxed in your views on how things should go, but that doesn’t mean you can behave how you like & nobody should be able to call you on it – it seems some people have confused ‘liberal’ with ‘anarchist’.

It’s quite telling that many of the commenters above seem to be men.

I shall try to explain for the hard of thinking: Our society is full of rape apologists, & even people who claim that they know rape is bad contribute to this. The fact that a woman’s sexual history is considered relevant in a rape trial (because having sex in the past means a woman wants to do it with everybody), that a woman wearing a short skirt is considered ‘asking for it’ (because men are all animals who are completely unable to control themselves, & the sight of legs throws them into a frenzy of lust), a woman who shows apparent interest & then changes her mind is a ‘cocktease’ (initial agreement is a binding contract & negates any answer she later gives, because only the answer that you want matters), that it’s OK if she’s too drunk to say no (yeah, because it’s not like that also means she’s too drunk to say yes or anything…). It all hangs on male entitlement – how dare that woman have slept with other men & not ME, that short skirt is being worn because she wants ME, how dare they tell ME off for making offensive jokes!

Primary blame in rape is placed on the victim (‘if you had done this & this & avoided doing this it wouldn’t have happened’ far more than in other crimes, & with more culpability (even in murder cases when the victim has gone into a dodgy area of town at night & people say ‘well that was bound to happen’, the subsequent trial still focuses on the alleged murderer rather than what the victim was wearing – well unless the defence lawyer is really desperate & just hoping to shave a few months off the inevitable sentence for their obviously guilty client…).

Popular culture plays into this, in ways both blatant & subtle, & one of those ways is how humour normalises rape – but does it by reinforcing victim-blaming attitudes. There’s an easy way of telling whether a topic that is about something horrific is generally offensive (I say ‘generally’ because there are topics that would be considered out of line by specific audiences) is to consider whether or not society condones it, because then you’re just playing into existing prejudices.

Racist & homophobic jokes are bad because way too many people hold such prejudices & any attempt to normalise those prejudices is Not A Good Thing. Same for rape.

I fully expect many comments all telling me that you are not a rape apologist at all & your endorsement of this topic of humour is somehoe liberating or somesuch. Here, I’ll provide a handy copy-&-paste template for you: “I’m not a rape apologist but [insert excuse for making rape jokes here].”

27. Luis Enrique

L.O.,

by all means pursue opinions vehemently and be comfortable with plurality of opinion, but that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as an illiberal opinion and I think this is one. Surely you recognise that liberals are generally fond of offensive comedy (Lenny Bruce etc.) and conservatives (Mary Whitehouse) are generally associated with trying to police comedy (actually, you also get illiberal lefties trying to police comedy too … but that’s sort of my point, I think Cath’s argument here is more like illiberal leftism – it’s not saying “go ahead and find jokes about rape funny if you want to – it’s up to you”, it’s saying that jokes about rape ought to be ruled out).

28. the a&e charge nurse

I think rape, in this context, is a slight red herring.

The question being asked, fundamentally, is what we (as a society) can and can’t joke about, and by extension what we might, or might not find amusing.
Perhaps it even extends to who can, and who can’t, tell certain types of jokes?

If rape jokes are unacceptable, then presumably so to are jokes about starving children, mental illness, or disability (I’m sure the list of taboo subjects is far from exhaustive)?

29. Luis Enrique

Red,

There’s a great deal I agree with in what you write (espec. you second main para) but I do not agree that in our society the primary blame is placed upon the victim … surely the overwhelming majority of people (and the disembodied entity that is our culture) place the primary blame squarely on the rapist.

I wonder whether you have classified me as a “rape apologist”, because I have written that I might find some jokes about rape funny, and that I think telling other people what they ought to find funny, or not, whatever else it may be, is hardly liberal. If so, I think that that would be a pretty nasty thing to accuse me, or anybody else, of on such flimsy reasoning.

30. Luis Enrique

N.B. it might be right to say all jokes about rape ought to be ruled unacceptable … perhaps sometimes the liberal approach is the wrong approach. Cath could easily defend her argument without having to pretend it’s a liberal argument.

@ 38 Sad but true.

@ 42 Spot on!

@ 44 Red herring? No. Eddie Wake made a number of offensive comments and Cath has chosen to speak about ‘rape jokes’.

Red – the issue is that rape doesn’t get treated all that differently in the criminal justice system to any other crime against the person. An initial accusation of rape has about the same chances of producing a conviction as an assault. So even if you are right that there are rape apologists all over the place, they don’t seem to be having much of an effect. Unless you think there are also assault apologists all over the place too.

And there is no evidence that jokes play a role in legitimising rape either. It is actually a remarkably similar argument to the one about pornography, or even about the building of Islamic minarets. Various people interpret various forms of expression as legitimising particular violent or dominating acts, but thats all they have; interpretations. No correlations and no causal connections.

Well once again a thread on here has proven that many commentators on the right really are nasty pricks. This isn’t so much about the right to tell unfunny and offensive jokes, but about having some fucking manners and basic social skills. The conservative councilor concerned didn’t make these jokes at a private function – he made them following a meeting to discuss rape prevention (you right wingers do want rape prevented right? – sometimes it isn’t clear). This suggests he doesn’t take the issue very seriously at all, and he shouldn’t be in a position where he can take decisions that have a real impact on victims lives – eg: he is in a position where he can influence whether crisis centres get funding (you right wingers do think victims of crime should be helped right? sometimes it isn’t clear). He is also a school governor and thus in a position to influence the policies of a school regarding sexual assualt and bullying.

This isn’t about wanting the state to prevent people telling jokes, but it is about ensuring that people who are supposed to have a role protecting victims of crime at least take it seriously. None of you right wingers would have the slightest problem with a quaker/pacifist being prevented from working in a senior position at the MOD after all – sometimes your views do mean some jobs are not for you.

34. J Alfred Prufrock

What’s better than winning gold at the paralympics?

Having legs.

———————————

All jokes are offensive in some way to someone. As the more intelligent posters have said, where do you draw the line? I find it ironic that a blog with “liberal” at it’s raison d’etre (sp? don’t care) should take such an anti-free speech approach. Obviously the Tory who told the (bad) joke is a sexist twat and personally I think if you hold public office you should be careful about what you say; but in the wider world, if we can’t joke about distasteful things then we can’t deal with them. Ref: Chris Morris and Brass Eye’s “Paedogedden” episode.

One last thing:

Why did Hitler commit suicide? He got his gas bill.

Ouch…
Boom boom.

35. Luis Enrique

49. Planeshift you are spot on about this councillor, as is the O.P.

36. the a&e charge nurse

[47] “Red herring? No, ‘Eddie Wake made a number of offensive comments and Cath has chosen to speak about ‘rape jokes’”.

Are you suggesting that once we remove Eddie’s faux pas & Cath’s personal opinions from the equation there is little further substance to this post?

I might be wrong but my initial impression was that Cath was questioning what type of comedic material is suited to public domain (if we allow for the fact that people should be able to do, and say, whatever they want in the privacy of their home, providing they are harming nobody else).

At the very least this type of logic begs the question, if ‘rape jokes’ are prohibited then does it follow that other difficult subjects must be constrained for fear of the upsetting effect such jokes might have on a wider audience?

In my view, this risk must be left to the joke teller, even though, as Eddie Wake and a % of proto-type Ricky Gervaises prove, they will sometimes get it wrong.

37. Luis Enrique

sorry, I feel the need to retrospectively qualify what I’ve written – when I wrote @39 that this was a strange article to have written, I meant the ‘rape jokes are never funny’ approach to the topic. There’s nothing strange about writing an article eviscerating this councillor.

The comments section in this . Any chances of having a worthwhile discussion have been destroyed by people intentionally derailing the comments thread, and people who seem more interesting of discussing the semantics of what it means to say “is not funny” than discussing the matter at hand.

#44 and #25

The difference between jokes about starving children and jokes about rape is that society takes the issue of starving children seriously, (even though we’re not willing to do enough about it) whereas it excuses and trivialises rape. Making a joke about rape only serves to trivialise it further. I’d argue that the best humour challenges the way we think about things, rather than reinforcing it.

It’s true that dark humour can be used as a coping mechanism. But by and large, rape jokes tend to be made by people who have never experienced rape.

Tim F – Who do you think actually thinks that rape is a trivial matter? If you can make jokes about something without thinking it is a trivial matter (like children starving), then who is actually attempting to trivialise rape?

I am sure there are a handful of individuals but I don’t think they are anywhere near the mainstream.

“But by and large, rape jokes tend to be made by people who have never experienced rape.”

I’ll guarantee you that jokes about starving children are never made by children who have starved.

So that doesn’t quite work I think.

@ 43 “Surely you recognise that liberals are generally fond of offensive comedy (Lenny Bruce etc.) and conservatives (Mary Whitehouse) are generally associated with trying to police comedy”

Hmmmm. I’m not sure that holds. The *religious* right (ie Mary Whitehouse) are censorious, but in general the left have always been instinctively more controlling of cultural discourse than the right.
Apologists for political correctness always argue that their intent is to avoid “offence”, and use fear of “offence” to protect favoured groups from being the object of humour, this is combined with the general leftist fear that humour will expose the absurdity and paradoxes of political correctness.
Interesting too that Mary Whitehouses targets (the benny hill school of comedy of the 1970s) was also the object of leftist/feminist derision and ire at the time.

Finally

How many feminists does it take to tell a joke ?

Two – One to tell the joke, and one to say “I don’t think that’s very funny”

42. the a&e charge nurse

[54] “The difference between jokes about starving children and jokes about rape is that society takes the issue of starving children seriously”.

Maybe, but a significant minority of comedians don’t.
Perhaps they are reacting to the constraints associated with being placed inside an artistic straight-jacket rather than feeling free to shoot from the hip.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/jul/27/comedy-standup-new-offenders

Don’t forget their currency is not so much being right but making the audience laugh

#55

There are lots of reasons why I think society treats rape less than seriously. The recent thread at liberal conspiracy about what constitutes consent is a good example, as is the low conviction rate.

#56

What have starving children got to do with it? I already showed why that was a bad analogy in my penultimate paragraph. My last paragraph went on to make an entirely separate point.

“#55

There are lots of reasons why I think society treats rape less than seriously. The recent thread at liberal conspiracy about what constitutes consent is a good example, as is the low conviction rate.”

But a key contention that thread was that it turned out that the conviction rate was comparable to other crimes against the person, like assault. Basically, because they have the same problems of proving a perfectly plausible charge in front of a jury. I just don’t get this idea that loads of people take rape as a trivial issue. Have you met anyone who does personally?

Matt Munro

How many libertarians does it take to tell a joke?

It’s actually a trick question, ‘cos libertarians are a joke.

Must be the way you tell ‘em Cath. On the page that looks a tad weak really.

“What did one libertarian say to another”

“Wait, you mean there is two of them?”

- the jokes about Austrian economists are better (I’ve stolen that one from there): http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2009/05/austrian-economics-jokes-bleg.html

#61

Yes, I have met lots of people who treat rape as a trivial issue. I have met few people who take stranger rape as a trivial issue, but I’ve met lots of people who describe rape as sex, who laugh and joke about their sexual exploits in which it’s clear that the woman was just a vessel to be fucked and where the issue of consent was unclear.

@ 62 Cath Elliot – Don’t give up the day job, love

Well those are foul people, and I guess I am just lucky not to have bumped in to many people at all with those kind of attitudes. Is this in a particular environment that you spot them, or just all over?

I’ve met lots of people who describe rape as sex, who laugh and joke about their sexual exploits in which it’s clear that the woman was just a vessel to be fucked and where the issue of consent was unclear.

Hey Tim, the mask is slipping a bit.

Are you sure you don’t just want to lock these guys up up because they have a different perspective on sexual relationships to you.

Or because they’re getting more sex than you……..

What is Constantly Furious’s real name? I wondered if his employers thought rape and racist jokes were funny. That is, of course, unless he is already unemployed and wants to remain so.

Look at what happened to Greg Stone, the disgraced Lib Dem. If you can laugh at women being raped, or non-whites being murdered, at least have the courage to put your own name to it, you snivelling piece of shit.

As for Tim Worstall.. well, I’ll make sure people know you think it’s okay to joke about the rape of women. Have a nice life.

53. Luis Enrique

O.H. I think that’s what they call an epic fail. Dismal. You really must be a piece of work if you find that funny.

“As for Tim Worstall.. well, I’ll make sure people know you think it’s okay to joke about the rape of women. Have a nice life.”

Go for it. Make sure you refer them back to here so that they can see what I actually said. Rather than just “Tim Worstall says it’s OK to joke about the rape of women” which would be rather a perversion of my actually expressed views.

#68 go on then, I’ll take the bait against my better judgement:

What mask?

Damn right they have a different perspective on sexual relationships to me.

#67 not a particular environment, no, but certainly those attitudes are less prevalent in particular environments.

That was John Booth of the Freelance Thought Police.

This is not a joke.

Sweden has a reputation for easily available sex on demand but where it is illegal to pay for sex:

“Sweden has the highest incidence of reported rapes in Europe – twice as many as ‘runner up’ the UK, a new study shows.”
http://www.thelocal.se/19102/20090427/

Any of the humour police here care to give a definitive list of what it is, in their (un) humble opinion ok to make jokes about (apart from libertarians, christians, conservatives, white working class men etc) ?

Oh look, a Tory councillor thinks it’s okay to be racist:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/8459487.stm

Quelle surprise! You lot haven’t changed at all. You think you’ve fooled enough morons in middle England, but you haven’t fooled anyone. Still racist, still sexist – that should be your slogan. Thing is, you of course will agree with what the Pendle councillor has said, and you think there are too many browns and their fried chicken shops in the Kingdom of Little Britain.

I wasn’t going to, but I am going to vote for Labour in my constituency which is a key Labour/Tory marginal.

Anyone got CF’s real name?

John – Is that the nurse calling ? I think it might be time for your medication……

Red @ 42,

How many comics do you know that make rape jokes?

To fulfil your prejudices:

“I’m not a rape apologist but [I haven't actually heard one].”

Conservatives are sanctimonious hypocrites on humour. Thy love to bring out the old faithful “political correctness” to smear lefties with , but they are much more politically correct. It is just that the subjects change , and they hide behind the terms “standards and decency “

Just watch The Daily Mail or the Torygraph froth at the mouth at any near knuckle humour about The Royal family. Jonathon Ross was a marked man after he did a joke about Call me Dave , Thatcher , and masturbation. How the righties frothed at the mouth at that one. Jim Davidson the tory comic does lots of jokes about woman, blacks, gays and attacks political correctness, but he stormed out of a Ben Elton concert when Ben did jokes about the his beloved SAS.

And of course any jokes about white ,middle class Christians is a big no , no to the so called moral majority. Billy Connolly tells a story about a dinner he went to in the 80s . A posh do with lots of pompous business men all doing jokes about lesbians and brown people and how everybody laughed. So Billy got up and did some hard hitting stuff on Ian Paisley and the protestants. You could of heard a pin drop.

63. Luis Enrique

sally, that’s very true

Red @ 42 (cont.)

Billy Connelly made jokes about murder, Frankie Boyle has made jokes about bestiality, or birdiality or summat.

I don’t think you actually understand the role of comics in our society. They hold us up to ridicule. They make us think twice about cherished beliefs.

Bernard Manning’s main crime wasn’t his racism. It was the fact that he wasn’t funny.

At all.

“Obviously the Tory who told the (bad) joke is a sexist twat and personally I think if you hold public office you should be careful about what you say; but in the wider world, if we can’t joke about distasteful things then we can’t deal with them. Ref: Chris Morris and Brass Eye’s “Paedogedden” episode.”

I was going to say this before it was stolen from my brain. Just like any laughs I might have in future years.

Chickens and roads will be offended, or indeed the infamous joke could trivialise the plight of chicken-walking or concrete consistency.

Not the same, I know, but the principle is, and it must be protected.

Freedom is more important than causing offence.
Offence is the consequence of free thought and free speech.

(Topic discussed in this podcast – http://podcastfour.blogspot.com/2010/01/podcast-0007-100110-moral-highgrounds.html)

*not for the faint-hearted or easily offended, but I believe to be a promoter of liberal values and ideas.

Alf Garnett was a liberals perfect comedy character.

@pagar wrote: “Are you sure you don’t just want to lock these guys [who proceed without clear consent] up because they have a different perspective on sexual relationships to you. Or because they’re getting more sex than you……..”

By your standards then people who take your property and money without your clear consent are locked up after you report the theft just because they have a different perspective on generosity than you. And bank robbers and embezzlers are only prosecuted because they’re getting more money than you.

Bernie Madoff and others who created Ponzi schemes weren’t arrested for committing financial crimes, they were arrested only because people were jealous.

“Just watch The Daily Mail or the Torygraph froth at the mouth at any near knuckle humour about The Royal family. Jonathon Ross was a marked man after he did a joke about Call me Dave , Thatcher , and masturbation. How the righties frothed at the mouth at that one. Jim Davidson the tory comic does lots of jokes about woman, blacks, gays and attacks political correctness, but he stormed out of a Ben Elton concert when Ben did jokes about the his beloved SAS”.

Sally as you seem to have decided that I’m right wing can I point out that:
I’m a republican (I’m assuming you mean the House of Windsor rather than the mancunian couch potatoes BTW)
Jonathan Ross is the only chat show I watch and i though that question was funny, as would a lot of “right wingers”
I once bought my dad some Margaret Thatcher toilet paper.
Jim Davidson was offensive without being funny
Even in his 80s heyday I always thought Ben Elton was overrated as a comedian but despite now being an annoying establishment twat, he writes the occasional good book

And what about Jeremy Clarkson and his “prostitute murdering polish lorry drivers joke” which was racist, sexist and er lorry driverist, what did you think of that ?

John Booth, if that’s who you really are.

If you tell me who you are, rather than skulking behind a non-existent web address, and if you tell me why you’d like my real name, and what you will do when you know it, then maybe I’ll tell you.

Although, on the balance, I’m more likely to tell you to fuck right off, you nasty little fascist.

Tim @ 74

Damn right they have a different perspective on sexual relationships to me.

Actually I have some empathy here.

There is nothing worse than to want a woman who, instead of responding to your worthy and sincere advances, chooses instead to enter into a sexual relationship with some arsehole who is not interested in her at all as a person but just wants to “fuck her like a vessel”.

But it happens all too often and experience tells you that this tragedy is commonplace and that the modern female tends to be at least as much of a sexual predator as the male.

Maybe it was always thus.

But the key to the whole thing is consent. There are few crimes worse than forcing another into a sexual act if they don’t want to participate but the problem is that, in most situations, the absence of consent is exteremely difficult to prove in a court of law.

Anyway.

Did you hear the one about…………………………….

If you ask me, it’s Wake’s IQ that raises questions rather than his taste in jokes.
How many headlines about inappropriate behaviour/comments leading to the dismissal from jobs and public office does it need? I would personally find jokes about rape to be unfunny (although I haven’t heard any), I accept that humour is subjective and relies heavily on context, but if you are in a position of power, the rule surely is, don’t joke about any individual or group that is likely to give offence.

72. Summer_Breeze


‘And she keeps on sucking, sucking and nibbling and filling me with yearning, with desire to thrust her back on the bed now, strap her to it the way the schoolteacher had shown me… I wanted that she be tied to the bed and I dominate her, rape her, burst inside her and be cleansed.’ ”

As written by one Stuart Bell ( MP for Middlesbrough ) Sadly, I don’t see him being harangued all over the place for his gratuitous, pornographic ramblings. Shame!

Judging by his ugly mug he should join Fathers for justice.

They have a lot of bald twats in their orgainsation too.

Jeez, this is one of the messiest comment threads I’ve ever seen on this site…

freud @ 94

wrong guess

In defence of bad taste jokes: “gratuitous offence, when performed with aplomb, is the funniest thing in the world”.

It’s only loosely related to the OP, but the best practitioners of “sick” humour are genuine down-and-outs – Doug Stanhope, say, or Jerry Sadowitz. The giggling commenters in this thread are more like wannabe Jimmy Carrs.

#11 “sweating like a rapist” reminds me of the story I was told at a Rape Crisis centre about the woman who struggled to pull her life back together after being raped and had to walk out of her job when someone used that phrase in her office. Hilarious, I’m sure.

You can’t do anything in this country anymore. It’s political correctness gone mad. You can’t even write racial abuse in excrement on someone’s car without the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat!!

80. So Much For Subtlety

8. Left Outside – “I would point out to those intellectual minnows that are so keen to label Cath Elliott a fascist or illiberal that you are talking crap. This is Cath Elliot exercising her free speech, she’s nowhere called for you to be banned and nowhere said this speech should be subject to state censure. So she is not really being illiberal, is she? Unless you feel intimidated by Ms Elliott?”

Or you think for a moment why she insists, in light of all evidence and all human experience, that rape jokes are not ever funny. They are extremely distasteful and the world would be better off without them but it is impossible to claim none of them are ever funny. There simply are funny rape jokes. Which Cath Elliot cannot recognise because of her Mary-Whitehouse illiberal attitude.

“The election of BNP members has led to a rise in hate crime in those areas. Language has an effect, I don’t think Cath is being unreasonable.”

But this is entirely illiberal if not proto-Fascist despite the fact that Cath Elliot did not say it. Language may have an effect but I would like to know what the real evidence is. Even if it did the only possible liberal approach is to say that words do not kill people, criminals do. We need to protect free speech, even by the BNP and even by twats who make rape jokes.

81. So Much For Subtlety

81. sally – “Conservatives are sanctimonious hypocrites on humour. Thy love to bring out the old faithful “political correctness” to smear lefties with , but they are much more politically correct. It is just that the subjects change , and they hide behind the terms “standards and decency “ Just watch The Daily Mail or the Torygraph froth at the mouth at any near knuckle humour about The Royal family.”

Last I checked the comedian who made the joke about Queen Elizabeth’s genitalia is still in employment. They are not very effective at PC are they? Standards and decency are obviously a different thing to PC. The BBC is funded by the tax payer and so ought to observe certain standards. I don’t recall the Torygraph calling for stand up comics to be censored. But I have heard people call for them to be for PC reasons.

“And of course any jokes about white ,middle class Christians is a big no , no to the so called moral majority. Billy Connolly tells a story about a dinner he went to in the 80s .”

Billy Connolly was sexually abused as a child. Something he puts into his routine from time to time. I don’t find it funny. But I wonder if the po-faced chorus here at LC would like to deny either his right to do so or that he can be funny while doing so?

The fact is a lot of jokes are funny despite the fact they are awful. That does not mean it is appropriate for a Counsellor to tell such jokes in public, but they are still (or can be) funny.

82. So Much For Subtlety

84. douglas clark – “I don’t think you actually understand the role of comics in our society. They hold us up to ridicule. They make us think twice about cherished beliefs.”

They make us laugh. Often by shock and surprise. But don’t over-read their role. They are not the jumped up “second Constitution of a country”. They are mostly sad, twisted and lonely twats with no friends or sex life and little more.

“Bernard Manning’s main crime wasn’t his racism. It was the fact that he wasn’t funny.”

Actually Bernard Manning was an appalling human being and his jokes were utterly outrageous. But he was also often extremely funny. His Auschwitz joke was, and I am appalled it is so, really really funny.

Sorrry the numbers are messed up. Deleted a whole bunch of comments by assorted human excrement

84. Cheesy Monkey

Any subject has he potential to be funny when used as the basis or punchline as a joke. But context and delivery is key to making a successful one.

Now, as many of you fuckers know, I’m not adverse to a touch of bad taste humour here and there, but I can do that because we’re all equal here, yeah? And of course, I couldn’t give a Ian Huntley-branded packet-of-three what any of you thought about wot I rote. I am similarly uninhibited with friends, because they know what I’m like and enjoy my company. Or tolerate it – it’s a fine line…

But I’m certainly not like that at work, because I don’t know the people that well and would run the risk of getting sacked by (perhaps inadvertently) seriously offending colleagues. That’s what’s happened here with Eddie Wake. He’s told the wrong joke to the wrong audience in the wrong way. And he got fired. And this is good. Why? Because he’s a fucking moron.

But this is rubbish! Rape isn’t funny. Sexist bores aren’t funny. Lots and lots of rape jokes aren’t funny – probably the overwhelming majority. But this one is funny:

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

It’s from Blazing Saddles, and it’s called satire. It’s FUNNY.

By the same token, are you saying Alf Garnett wasn’t funny? Was Brass Tacks funny? Is it ok to satirise a white, middle class male in The Office then? We can laugh because he’s white, middle class male?

There’s good humour and bad humour – but don’t lump in wanky fools telling bad jokes in with talented satirists making you squirm with the accuracy of their barbs.

Tim @ 79

freud @ 94 wrong guess

OMG You’re gay !!?!!??!!!!?

Jacko @ 91,

No worries. All my comments were in reply to DC Calling and would have made no sense whatsoever if his were deleted. On the subject of which Sunny missed post 88.

#94

Keep trying.

@ 95

You’re a transgender lesbian?

A eunuch?

A robot?

Oh go on, put me out of my misery.

Well that went exactly as expected.

91. Donut Hinge Party

Where does the author stand on the Darwin awards?

Personally, I thought the Gervais/Merchant sketch was hilarious. A victimless crime like replacing someone’s ashes after cremation. At no point in the process of this instance is the individual ever intimidated or physically forced into the act; she is only held there by her own naivety, and she will leave.

Superman enters a bar and orders a stiff drink; he looks pale and shaken.
“What’s up?” says Spiderman (because in this world we cross over between Marvel and DC) Superman explains that he was flying through the city when he saw Wonder Woman lying on the bed, naked, with her legs spread. Now, Superman has already established a relationship with Wonderwoman, and they have made clear through a system of safe words and codes what their acceptable standards of sexual behaviour are. Seeing her there, Superman is convinced that she knows he’s there and swoops in, undressing himself and attempting to join her on the bed.
“Wow!” says Spiderman, “I bet she was surprised.” “Yes, she was,” says Superman, “but not as surprised as the invisible man.”

There’s a long tradition of rape jokes in this country because, well, it used to be so damn common. It also used to carry the lascivious tinge that sometimes it wasn’t so forcible after all, being one of the few ways that – ironically – a woman could be seen as sexually liberal. I think one of the oldest jokes written involves a woman who pressed her suit against a man who had taken advantage of her.

“He tied me to a tree, sir, by the waist, and then he tied my arms. He would have tied my legs, sir, but I was determined he would not, so kept them as far apart as I could.”

Apologies to all here for having this thread constantly trolled by a coward trying to smear me with vile accusations, you’ll be glad to know that they are also accusing me of rape on other sites. Pretty disgusting behaviour but this is the level cowards will sink to, it reflects there personal weaknesses and failings and not mine.

Huge thanks also to the mods here for deleting this nonsense.

Peace.

I may believe in the freedom to use anything within a comedy context, and the freedom for someone to say it is not funny.

The freedom to accuse someone of rape, wherever the context, is not a particularly pleasant freedom, but it is one all the same.

“We have a tight comments policy aimed at fostering constructive debate.
We believe in free speech but not your right to abuse our space.
Abusive, sarcastic or silly comments may be deleted.
Misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.”

These sicko’s, I presume, also have the ability to read. If they really think a crime has been committed they should go to the police, if not, they should shut the fuck up and leave. Sorry if I am not as politely reserved as D H-G.

94. diogenes1960

Am i missing something? We should decide whether someone is fit to hold a particular office or function on the basis of what jokes he makes or, to be more general, for the views he holds, rather than on the basis of whether he is actually any good at that job? Granted, telling that joke when he did shows a lack of judgment, but is there any hard reason why he should be sacked? Was he any good as a councillor and school governor?

The Gervais/Merchant sketch was hilarious. I was literally crying with laughter listening to the original podcast in the car.

This demonstrates the limits of Lib Con. I’m a Labour supported, I agree with about 40pc of the stuff on this site – but there is an enormous amount of hard left Dave Spart and Millie Tant nonesense on here as well.

Seriously suggesting that this has anything (*anything*) to do with rape is just absurd and highlights what a confused world these people live in.

Jesus Wept. See? You’ve turned me in to Littlejohn.

96. the a&e charge nurse

[98] “why he should be sacked? – yes, an important question, assuming he was performing reasonably well in his post”

Two thoughts;
*I wonder if Blake was egged on by the Sunderland coppers? – I doubt if the joke came out of the blue, or existed in a vacuum (although I might be wrong, of course).

*if the Tories are willing expel a local councillor for lack of judgement (on a sexual matter) why are they still willing to forge exciting European alliances with a right wing Polish group who allegedly have reprehensible views about homosexuality?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/oct/07/cameron-defends-alliance-polish-party

George:

Thanks for your support, means a lot to me in the face of nasty smears by cowards. Thanks also to Douglas Clark for his support.

“Tony Drummond”

Did a quick check on you using Google advance search to see if you’ve ever commented at Lib Con before, or have access to this thread before, as the nasty comments have been deleted so how would you have known about them? You have not, so I take it you are the same person who smeared me with those lies and/or connected to that person. I do not have to defend myself against anonymous cowards making false accusations about me and if you are NOT connected to those people then seriously, you siding with a sick individual calling me a rapist with no evidence at all. That makes you a idiot and as bad as the person in question.

I just want Conservatives to admit that they are just as politically correct as they claim the left is.

But they have not got the integrity or honesty to do so.

Instead, they hide behind terms like standards and decency. Bullshit. it’s political correctness plain and simple, but it is right wing political correctness. Which never gets mentioned in a Daily Wail editorial ………… funny that.

sally – should he have been sacked for making the joke and other remarks? In which case, what is your problem?

My problem is with hypocritical Conservatives who are just as politically correct as those they accuse. But they won’t admit it.

Right wing political correctness is just as prevalent as left wing political correctness. But they hide behind other terms.

101. Charlieman

@105 Sally: “I just want Conservatives to admit that they are just as politically correct as they claim the left is.

But they have not got the integrity or honesty to do so.

Instead, they hide behind terms like standards and decency.”

I am not a Conservative/troll/numpty. Thus I never use the expression “politically correct” except as a quotation; the words derived from “respect” suffice, and I suspect that historians in 2,000 years time will understand those terms much more easily than “PC”.

Several moons ago, Danny Finkelstein addressed some of this in light hearted fashion at The Times:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/daniel_finkelstein/article535789.ece

In the paragraphs surrounding the following quote, he illustrates some foolishness of others and reminds us that much “political correctness” is just good manners. And here’s why “PC” should be obliterated from common parlance; the expression has been so abused that it carries no meaning:
“My problem with “it’s political correctness gone mad” is that on more than half the occasions on which it is deployed it isn’t appropriate. It is attacking something that isn’t politically correct and hasn’t gone mad.”

Getting back to rape jokes. They might be acceptable to an audience that expects a “challenging” performance. The jokes may challenge values sufficiently to make me think, but there are other ways to engage me.

If the content of a joke is offensive, think hard before you repeat it. Respect, good manners and all that.

102. the a&e charge nurse

[108] “If the content of a joke is offensive, think hard before you repeat it. Respect, good manners and all that”.

Sometime offense is the entire point of the joke – listen to this incredible line up deliver the ‘Aristocrats’ routine.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiyoTpRGNfk

I’ve listened to it twice now and can find little in the way of respect or good manners, maybe all these top notch comedians (male, female, black, white) are all suspect as well?

103. the a&e charge nurse

108!!! – dear, oh dear, I meant 105

Mind you, I think Charlieman meant 104 – unless the mods have been at it again?

“the words derived from “respect” suffice,”

Ah, now there I actually agree (sorry, my agreement with people around here is a death blow to their social standing, I know, I know…..)

A huge (large, majority of, to taste) amount of what is called “PC” is simply good manners. Most of the time one does not wish to offend and what offends is defined not by what one means but by what others find offensive. And that’s for them to decide, not one. (Erm, having started with “one” I’ll continue).

Sometimes one does wish to offend and it is the desire to offend which is to be condemned, not the manner in which it is done.

My problem with “PC” is that it goes, sometimes, further than this. To the point that there is a received view and trying to analyse, possibly disagree, with this view is condemned. Around here we might have the examples of not all foreigners selling sex are trafficked, not all selling sex are in fact oppressed or forced into doing so (to give examples of LC threads recently).

“A gentleman is never rude by accident.” — D. L. Sayers

What winds me up about Frankie Boyle is that he, like most comics (Ross is another classic example) picks cheap targets. I’ve seen him work a whole routine which was sharp, funny, edgy at times but never tilted into the “dark-heart-of-mock-the-week” persona that particular show pays him for, so he can be clever. He just usually isn’t.

Connelly typically does not pick cheap targets. Bill Hicks never did. Some targets are worth offending [1] and as someone said earlier, delivering such offense with style and panache is funny. Some are cheap; it’s quite easy to offend a rape victim, and difficult to see why it would be a worthwhile social goal to do so. A rape joke told so as to offend rapists might, in theory, be useful.

Comedy at the cutting edge is only worth having if it says something useful. Some categories of joke rarely if ever do.

All this without dwelling on the issue of who tells a joke being a prime piece of context. Stephen K. Amos telling jokes which turn on Afro-Caribbean social politics and the associated accent can be very funny indeed. If I saw Jeremy Clarkson produce the same material, the effect would be radically different.

[1] Idi Amin comes in for a surprising amount of ridicule, even now, in West African comedy. Frequently in jokes which are aimed at Robert Mugabe.

““A gentleman is never rude by accident.” — D. L. Sayers”

I know and use the quote (or at least derivations of it). But finally to find out who said it.
Thanks for that.

TimW: Lord Peter Wimsey, in (I think) Gaudy Night? You’re welcome.

@ Sally

Well Blimming said. Perfect. They do this with EVERYTHING. They want a free market but only on THEIR terms. They want stronger sentences but only on THEIR terms. They want benefit fraudsters to be strung up biut do NOTHING when it’s them and their mates that dodge tax on their cash!

As a woman, I don’t think rape jokes are funny particularly in that context. I’ve never found it funny when at school my school mates used to joke about rape in front of me (I’m a woman) or when they used to say slavery jokes in front of me (I’m black).

To some of the posters who are shocked by people thinking like this about blacks, slavery or rape, where the HELL do you live??

I like in the UK and I see it all the time. In pubs. By the bus station. At work. Walking down the street…Tory blogs…

@ John Q. Publican

Agree. Spot on. It’s how it is said and the context in which it is delivered. There is that fine line between been a bully…


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