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Stacy Parker Le Melle Headshot

Last Time I Checked, Rape Jokes Still Not Funny

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Neither are Opie and Anthony, nor their studio guest "Homeless Charlie." Recently the duo egged on their guest "Homeless Charlie" to discuss how much he'd like to force himself on Condoleezza Rice. They kept laughing as he dragged the names of Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth into their idea of a funny joke.

A few more details: "Homeless Charlie" was played by a black comedian, or, by a comedian pretending to be black. The character lived in a box. Opie and Anthony seemed to delight in having a brother-in-a-box go on and on about his fantasy to rape three of the world's most powerful white women.

Wait. Hold on. I'm still laughing.

Please guys, stop revealing yourselves. Get some therapy. Write. Do something to figure out why you have so much bottled up fear and loathing. Something fuels your need to make these rotten jokes. Well, something beyond your sweet contract with XM and the need to be, um, competitive, in shockjockland.

Once again, I'm left wondering why so many men feel the need to assert themselves this way. How anxious do you have to be that you must keep reminding women that despite the high-falutin' titles, at any moment they can be pushed over and had? And what about these men, who, in the privacy of their car, listen to these words and laugh? I picture these guys feeling stepped-on and pushed around by the women in their real lives, so they need the thrill of hearing other men give voice to their secret desire to push back. Yes, to be The Man. The one who does the pushing. To them I say re-read the previous paragraph. You need healing, too.

I find myself wondering if it's wise to write about this story. No matter how much I believe that O&A are in the wrong and Sec. Rice got slimed, I don't trust the White House to operate in good faith. I don't want to be part of any greater White House effort to give traction to the idea that Sec. Rice is a victim or a martyr, because they will use her victimization to distract from the day's bad news. But the fact is it is not OK to degrade our public figures this way. It is not OK to degrade anybody this way.

This is not just about stupid jokes. This is about what lives in the words. About taking responsibility for the fact that your words have power. About choosing not to be hostile to people, or seeding the environment where violence can flourish. Despite the security details, these female public figures are still physically vulnerable, and the crazies of the world don't need more encouragement.

This is about not having a million people simultaneously picture in their minds the subjugation and sexual humiliation of another human being.

Last but not least, this is not about getting people fired. This is about saying to hack comedians that not only are your jokes hurtful, they're just plain bad. If you really want to shine, if you really want to be remembered, you can't always go for the easy joke. Good comedy is about more than pissing on people.

I suppose, however, that most of us have a lot of self-examining to do before we see the last of this kind of comedy.

Update: During my first search, I was unable to find accompanying video or a picture of "Homeless Charlie." Finding out now that "Homeless Charlie" seems to really be a homeless man does not change my opinion of any of the participants' choices. In fact, I'm more troubled than before.

Update II: I have learned a major lesson from writing this piece: do not blog while angry! Save the piece, go take a walk, then take a careful read before hitting send. Thank you, stevecarr, for pointing out that I categorized Sec. Rice as a white woman. Clearly, that was a mistake. Nothing Freudian intended.