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by Alison Willmore
May 31, 2013 2:46 PM
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Watch: Comedian Jim Norton and Jezebel's Lindy West Debate the Ethics of Rape Jokes on 'Totally Biased'

FX's late night series "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" has been finding a rhythm for itself with topical jokes and interesting interview choices that aren't afraid to venture into politics and race. The show returned from hiatus earlier this month and last night offered up one of its most interesting segments yet by inviting comedian Jim Norton and Jezebel staff writer Lindy West to debate a subject that's been a favorite of media discussions lately -- what things are off limits when it comes to comedy and, specifically, the ethics of rape jokes.

READ MORE: W. Kamau Bell Talks 'Totally Biased,' Learning to Speak Talk Show Host and the Best Places to Be a Black Hipster

Only five minutes of the "first edition of comic versus feminist" conversation made it into the show, but FX has posted the full version online, and you can watch it below. It's a civil debate that's worth a look -- unlike the comments on the video on YouTube, which are even uglier than normal, and all about West's weight and attractiveness. They end up feeling like they make her argument about how comedy clubs can be a hostile place for women for her.


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7 Comments

  • Barbara | June 3, 2013 3:59 PMReply

    They both make good points and I find it difficult to take either side but I will say that it upsets me that she does not acknowledge when he does make a valid point. At the same time, I understand why she is adamant about the subject and unrelenting in her stance. The reality of our society's rape culture is too stark to ignore, and as a commenter below said, the subject is often swathed in gray areas. That's where the difference between rape jokes and AIDS jokes lie.

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  • C.S.Strowbridge | June 1, 2013 3:18 PMReply

    I think there is a difference between rape and just about every other subject for one hugely important reason. If you have AIDS or Cancer, no one is going to argue that you don't really have AIDS. If you are in a dangerous part of town and you get robbed, no one is going to argue that you didn't really get robbed. But when a woman, or man, gets raped, there are a lot of people who are going to tell her she didn't really get raped, because she asked for it. Rape is rape because there's no informed consent. If you say a victim asked for it, you are implicitly saying they consented by their action.

  • Justin | June 4, 2013 1:14 PM

    This actually isn't true. There are serious, serious, AIDS deniers out there. Including one top-notch (albeit, now ostracized) scientist at UC Berkeley.

  • Greg | June 2, 2013 11:43 AM

    "Rape" is an umbrella term that describes a huge variety of situations. Labeling something as rape is much more eye-of-the-beholder than AIDS or cancer.

    A better analogy would be mental health. Some mental health problems are obvious and severe, others are hidden and mild. A lot of people who have been diagnosed with mental health problems are told by family/friends that their condition isn't real, or that they're exaggerating its severity.

    I can't remember ever hearing an uproar over a mental health joke, and I DEFINITELY have never heard anyone argue that mental health is categorically unfunny.

  • 6 100 | June 2, 2013 1:14 AM

    I'm calling shenanigans. People will argue that you were asking for it in the case of the robbery or STI infection. I've never heard of informed consent regarding those 2 situations