By Kate Clinton on July 19, 2012

There seems to be a finite amount of freedom to go around. They gave some to the gays, so they’ve had to cut some from another group. Sadly they’ve had to take some from the ladies. Women are the new gays.

The takebacks include defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding contraceptives, de-personhooding women and other schemes to keep women down. It also doubles as a long-range GOP jobs program. Without childcare or pre-K programs, women with children have to stay home so men can take the jobs.

So called “rape jokes” are part of the takebacks. It’s about taking freedom – of assembly at a comedy club, in this case -- away from women. Kudos to the courageous woman in the audience who said that rape jokes aren’t funny. Her statement is described as heckling. Her simple comment destabilized the daring Tosh. He responded by suggesting a gang rape.

I loathe the band of comic brothers [and sisters] with their mealy-mouthed chickenshit excuses for rape jokes. I loathe the equivalency examples in this national conversation: it would be as if a woman comic made a Bobbitizing joke, and some guy said that’s not funny and then she sicked all the gals with knives in the audience on the complainant. As if.

They talk freedom of speech, lecture about comic tradition and yes they have daughters and girlfriends and it pains them to defend their fellow comic Daniel Tosh but defend him they must.

To review: rape is not about sex. It’s about power and dominance. It’s true of prison rape, child rape, and date rape, which is also a staple of comedy clubs. Comedy does club.

Do not even suggest that I don’t have a sense of humor. Get your rape joke heckle on. It’s apparently quite effective.

If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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