Wouldn’t it be funny if the boys that photographed themselves assaulting Savannah Dietrich got raped right now? Also, that priest, Monsignor Lynn, who is going to serve three to six years for failing to investigate sex abuse claims against priests — wouldn’t it be hilarious if he were raped in prison? And Jerry Sandusky? Just picture him in the showers with a bunch of bigger guys! Are you laughing? No? Well, that’s because imagining someone getting raped is about as humorous as imagining someone stepping on a landmine or getting car-jacked. It’s terrifying and no one deserves it.
But using rape in a joke is another story. A couple of years ago, I taught a writing course at The New School called Humor and Controversy. The premise was that humor artists like Margaret Cho, Chris Rock, and Sarah Silverman speak with more insight and honesty about race, sexuality, reproductive rights, gender, religion, and class than most politicians, which is why comedy is important. Students were encouraged to use wit and self-deprecation to shed light on thorny issues. One prompt was to write an essay entitled “My Rape Fantasy.” Keep reading »