Offerman offers jokes, but goes too far on sexual abuse

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Editorial Board

With any comedic act, inevitably someone is going to be offended. Part of the great appeal of comedy is that is a medium where offense is allowed. It has created a platform for people to talk about issues that may not be appropriate in other settings, but deserve discourse.

Policing comedy for content would defeat part of the purpose of comedy, and that is not our intention. It is our intention, though, to ask you to consider what maybe you should avoid making jokes about because they go beyond offending members of your audience to actually harming them. In your routine on Saturday, you made a joke about how when you married your wife, she became your property. This means that she should, whenever you want and despite her desires or discomfort, engage in intercourse with you.

While this may not seem like the most offensive joke in your routine, there is something disturbing about it. Sexual assault against spouses was only made illegal in all 50 states in 1993. Many people could not go to the police when they were assaulted simply because of their marriage license.

When considering your audience, think that, even with a generous statistic, one in five of the women in attendance of your show have experienced sexual assault. Your joke—normalizing and making light of disregarding issues of consent—affects them.

Survivors have to sit in your audience and listen to a large group of people laughing about sexual assault. We live in a society that is already hostile towards survivors, from victim blaming on the news to lack of legal and social support. We should strive to decrease the amount of hostility that survivors encounter in their daily lives, not increase it.

There are topics we should be respectful of because of the suffering of the people who have experienced them. Sexual assault is one of those topics. The justification of using such a traumatic topic for the basis of a joke to amuse an audience is thin when weighed against the harm it can inflict on those who have experienced it or have close friends or family who have.

We should consider that perhaps, there are things we shouldn’t joke about. There are things that we should treat with respect for the people who have suffered and overcome. Please take these points into consideration.

 

Thank you,

The Argus