Jim Norton: I'm "Disgusted" By Suggestions Lindy West Should Be Raped
When my publicist first asked if I wanted to go on W. Kamau Bell’s show to debate a feminist blogger about rape jokes, my answer was "absolutely not." Feminists and comedians often have a mongoose/snake relationship that seems unlikely to ever change. The last thing I wanted was to get into a screaming match on national television in front of a studio audience that I assumed would be against me from the start. I then took the time to actually read Lindy West’s piece. And I didn’t agree with it. I did, however, like how she wrote it. I liked how she presented her points and defended them intelligently.
We wound up having a great discussion about the effects of language, rape culture and the repercussions of certain types of humor. We didn’t talk over each other or yell at each other like a couple of irritating news pundit hacks. And when we were finished, Lindy understood my points and I understood hers. And we both walked away holding our same opinions, as I assumed we would. So many of you think that either she or I "still don’t get it," but we do. We really do. We just don’t agree.
The reason I’m writing this is not to rehash what we said, but to say how disgusted I am by the way many people have chosen to respond. I am very careful about telling people what they should write or how they should express themselves, but I truly hate a lot of the things that have been directed at Lindy. The anger she’s facing is wrong and misguided. If you have a problem with her opinion that’s one thing, but to tweet that you hope she get’s raped, or that you’d want her to be raped is fucking ignorant. And that’s coming from a person who’s said a lot of ignorant things. She did absolutely nothing to deserve the vitriolic response she’s gotten. She simply gave a well thought out opinion.
Twitter is a great tool, but one of the problems is that many people have no idea how to get their point across in 140 characters intelligently, so they immediately revert to “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!”. (I know this because I’ve reverted to it often). People are afraid someone will respond with something smarter, so they just say something horrible in an effort to be heard. And that desire to be heard, to weigh in, is powerful. So, when people feel like no one is listening, they say something barbaric and vicious which is impossible to ignore.
My suggestion to these people is to think about what you really want to say and make an effort to say it. Your true opinion is not that you want her to be raped and you know that.
Most of you have real opinions on humor and its repercussions or lack thereof, so give your real opinions.
To anyone whose goal is to defend what you interpret as attacks on comedic free speech, don’t immediately let the term "rape culture" cause you to dismiss someone's argument entirely or make you think that life as you know it is about to end. It’s not. Stop being so fucking mentally lazy. Do you really want your only contribution to the discussion to be, “I hope you get raped”?
I don’t like telling people how they should express themselves because I don't feel qualified to do so. I am only qualified to speak and think for myself. I am also self-aware enough to realize that I myself have taken that easy, lazy road (“FUCK YOU!") too many times to sit here and moralize.
But I am honestly requesting that people stop attacking her. It’s ugly and it’s unfair and does nothing to forward the point you think you’re trying to make.