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mygif

Even Joe Rogan’s “I will wrap my dick around your neck and start you up like a fucking lawnmower” is less imminently threatening – not just because it’s a thing that is likely physically impossible, but because it implicitly pits the comic against an audience member. Tosh’s retort implies that the entire audience is on his side and willing to not just be complicit, but assist him in carrying out his threat.

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mygif

Except the problem is with your argument is that the crowd was obviously not going to do that. A kink.com shoot wasn’t going to start up. Besides all that we have is hearsay. A friend who wasn’t even there posted this. There is no video of the exchange. But by all means less cast him out of society to walk in the wilderness for 40 years. Whatever happened to I may not agree what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it?

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I see no evidence in the blog post that Daniel was asking the crowd to do anything. He wasn’t even referring to the crowd in his retort. Just a bunch of theoretical guys.
While certainly a very uncouth statement, even if the story is true, I see little distinction between his statement and the aggressive retorts practiced by many other modern comedians.

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Who cares if the audience was unlikely to respond by actually attacking the woman, Bob? Responding to an audience member (particularly a woman) who dares to say that rape jokes aren’t funny by wishing gang rape on her is never, ever okay. There is never a situation in which a person responding to “heckling” by making rape threats is ever okay. To do so makes Tosh a flat out bad human being.

And your quote doesn’t mean “say whatever you want with no consequences”‘.

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Eric TF Bat said on July 13th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Wolfman, Bob – what precautions do you take before you go out to a nightclub to minimise the chances that you’ll be raped?

What’s that? None at all? Really?

Then clearly you’re not women, because there are no women who will answer “none at all” to that question, and if that fact doesn’t chill your blood and make your repent your privileged misogynist braindead blathering then you are officially no longer welcome in the human gene pool.

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Farwell3d said on July 13th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

A-fucking-men.

I never had much use for Daniel Tosh anyway, but now I have none.

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Sean D. Martin said on July 13th, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I sincerely hope that all of you are responding with, “Wait, he did what now?”

When I first read about this on another site that’s exactly what I thought. And I looked at the comments wondering how many people were going to take that blogger to task for defending Tosh.

“Wait, they did what now?” was again the order of the day. Not a one saw anything wrong with it.

Yikes.

You put it very succinctly and hit it right on the head: “Daniel Tosh threatened her for talking back to him. There is no fucking act of speech that should ever get, “I want the people in this room to gang-rape you” as a response.

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Sean D. Martin said on July 13th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

@Bob:

Whatever happened to I may not agree what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it?

It doesn’t apply when what you’re saying is the crowd should gang rape someone.

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Soulless Merchant of Fear said on July 13th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

My defense of Tosh: He’s a shitty comedian who has always sucked and is a hostile, arrogant fuck. Saying something like this is in keeping with his character. He’s an angry little shitbird with poor skills.

…that’s all I got.

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Soulless Merchant of Fear said on July 13th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

My wild hope is that this incident hurts his career. It probably won’t. The braindead dudebro audience that masks its hostility under “tellin’ it like it is” will flock to him for this very incident. -sigh-

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@Bob: Try that with the actual statement in there instead of just the bland platitude. “I may not agree with your threats of physical violence and incitement to gang-rape, but I’ll defend to the death your right to issue them.” Still wonder why nobody’s jumping up to say it?

As to “oh, it’s just hearsay anyway”, Daniel Tosh isn’t disputing her version of events. He took to Twitter for a shitty, half-assed “Gee, I’m sorry if anyone got offended by my comments” style apology, but he didn’t even try to wiggle out of it. Why would you possibly want to do so on his behalf?

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I actually took Louis C.K’s tweet in response to be a subtle rebuke of Tosh. As in “Hey, I support you! But now I am going to make it clear I only do it because I’ve sexualized you. Hey, maybe that’s uncomfortable for you! Wonder how that feels?”

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Eric TF Bat:
Okay lets see some examples of gang rape in stand-up audiences. Oh there arn’t any.

Soulless Merchant of Fear:
if you look under comedy in iTunes his two albums are moveing up the charts. Streisand affect….

John Seavey:
well then the victim should press charges then shouldn’t she? If she really felt threatened…. Or sue him for a emotional distress. He probably didn’t disputed because he likely doesn’t have tape of it either. Context matters I know this may be a hard thing to understand but you know it actually does…. Carlin on his Swearwords album did a set about how rape was funny. The jokes were actually about excuses that men gave for doing it. But he did preface it by saying “they say (talking about feminists) rape can’t be funny. I say f%#ck you I think its hilarious.” I guess by your logic he should have been run off the stage at that point.

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John 2.0 said on July 13th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

@Katniss: I agree with you. Making those comments makes Tosh out to be a giant asshole. I certainly hope there are consequences to his comments. If his contact with Comedy Central were voided due to a morality clause I think that would be appropriate. If he never got a stand-up gig again, I think that would be appropriate. If he were never to work in the entertainment industry again, I think that would be a fine outcome.

But, as Wolfman says there currently enough information available to suggest that Tosh crossed the line between into constitutionally unprotected speech, such as hate speech, direct threats, or incitement to violence. It doesn’t sound like Tosh is trying to get the audience to attack the woman. The person to whom the comments were directed never says she felt threatened or in danger.

None of that makes it Okay for Tosh to do what he did. All that means is that Tosh can’t be prosecuted for what he said. His speech is protected by the 1st Amendment. He is still an asshole. His comments should be condemned and I hope he suffers consequences for his behavior.

In short: Daniel Tosh is an asshole, not a criminal.

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I agree that what Tosh did probably isn’t criminal, but I haven’t seen anyone here on this blog or in the comments so far suggest that Tosh should be charged with a crime. Instead what’s being said is that what he did is abhorrent and indefensible.

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“I need more rape jokes,” she shouted nasally before letting her fans in on what she called a comedy secret, that such jokes are actually not so “edgy” after all. “Who’s going to complain about rape jokes? Rape victims?” she asked. “They barely even report rape.” Sarah Silverman
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/arts/television/female-comedians-are-confidently-breaking-taste-taboos.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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@Bob: Yes, because that’s so totally what people do when they’re falsely accused of threatening someone and they don’t have videotaped evidence to counter the accusation. They admit to it and apologize. I understand that you’re grasping at straws to try to justify someone’s horrible, horrible misogyny, but could you at least grasp at less stupid straws?

And no, Carlin should not have been run off the stage. Again, I am not saying Tosh’s initial comments are indefensible. It’d have to be a narrow and technical defense, to be sure, but you could defend it. But his response to the heckler, his statement to her “I think it would be funny if all the people in this room attacked you right now and tried to commit sexual assault on your person,” is not a joke. It’s a fucking threat. And that is not something that is defensible. The only thing you are likely to convince me of by continuing to try defending this is that some part of your soul withered and died a long time ago.

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mygif

“His statement to her “I t hink it woudl be funny if all the people in this room attacked you right now and tried to commit sexual assault on your person,” is not a joke. It’s a fucking threat.”

Are those mutually exclusive? I spent a while working on a response to discuss the context of this incident, because I feel context is something that is very important and generally overlooked especially when it comes to incidents like this. And I was trying to work out how I felt that it was not threatening because of context.

But reading the original incident I find that could not be the case. The woman felt threatened, therefore Tosh’s statement was a threat. I don’t really see how anyone can argue against that.
But I also do not believe his statement was meant to be taken seriously, and I think that is clear from the context.

So can it actually be a joke and a threat simultaneously? Or perhaps that is demonstrated by reaction of the woman and the rest of the audience.

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John 2.0 said on July 14th, 2012 at 12:46 am

Katniss, that’s implicit in John’s post. If Tosh’s comments aren’t protected speech, by definition it’s actionable in some way. I don’t think it rises to the level of incitement or direct threats, but I might feel differently if I had more information to go by.

That’s also what Bob’s quote means. “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” doesn’t mean there should be no consequences to speech (there MUST be consequences to speech, or it’s, well, inconsequential). It means that the ‘right’ to speech, that is the right to say stupid/provocative/insulting/outrageous/offensive (and what was said was most certainly offensive, and, as you say, abhorrent and indefensible) should exist without the speaker ending up in prison somewhere.

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Remember: if you have to watch a show filled with YouTube clips, see Ridiculousness. Rob Dyrdek would never push for any sort of rape, and he’s not a poor man’s version of anybody (*koff*DaneCookwannabe*koff*).

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When did the Internet become all rape all the time?

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John Seavey@
If it’s a threat where’s the police investigation? Why did she stay for the entire show? Why would she accept some ticket vouchers from the manager? Of course he gave the PR apology. Let’s say just for the sake of argument he was genuinely misinterpreted. What would you have him do? Sue the blogger?

So I have a “withered soul” and my argument is “stupid”. Nice rejoinders there..

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Flimflammery said on July 14th, 2012 at 3:06 am

@Bob – she claims that she didn’t stay for entire show. And are you really suggesting that – just because no legal action has taken place presumably because the woman has thought better of it – there’s no way she could possibly have felt threatened?

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Flimflammer@ I could have sworn it said she stayed. Fair point. I’d change my reply if I could.

She has every right to feel whatever she wants to feel but John is trying to make the argument that free speech doesn’t apply in the situation.So where is the criminal follow-up? Maybe she has decided against it but that assumes information that is not in evidence.

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Heksefatter said on July 14th, 2012 at 5:01 am

What…the Hell.

I will put this nicely: Daniel Tosh is an asshole and an idiot. So is anyone who thinks that it is in any way acceptable to make a woman feel threatened by rape, so that she leaves.

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mygif

Who exactly is surprised by this? Daniel Tosh is a shock comedian who rose to fame for misogynistic and racist humor. I don’t know how he compares to Andrew Dice Clay, because I never saw any of Clay’s work, but if Saturday Night Live ever invited him to host, I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if any or all of the female cast members boycotted the episode.

When you give someone a lot of money for always crossing the line, don’t be surprised when they go way too far. Hopefully this really hurts his career, but I doubt it. It will take more than just a loss of ratings for Comedy Central to drop him, probably a big advertiser boycott at the least. It’s one of Comedy Central’s big ratings draws, and it has to be really cheap to produce. It’s a guy standing in front of a green screen for 22 minutes.

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mygif

Sure, rape jokes can be funny. Just about anything can be funny. I’ve heard Jews make hilarious observations about the Holocaust and, of course, America’s shocking history of racism has been mined for humor for ages. War is pretty horrible, but stories and jokes about war have been amazingly funny.

But context matters. Context almost always matters.

I’m going to be a tiny bit more charitable than John; I don’t think what Tosh said was, necessarily, a threat. Lisa Lampanelli (who, by the way, I find pretty unfunny, but when other people in the house have Comedy Central on a lot you hear a lot of her) has more than a few bits in her routines where she basically says “Yeah, I’mma go sexually assault/harass someone.” And that’s not a threat; that’s using subversion to make a point, as her entire schtick is “I’m a lady who acts as disgusting as guys like Dice Clay do, which makes people uncomfortable, which in turn is funny.”

That’s not what Tosh was doing. What Tosh said was only funny if you find the idea of an uppity bitch getting it good and hard to be hi-fucking-larious. It is a much more nasty version of the “Hey guys, isn’t it funny how women are bad at things?” and “Isn’t it funny how black people are sub-human?” and “Foreigners! They’re all barbarians, am I right?” schools of humor.

You want to make a rape joke? Here’s how to do it. Tosh either completely lacks comic awareness or, more likely, simply doesn’t care.

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Bob: you state “John is trying to make the argument that free speech doesn’t apply in the situation.” Please correct me if I missed this sentance in the OP, but I don’t see where John tries to make this argument.

I would want a couple of hours, a QL subscription, and an attorney’s license before I proffered a considered opinion as to the legality of Daniel’s comments, but my instinctive reaction is that his comments are(barely) not unlawful. *That’s not the point.*

Just because someone is at liberty to say something doesn’t mean that they should be applauded for exercising that freedom in a reprehensible manner.

Daniel Tosh’s comments were threatening, demeaning, and vile. Arguments drawing on high principle serve as a decent foundation for arguing that Daniel should not be imprisoned for making the comment. I have yet to see a compelling argument as to why making the comments was right. To me, “can” doesn’t mean “should”.

Tosh should certainly not be applauded for making his comments. I would go so far as to say that he should be verbally (not physically) pilloried by those members of the community who believe the comments were disgusting, in an exercise of our free speech in an attempt to convince others not to exercise their right to free speech in such an appalling fashion in the future.

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Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we all raped Bob now?

No, of course it wouldn’t. But imagine, Bobby, that we were all larger than you and already angry at you, then someone suggests that. Now does it sound threatening? Now, suppose that after making you think we might rape you, we didn’t. Was the threat suddenly cool?

The point is, Bob is an awful person. Defending this at all means that you are horrible.

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Bob: As John2.0 pointed out, free speech just means you don’t get arrested for saying something. And nobody has suggested that Tosh get arrested for his remarks. I support Tosh’s right to make godawful rape jokes (even if I don’t really care for them), because that’s free speech. I also support the right of people to heckle him for it (even if I consider heckling rude), because that’s also free speech. I also support the right of people to decry Tosh’s actions online, spit at him publicly, and even boycott his show, because those are also exercises of free speech.

If you support one douche’s freedom to make vaguely threatening and gross comments, but not the right of someone else to say how he made her feel gross or threatened, do you see why people might be calling you a bit of a terrible person?

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mygif

Well, first off obviously he was looking for her reaction to give his punchline, it’s why he was so adamant about how funny rape is and why he kept repeating it.
Second ANY topic can be humorous in the right hands, including rape jokes. (Rudy Ray Moore comes to mind)
Third, intent, and tone matter. I doubt he said “GUYS! Rape her NOW!!!” in a doom voice with lightning and fire from his eyes with actual hope that it would happen but “Wouldn’t it be funny if guys raped her right now??” in his rhetorical frat douche voice while laughing. In other words she helped him complete the joke.
Overall this isn’t a surprise, Tosh has always been a “shock” comedian, and she’s certainly entitled to her opinion. I just think she overreacted.

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I actually like Daniel Tosh’s stand-up (not so much Tosh.0), and what he said after the fact was definitely over the line.

@N/A
The woman felt threatened, therefore Tosh’s statement was a threat. I don’t really see how anyone can argue against that.

Wait, what? Let’s twist that argument around. I’m walking down the street at night and I see a black guy wearing a hoodie. He approaches me. I feel threatened. I shoot at him in “self-defense”. The “guy” was a “kid” out to buy some candy. But, because I felt threatened, that means he was definitely threatening me. Got it.

Where was this woman watching a comedy show that she honestly thought that after Tosh’s suggestion, a group of guys would get up and start sexually assaulting her in the crowd?

Tosh should’ve never said it. You don’t personalize something like rape. But, some of the over-reaction (criminal charges?) to the incident is outlandish.

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@Eric (and Bob, et al): Yes, thank you, we all get that any topic can be funny in the hands of the right comedian, and that some comedians do tell and have told funny rape jokes. If all we were discussing was the initial monologue, that would be relevant. The thing is, even by that standard, Tosh crossed a line by responding with a direct and immediate threat of physical violence against a member of his audience. That’s not a “rape joke” anymore, that’s a threat.

Defending Tosh’s statements with, “Well, comedians do tell funny rape jokes” is like defending George Zimmerman with, “Well, you know, lots of people join their local Neighborhood Watch.” It’s that next step that’s the problem. :)

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Wolfman:

He wasn’t even referring to the crowd in his retort. Just a bunch of theoretical guys.

Yeah, and if I call you a horse’s ass, I might be saying that you’re muscular.

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peter lawn said on July 14th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

John Seaway’s understanding of this point of law is non-existent or he’s being deliberately dishonest. You cannot possibly think TOSH intended that his words would incite or produce imminent lawless action.

The paragraph is too badly written for me to directly comment on the analogy but intention is determinative in regard to using imminent lawless action to define the limits of freedom of speech.

There are various laws relating to threats to kill in different jurisdictions but in the majority of cases people are not committing a criminal offence when they say I’ll kill you. People and especially comedians on stage often say things that they don’t mean literally and this is widely understood.

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Max Way@ From the op, “”his response to the heckler would have to be considered as incitement to violence,” John has repeatedly said in the comments that he believeds what Tosh said was a threat.

I’m not applauding Tosh for what he said. Personally I think it was rude, degrading and insulting but I will defend his right to say it .

benfromcanada: again if I’m threatened I’m calling the police or getting the hell out of there. Or if I’m packing heat….

acechan@ I’m not saying people don’t have a right to complain about what he said online or off. I’m taking issue here with John’s assertion that it was “incitement” or a “threat”.

John Seavey@lets not turn the Zimmerman thing around. Zimmerman claims that he felt threatened. Personally think that’s nonsense but you’ve repeatedly said that the emotional state is the important thing not the other persons intent. Do you seriously believe that Tosh intended she be raped by multiple guys at that moment or at any time in the future?

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on July 14th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I think it would be fair to say it sounded threatening, but that Tosh did not intend to threaten her, just to say something that he thought was funny, but that if some folks DID attempt to rape her he would have stopped them (hopefully). Or put another way-if you were on the jury, would you accept Tosh’s statement as incitement to rape? I wouldn’t. But he’s still a jackass. Clear? Clear.

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Did you just compare a man-child wanna be cop shooting another human being to death to a professional comedian on stage telling a joke?

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Brian Smith said on July 14th, 2012 at 6:04 pm

AMS: For the record, Andrew Dice Clay *did* host an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” and Nora Dunn boycotted that episode (which apparently led to her firing). When Clay was asked about her the week of the show, he said, “You mean Nora Dunce?” Comedy!

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highlyverbal said on July 14th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

So weird to me that folks can defend the free speech rights of the comedian but think he had a legitimate beef with the heckler… exercising her free speech rights. Either both of them or NONE of them are obligated to restrain themselves based on good taste, etiquette, thoughtfulness, venue, context, etc.

Does not compute.

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highlyverbal said on July 14th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

@Murc: great comment, as usual, but I really liked the link you offered. TY!

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cole1114 said on July 14th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

“Rape is never funny”

That was the heckle. A comedian who bases his comedy on harsh, dark, often disturbing jokes is told that his jokes aren’t funny. His response?

Make a joke at her expense about rape, that makes the crowd roar with laughter. Even in her blog post, she admits that they laugh.

She’s allowed to heckle, just like he’s allowed to retort.

Also, how in the heck is it a threat?

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Edgar Allan Poe said on July 14th, 2012 at 11:22 pm

How in the heck is that a joke?

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highlyverbal said on July 14th, 2012 at 11:33 pm

@cole1114: “Make a joke at her expense about rape…”

Mom: Farts aren’t funny.
Child: (farts) (giggles)

Heckler: Rape isn’t funny.
Tosh: Rape her!

Human: Flinging poo isn’t funny.
Chimp: (flings poo) (hoots uproariously)

=====

When the audience laughs in all of these circumstances, they are not laughing because they love farts, or rape, or poo. (Flinging poo isn’t really fun at all, try it sometime.)

They are laughing at the childish delight the idiot who thinks those things ARE funny is displaying, and how it subverts/outrages overly-stiff authority.

Do you need more examples to convince you this template exists… that this “joke” (sic) was meta and about bad behavior, and not about rape? Let me know how many you require.

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C. Carter said on July 15th, 2012 at 5:24 am

I’ve hated rape jokes since I was first old enough to understand they were being made. Prison-rape-is-hilarious jokes, she-was-asking-for-it jokes, animal-on-costumed-person jokes, Revenge-of-the-Nerds-mistaken-copulation-that-somehow-is-forgiven, meta-raping-of-rapists jokes. Hate ‘em. Jokes whose ultimate punchline rests on shock that they were uttered are pretty boring, pretty quickly. Rape is particularly egregious, but racist jokes incite my ire as well — yes, even when the person reinforcing the stereotype is “of the race” being mocked.

That said, Seavey, it’s silly to make a post like this that says any disagreement will be dismissed as a sign of bad morals.

It’s Limbaughian, really.

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Scavenger said on July 15th, 2012 at 6:28 am

So weird to me that folks can defend the free speech rights of the comedian but think he had a legitimate beef with the heckler… exercising her free speech rights

What rights? When you pay to see a show, you pay to see it, not to get on stage and be part of it.

If it were a play, she’d be kicked out for disturbing the performance.

She wasn’t at an open forum or a public debate. She was at a show that she paid to go see, along with many other people who paid to see.

As for Seavy’s argument, it’s the same as the one in the Jezebel.com article linked in the comments. “I don’t like Tosh’s comedy so he was wrong. But I like Louis CK/Carlin/Whoever, so they’re ok when they do it.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the jokes and the rejoinded Tosh was doing on one of the Comedy Central shows. No, they’re not threats (they’re vaguely tasteless, but that’s his act..vaguely tasteless). Are they funny? That’s a preference call.

By the way, this “she felt so threatened she left” part seems to be an add on to the story, as it wasn’t there in the initial tellings.

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Whenever anyone points out that rape jokes aren’t funny, that they aren’t funny because they are an everyday fear of half the population, that one quarter of all women in America have suffered sexual assault and have personal experience that they are forcibly reminded of whenever anyone brings up the subject, let alone trivialises it, someone always comes along and claims there are SOME funny rape jokes (which somehow justifies something, I’m not sure what), even if the ones we were actually talking about are just shit.

And yet whenever I go look up these rare gems, like the Carlin routine, you know what? They turn out to be as not funny as all the other crap.

Also, freedom of speech: Asshole has the freedom of speech to say something unfunny and dickish, you have the freedom of speech to remind him he’s an unfunny asshole. In fact it’s your duty to do so.

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cole1114 said on July 15th, 2012 at 10:54 am

Freedom of speech: Someone heckles you from the audience, you have the freedom to make a joke at their expense. It just so happened that the heckling was in the context of rape jokes.

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If you do not want to be offended, don’t go to a comedy show.

If you don’t want to be viciously and verbally attacked, don’t heckle the comedian.

Maybe I come from a rough area of comedy, but I’ve seen comedians abuse the hell out of hecklers and THEN have them removed from the crowd.

If this had been a guy, would this had been a big an issue?

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@Quixon

No. It would not have been as big an issue if it has been a guy. Nor should it have been.

In our culture- at least outside of prisons- rape is not an every day threat for men. When I walk home late at night to my apartment in a not-particularly-nice part of NYC and a man starts walking behind me (a regular occurrence), I don’t worry about rape, nor would it be rational for me to do so. When my girlfriend walks home, she is right to worry. A white guy jokingly threatening a white person with lynching in 1950 would have been less appalling than threatening a black person too. Granted making rape jokes about guys poses other problems (the joke is generally about the unmanliness of being raped, which almost implies that the weakness of femininity justifies rape…and other messed up crap). But a threat- even a joking threat- to rape a woman is an order of magnitude more vicious and destructive.

It in no way impinges upon free speech to ask comedians, especially comedians targeting young men, to think about the implications of their work. And the implications of speculating on the hilarity of gang raping a woman in his audience are incredibly ugly. I find it deeply saddening that comedians who should know better (Hi Louie CK!) habitually fail to acknowledge and accept this burden.

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Dilettante said on July 15th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

John, I agree that what Tosh said was horrible and offensive. But, as this comment thread shows, First Amendment analysis usually just confuses otherwise simple issues. Put another way, the legality of the speech is not really at issue and not relevant to whether what he said was OK.

Putting on my lawyer hat – from the accounts I’ve read, this almost certainly does not reach the standard of “incitement to violence.” (Even if the woman felt threatened, you’d need more. It’s a really high bar to find speech not protected.) The chance that the audience would hear Tosh and promptly assault the woman seems pretty low; he probably did not expect that to happen.

Still, let’s say facts emerge to show it was incitement. That’s not relevant in any case. 1st Amendment analysis is used to determine when the government can limit speech. The government is permitted to constrain things like incitement. So we could conclude that this kind of speech might not be constitutionally protected. But so what? There was no government action; police didn’t shut down the club; bring charges; etc.

So there’s no need to evaluate whether this speech (Tosh’s comment) is constitutionally protected. It almost certainly is. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK; doesn’t mean it’s correct; doesn’t mean it should be socially acceptable; doesn’t mean there should be no professional consequences; doesn’t mean we should put up with it. It only means the government probably can’t prosecute the guy for what he said.

In other words, this was bad speech. But probably not illegal speech. And the analysis of whether this was illegal doesn’t clarify whether it was good or bad. The post says “while the initial monologue is free speech and must be defended as such, his response to the heckler would have to be considered as incitement to violence, which is not constitutionally protected” – which is just not the issue. We’re allowed to attack protected speech; we can criticize Illinois Nazis or Klan members or bad comedians or anyone we want.

What Tosh said was awful. But unless there’s a legal action against what he said, the 1st Amendment doesn’t matter here. What he said was unacceptable. Let’s not take legal permissibility as a proxy for moral acceptability.

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@Dilettante: “Probably not illegal” is actually why I brought it up, because so many people are defending it as, “First Amendment, he can say whatever he wants, so shut the fuck up.” If your best defense of someone’s speech is, “Well, I’m pretty sure that if you took this one to court, the judge would probably say he wasn’t literally inciting the crowd to violence and he’d probably get away with it,” that’s probably a sign that the speaker made a terrible, horrible, huge and vast error in judgment and should be called to account for it. :)

@Eric: Yes, because there’s a common thread; in both cases, the person involved said they felt threatened by something that the other person may not have intended as a threat. It’s much easier to defend the woman at Tosh’s show because a) “I think it’d be really funny if everyone in this room attacked you right now” is a much clearer threat than, say, walking around unarmed while wearing a sweatshirt, and because b) the blogger responded by walking out instead of shooting Daniel Tosh onstage. (Which, if the show took place in Florida, she would be legally entitled to do, apparently.)

Obviously, I’m not suggesting she should have responded with violence, because I don’t believe that anyone who feels threatened has the right to do so. But I find it striking that a lot of the same people defending Zimmerman “because he felt threatened!” are stating that “well, just because this woman felt threatened doesn’t mean it was a threat and everyone is overreacting.” Not surprising, because those people are always going to suggest that a black teenager or a woman is in the wrong, but striking. :)

@Scavenger: I’m holding all comedians to the same standard. If George Carlin ever threatened a female audience member with rape, I haven’t heard about it, but I’ll go on record as saying it would lessen my opinion of him.

@C. Carter: Limbaugh says, “Disagree with me and you’re a bad person.” I say, “Finding moral equivalence between the statements, ‘Rape jokes are never funny,’ and ‘I think it’d be funny if five or six guys from the audience raped you right now’ makes you a bad person.” I’m going to maintain that there’s a significant difference there. :)

@Quixon: One out of five women have been raped. Statistically speaking, if you have five women in your standup audience, one of them has personally suffered the horrific, nightmarish violent attack you’re up there cracking wise about. They might not have even said anything, because they’ve been told by so many people that being raped is a woman’s fault for not behaving “properly” that they feel ashamed for not having been able to stop it. They are suffering in silence, while someone up on stage has, in this case, moved from simply finding that funny to actively stating that they want to see it happen to someone right here, right now…

…so yeah, it’s a bit more of an issue if it’s a woman. Weird how that works.

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highlyverbal said on July 15th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

@Scavenger: “She wasn’t at an open forum or a public debate. She was at a show that she paid to go see, along with many other people who paid to see.”

Connect the rest of the dots and the picture revealed will be your idiocy.

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highlyverbal said on July 15th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

@John Seavey: “… instead of shooting Daniel Tosh onstage. (Which, if the show took place in Florida, she would be legally entitled to do, apparently.)”

This has confused me about the Zimmerman analogy. Why would she shoot Tosh? Wouldn’t she instead shoot the first person in the audience who made a threatening move towards her? (I don’t think ANYone has said they thought Tosh, himself, was going to attempt rape her.)

The ambiguity about whom to shoot is very salient to me, and might reward further thought by you, too!

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Rape jokes are an extremely touchy thing because half the population has a load of baggage regarding them. If you can’t see that then yes, I’m afraid you are a bad person, a failure as a human being, and the world would be an objectively better place without you.

And you know what? Fuck that shit about “comedians have to be able to transgress and cross lines.” That idea is in regard to challenging the status quo, holding a mirror up to the bad parts of society, and exposing Hypocrisy. It’s got fuck all to do with what happened here, which was an unfunny douchbag getting in way over his head and spewing the first hateful crap that came to mind.

Should he be arrested for incitement to violence? No, I don’t think the law applies in this case. Should he feel the repercussions for being a frat buy jagoff who screwed up big time? Hell yes, because his “joke” had about as much to do with transgressive comedy as flinging your own poo has to do with political discourse. Only an idiot would mistake one for the other.

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Das booch said on July 15th, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Remember that episode of South Park where the community removed anything from the xmas play that anyone found even remotely offensive?

That’s the future we’re headed towards.

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On further thought (and discussion with my lovely wife), no, it would have been just as terrible if Tosh had made the same comments to a man. Because, due to the social stigma being even worse for men who report rape than for women, the rate of underreporting is far worse and it’s unfair to say it’s more statistically likely that the women in the audience are rape survivors than the men.

So no, Daniel Tosh would have been an insensitive little shit for threatening a man with rape, too, and I heartily apologize for suggesting otherwise.

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Walter Kovacs said on July 16th, 2012 at 1:50 am

She heckled, therefore she was asking for it. She deserved to be rape( joke)d. Tosh is just a rape (joke) fiend, and can’t control himself. So she, and everyone else, needs to do everything in their power to avoid being the next rape (joke) victim of a rapist comedian, because they are going to do their act whether anyone likes it or not. She broke a social norm, because she was promiscuous a heckler, therefore she was asking for it, and maybe secretly wanted it.

[/sarcasm]

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Heksefatter said on July 16th, 2012 at 3:36 am

I don’t get why there’s even an inkling of a discussion. A woman left a scene, because she felt threatened by rape. There is no way to morally defend such a thing. Period.

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@Das booch

I’m surprised it took this long for someone to pull out that BS. Because individuals calling a moron frat boy on his moron frat boy crap is exactly the slippery slope that will lead to the PC nazis ending all fun. There’s an excluded middle here that the frat boys seem unable to grasp, and thats the middle where people do comedy, but have some fucking consideration for actual people who have had life experiences that are different from your cozy little white frat boy world, and that it may not be the best thing to rip their scars open for the sake of a cheap, 5 second laugh on a fucking cable comedy show.

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“First they came for the shitty shock comedians…” — no, wait, they didn’t.

While the high density of FREE SPEACH–related Internet lawyering on this topic is perhaps predictable, I think that the outrage over someone talking back at a stand-up comedian — as though this were someone applauding in the middle of a ballet, or interrupting an opera — is truly special.

Here’s some free advice: if you don’t like heckling, stay out of comedy clubs.

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From a similar conversation on another forum.

“Picking on one already-upset lady who’s touchy about rape, by suggesting she be raped? That does not bring about increased social awareness to the hypocrisy inherent in our political party system, or promote a changing attitude toward the status quo, or point out the hilarity to be found in everyday life despite the soul-crushing tedium of cubicle office work. It is not a noble thing, ever, and it does not lead directly to noble things, to mock someone for not laughing at a rape joke.

Tweaking the nose of the status quo is by no stretch the same as “shouting rape taunts at a woman until she leaves the room.”"

If you let rip a giant fart in an elevator in an effort to get a laugh, don’t be surprised if people fail to agree with you that it’s comedy and therefore can’t be criticized.

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I’m confused.

Daniel Tosh made a rape joke/threat at a woman and…. What?

She could file charges and/or sue, but he’s going to counter with “free speech, it was a joke”. And that’s probably going to be enough as far as the law is concerned to see him off without even a warning. The end.

I suppose the people of the internet could start a grass roots movement to oppose rape jokes in any context. Comedians who perform such things find their sponsors and venues boycotted perhaps? Without taking a stand, nothing’s going to change after all. And it’s offensive. Much like sexist humor in general. And racist humor. And homophobic humor. And making fun of the handicapped, religious minorities, and so forth. Maybe cleaning up comedy in general is the way to go? It -is- possible to be funny without resorting to jokes about rape after all. And censoring at the corporate/financial level has proven more effective than censoring at the legal level these days.

Of course, if you’re -not- supporting censorship of some form or another, then this becomes an exercise in “that guy over there said something horrible. But don’t anybody actually do anything about it! I’m just mad and venting.” Which implies that what was said wasn’t -that- horrible, or at least not bad enough to merit any attempt at a meaningful action.

I mean, what’s the point? Venting because somebody stupid did something stupid and there’s nothing to be done other than try to drum up communal outrage in the hopes that somebody else might do something? That the sheer weight of impotent discontent will reach a critical mass and collapse in on itself to make something happen through a strange alchemy of forum posts and hearsay? Is that the highest hope we have here?

As for me… I didn’t like Tosh, so I stopped watching his YouTube commentaries and don’t keep up with what people say he’s doing. I mean “don’t feed the Trolls” is a good philosophy for TV watching too; otherwise someone will be posting on this site about some crazy thing Glenn Beck said as if it were news that Glenn Beck says crazy things. Oh wait….

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Implying that people can only do one thing ever, and anyone who posts on a discussion is by default not taking any other action on the subject at hand, I love when that fallacy comes up.

Here’s a useful link for anyone who hasn’t already sought out the info on their own.

http://feminist-armchair-regime.blogspot.com/2012/07/action-against-tosh.html

Why are we posting here, because there are people who continue to defend this bozo like he’s some kind of actual comedian who has something to contribute to the world, he’s not.

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Sisyphus said on July 16th, 2012 at 11:17 am

Walter Kovacs said on July 16th, 2012 at 1:50 am
She heckled, therefore she was asking for it. She deserved to be rape( joke)d. Tosh is just a rape (joke) fiend, and can’t control himself. So she, and everyone else, needs to do everything in their power to avoid being the next rape (joke) victim of a rapist comedian, because they are going to do their act whether anyone likes it or not. She broke a social norm, because she was promiscuous a heckler, therefore she was asking for it, and maybe secretly wanted it.
[/sarcasm]

This, is the way to make a fairly funny joke about rape. In that it should make those who are making a really bad argument question why they’re doing it, and illustrates a certain equivalency between what they’re doing and a horrible person.

Tosh’s comments aren’t socially useful Which sort of undercuts the “comedians can say offensive things because challenging the status quo is their social utility. Which is an argument that I find persuasive in the general, but in this specific instance, can’t agree with.

They’re not funny. Which undercuts the “Hey, it was just entertainment,” defense.

So this was a childish moron hoping that the rest of the class would laugh at him as he pushed farther and farther over the line. And some of the class will laugh, because, well, they’re childish morons. But the rest of us should be sitting there, rolling our eyes, and hoping that we can all get on with things, and that he’ll shut up, or be sent out of the room.

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highlyverbal said on July 16th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

@dirge93: “Venting because somebody stupid did something stupid and there’s nothing to be done other than try to drum up communal outrage in the hopes that somebody else might do something?”

Thank you for “venting” because we all did something you thought was stupid and ineffectual. What else are YOU doing about our stupidity besides hoping “to drum up communal outrage”?

(Bonus question: are you really not smart enough to have seen that coming?!)

======

PS: You make it seem like changing behavior one asshole at a time is the proper answer, and if we aren’t reaching or reforming Tosh, we’re failing. This is obviously moronic, and the problem of sexual violence is not solved at that level. Feel free to offer counter-examples!

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Das booch said on July 16th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

@JoshR

I’m going to ignore your need to insult my intelligence for having the audacity to disagree with you and expand on my point.

We’ve developed this annoying habit in our society where someone gets offended by something and we for some reason think that that automatically gives the offended party the right to dictate what can and can’t be said/done in society.

Also, people saying freedom of speech only applies to the US government are dead wrong. The government represents society. Society needs to be held to the same standards as the people that represent us.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” is the reason why we allow groups like the Phelps Family and the KKK to operate.

And I’m not some robot, there are lots of things that offend me. But unlike the feminists that are trying to get Tosh fired, I refuse to make any effort to stifle the offender’s right to speak their mind or to tell a tasteless joke.

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@Das booch: Whereas other people might view it as, “We’ve developed this annoying habit in our society of believing that there should never be any consequences, social or economical or otherwise, for being a fucking asshole to other people just because you can. Whining self-entitled little dipshits like Tosh think that not only do they have the legal right to be an utter prick, they shouldn’t even be told how shameful their behavior is, because they have the right to not feel bad about making other people feel terrible.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” is followed with the unspoken corollary, “without being imprisoned,” not “without losing your lucrative Comedy Central contract and being treated like the talentless, arrogant asshole you are.”

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Thanks John, you likely put it better than I could of.

Ironic that the KKK and Phelps were brought up, as they both do indeed exist, but every public protest or march they put on tends to get swarmed with individuals calling them on their bullshit, which is exactly as it should be.

Oh, and I find it telling that boosh thinks it’s “feminists” who are the ones angry about Tosh, when really it’s more like “Civilized human beings who don’t like it when a frat boy hack threatens women with sexual violence for a cheap laugh on a low rent cable show.”

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John 2.0 said on July 16th, 2012 at 11:33 pm

John, are you going to move the goal posts again? Because in your initial post you state: “his response to the heckler would HAVE TO BE considered as incitement to violence, which NOT CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED. (emphasis mine)” And you follow that with a parenthetical aside that Tosh would have no grounds to a 1st Amendment defense to his statements to the person in question.

Then, in your response to Dilettante, who talks directly about 1st amendment law and associated protections you say: ““Probably not illegal” is actually why I brought it up, because so many people are defending it as, “First Amendment, he can say whatever he wants, so shut the fuck up.” If your best defense of someone’s speech is, “Well, I’m pretty sure that if you took this one to court, the judge would probably say he wasn’t literally inciting the crowd to violence and he’d probably get away with it,” that’s probably a sign that the speaker made a terrible, horrible, huge and vast error in judgment and should be called to account for it”

So which is it: Yes or No do you think Tosh’s statements are legally unprotected speech under the 1st Amendment? You are very, very clear in your opening post that you do not think that they are, and then you appear to reverse yourself and state that they ARE protected statements, but he should suffer some personal or professional consequences for his actions (which is something I agree with).

I don’t see anyone making the argument that the 1st Amendment guarantees Tosh a development deal with a Viacom subsidiary. I see people disagreeing with your initial argument that Tosh did something legally actionable in the club that night.

I would like to make a comment that you think less of Louis CK and Patton Oswald for defending Tosh. Tosh said something that offended you. He said something that offended me. You don’t like it, and neither did I, and we both think that he should suffer professional consequences for his action.

I, however, do not think less of CK or Oswald for their defenses of Tosh. I can understand their desire to jealously guard their right to say provocative, offensive and outrageous things, since that is how they make their living. You might recall that Louis CK was making 9/11 jokes (If I don’t rub one out the terrorists have won), at a time when people thought that joking about a national tragedy was abhorrent, offensive and indefensible. Oswald was making G W Bush jokes at a time when government officials were making Orwellian comments on national News Shows with the full support of broadcasters (This is a reminder that everyone should watch what they say.).

They have shown the courage of their convictions. If they want to treat Tosh as a (offensive and unfunny) canary in the coal mine, I’m not going to think less of them for their defense.

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DensityDuck said on July 17th, 2012 at 12:47 am

” Whining self-entitled little dipshits like Tosh think that not only do they have the legal right to be an utter prick”

What’s funny is that here’s someone who many people consider a self-entitled little dipshit prick complaining about someone being a self-entitled little dipshit prick

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highlyverbal said on July 17th, 2012 at 1:11 am

@DensityDuck: There are just so many layers to that, though, aren’t there? How does one even break the chain?! Delightful.

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I’m just glad that there are other people out there who thought Tosh was a tool before this happened. It’s restored my faith in humanity a little.

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The thing about treating Tosh as “canary in a coal mine” is that it presupposes that people not liking edgy comedians is somehow a new thing.

Transgressive comedians have always faced some amount of dislike and private efforts toward censoring their work, it’s pretty much in the job description. You can choose to be a bland, inoffensive comedian, telling jokes about airline food or how dumb your family is, and you’ll likely find an audience if you deliver the goods well enough. Or you can choose to be edgy and transgressive, and some people aren’t going to like your humor. Who that is depends on who’s ox you’re goring with your routines. Bill Hicks pissed off a lot of people with his stuff, and he had a lot of supporters, same with Richard Pryor and so on. Every comedian who’s edgy gets flack from some quarter or another, and yeah they sometimes lose gigs over it, even the really good ones. People who don;t like what they’re selling push one way, people who do like it push the other. If their comedy has value and legs, they’ll get by, and if it’s really good it’ll endure long after they’re gone. That’s the way it worked for Hicks, that’s the way it worked for Carlin, that the way it likely worked for some guy who told fart jokes in the 70s, and I fail to see why Tosh should get a pass.

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John 2.0 said on July 17th, 2012 at 10:10 am

JoshR, I am not saying Tosh should get a pass. In every post I have very clearly said I think there should be consequences for his actions.

I also do not make my living as a comedian or performance artist. And I can understand why someone who DOES make their living that way, like the examples of Louis CK and Patton Oswalt, WOULD want to defend his comments, not based on content but his right to say them, because those comedians would not like ANY topic to be out of bounds. Because if one topic is out of bounds because it’s offensive, then OTHER topics can be out of bounds because people find them offensive. That’s known as a ‘chilling effect.’ I imagine a lot of people found Oswalt’s ‘sky cake’ bit pretty damn offensive, probably as offensive as what Tosh said. The price of freedom being eternal vigilance, even to the point of defending an offensive and unfunny shock comedian.

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@John 2.0, I never said “Don’t use rape as a subject” I said “Rape is a really touchy subject that needs to be handled with care.” Tosh flung out a joke in which he threatened a woman with gang rape, which is pretty much the definition of “Not handled with care.”

Yes, we need to be careful of “chilling effects” but if comedy is a weapon in the culture wars, then Tosh is running around swinging it wildly without any thought or reflection, and I’m OK with saying “You know, that’s not OK.” Some will agree, others will disagree, and yeah, comics will say that nothing should be out of bounds. It’s their job to push boundaries, but that doesn’t imply that the boundaries shouldn’t push back occasionally.

Ultimately, I attack Tosh and someone else defends, and the merit (or lack thereof) will have the final say in the matter, just like Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor and that guy in the 70s who told fart jokes, but nobody cares about these days because he sucked.

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highlyverbal said on July 17th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

@John 2.0 “That’s known as a ‘chilling effect.’”

That’s known as a ‘slippery slope’ fallacy.

Think more carefully about: how few topics would be at risk; how far we genuinely are from the brink of some chilling disaster; how many safeguards and advocates stand between us and disaster; how many other elements of the situation already present a risk of the chilling disaster (heck, being EMPLOYED is much more chilling!); how aware the complainers are of the need to avoid the effect. Etc.

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John 2.0 said on July 17th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

@HV: Chilling Effect is a not a slippery slope argument it’s a legal term of art. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effect_%28law%29

It’s also taken very seriously by civil rights groups.

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highlyverbal said on July 17th, 2012 at 1:03 pm

When properly used, of course it is a term of art. You seem to be suggesting that terms of art can never be involved in a fallacy? Due to the fact it is a term of art?

Being a term of art is apparently a get-out-of-fallacies-free card.

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John 2.0 said on July 17th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Well, HV I was using the term correctly in the context of a comment thread in a blog post that explicitly states that the speech in question is not constitutionally protected. So the answer is ‘yes.’

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highlyverbal said on July 17th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Oh, great, treating the comment thread as monolithic. Cool, as long as you get out of fallacies freely, let’s throw reification on the pile!

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@John 2.0: What do I think? Honestly? Well, I lost most of the first day after reading your comment honestly thinking that I despair of the human race if this is the quality of our discourse. :) But I have rallied, and I will give you the answer you want.

The answer is, of course, “It’s complicated.” I’ll try to unpack it a little bit beyond that, though with the caveat that I’m not a scholar in Constitutional law and neither are you, so we’re both talking out of our asses. :) On the one hand, I do believe that what Tosh said was a threat. I don’t believe that any reasonable person could claim it wasn’t a threat to say, “I think it would be funny if you got gang-raped by the audience right now,” when standing up on stage while the woman being so threatened was down among the crowd. That was a clear threat, made in an attempt to intimidate the heckler into silence. Tosh might be trying to pass it off as a joke now, but it’s not particularly convincing. It’s like Henry II shouting, “Will no one rid me of that turbulent priest?” Sure, he could claim he was speaking rhetorically. But everyone who heard him knew better.

However, as I quoted in my post, the test is that the speech be both “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action”, AND “likely to incite or produce such action”. Tosh’s counter-argument, then (or that of his lawyer) would be that yes, it was a threat, but it was an idle threat, and idle threats are protected speech.

However, usually when people talk about idle threats, they’re doing so in the context of abstracted violence. The Klan can say at their rallies that they want to “string up every Negro in these parts who tries to vote”, but since they don’t have access to that information and the effort involved would be prohibitive, it’s protected speech. But if the rally speaker pointed to a person in the crowd and said, “That man’s a Jew, exactly the kind of person that should be beaten to death whenever you see him,” that’s no idle threat, even if the words, “Beat that man to death” are never uttered.

So Tosh’s defense would hinge on the fact that yes, he might have suggested it would be a good idea for someone to sexually assault that woman, but he never thought they’d actually do it. Which is probably enough in this particular situation, since he’s not up in front of a judge and no charges are being brought against him. That said, if a drunken audience member had given her a shove or a trip on her way out of the club, and she’d broken her nose against a table (and thank goodness nothing like that happened), or if someone had followed her out of the club and assaulted her, I think that Daniel Tosh would have a hard time claiming protected speech. Because he would have made a speech directed to producing lawless action, and lawless action would have occurred. That would be hard for a lawyer to defend. Luckily for everyone concerned, the crowd wasn’t that drunk or that mean. But again, if your primary defense was, “Well, I was pretty confident there were no mean drunks in the crowd when I said that,” you have fucked up beyond all measure and should follow Michael Richards’ example of quitting stand-up and trying to figure out what bad choices led you to that point. :)

As to “you really shouldn’t think less of Louis CK”…I saw the guy on the Daily Show last night. I certainly fucking well should. Calling comedians who can’t take heckling “pussies”, contrasting them with feminists who “can’t take jokes”, and finishing the whole thing by telling women to “shut the fuck up now”…that’s not edgy comedy. That’s a hateful, misogynist rant done by someone who’s performed enough jokes that he thinks he can get away with pretending he was kidding later. I will stand on the belief that there is a fucking difference.

@DensityDuck: Well, you know what they say about judging a man on the quality of his enemies. If someone calls me a dipshit for finding rape threats reprehensible, I would take that as a compliment just as surely as I would find their praise insulting.

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John 2.0 said on July 17th, 2012 at 8:12 pm

My Con Law classes are 10 years old, but I will tell you it’s not ‘complicated.’ The available information simply does not support your claim. It’s disingenuous for you to claim otherwise.

Condemn Tosh all you want for the content of his speech. I certainly will. I will, however, not suggest what he said was outside the bounds of the 1st Amendment. I will also not condemn other comedians for defending him on 1st Amendment grounds. If you want to condemn Louis CK for a TV appearance last night, that’s your right, but that’s not the reason you condemned him in the top post, and that’s what I am addressing.

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@John 2.0: Did you seriously respond to my page of detailed explanations with, “Nuh-uh!”? Because if you’re wondering why I tend to ignore anything you say after about the third go-round, this is practically the freaking poster child for it. :)

And to clarify: I condemned Louis CK for his appearance on ‘The Daily Show’ because it was emblematic of his entire stance on the subject. It’s the same reason, but yesterday he just went out and pretty much said, “Hey, all you people taking my side on this because I’m supposedly taking a reasonable, principled stance? Nope! Just hate people with two X chromosomes! Everyone who put themselves on the line by agreeing with me even though it’s a very difficult stance to argue…yeah, I just made you look like assholes. Whoops!” I don’t respect him any less or for any different reasons than I did in my initial post, but it’s awfully hard now for anyone to pretend they don’t see what I saw after that interview. :)

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Alyssa Rosenberg’s blog post about the Daily Show appearance indicates that it might not be that hard or involve as much pretense as you argue, John.

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Das booch said on July 17th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

@JoshR

“Ironic that the KKK and Phelps were brought up, as they both do indeed exist, but every public protest or march they put on tends to get swarmed with individuals calling them on their bullshit, which is exactly as it should be.”

Ironic? Are the Phelps being banned? No, which was my point if you’d pay attention instead of trying to win an argument on the internet. I’ve never said people should not be offended, I’m saying people shouldn’t be going out and trying taking his livelihood away from him because he offended people.

“Oh, and I find it telling that boosh thinks it’s “feminists” who are the ones angry about Tosh, when really it’s more like “Civilized human beings who don’t like it when a frat boy hack threatens women with sexual violence for a cheap laugh on a low rent cable show.”

You linked to a feminist blog post calling for Tosh to be fired from his job. I referenced it. Again if it’s telling of anything, it’s that I’m paying attention to what you’re posting. You should do the same.

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I MAY NOT AGREE WITH DANIEL TOSH’S THREATS OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND INCITEMENT TO GANG-RAPE, BUT I’LL DEFEND TO THE DEATH HIS RIGHT TO ISSUE THEM.

First of all. The word or portrayal of an action is not the action. Tosh discussed it. He joked about it. He did not commit the crime of rape. If that woman had subsequently been raped, I think the appropriate place to assign blame would be with the men who actually committed the crime. And then, the defense that “because Daniel Tosh said so” would exculpate exactly not-a-one of the culprits of the crime.

“…This is a very good sign that you are not a decent human being….There is no fucking act of speech that should ever get, ‘I want the people in this room to gang-rape you’ as a response….I am better than someone who thinks it’s okay to threaten a woman with sexual assault when she says a comedian isn’t funny.” Bullshit. Bullshit, arbitrary bullshit, subjective, sentimental bullshit. You’re talking about your own personal tastes. Imbuing them with some kind of moral imperative that doesn’t exist. Last I checked, being a fully autonomous adult was a full-contact sport. A consenting adult in a non-coercive situation such as the voluntary attendance of a performance by an artist is not entitled to the right not to feel threatened or offended, and the woman in question was free (and right) to leave when she did so. This situation cuts to the core of the freedom of expression, which I don’t think should be limited by anyone else’s notion of politeness or decency – only by one’s own conscience.
And to point out that Tosh’s behavior is symptomatic of a society that tolerates or even condones sexual violence is not material. The notion that the evil of sexual assault would dissolve if only the Daniel Tosh’s of the world would adhere to a certain level is flat out cowardly. To hide from words, ideas or thoughts in fear of their power is to pointlessly yield to the injustice of the action. If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at someone who believes violence in video games causes violence or legalizing gay marriage will cause an outbreak of the gays, you should roll your eyes at anyone who asserts Daniel Tosh wishing gang-rape on an audience member causes rape.
And, frankly, I’m pretty tired of the easy, masturbatory outrage that gets preached to the choir, really, every time the word “rape” pops up. Murder, genocide and war, are all heinous crimes and have all frequently appeared as inspiration for, or plot points in great (and small) works of art. So has rape. And so will any and all facets of the human experience great and terrible, and that’s how it should be.

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cole1114 said on July 18th, 2012 at 5:24 am

Aaaand now the owner of the club has come forward to say that the joke was “I bet she’s been raped before” or something to that extent, and that she didn’t actually leave until the performance was over already.

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“Last I checked, being a fully autonomous adult was a full-contact sport.”

Why is this always the rallying cry of people complaining that those mean old meanies are being mean?

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Candlejack said on July 18th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Although the club owner claims that, cole1114, in the same statement, he admits he couldn’t really hear what was said. And other people who claim to have been in the club say the woman left. But surely there’s no reason the owner of the club would want to lie about anything here, is there? No, no, obviously if there’s a liar here, it’s got to be the woman.

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@ Prodigal: “Why is this always the rallying cry of people complaining that those mean old meanies are being mean?”

This is a ironic response? Considering the gist of this whole thing is all about what a mean, meanie Tosh was to that audience member?

How very droll.

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*an*

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I will not, ever, under ANY circumstances, excoriate or look down upon a comedian for plying their craft, no matter how shitty (Mencia), offensive/shitty (Dane Cook), or offensive/shitty/inane (modern Gallagher) said plying is.

If you go to a stand-up performance, it is not an unreasonable expectation that you will go into said performance knowing what the performer you’re going to see actually DOES. I’m wondering what this woman was doing there in the first place, but that’s not really the issue.

Still, don’t think rape is funny? Maybe…don’t go to see Daniel Tosh…?

What bothers me is this:

“This is a very good sign that you are not a decent human being”

as it is absolutely, 100% subjective/inaccurate.

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Also, anyone expecting anything remotely approximating sensitivity, tact, political correctness, an even-handed examination of hot button issues, etc., needs their f*cking head examined. IMO, of course.

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One more thing: While Tosh’s response may have been extreme (not arguing either way, as I frankly don’t care to argue in favor of or against a comedic bit that wasn’t really funny in the first place), I have little sympathy for hecklers. Period. I don’t care what the reason is, how righteous you feel while doing so, or whatever justification you can drum up.

If you buy a ticket to a movie/performance/stageplay that isn’t Rocky Horror, you are to shut the f*ck up and watch the damn show. I care about as much as your thoughts on rape during a stand-up routine as I do your conversation you’d have in the movie theatre when you’re supposed to be shutting the f*ck up. And while I don’t expect someone who would heckle to realize just how stupid/disruptive they’re being, it’d be nice if that realization dawned on them eventually.

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@cole1114: Her account doesn’t match those of eyewitnesses; Tosh himself has not claimed he was misquoted, only taken out-of-context, and has not disputed the sequence of events; and given that the Laugh Factory has already been involved in one high-profile scandal involving a comedian responding to a heckler with disproportionate and ugly cruelty (the Michael Richards incident), the owner does have kind of a vested interest in downplaying all this. To say nothing of the fact that this is a common response to accusations of rape, sexual harrassment, et cetera: “The victim is lying because they want to get something out of me!” Because we all know that posting about your traumatic, humiliating experience on a blog is a one-way ticket to the high life. :)

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One MORE one more thing: Much of this sort of thing could be circumvented if club owners/staff would have the balls to toss hecklers out of the venue, zero-tolerance style.

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@Matt: Just like I’d someday like the realization to dawn on you that making an equivalence between someone who says rape isn’t funny and someone who threatens to rape the person who just said that is morally fucked up. We both live in hope, don’t we? :)

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“Just like I’d someday like the realization to dawn on you that making an equivalence between someone who says rape isn’t funny and someone who threatens to rape the person who just said that is morally fucked up. We both live in hope, don’t we? :)”

Awwwww…that’s adorable. You put the smug little smiley punctuation in there too. How novel!

Did you actually want to…I don’t know…debate the points, or would you like to make stupid assumptions based on what you erroneously read into my post(s) (not to mention drawing a false equivalency between what Tosh ACTUALLY said vs. what you interpret it to mean – oh, damn! I mentioned it! Sorry)?

If the former, cool! Always up for jawing. If the latter, also cool. I haven’t really the time to teach people to read/comprehend what they’re reading.

Oh, wait…forgot: :) – wouldn’t want to violate the laws of t3h 1nt4rw3bz!

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ZOMG 0utr4g3z3z aside, this entire situation could have been circumvented if the Laugh Factory or whatever had a strict anti-heckling policy in place. You shut the f*ck up and laugh at the show (or don’t laugh at the show, yet continue to shut the f*ck up [likely because you accurately realize that no one there really gives a sh*t about what you have to say])? You stay. Decide to interject? GTFO. Simple.

Now, again, as John doesn’t seem to have grasped this despite my typing it so nice and neatly up there:

“not arguing either way, as I frankly don’t care to argue in favor of or against a comedic bit that wasn’t really funny in the first place”

I don’t really care about what Tosh said, as comedians saying stupid sh*t is pretty much par for the course (hell, look at recent Gallagher, if you can stomach it). Had the crowd taken that as a marching order and pounced on the girl? Yeah, I’d be singing a different tune, and I’d have my pitch-soaked torch of self-righteousness a’flaming beside y’all. I see it as a stupid thing for him to have said, and not really funny to boot.

Now, honestly, I can get being “offended” (I don’t really get offended by much of anything, but I do understand the compulsion). However, were I to be offended by a stand-up comic, I wouldn’t say anything. I’d get up and walk out. Possibly after asking for a refund, if the show were awful enough.

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Alright, I got a bit heated there. My bad. I don’t like smug insults, and I don’t know that there was (or is) any other way to read what John wrote.

Here’s my take:

Was what Tosh said utterly stupid? Yeah.

Was it what I would have said? No.

Do I see it as having been a real/valid threat? No. Not in the slightest. For a litany of reasons. Actually, given the language used, I can’t concretely even interpret it as a threat, but I could see how one might take it that way, particularly in the situation, so we’ll go with it.

Do I see it as something that anyone with the barest knowledge of stand-up comedy, Tosh’s material, Tosh’s show, etc., might have expected as a result of heckling/vocally interfering in an act? Yes.

I don’t care who you are, what sex you are, or how drunk you got during the pre-game at the frat, you’re there to sit and watch a show. It isn’t interactive. It isn’t a call and response sort of exercise. It is “you purchase/are given a ticket to the show, you sit and watch the show.” But, for whatever reason, people choose to ignore this/do not understand this and pipe up.

So, what happens when you pipe up to a comedian? Particularly one whose act you’ve been watching for several minutes, as they rip people/countries/things apart without the barest hint of reverence/respect/”PC?” One with a microphone, and a room full of people who (ostensibly) are there because they know and enjoy who/what they’re seeing? You get ripped on. Mercilessly. What the hell else would you expect to happen?

Now, again, Tosh responded to the heckler in an unfunny and potentially aggressive way. He should have done it more artfully, and might have been able to had he the talent (David Cross is a great example of trashing hecklers). And yes, I understand why the woman in question got scared and left.

I have to ask, though…interrupting a comedian’s act by telling them at the conclusion of a joke that they don’t find it funny…what is a satisfactory outcome for that situation? What exactly was the woman anticipating in response?

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Scott, the only irony is in your talking about how people should have thicker skin in a way that proves just how thin yours is.

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@Matt: I debated the points over 101 comments now in addition to the original post. You’re coming back to me with the same shit I already said wasn’t good enough before. I’ve already said why I don’t consider “But heckling is rude!” to be a defense, I’ve already said why I don’t consider, “But sometimes rape jokes can be funny!” to be a defense, and I’ve already said why I don’t consider, “But he has a right to free speech!” to be a defense. It’s all pretty well-documented by now. Why do you expect me to treat your arguments with respect and consideration when you can’t even take the time to read mine?

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“Why do you expect me to treat your arguments with respect and consideration when you can’t even take the time to read mine?”

I have read yours. Quite frankly, I see a lot of self-righteousness based entirely on opinion and “moral conviction” which pretty much eschews objectivity. I see you talking about a topic that pretty demonstrably fires you up. If that’s the case, then any further discussion with you is a waste of time.

“I’ve already said why I don’t consider “But heckling is rude!” to be a defense, I’ve already said why I don’t consider, “But sometimes rape jokes can be funny!” to be a defense, and I’ve already said why I don’t consider, “But he has a right to free speech!” to be a defense.”

Never really said any of those things.

What I DID say was “What the hell does one expect to happen in that situation?” I ask you again, out of curiosity more than anything else, what would have been a satisfactory resolution in this case?

But, again, “I don’t consider” renders this a complete waste of time. You’ve made your mind up, which is cool. You’re likely not going to budge, or acknowledge the opinions/questions/points of others who do not share your view, and hey, that’s valid. I could just do without the attitude, as it is unnecessary.

“You’re coming back to me with the same shit I already said wasn’t good enough before.”

Not really, but if that’s your perception, whatever. I’m not justifying what Tosh did, not defending what he said…hell, not even defending his right to say it (redundant, as it is implicit). And, if you read back, you’ll see that.

I AM saying that, just like the frat guy who screams “ABERDEEN RULES!” in the middle of a set, someone vocally disrupting a performance (particularly one delivered by a particularly abrasive/acerbic) shouldn’t be surprised to weather some verbal unpleasantness. Your ruminations on the “severity” of Tosh’s response are documented. Your assertion that it is a valid “threat” is documented. Got it.

I disagree with some of your assertions. If you need to resort to snark, sarcasm, or propping yourself on some pedestal of morality (funny how people who don’t agree with you in this instance are immoral pricks by association – ah, the glories of debate framing)to deal with that, whatever.

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highlyverbal said on July 18th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

@Matt: “…interrupting a comedian’s act by telling them at the conclusion of a joke that they don’t find it funny…”

Just like you claim Mr. Seavey has done to you, perhaps you are slightly mischaracterizing her position. I perceive her message as “that’s over the line” instead of “that joke bombed.” Surely she can count on you to be vigorous in avoiding a similar injustice.

========

I don’t want to distract you from that main concern, but furthermore: it is hard not to notice that you’re surprised and reluctant to weather some predictable verbal unpleasantness from Mr. Seavey but awfully cavalier in demanding that others strap in and do so, in other contexts. Perhaps it is a bit easier said than done, eh?

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@Matt: If you never said that “but heckling is rude” is a defense, who posted “Much of this sort of thing could be circumvented if club owners/staff would have the balls to toss hecklers out of the venue, zero-tolerance style” using your name?

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@Matt: And what amuses me most is that even your Stage Two Internet Flounce is composed of stuff I’ve already shot down. “I read everything you said and it was so self-evidently wrong I don’t even need to explain why,” “you just think that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong, and all because they think rape threats are pretty much okay under the right circumstances,” “I’m not really defending rape threats, I just happen to be making an intellectual point that just happens to be in support of a guy who makes rape threats,” “I don’t need to win this argument, so I’ll just point out how right I am and leave forever,” and the ever-popular, “If you really had a point to make, you’d make it dispassionately, without getting all sarcastic about how bad my arguments are.” You’re like a Greatest Hits Album of Internet trolls. :)

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@John Seavey: The only thing we’re missing out on is him claiming to be aware of all Internet traditions, really.

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“Stage Two Internet Flounce is composed of stuff I’ve already shot down.”

Yeah, but…you didn’t. Period. Like, at all. You stated your position. I stated mine, which wasn’t even in response to yours. You attacked me for it. What exactly am I missing here?

“I don’t need to win this argument, so I’ll just point out how right I am and leave forever,”

But…I’m here…so, what?

“If you really had a point to make, you’d make it dispassionately, without getting all sarcastic about how bad my arguments are”

If my arguments were bad, then I’d see your point. But, from what I can see, “bad” = “I hold a point different from yours, though I’ve puffed mine up with the fantastic addition of a moral high horse upon which I trot around an internet forum and take pot shots at people.”

On that note…

“it is hard not to notice that you’re surprised and reluctant to weather some predictable verbal unpleasantness from Mr. Seavey but awfully cavalier in demanding that others strap in and do so, in other contexts”

Hey, had Seavey just let my points lie, shrugged, and went on with his day, I wouldn’t be here right now. Instead he went the route of the smug attack (again, SO NOVEL ON t3h int4rw3bz!), and I responded in kind.

I work with what you give me.

Now, what I see here with me and John is a disagreement, one that likely will not be resolved. Me? I’m fine with saying “Alright, let’s agree to disagree.”

John, for whatever stupid reason, finds it preferable to say “I disagree, and I’m going to try to insult you because I disagree.”

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“@Matt: If you never said that “but heckling is rude” is a defense, who posted “Much of this sort of thing could be circumvented if club owners/staff would have the balls to toss hecklers out of the venue, zero-tolerance style” using your name?”

Misinterpretation. One does not mean the other.

Now, had I said something like “YEAH! F*CK THAT BITCH! SHE GOT WHAT SHE DESERVED!” or somesuch, you’d have a point.

Instead, I asked “What would one reasonably expect to happen in such a situation.”

And I stand by my point that if heclkers would simply be chucked from venues in which they are being disruptive, then issues like this, the Michael Richards incident, etc., wouldn’t even BE incidents.

And, yeah, I said I don’t have much sympathy for the heckler because…well…I don’t. And, again, I said I’d have sympathy had Tosh’s stupid remark led to something truly tragic/reprehensible. Sorry, I guess?

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“The only thing we’re missing out on is him claiming to be aware of all Internet traditions, really.”

If I’M the hallmark of all trolls, y’all haven’t been doing this internet thing very long.

::goes to look up the term for folks who attempt to stop arguments/discussions by calling folks trolls::

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“Just like you claim Mr. Seavey has done to you, perhaps you are slightly mischaracterizing her position. I perceive her message as “that’s over the line” instead of “that joke bombed.” Surely she can count on you to be vigorous in avoiding a similar injustice.”

Alright, if I’m mis-characterizing her position, let’s back up a bit. My overall point is that someone vocally disrupting a performance should expect some sort of response. When dealing with a stand-up comedian, said response is likely to be disproportionally vicious.

I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m saying that just IS.

At this point, however, the discussion has been framed so that anyone who doesn’t think “ZOMG Tosh is an idiot/misogynist/guy SCREAMING for women to be raped” is some amoral troglodyte and a horrible human being. Is this perception off? If so, I’m glad to be proven wrong.

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“I read everything you said and it was so self-evidently wrong I don’t even need to explain why,”

Also, who said it is self-evidently wrong? I said, accurately, that you’ve framed the discussion in such a way that anyone who explains why IS wrong AUTOMATICALLY. Is that assertion wrong? Did I misread something?

Which, y’know, isn’t a discussion. Like, at all. But, hey, I’m pretty sure you already know that.

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So as to answer all of John’s points:

“On the one hand, I do believe that what Tosh said was a threat.”

I don’t.

“I don’t believe that any reasonable person could claim it wasn’t a threat to say, “I think it would be funny if you got gang-raped by the audience right now,” when standing up on stage while the woman being so threatened was down among the crowd.”

Enough of your framing crap with the “reasonable person” bit. It wasn’t a threat. It wasn’t a direct indication of an intent to actually do harm. It was not a clarion call for the audience to rape this woman, nor do I think that the venue supports that feeling of foreboding.

It WAS, however, a stupid, unfunny thing to say. No argument there. But a threat? No. Not in my eyes.

“That was a clear threat, made in an attempt to intimidate the heckler into silence.”

No, it wasn’t.

“Tosh might be trying to pass it off as a joke now, but it’s not particularly convincing. It’s like Henry II shouting, “Will no one rid me of that turbulent priest?” Sure, he could claim he was speaking rhetorically. But everyone who heard him knew better.”

So you’re saying that Tosh said what he said with the intent of causing a room full of men to sexually assault a woman in the audience? Tosh said this in an effort to whip up a mob and sexually assault someone at one of his shows?

Sorry, can’t go along with that. Because it makes no logical sense.

“However, as I quoted in my post, the test is that the speech be both “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action”, AND “likely to incite or produce such action”. Tosh’s counter-argument, then (or that of his lawyer) would be that yes, it was a threat, but it was an idle threat, and idle threats are protected speech.”

Agreed.

“However, usually when people talk about idle threats, they’re doing so in the context of abstracted violence. The Klan can say at their rallies that they want to “string up every Negro in these parts who tries to vote”, but since they don’t have access to that information and the effort involved would be prohibitive, it’s protected speech. But if the rally speaker pointed to a person in the crowd and said, “That man’s a Jew, exactly the kind of person that should be beaten to death whenever you see him,” that’s no idle threat, even if the words, “Beat that man to death” are never uttered.”

But…that’s not what happened.

“So Tosh’s defense would hinge on the fact that yes, he might have suggested it would be a good idea for someone to sexually assault that woman,”

He didn’t.

“but he never thought they’d actually do it.”

He likely didn’t.

“That said, if a drunken audience member had given her a shove or a trip on her way out of the club, and she’d broken her nose against a table (and thank goodness nothing like that happened), or if someone had followed her out of the club and assaulted her, I think that Daniel Tosh would have a hard time claiming protected speech.”

That I can agree with, as I said before.

“But again, if your primary defense was, “Well, I was pretty confident there were no mean drunks in the crowd when I said that,” you have fucked up beyond all measure and should follow Michael Richards’ example of quitting stand-up and trying to figure out what bad choices led you to that point. :)”

My defense would have been “I trusted that the audience members would not actually sexually assault a woman en masse in the middle of a crowded, downtown comedy club. Still, it was a stupid thing to say.”

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cole1114 said on July 19th, 2012 at 10:51 am

I think Matt is my new favorite person.

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I just think that Tosh should be called out for being a dumbass/hack comedian, not excoriated as if he were a guy just ITCHING to get some kind of rape fantasy started whilst in mid-routine.

For all I know, he could be, but the evidence doesn’t bear that out in my mind. What it DOES bear out is that he was heckled, mentally said “f*ck this” as many other performers are wont to do, and responded with something not only unfunny but just kind of…”Huh, you went with that?”

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highlyverbal said on July 19th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

@Matt: “Hey, had Seavey just let my points lie, shrugged, and went on with his day, I wouldn’t be here right now. Instead he went the route of the smug attack…”

Hey, had Tosh just let the heckler’s points lie, shrugged, and went on with his bit, WE ALL wouldn’t be here right now. Instead he went the route of the smug attack.

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It seems you weren’t clever enough to notice that I was using your own language against you. So, here, let me do it in a way that is unmistakably obvious and bludgeons you over the head with it. Then, as an exercise, you might scroll up and pay more careful attention to our previous exchange.

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“It seems you weren’t clever enough to notice that I was using your own language against you.”

Nah, I caught that. I just didn’t care to take the bait. See how that works?

However, here ya go:

“I don’t want to distract you from that main concern, but furthermore: it is hard not to notice that you’re surprised and reluctant to weather some predictable verbal unpleasantness from Mr. Seavey but awfully cavalier in demanding that others strap in and do so, in other contexts.”

The “in other contexts” is the lynchpin here, because there IS a difference.

If I were a ticketholder to one of Mr. Seavey’s spoken word ramblings, piped up to say that I disagree (as if anyone else in the audience would give a sh*t), and then got rebuked, I’d expect said rebuke. Why? Because I would have broken the implicit contract between a performer and a ticket holder: you perform, I watch you perform and don’t interject my own ramblings into the proceedings.

That, however, as you may or may not be aware, didn’t happen.

What happened was that I weighed in on a topic in a public forum, with no such implicit contract, got jabbed at by Mr. Seaver with no provocation, and responded in kind. This situation is IN NO WAY analogous to the Tosh situation above. At all.

Can you see that? If not, there’s no point in continuing this.

Finally:

“Hey, had Tosh just let the heckler’s points lie, shrugged, and went on with his bit, WE ALL wouldn’t be here right now. Instead he went the route of the smug attack.”

I don’t know about you, but if I’m in a movie theatre, and I’m watching the show, and someone near me whips out their cell phone to talk/text, I’m going to tell them (and HAVE told them – pet peeve of mine) to put the f*cking thing away.

Now, had Tosh just ignored it, sure, one could think that the matter might have ended. Unless, of course, you’ve had ANY experience with hecklers in the past. Someone who is obnoxious enough to pipe up in the middle of a routine is probably willing to do so again, as they clearly don’t care about the nature/expectations of being a spectator. Go on YouTube and look up “heckler stand up” and see how well ignoring the heckler works out.

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highlyverbal said on July 19th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

@Matt: “This situation is IN NO WAY analogous to the Tosh situation above. At all.”

You missed the predictability part.

Of course, that is setting aside the trivially obvious ways in which they are analogous, like both involve speech acts, both involved perceived rudeness, neither involve violence, etc. Your saying “IN NO WAY” in all caps and following it with “At all.” do suggest you are right about this part:

“If not, there’s no point in continuing this.”

You are just a little too agitated to think clearly at this point. Resist the urge to be so hyperbolic, is my suggestion. Milder claims are more persuasive.

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“Of course, that is setting aside the trivially obvious ways in which they are analogous, like both involve speech acts, both involved perceived rudeness, neither involve violence, etc.”

Hey, I like semantics as much as the next guy, but I think you understood what I was driving at. Or “that at which I was driving,” whichever you’d prefer.

“Your saying “IN NO WAY” in all caps and following it with “At all.” do suggest you are right about this part:

“If not, there’s no point in continuing this.”

You are just a little too agitated to think clearly at this point. Resist the urge to be so hyperbolic, is my suggestion. Milder claims are more persuasive.”

Agitated? Nah, not really.

However, if you’d like to avoid agitating someone in the future, maybe avoid stuff like this:

“It seems you weren’t clever enough to notice that I was using your own language against you.”

But, hey, seems like you’re playing a little game here. If not, please correct me.

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@Matt:

Matt said: “But…I’m here…so, what?”

Yes, that’s the wonderful part about Stage Two of the Internet Flounce. It’s as predictable as the seasons. The commenter says, “Oh, you foolish poster, you. You’re just not interested in listening to how right I am! So I guess you’re not really interested in having a discussion, which makes me obviously right by default. I guess there’s no point in posting further, because why would I waste my time and energy arguing with wrongness?”

And then, like the inevitable budding of the leaves in springtime, the commenter invariably responds to the poster’s very next comment. :) With redoubled energy and intensity, no less. It’s always hilarious to see.

But in among your repetition of old points, lack of self-awareness, and insistence that it’s somehow wrong of me to feel superior to people who think rape threats are okay (that’s right! It’s not them who’s wrong for defending a guy who makes rape threats! It’s me who’s wrong for judging them! …somehow, I feel less than chastened…) You do bring up something nobody has yet discussed. So let’s discuss it.

Your quote: “But a threat? No. Not in my eyes.”

The response: That’s exactly your problem. You are someone who has been privileged enough, simply by virtue of your race/gender/sexual identity/sexual orientation, not to have to live with rape threats on a daily basis. They are not a part of your world. You are aware that they exist as something that sometimes happens to other people, but the thought that someone could hear a person loudly and angrily saying, “I think it would be really funny if five or six guys raped that woman right now,” and actually believe it, does not occur to you. Because that’s the sort of thing that only happens to other people.

That woman in the crowd? She was one of the other people. If she’s a “normal” woman, odds are that she has experienced sexual harrassment in her life, and there’s a very real chance that she experienced sexual assault. What seems to you like impossible hyperbole is, to her, a very real possibility, and there’s someone threatening her with it right there and then. She did not have the luxury of assuming that was a joke. She had to treat that as a real threat. And for you to ignore that, to assume that the world works the same way for you that it does for everyone else and if it doesn’t, well, too bad, you’re not up for trying to change that because “I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m saying that just IS,” well…yeah. That makes you a worse person. It’s not just that you disagree with me. It’s that you’re up for defending that kind of fuckery. And I’m not.

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Matt’s a pretty effective flamebaiter, because I am simultaneously aware that he’s doing this on purpose and wishing that I could open a pay-as-you-go account at dronestrikes.com.

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highlyverbal said on July 19th, 2012 at 9:53 pm

@Matt: “I like semantics as much as the next guy, but I think you understood what I was driving at.”

The pleasant thing about when one says “IN ANY WAY” in all caps, no one has to worry about guessing about semantics, or what someone is driving at. But at least we both now agree you were being foolishly hyperbolic. Hey, that’s progress! I’ll take it!

Honest dialogue requires you leave the hyperbole behind. Wanna take it from the top? My suggestion for a starting point for productive dialogue would be the “predictable” part of the analogy.

PS: I strongly doubt anyone likes semantics as much as me. Sexy!

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OK, I’m going to give this a shot. Maybe this will get through. I’m not betting on it, but maybe.

I am a woman who is lucky enough to never have been sexually assaulted. Nevertheless, daily I live the reality that because rapists don’t care about age, I will not be free of the risk of becoming one of those one in four until I die. This means being careful how I dress, where I am, who I am with, what I have to drink (and never leaving said drink unwatched), and who might be in the vicinity.

When I was at university, I worked the late shift. So did my then-husband, on different nights. Oddly, he never reported feeling unsafe on the way to the car post-shift. He was never followed. I, on the other hand, was occasionally followed and felt unsafe… and this was at a really nice school with frequent security patrols. Ditto leaving the library late.

I am one of the lucky ones. If you have not lived this reality, perhaps you genuinely cannot understand what Tosh said as a threat. But I instantly understood why that woman left immediately. She left because had she stayed, with the alcohol continuing to flow, there was a chance that one of the audience members (and remember, in one in three sexual assaults, the perpetrator has been drinking) would have assaulted her. At the very least, she risked being followed and harassed.

This isn’t about “don’t like rape jokes.” I don’t, but that’s totally beside the point. The fact is that while I can’t speak for all women, I instantly understood her take on the situation. She was threatened. And by saying “don’t like rape jokes, don’t go”/”do research on who you’re seeing before you go”/”she has no sense of humor”/”she shouldn’t have spoken up,” you are missing the point and also putting the burden on the woman instead of the guy whose job involves heckling and needs to learn how to react to it instead of making threats.

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cole1114 said on July 21st, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Since I’m fucking awful at expressing my opinions, here’s a video that helps me with that.

redlettermedia.com/fuck-bot-5000-has-an-important-message/#more-2073

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For those of you who might not watch the video, on account of how it’s not worksafe: Yet another fucking dimwit misses the point that it wasn’t the rape jokes that were the problem, it was the rape threats that followed them.

I’m actually impressed that after what has to be easily a dozen repetitions of that right here in this thread, you somehow thought that putting it in video form might make it more persuasive. Will you be following it up with the same already-debunked argument in semaphore?

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C. Carter said on July 22nd, 2012 at 7:40 am

@ Mr. Seavey

I perhaps should I have prefaced my first comment more carefully — yours is one of the few blogs I read so I am not looking for confrontation or sarcasm and am trying to not read that into any replies. I do indeed agree that his comment was crass and unfunny. But I think the disconnect I have is in my following questions:

When you say “threat,” as you alleging that Daniel Tosh actually wanted her to be raped?

Or, would he bear moral responsibility if someone had raped her after that shows, similar to how various parties have felt violence-extolling metal bands and hip-hop groups ought to bear some legal ramifications when folks inspired by their music go out and do horrid things?

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@C, Carter: To answer your questions:

1) Yes, absolutely. I think he’d have been horrified if it would have actually happened, but I think that in that moment, yes, he wanted her to be raped. It’s like a child saying, “I hate you, Daddy! I hope you die!” Of course, they’d feel terrible if it actually happened, but they are totally in the grip of their emotions at the moment and not thinking about the consequences of their desires. The person in question has made them feel bad, and so they deserve to suffer. (Yes, my comparison does suggest that Daniel Tosh has the emotional maturity of a petulant four-year old. I think the facts back me up on this. :) )

Again, I feel that the Michael Richards situation is illuminative. Later, of course, when he realized what he said, he felt terrible. But at the time, he just saw red.

2) This isn’t “similar to how various parties have felt violence-extolling metal bands and hip-hop groups ought to bear some legal ramifications when folks inspired by their music go out and do horrid things”, because the sentiments in that music are not direct, immediate and specific threats to a single person. You could imagine a rap group being crass enough to record a song called “Rape Da Bitches”, but you couldn’t imagine them changing it at a concert to “Rape Da Bitch In Row 13, Seat C Who Booed When We Announced What Song We Were Playing Next”. Ozzy Osbourne might have written “Suicide Solution”, but he didn’t write “Suicide Is Totally the Solution of Jimmy Reynolds Because He’s a Useless Little Brat, And By the Way Your Dad Hides His Gun in the Hall Closet, Jimmy”.

Again, I don’t see how this is particularly complicated. Whether or not you feel that there are off-limits topics for jokes, you should be able to see the difference between a “joke” and a threat directed at an audience member. The former is a lot easier to defend, of course, which may be why people keep trying, but it’s the latter that makes this such an outrage even by the standards of “edgy” comedians.

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cole1114 said on July 23rd, 2012 at 8:03 pm

The problem is that I absolutely do not see it as a threat. I suppose that’s where the crux of it is.

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@cole1114: Yes, that is the crux of it. You can’t imagine what it would be like to be in that situation, because to do so would be to challenge your worldview that you don’t gain undeserved benefit in life solely by virtue of your unearned Y chromosome. If you accept that it was a threat, you have to actually start changing your behavior by first admitting that the world is a very horrible, fucked-up place for a lot of people and you’re not caring, and that’s a very harsh bit of introspection that a lot of people aren’t ready for. I hope that changes for you someday.

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cole1114 said on July 24th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

“This person disagrees with me, they’re privileged and let’s ignore their opinion entirely”

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“This person disagrees with me in a way that clearly demonstrates their blindspots due to privilege, let me try to educate them on…no, no, they’re just continuing to repeat ‘rape jokes can be funny’ long after the point where the words have lost all meaning to them. Maybe there’s just a point where I should write them off as too dumb to do much more than make fun of.”

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cole1114 said on July 25th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

“This guy is claiming to know about privilege of women, and his most likely claim to any sort of knowledge on this topic is “I read a book and know stuff about it” when talking to someone he neither knows nor seems to respect enough to come up with a decent argument beyond LOLYOUDUMBANDPRIVILEGED”

Come up with something beyond insults if you EVER want me to respect your opinions. You’re no MGK.

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I came up with decent arguments. They were in the initial post, and in the previous 133 comments. Your best response, after several attempts to deflect the issue, argue an entirely different point, or simply bluff things out by claiming I’m not paying attention to what you said, is to respond with, “Well, I just don’t see it that way.”

As I said at the beginning: Not being able to see it that way makes you a worse person. Defending a man who threatened someone with gang rape because his fee-fees were hurt, and shrugging off any counter-arguments by simply denying the validity of the other person’s point of view, makes you a worse human being. And if you feel insulted and shamed by that, then good. Because you deserve to be. That is a shameful and disgusting attitude to have, hence you should feel ashamed of it. See how that works?

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highlyverbal said on July 29th, 2012 at 11:28 am

cole1114 makes me miss Matt’s participation.

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cole1114 said on July 30th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

It WASN’T a threat though, and to say that it was is ludicrous! You’re saying that I’m a terrible human being for interpreting words differently from you. That’s horrendous!

Tell you what, rather than argue this with someone who prefers to insult me for having a different opinion, I’m just gonna say this: learn how to debate something before using nothing but ad hominems.

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Cole1114:

What John is trying to tell you, I think, is that it’s very nice for you that you do not have to interpret those words as a threat. But, you see, as a woman, I do. If someone says to a crowd around me, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if that woman [meaning me] was gang-raped right now,” I have to take that as a threat.

Try this thought experiement:
You have been put in jail for a minor offense you didn’t do, and you’re waiting for your lawyer to sort it out for you. You say something one of the other inmates doesn’t like. All of a sudden, he says “Wouldn’t it be funny if that dude was gang-raped right now?” And the rest of the crowd laughs appreciatively.

Now: Is that a threat?

Sure, she was in a comedy club. But you have, and she had, no way of knowing that there were not five actual rapists in the crowd. You and she have/had no way of knowing if there were five people who would not “normally” rape, but all liquored up and with their buddies egging them on would “push the boundaries of consent.” Which is also rape, but far more people will admit to “boundary pushing” than will willingly use the word “rape” as a description of their actions.

What bothers me about your continual assertions is that you are disregarding the lived experiences of women who say “Yes, that was a threat” because you can’t imagine how it could be. For me, it is the utter disregard of these words that is the major, major problem.

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@cole1114: What she said. :) I’m not insulting you “for having a different opinion”, I’m insulting you for having the specific opinion that threatening someone with gang rape is okay so long as you can plausibly claim later that you didn’t really mean it. Again and again, you try to equate this with something as innocuous as “liking Roger Moore better than Sean Connery”, or “thinking Hillary would have made a better President”, because it’s a lot easier to defend “having an opinion” than it is to defend “having an opinion that as long as it’s only a woman you say it to, rape threats don’t really ‘count’.”

Insulting you for that is not an ad hominem attack, because an ad hominem attack states that the opinion is bad because someone like you has it. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of an ad hominem attack–I think that you are bad because you hold an opinion like that. If you’re going to throw around terms to make yourself look smart, could you throw around ones that you understand?

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[...] Seavey, one of the writers on Mightygodking, wrote a response to what happened, titled “From the “How To Be A Decent Human Being” File….” In it he decried Tosh’s response to the woman, and basically lay down that freedom of [...]

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