How Not To Make A Rape Joke

Or an Auschwitz joke, or a Newtown joke... basically, any situation that brings up a lot of painful feelings. I'm a firm believer that you can write jokes that touch on any of these subjects, and have them actually be funny. All you have to do is follow this one simple rule:

NEVER make fun of a victim.

Which, it seems, a lot of people have opted to do in the wake of a Colorado legislator suggesting that women carrying concealed firearms may not be the best rape prevention method. If you find yourself with an unusually high opinion of humanity at the moment and want to get back to a more realistic level, this should do the trick: #LiberalTips2AvoidRape. I have no idea why right-wingers in the US continue to push this stuff after the absolute thrashing it earned them last November, but to each their own. I'm not inclined to declare war on women because men who do tend to lose.

The comments that triggered this display can be found here. The way this guy worded his concerns was, to put it mildly, poor, but I think he's right to be opposed to the idea that firearms are a good thing to have in situations that involve fear, uncertainty, and the possibility of violence. Screaming, having a whistle, call boxes... all good ideas, but maybe not an effective deterrent to someone determined to do something really really bad. Bear mace, on the other hand... is. I once played around with milder stuff on a dare, and I don't see how anyone could take a face full of the real stuff and not be utterly neutralized as a threat for at least 20 minutes. Denying people the right or means to self-defence doesn't make anyone safer, but suggesting that lethal force is an acceptable means of self-defence when there are non-lethal alternatives that are just as effective doesn't strike me as much better.

It goes without saying that being a guy, I simply don't know what it's like to be in the specific situation brought up by Rep. Salazar. But I've walked down dark streets at night and felt uneasy about someone keeping pace behind me, even though nothing bad came of it. I'm sure that I've unknowingly been the person on the other side of the equation for people - I meant no harm, but there's a primal uneasiness to being out at night, and if that uneasiness turns into fear turns into pulling a gun on someone who wasn't expecting it, the stakes of any situation immediately become life or death. If I have a gun, I'm walking home, and someone I've never met freaks out and pulls a gun on me, would I pull out my gun? Would I use words to try and de-escalate the situation? I have no idea. I'm generally pretty cool-headed but I've never been confronted with the possibility that my life could be ended in a split-second if someone I don't know or trust has a hand spasm. And what if "please put your gun away" is taken as a threat?

If people in the US are serious about curbing gun violence, they need to accept that none of us as rational or in control of our impulses as we'd like to be. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. Blasting someone who meant no harm in the face with pepper spray sucks, but their parents won't lose a child if you do. It's a game analogy but it's the best one I've got: if people want less death in their communities, they need to look at nerfing everyone's DPS.


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