Criticism Of The Response To Recent Rape Comments

I witnessed, recently the uproar over the Daniel Tosh incident and the response of various women and men on the subject. Daniel Tosh was performing in a club and mentioned to a heckler in the audience that she was being rude to him. He then exclaimed, “wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” Some people were offended at the mere mention of rape, Daniel Tosh’s callous attitude, and took it personally. They, generally thought that he was too offensive. Violet Blue posted something on her blog stating that she found his comment too offensive, as well. What is the real issue here? It is nothing to sneeze at, actually. In the United States, we not only have the right to speak freely but express ourselves freely, and whether you like what Daniel Tosh said, he had every right to say it. The reason is that we believe, generally, as Americans that it is healthier to allow people to think independently, speak openly about what they believe, and create the images, artwork, and writing that affords all of us the ability to move people politically, philosophically, and creatively. What a lot of us think is that as soon as we start censoring people, we head down a dangerous path. The path for other countries, like Germany, for example, has taken them down a road they wish they had never gone down. I believe something else, as well. An example of when censors get it wrong occurred in a small town in the Central Valley called Clovis. When certain parents got wind of the fact that a book called, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” – an autobiographical novel by the writer Maya Angelou in which she describes being molested was being passed out to their children, they banned the book without hesitation. The problem with what they did was that they sent the message, perhaps inadvertently that talking about molestation, incest, and rape is wrong. Well, that is a bad message to send. Why bring this up, though, in response to what Daniel Tosh said? Here is why: Daniel Tosh did not rape that woman, and if you believe that because he said it that he had every intent to then rape her, you are crazy. Making that kind of leap is irresponsible and tends to intimidate people from even talking about the subject to begin with. It also suggests to me that you might go further and censor people’s thoughts. Again, that sounds like an exercise in insanity. We simply cannot demand of people that they say only things we like or think only things we would. What if I have an impure thought? What if I think something you do not like or agree with? You do not have the right to then tell me that I should not have thought that. My thoughts are my own, not yours. If you feel uncomfortable with people thinking in ways you do not approve of, well, maybe you should learn to tolerate difference more.

You may be reading this post, though, and are going, all of what I am saying is crazy, too. Who am I to say that my negative thoughts do not amount to negative reactions? What if Daniel Tosh, actually was thinking he wanted to rape her? How do I know he will not do that? Have you ever been so mad at someone you said you wanted to kill them? I have. I still have not acted on that thought. I have been so furious at my own family, even that I have wished them dead, but I have never taken action on those thoughts, either. That is the problem with censorship. It is totally impossible to censor everyone’s thoughts, but it is also oppressive, annoying, and sometimes a violation of privacy to try to get someone to believe the way you do and think the way you do. Why do I want to place all of my faith in you and espouse your beliefs, political or otherwise? Who are you to tell me that the things I think and say, because they are different than the things you say and think are wrong? You do not have the right to control my thoughts, beliefs, and expressions, simply because you disagree with me. That is what we get for living in this Democracy, and if you want to know what I think of our Democracy? Well, I do not always like living here, myself, but I certainly am excited, proud, and often moved to tears that I have the rights I do. Our country is considered one of the most enlightened countries in the world despite our failing schools and our old documents that do not always make it easy for everyone to live in this relatively small space, but a lot of what our founding fathers wrote down, as old as those writings are, were pretty great and still are. I guess what I am saying is that as much as I have found it difficult to live in this country with all of our laws, rules, and political wars, I can still appreciate the solid foundation we built this country on.

Stephanie J. Golden, B.S.W., M.S.R.C.