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On Sam Morril’s Response

Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Author: Sady Doyle

On April 23, I wrote to Sam Morril that I wanted to work with him to change the conversation about rape jokes. That conversation, I said, was stuck in a frustrating, repetitive pattern: “Feminists say rape jokes are offensive, comics say they have the right to offend people, and we just keep repeating the same lines from that point forward.”

Sam Morril chose not to have that conversation for 13 days. When he did respond, on his Facebook, and after the article was published, he said – basically – that he had the right to offend people.

It’s hard to engage with Sam Morril’s response, because it is, among other things, a hash of cliches so thoroughly unoriginal, and so completely in line with what I described about this dynamic in my original piece, that there’s really nothing to say about it that I didn’t say four days ago, before it ever happened. “Comedy comes from dark places,” check. “Other comics tell rape jokes,” check. “You ambushed me,” check. “My mother thinks I’m funny,” check. (Also, awwwww.) “Political correctness police,” check and mate.

Likewise, engaging with Sam Morril’s fans, friends, and defenders seems pointless. There’s not a lot you can do to explain the ills of institutional sexism to guys who go with “humorless fucking bitch” or “bloody cunt” as their first response to mild questioning. Generally, people tend to know that those terms are sexist. Generally, people tend to know that insisting that women should shut the fuck up about sexual violence and let the men talk is widely considered a misogynist position. If they’re doing it, it’s not for lack of information about the perceived sexism of their behavior. Mostly, this is malice, not mere ignorance, doing the talking. And so, convincing these people that I’m not a wicked PC cunt out to take their fun away is like convincing a two-year-old there’s no monster under his bed. You can reason with him all you like, but he’s scared.

What Sam Morril thinks — and what his fans overwhelmingly think — of this conversation is that there shouldn’t be one. It’s something he states, more or less directly, in paragraph seven of his response: “Stand-up comedy is a performance, not a discourse. There are bouncers there whose sole purpose is to make sure our performance goes uninterrupted.”

Sam Morril’s performance, as it happens, did go more or less uninterrupted. What happened is that somebody wrote about it, after the fact, in a way that he didn’t like. But his confusion, here, is both interesting and telling: He doesn’t perceive a significant difference between a bad review and heckling. Both of them are the same thing – someone speaking, someone challenging him, when she doesn’t have the right and should be silent.

So what interests me is why this particular conversation is so threatening. Why it makes so many people so deeply angry that I asked Sam Morril questions, and printed his lack of response. This conversation gets to something deep, and primal, about who has the right to speak, especially about violence against women, and what they have the right to say.

On to Morril’s response. I won’t quote every line and every word – you can find the full version on his Facebook – but it begins:

First, let me say that I do not condone rape, and it is never my intention to write a joke that upsets people. I never write a joke thinking, “this’ll show ‘em.” I’m a comedian.

I don’t imagine Morril thinks it’s a great idea to go around raping women. He does think it’s a good idea to make jokes in which he portrays himself as someone who rapes women, and causes them physical harm, and finds it funny when bad things happen to them, which is what I questioned.

He also says that doesn’t intend to write jokes that upset people. In fact, Morril advertises himself as a comedian who upsets people, Tweeting about how he should have caution tape over his mouth in headshots, his bad effect on “unsuspecting audiences.” So we’re starting off with half the truth, but it’s a start.

[When] you paraphrase jokes on very delicate topics, you’re stripping them of their meaning and irony, the things that makes them funny. In my N word joke you referred to, you decided to leave out the punchline, which is pretty important when you’re quoting a joke, especially about such a sensitive topic. The punchline is that the crowd thinks: “We thought he was going to say the N word, then thank God…It’s just a rape joke.” It’s a moment of relief, but really it’s much worse. It’s a commentary on political correctness, not an approval of rape. Your reaction compounds the irony. My joke on political correctness brings out the political correctness police.

If Sam Morril felt that I misrepresented his joke, he had over a week in which to correct my quotation of the joke, because I wrote him an e-mail in which I quoted that joke, to which he did not respond until after the article was published.

You mention the “reasonable” and “intelligent” Louis CK. Well, Louis has plenty of jokes about rape. Ever heard the one? “You should never rape a woman…Unless you want to have sex with her and she wont let you…Then what other choice do you have?”
Many female comics joke about rape as well. Sarah Silverman has one: “I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.”

Well, I think I said “usually” reasonable and intelligent. I don’t think that joke is very good. Louis CK also written many other jokes that I do like, about sexism, about racism, and about people taking cell phones for granted. He’s proven that he can write three-dimensional, interesting female characters, for which I give him extra credit. (He’s also said, as readers have pointed out to me, that he didn’t intend to defend Tosh, for which he gets an apology and extra credit again.) Silverman isn’t someone whose work I follow closely, but she’s made me laugh, and I think she’s a smart woman, and I think some aspects of her act are subversive in a way I really like. If we’re talking jokes about rape that we like, I think Tig Notaro’s “No Moleste” is brilliant.

I take individual comedians, and individual jokes, on their individual merits. The point isn’t that some jokes contain the word “rape,” and are therefore all equally bad. The point is how those jokes work. I thought Morril’s jokes, and particularly Morril’s rape jokes, worked in a way that was specifically bad.

Do you understand that neither Louis nor Sarah approves of rape? Do find it necessary to send them the pages of rape statistics that you sent me?

Here’s the rub – the idea that someone must, by default, consciously and willfully “approve” of rape if they make a joke that supports attitudes which result in violence against women. The idea that those “pages of statistics” have no bearing or relevance to the jokes Sam Morril tells. The idea that being asked to look at them is, in itself, an insult.

What those “pages of statistics” say is that violence against women – both intimate partner violence and sexual assault; Morril only addresses one, but I asked him about both – are incredibly common. If 25% of all people reported being mugged, we’d declare a massive public safety crisis. If one in five Americans had influenza, every news channel would broadcast 24-hour coverage of the plague. But for women, those epidemic rates of assault – one in four, one in five – are the low numbers. Among more marginalized populations, they go up, until the survivors are actually in the majority.

What this means is that we live in a culture where hurting women, because they are women, has been largely normalized. There are assumptions ingrained in the culture that are allowing these huge numbers of gendered assault to exist. Because we live in culture, we absorb these harmful attitudes without realizing it. It’s not a fault or a sin or a sign of being an evil or consciously harmful person. It’s a sign of being a human in a culture that needs improving. A man who shares these attitudes is not “bad;” he is normal. But so is violence against women, and that’s the problem.

Most pernicious among these assumptions is the idea that violence against women is fundamentally not as serious or as tragic as harm done to other people. That having an emotional reaction to it, in fact, is the bigger problem: That women who get upset about this or even speak about it are “hypersensitive” or out of line.

One result of these attitudes is widespread violence against women. Another result is a man getting on stage and telling a series of jokes that end with the punchline “I have raped women,” or with harm done to women, with the expectation that he will not experience any serious blowback or criticism. A third result is the perception of that criticism, when it does arise, as a socially impermissible attack from a hypersensitive, out-of-line female who should have stayed quiet.

They’re not three instances of same thing. They’re three different things that arise from the same basic assumption. And the assumption is that violence against women is nothing to get angry about. It’s certainly not as worthy of mass outrage as, say, a comedian getting a bad review.

You conveniently left out the sentences in your initial first email where you wrote, “you really stood out from the other comics.” You wanted to engage with me so you pretended to be a fan by complimenting me. Very tricky!

Sam Morril did, in fact, stand out from the other comics, because he told two jokes, and the punchline of both was “I raped a woman.” As I said, that didn’t happen with the other comics. The assumption that a writer would only want to engage him if they were also “a fan” speaks to Sam Morril’s deeper assumption that the only appropriate or permissible response to his work is praise.

You completely misquoted a story I told to portray me as a misogynist or worse.

If Sam Morril felt that I had misunderstood or misremembered his story, he had eleven days in which to correct me, because I wrote him an e-mail which included my perception of the story, to which he did not respond.

There are lots of bad people out there who do evil things. I think your time would be better spent attacking them. Most of them have no sense of irony either. You clearly were not interested in having a conversation. For some reason, you chose me to ambush[.]

You might not want to use words like “attack” and “ambush” to refer to difficult interview questions or bad reviews, when you publicly giggle about raping chicks, and intersperse that with long stories about how a woman who told you to leave her friend alone wound up getting punched in the throat at your request. I’m just saying. That’s a little bit of irony you might not intend.

I got a Tweet from one of your readers 2 days ago saying, “someday I hope a man forcefully penetrates your asshole with their veiny cock. Rape jokes won’t be quite as funny after that.” Also, “or maybe your mother gets raped, or little sister. I don’t think you understand the culture you’re adding too.” Should I take that threat seriously? Do you condone this? Is that the kind of behavior you’re trying to motivate?

No, and I condemned it immediately after I read Sam Morril’s response. I’ll condemn it again now, and note that a large chunk of the original article was about the fact that wishing rape on someone is unacceptable.

I’ve yet to see Sam Morril denounce any misogynist, violent, or threatening comments aimed my way. He did do this, with one of them:

Woody Allen says, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

Again: Might not want to use the guy who fucks his kid as your personal Yoda. Just, you know, since “irony” is important here.

Comedy is an art form. We get paid to say whatever we want, and I’ve earned that right to do so on good stages by putting in work year after year, and proving I can do it well.

Well, aside from the debatability of that last point: Criticism is a job. We get paid to state our opinions, whether or not they flatter the subject. It looks as if Sam Morril and I are both doing our jobs.

The sad fact is, I think Sam Morril’s job is a lot more important than he does. An art form is inherently bound to its social context. It both mirrors culture and changes culture. If an artist believes that his work has no ability to influence or affect people, he believes his art is powerless. I think that believing art is impotent is far more insulting than believing that art can be harmful.

And Sam Morril’s art is harmful. This is a conclusion I’ve only really come to in reading his fans’ responses to the article, but, yes: Sam Morril harms people, particularly his fans.

To really talk about this, let’s talk about what great comedy is capable of. Louis CK points out common stupidities in a way that challenges his audience to become smarter, to think more closely about themselves. Sarah Silverman’s audacious crudeness challenges her audience’s ideas of femininity, of how a woman can present herself in public. Maria Bamford talks about having mental illness, and makes you laugh with her; Maria Bamford is one reason that more people in this world are willing to think about mental illness with empathy and nuance. Tig Notaro comes on stage and tells people she’s got cancer, her mother is dead, and her heart is broken, and then she turns tragedy and grief into catharsis. She asserts the power of great comedians to use the darkest and most frightening material to create joy.

Sam Morril inspires people, too. He inspires people to write “sounds to me like there were some bloody cunts in the show,and she didnt have the balls to confront you at a human level but instead hides behind here shitty writing and cuntness,long live rape jokes and fuck female cry babys.” He inspires them to say, “nothing like the profound wisdom of a humorless fucking bitch.” He inspires them to say, “could have been anyone of us but you were planted right in that estrogen warpath” and “she tires so easily — Ambien’s unnecessary.” Sam Morril inspires people to think about women getting raped and punched, and to laugh about that, and to respond to the people who aren’t laughing with open, openly misogynist rage. He inspires people to feel like sexism is just pretty darn okay, and a good way to have fun, and anyone who gets in the way of their fun, no matter how she does it, is some humorless crybaby bitch on her period who didn’t get asked to the prom and who’s probably been raped.

And it’s that – the assumption, or joke, that came back more than once in these comments, that I had only written the piece because I’d probably been sexually assaulted or “victimized,” despite my not having mentioned it once in the piece – that’s really my closing argument, when it comes to Sam Morril.

Because these comments — of which there was more than one — seemed to think that having been raped or assaulted made a woman less qualified to have an opinion on how sexual violence is portrayed in art. It was part of the general trend of how I was portrayed: Damaged, weak, emotional, irrational, stupid, “taking things personally” or letting my emotions cloud my silly little feather-brain so that I was incapable of truly appreciating the objective might of a man’s Art. These stereotypes are ancient. But what stands out, here, is that on top of the standard-issue “women are not smart or strong” sexism, the specific problem was that I might be a rape survivor. When someone writes that “I’d love to see the article she wrote for her first rapist” (as a commenter on Morril’s original post did), or “you were victimized at some point in your life, you’re angry at the world, and you’re super-jealous of people who are able to enjoy themselves,” as a commenter on this site did, the specific message they are sending is that survivors of rape and assault are stupid, bad, weak people. And being asked to think about them is ridiculous, and stupid, because they don’t matter.

The bottom line is: I know more about comedy than you.

Possibly.

I know more about funny than you do,

Oh, how I wish that were true.

and nothing was ever made funnier by political correctness.

But nothing was ever made smarter by refusing to think about it, and nothing was ever made worse by kindness, and no society or art form was ever destroyed by asking difficult questions, though plenty of terrible things have been caused by suppressing them.

Sam Morril makes bad art. And Sam Morril thinks he’s doing a super job.

Photo by Daehyun Park, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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  1. You know I support you and agree with basically everything you say here, but I do think that the Woody Allen shot was a little cheap. He doesn’t fuck his daughter. He’s married to someone who is the adopted daughter of a woman he used to date. He’s also a comedic genius with much more craft and tact than to make the kinds of jokes Sam Morril makes.
    But I thank you for doing everything you’ve done here. It’s very important and I hope more and more people see this.

  2. I keep hearing this argument that people who find these jokes offensive are missing the irony by taking the joke literally. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure most people totally get that you’re trying to be ironic. I just don’t think that automatically means the joke isn’t offensive. This comedian, his mom and sister who found the joke funny, and maybe all the people laughing at it, are giving him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t mean what he’s saying and he would never actually do any of the things he’s joking about. That takes a certain amount of trust. But the ability to trust strangers that they won’t act on violent threats is not a luxury that women have. In fact, most sexual violence is carried out by people that women already know and trust! So making jokes that ask women to take this leap of faith and assume you don’t mean it ignores the overwhelming fact that there are many many many men out there who DO act on the ideas you’re mocking. In fact it’s extraordinarily common. You likely know someone who has been an attacker, and someone who’s been attacked. It is not abstract to the women in the audience. It is a reality that affects their sense of freedom every single day. Why would we find it funny to hear someone joke about that, ironically or not? This comedian claims that he’s actually doing some pretty interesting social critique. Where is the ironic critique in these jokes? You’re simply parroting opinions that many people actually hold, and then asking women to safely assume that you’re not really one of the ones who believes what you’re saying. Seeing threats of violence against women as a joke, rather than an oppressive reality that polices women’s freedom to safely walk around and form relationships that are built on mutual consent — is a privilege you enjoy, and most women don’t. Now we’re supposed to laugh while you flaunt that privilege in front of us. The point is not that we don’t get that you’re being ironic, it’s that it doesn’t matter. Even if you’re joking, you’re now contributing to a culture where women get to try to guess who’s just joking and who actually might threaten my safety. HAHAHA! That’s hysterical.

  3. This whole debate hinges on one question: Was it a “rape joke”, or was it something else?

    That being the case, Sam’s most important point is this:

    “The punchline is that the crowd thinks: “We thought he was going to say the N word, then thank God…It’s just a rape joke.” It’s a moment of relief, but really it’s much worse. It’s a commentary on political correctness, not an approval of rape. Your reaction compounds the irony. My joke on political correctness brings out the political correctness police.”

    Instead of making an honest attempt to engage with Sam’s argument intellectually, you deflect his point by flippantly criticizing his taking so long to get back to you:

    “If Sam Morril felt that I misrepresented his joke, he had over a week in which to correct my quotation of the joke, because I wrote him an e-mail in which I quoted that joke, to which he did not respond until after the article was published.”

    Since he HAS responded, and you are now responding TO HIS RESPONSE, you ought to deal with the whole thing.

  4. This was an amazing and thought-provoking piece of writing. Thank you for being brave enough to be a part of the fight.

  5. Sady,
    Your post is brilliant. Thank you for taking the time to walk through all of the shit that this guy is throwing out, to put a light on it. We have to keep doing it. My tagline is about seeking kindness and questioning everything, basically what you implore everyone to do in your conclusion. Even though it can seem exhausting to confront these guys, we can’t let them go unchallenged. In March I wrote two posts about sexism in comedy which you might enjoy, the first is “Funny Business & Its Shameful Side” http://ceejae-devine.com/funny-business-its-shameful-side/, the other here: http://ceejae-devine.com/was-offense-taken-here-are-ways-to-change-that-for-good/ Thank you for taking the time to give people an opportunity to look more closely at what Morril is doing and hopefully stop supporting him if he doesn’t get the message soon.

  6. Brilliant! Good work. I do not agree with the previous commenter that you are obligated to respond to his idiocy point-by-point. Especially since he refused your initial offer to have a one-on-one discussion.

  7. Max:

    Your question “was it something else?” had previously been answered by the comedian himself:

    “… then thank God… it’s just a rape joke.”

    Attacking over-done political correctness is one thing, but to denigrate sexual violence by juxtaposing it with racism is terrible. Based on the quoted joke and the clarification by Mr. Morril, yes it was indeed a rape joke. It was hidden inside a commentary on political correctness, but rape was the punchline. .

  8. The idea that rape survivors can’t enjoy life, and aren’t to be taken into account as an audience, suddenly makes your statistics blindingly relevant. That’s a lot of people, women but also men, just written off as critics/consumers/participants in art & culture.

  9. Sarah Silverman defended Daniel Tosh on twitter, resorting to that old anti-feminist creed Morrill also used in his response: “THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT. OK?” Also, what does it say about both Louis C.K. and Sarah Silverman that they support and like Daniel Tosh? I think it’s a bit specious to use them in your arguments against Morrill at all. Everything else in your articles about him, have been spot on.

  10. Moreover, I am sorry that you have been receiving rape threats. That is exactly the type of response his rhetoric condones and encourages and glorifies. Be well, Sady.

  11. “This whole debate hinges on one question: Was it a “rape joke”, or was it something else?”

    Dude. Read. The. Article. Is that all you got out of it? Seriously? This one frigging rape joke is one pitiful little cog in a very large and powerful rape culture machine.

    And, before you and your buddies ask: Yes. I’ve been raped. And if you think you know more about what’s important wrt rape jokes than I do, there’s no hope for you and no point in dealing with you in any way, shape or form.

  12. My test for rape jokes:

    Is the joke making the world more comfortable for the rapist or for their victim?

  13. I chuckled when you pointed out the reference to Woody Allen! And love your ending “no society or art form was ever destroyed by asking difficult questions, though plenty of terrible things have been caused by suppressing them.”

    I am always surprised how many ‘radical defenders’ of the status quo come out of the wood works when a woman asks some challenging questions. Not actively being sexist or misogynist, but definitely not wanting their cage to be rattled.

    I am especially dissapointed when comedians are so defensive. Aren’t they the ones to applaud critical thinking? Shouldn’t they be allies rather the radical status quo defenders?

  14. I thought Sam’s reply was more or less “I don’t really care you didn’t like my rape jokes, feel free to dislike my comedy. I obviously have an audience who finds me funny. Goodbye blogger lady.”

  15. Max: I was very confused by Sam’s objection to her version of his joke in the first place. Reading her take on it communicated precisely what Sam “clarified” in his post. Obviously when the set up is “She kept saying the N-word” but that turns out to be “no”, it is previously crystal clear what the punchline is, the tension is clear, the bait-and-switch, the commentary on political correctness, its all clear! I can’t imagine what he would add to her retelling of the joke, unless he wanted her to redundantly annotate the pauses by spelling out the subtext that is obvious to anybody with even a tensile grasp on the English language.

  16. While I agree that “other comedian make the same joke” does not invalidate the possibility of having a conversation about why this might be wrong, if you think your argument is so sound, why didn’t you engage a female comedian making jokes about rape?

    Don’t you think they’d be in a better position to express a contrary opinion without coming off as assholes?

  17. You have an opinion. It has been heard. Others have opinions that are different from yours. Comedians will continue to tell jokes that you do not like. The issue appears resolved. Does this resolution satisfy you? If it does not, the problem is squarely yours.

  18. One facet of comedy is making people laugh at things they wouldn’t normally laugh it. Yes, rape can be one of them. The thing that you are misunderstanding about some of these jokes, especially the oft-misquoted “N-word” joke, and the importance of the last line that you left out, is that the joke isn’t about a girl that Sam raped (because he didn’t rape anyone and the joke is clearly a fabrication) the joke is on the audience. Joke-writing is a science. Take out the words as they exist now and look at the intention, building and then releasing tension. He sets up the audience with one thing that they think is horrible, and releases the tension with something equally horrible, and then calls attention to a dark truth within the audience. You may be offended by the delivery method of this joke (rape and racism), but it’s funny. It’s well crafted. It makes sense. And you are not the be-all-end-all of what is and isn’t appropriate. For however many people think that this joke is over the line, there’s going to be a comparable amount of people who think it isn’t. Across both sexes.

    There is NOTHING in either of these articles that hasn’t already been written about a million times, and recently. You wrote it because you knew it would get hits, because it always does. You picked a softball topic (a comedian telling rape jokes, could there be ANYTHING with lower stakes but a high rate of return on hits and web traffic) and you blew it completely out of proportion. I’m sure you consider yourself an activist and a feminist but you’re not winning any Pulitzer’s for this piece and you know it. It’s rage-bait fluff that’s been done better by others about much bigger targets.

  19. I wish this response offered anything to support rape prevention or counseling or any ideas of how to make the situation better or change the conversation in comedy, instead of just defending yourself and trying to slam him again.

  20. “Louis CK points out common stupidities in a way that challenges his audience to become smarter, to think more closely about themselves. Sarah Silverman’s audacious crudeness challenges her audience’s ideas of femininity, of how a woman can present herself in public. Maria Bamford talks about having mental illness, and makes you laugh with her; Maria Bamford is one reason that more people in this world are willing to think about mental illness with empathy and nuance. Tig Notaro comes on stage and tells people she’s got cancer, her mother is dead, and her heart is broken, and then she turns tragedy and grief into catharsis. She asserts the power of great comedians to use the darkest and most frightening material to create joy.”

    And Sam Morril’s rape jokes help us to acknowledge that rape is an awful disgusting thing, and that something needs to be done about it. You can’t say that Louis, Sarah, Maria, & Tig discuss those dark topics in a humorous and healthy way, and then point the finger at Sam, Tosh, or any other comic that makes a rape joke and call them a “rape culture enabler.” Its hypocritical, and poor arguing on your part.

  21. Nice try but I hope and pray that Sam and his friends in the comic community are done giving you any more attention.

    You say you want a dialogue but you don’t. You don’t respond to any of the many salient points the man made with anything beyond a criticism of the amount of time it took for him to make them.

    You admit all along your intent was to embarass him and set him up, and then you’re angry that he choose to take a bit more control of how his response would be portrayed?

    Have you ever heard of the concept of “good faith”? It’s required for this civil, intelligent discussion you claim you want.

    You make bad writing. And you think you’re doing a super job.

  22. Yes! SO GOOD! Thanks for writing. Also I found this little gem in the comments that I thought was great:

    My test for rape jokes:

    Is the joke making the world more comfortable for the rapist or for their victim?

  23. All of these men throwing self-righteous temper tantrums on here are cracking me up. They are here to explain comedy to us – thank god! The next time I’m harassed on the street or threatened with rape or raped I will remember that comedy thinks it’s really funny.

  24. Sady Doyle, you are my hero. This is so well thought out and the ending was so strong. I really, really hope people take the time to actually read what you’ve written here and not just skim and assume they understand your point.

  25. Typical feminists. can’t understand the difference between joking about rape and committing rape. Here is a hint: 1 of them is a crime and the other isn’t. It might help if you knew which one was which.

  26. I am going to say something unpopular. I am a woman, a feminist, a comedy fan, and someone who has experienced sexual harassment that bordered on (or may was, there’s a big grey area there) sexual assault more than once in my life. I have spent a lot of time and therapy thinking about the rape culture in this country. Your article made me angry. I’m going to start, not with the content of this article and the first article, but with the tone that they were written with. It is not helpful to engage someone on these topics by attacking them. It puts the person (in this case Sam Morril) on the defensive and does not open up a very important dialogue. I understand you are angry, but it feels irresponsible to be a person with a voice that others are listening to and not think about what is the best way to have a conversation like this.

    The content of your articles seem to show me that you did not carefully read and consider what Morril was saying in his jokes or in his response to you. I’ll get back to the jokes. Again, I think you let your anger overtake you. There are parts of this response that are not an intelligent answer to a clearly well thought letter on Morril’s part. He wasn’t perfect either, but frankly, you started it. I believe that if you plan on taking the high road, you have to take it 100% of the time, and you did not. Commenting about his choice of quoting Woody Allen, was, well unnecessary. More of a problem was your constant harping on how long it took Morril to respond. Perhaps he was taking time to thoughtfully and carefully respond with reason not with anger?

    On to the jokes themselves, then I promise, I’m done. A lot of what comedy is about, and part of why I love it, is pushing the boundaries and challenging people in a different way. As far as I can tell, that is what those jokes were doing. The “n-word” joke was, as Morril said, a commentary on how political correctness has gone so far that is sometimes seen as worse to be politically incorrect than it is to commit a violent act against women. He is right. When I read the “pushing a woman out of the path of a bus” tweet I did not think it was about domestic violence. First I laughed because it’s funny. If it had been brought up in any other context, I wouldn’t have thought about it anymore. Well I did this time, when I read it what I see is a commentary on the inherent sexism in certain societal rules that benefit women. This time it was the, “you can’t hit a girl” rule. Frankly that rule is about how weak women are. Making domestic violence a “women’s issue” is a mistake. Men are the victims of domestic violence every day, and when it is made into a gender issue their voices are silenced.

    Sam Morril is a smart and funny comic. You, I am sure, are also a very smart person. Blogging should take feeling into account, and rape and violence against women is an emotional topic, but when you are talking about them with such authority in a public forum please make sure that what you are saying is helpful. Also, some of us process pain through humor, and I don’t think it’s okay for you to take away that outlet for us.

  27. You start one of your 40+ paragraphs with “The sad fact is…” and then you proceed to continue to beat a dead horse.

    I thought I might try to add to the conversation by finishing a sentence of yours: The sad fact is, with all this attention you’re drawing on yourself and to the issue of rape and sexual violence, you are doing nothing to elevate the conversation to a higher level. What good is it attacking an intelligent, funny comedian, not to mention a supportive community, as a means of finger pointing and hate mongering? You are not a comic. I personally feel that because you can’t create, you criticize. And because you have an outlet, you feel your points are completely valid. But at the end of the day, they are just your opinions. And that’s my opinion, so does that make it right? No, it does not. But am I writing a blog with followers trying to convince them that you’re wrong? No, no I am not.

    Why haven’t you given any information in regards to donations that can be made to women’s shelters or antiviolence hotlines? Surely you have impassioned followers and a large outlet to reach people. Why are you using this outlet to complain and monger instead of educate and elevate? That begs me to ask: what is your purpose? Why write this article? Why write a follow up article? Are you truly trying to raise awareness to sexual violence? Or are you trying to add hits to your poorly written diatribes?*

    As comedians, we have a right to say whatever we want. If it’s not funny, often times we’ll pay the consequences. If you’re a shitty open micer and you use rape as a punchline and you have any brain in your head, you’ll figure out soon enough that that’s not a road you want to go down. But if you’re performing on a stage that has seen the likes of every major comedian working today, odds are you’re doing something right. It is extremely difficult to make an entire room of strangers laugh. Sometimes people will be offended. It happens. But just because one person is offended doesn’t mean that person has to rally the troops against a comedian. I don’t know. This all seems silly. If you don’t like it, don’t go to a comedy show. No one is going home and raping another human because of a joke. I may be simplifying the argument, but I think it can be simplified even more: don’t rape people. Rape is bad. Is it that hard to understand? Writing these articles is treating us all as if we’re children. Where are the articles about actual news stories that matter? Why aren’t you as equally as outraged by this article from the RAINN website? http://www.rainn.org/news-room/97-of-every-100-rapists-receive-no-punishment Oh, because it won’t generate thousands of hits? Gotcha. I’m tired and I have to go to bed. Good day.

    *I know I came off insulting, but these kinds of things really grind my gears!

  28. I”ve visited the Comedy Underground in Seattle a few times.. and made the mistake of being in the back of the line so the only seats that were open were up front. I done been harassed.. :) But one thing I noticed from performers at TCU and other venues in the Seattle area – is that the good comedians could turn hecklers into part of the act. Silencing them. Sam had 11 days to respond.. and he could neither make fun of what you wrote, or actually respond until “forced” by your publishing the first of the two Sam blog posts? He sucks. His offensiveness is hardly matched by his gross inadequacy in the comedic art.
    His is not a form of comedy I enjoy.. and I didn’t find it funny before losing an aunt to rape/murder.
    May Sam eventually find either a new line of work, or both comedic skill & a new line of material.

  29. It would be very interesting to have seen the response if you had not used Sam Morril’s name and left him as an “anonymous comic that I saw”. What would have made for an interesting and poignant post about how our society is desensitized toward jokes about sexual violence towards women has become a smear piece on a talented young comedian whose brand of comedy happens to upset your personal stance on what is and what is not appropriate to find humor in. The fact that you so quickly brush off what Louis CK and Sarah Silverman joke about makes it seem as though they get a free pass because they are already more established comics. You began this whole crusade with the intent of “embarrassing” a young comedian for doing what he is paid to do. He is paid to make people laugh. Just because he uses dark humor that you find insulting doesn’t give you the right to attack him. I understand that you have freedom of speech but so does he.

  30. I don’t know if you have had time to ponder this with all the tremendous thought and courage you have been putting forth, but you are making history. No matter the exception others find, you make a straightforward, intelligent, compassionate argument.

    Jokes about violence against women are made by misogynistic egomaniacal personalities, who, ironically, are in a deep panic about women and power. Comics like this take cheap shots for a living and hide behind the First Amendment. Strangely, this is as much attention as they will get.

    Keep fighting for what you, and we, believe, Sady, and thank you.

  31. While I didn’t fully agree with either you or Sam Morril, I was willing to sit back and consider both points of view as having some validity until I hit the final line of this post. While it makes an incredibly great point, its also a point that completely undoes the entire point of your arguments.

    Sam Morril makes art. In your opinion he makes it badly. In his opinion he does it well. The problem is, with almost all forms of art, it’s all subjective. The age old phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” strikes true here. No artist is universally acclaimed, nor is almost any piece of art intended for every individual out in the world to consume in the same manner.

    There are art pieces on display using fecal matter that are selling for 50k a piece: http://www.scribd.com/doc/9830392/Excremental-Paintings. Personally, I would not spend even a dollar on something like this because I don’t find it to be good art whatsoever, and that’s ok. I don’t have to believe its great, and neither do you. At the same time though, that doesn’t mean it has to change either your or my opinions of what good art is, or what makes a good artist. I find it extremely offensive to think that someone could paint a canvas with a turd and look me in the eye and say it’s worth $50,000. You find it terribly offensive that Sam Morril can tell rape jokes and classify it as quality entertainment.

    The problem for both of us here is quite similar. Although we may both find something offensive, there are enough people out there willing to pay for a ticket or buy a poop painting and say its great. There is a large enough group of people who willing support both these artists and keep them gainfully working within their chosen mediums in the manner they see fit.

    The problem isn’t the artist, and its not the art. The artist is purely submitting the art for consumption. If the art wasn’t accepted, requested, or enjoyed, the artist would have no choice but to adopt a new genre or style (i.e. give the people what they want). Now initially, you may say I’m offering a cop-out, that saying that i’m excusing behavior with semantics, or that I’m misinterpreting. Its more than possible, but as long as people keep buying tickets to his show or buying pictures of literal shit, I don’t see how I am missing my mark.

    Going to a Sam Morril show won’t change my attitudes towards women either positively or negatively. I know my beliefs/morals/values etc., and viewing a crap painting won’t change my opinion of art positively or negatively either. I know what I like, I know what I don’t. No one has ever sat on a witness stand accused of rape and said “well I always grew up watching people say it was funny”.

    Peoples actions are based on deeper things. Embedded culture for one. The environment and experiences have over the course of their lives teach people what lenses they should have, and how to use them when viewing the world. If I go to an offensive comedy show, I can sit there, accept the joke for what it is: entertainment, a suspension from reality and a skewed perspective to make light of other situations and experiences. When I get up and leave, I can appreciate it for that, but still walk away knowing the material is, in itself offensive.

    By the time we come to the point of blaming the artist its already too late as these people already have accepting and supporting fan bases. A better use of time an blog space might to focus on encouraging people to develop their own abilities to choose and craft filters of their own. To recognize what something is in its own regard without allowing it to sway them one way or another. To encourage a deeper level of self awareness and personal responsibility within others who will take ownership of their actions. This in itself will lead to a lot more people opting out of preconceived notions and the “rape culture”.

    Pointing at something and shouting that its horrible does nothing if too many people are willing to say it isn’t. That’s unfortunately just how art is. Instead, perhaps we have to take the harder, longer road, and teach people to step back and be more proactive in their identities and choices. If this were to happen, a comedian could tell a joke and it would fall on an audience with no affect.

    Sam Morril writes his comedy toward the audience that supports his humor, just as you craft your writing to an audience that will support your perspective, just as some guy in New York paints with fecal matter toward an audience who thinks its terrific. That doesn’t mean I will change my views or actions on anything. It’s all subjective and its all open toward the opinion of the person consuming the content.

    What matters is how we educate the person consuming the content and how they interpret it.

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