Joke Police.

I was unfriended on Facebook the other day, by a lass I have known for over ten years, and all because of a joke I posted about Jimmy Savile.  Here is the joke in question –

“They have just found Jimmy Savile’s diary.

His last entry was about 10 years old.”

According to the lass who found this “appalling”, I am “laughing at child rape”.  And this from a girl who studied journalism and, presumably, knows a thing or two about the English language.  If you take the time to actually read the joke, you will notice the butt of the joke is the child abuser, not the victim.  I am guessing this nuance is lost on the professionally offended.  Still, never let the facts get in the way of ones self-righteousness, eh?
I find it kind of frightening really that people trained in, and preparing for a career in journalism are prepared to insist on censorship.  I find it unbelievable that the joke is more offensive than the decades of silence by mainstream journalists on the “open secret” that was Jimmy Savile’s alleged fondness for pre-pubescent girls.

In my humble opinion there should be no topics off-limits for comedy.  The topics that are deemed taboo, I suggest, are the very subjects that need broached the most.  Comedy has a long and noble tradition of tackling difficult subjects.  Take Bill Hicks on Iraq, or abortion for instance.   Near the knuckle jokes and comedians, at their best, help test and define boundaries, and consequently help progress or redefine the moral code of society.  It is also informative.  After all, who else, during the last ten or twenty years was informing people about the suspicions about Jimmy Savile?  It certainly wasn’t journalists who were too scared of Savile’s “fame and power” to report on it.  There is always a place for comedy, particularly when the media is such an embarrassing failure.

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It’s Rape, Jim…. A Clarification.

I have had quite a bit of feedback following the publication of my blog post “It’s Rape, Jim.  But Not As We Know It.”   To all who took the time to offer me constructive criticism, thank you very much indeed.  The following is some clarifications and updates based on the negative comments I have received in recent days.

While I was writing in the opening paragraph what rape meant *to me*, and not what it meant in Law or in a dictionary, I acknowledge that my impressions were naive and poorly written.  Rape does not need to be accompanied by violence or the threat of violence.  This point was put strongly to me by posters to the blog and by female friends of mine, some of whom have actually been victims of rape.  So I apologise for my limited perspective as shown in that opening paragraph, and readily concede I was wrong.  As a poster called EdinburghEye pointed out, there are multiple varieties of rape, and not all require violence or menace –

1.  You could set up a situation where, without saying a word of menace, you make clear to the woman there are unpleasant consequences to saying “no” to you.  (a) You’re her boss or have influence in her career (b) You’re say the driver and you make a sexual proposition in the car miles from anywhere (c) you’re a lot bigger than your target, alone together, and she couldn’t physically stop you and you make that clear.

2.  As you say, you could just wait until she’s asleep and then do what you want.

3.  You could get angry and unpleasant if she says “no” until she learns from fear of your temper not to say “no” even if she really isn’t feeling anything sexual for you any more.

4.  In the context of a long-term relationship, you could become a nagger for sex such that your partner knows she won’t get any peace, once you demand sex, until she gives in.  Then you can rape her regularly because she knows that she has no choice until the day she decides to ditch you.  And you might be a very pleasant person otherwise. You can even tell yourself it’s not rape, even though she doesn’t want it, because she “consents” – ie she knows the consequences of saying “no” mean you will keep on at her and whine and moan and refuse to let her sleep no matter how tired she is, because you don’t care what she wants, only what you want.

And that is the essence of rape. Overriding what the other person wants: just taking what you want.

I accept all of this without reservation.  My critics are right on this point, and I was wrong.  I ask forgiveness for any offence my myopic view may have caused.  A fabulous article about what rape actually is can be found on the EdinburghEye’s blog.  I found it very informative indeed.

It was put to me by some that, as a man, I have no idea about sexual assault, rape, and predatory males.  This is not quite true.  I was a victim of an attempted sexual assault by a man when I was about 13 or 14.  A man, who I did not know, but who knew me as a player for the school football team, approached me one Sunday while I was out for a walk along the shores of the River Clyde at Dumbarton.  He pulled a knife on me, and pushed me to the ground.  He tried to pull my trousers down while waving the knife in my face.  Somehow I managed to struggle free and ran faster than I ever have back home.  It was a fortunate escape.  It turned out the man had a string of offences against young boys to his name.  In mitigation, I would say this event has possibly coloured my view of what rape is or is not.

Regarding the allegations against Julian Assange, I acknowledge that to echo George Galloway’s view on what the allegations amount to was hasty of me.  If the allegations are 100% correct, they amount to far more than “bad sexual etiquette” as George stated.  They amount to a criminal act (in Sweden) if true.  Initiating sex without a condom with a person who has expressly asked you to use one, is more than just bad form, it is a terrible liberty to take, and arguably a sexual molestation offence.  Whether it amounts to ‘rape’ or not is another matter altogether.

“If initiating nocturnal sex with a sexual partner who is half asleep is rape, then every girl I have ever slept with is a rapist, and so am I…”

When I wrote this I was thinking of the many, many times I have woken to find a girlfriend playing with my penis, or even engaging in penetrative sex.  This has happened to me several times.  I do not regard that as me being raped.  But I accept that it is of a different order of magnitude from that alleged against Julian Assange, as I, for one thing, am unlikely to end up pregnant.  Neither did any of my girlfriends try anything that I had previously refused consent to.

I hope this addresses some of the concerns that have been put to me.  I still think the pursuit of Assange stinks to high heaven, but I am open to persuasion.  If there is anything else, please feel free to get in touch.  I am not arrogant enough to think I am always, or even mostly right, and welcome differing perspectives and viewpoints.  Thanks again for reading, and commenting.

http://www.thenation.com/article/169632/julian-assange-justice-foreclosed#  (interesting article with VERY interesting comments)