The Oatmeal, And How Not To Apologize For A Casual Rape Joke.

UPDATE: Since (or perhaps a few minutes before) I published this, Matthew Inman has removed the comments I quoted below and replaced them with the following: "The final panel to this comic has been removed, and so was my "defense" of it. Neither one was particularly clever. I make comics to make people laugh, not to upset them. To anyone who was upset by it: I'm sorry."

* * *

The Oatmeal is a hugely popular online comic site that I've found funny before. Matthew Inman, its creator, published a comic titled, "The delicate relationship I have with my keyboard." It contained the line:

Every time the internet does not perform as expected, I rape the shit out of my F5 key.

We see the word "rape" used as a casual colloquialism all the time in bro culture. If you lost badly in a video game, you got raped. One-sided fantasy football trades are "trade rape." Et cetera. Ask yourself how often you've heard a dude say that, and then ask yourself how many times you've heard a lady say that. To ... quite a few among us, that's a pretty upsetting trivialization of a tragedy that's devastating and heartbreakingly common. It's also criminally misunderstood. Lots of men are still hung up on what rape even is. Toying with that word isn't helping.

But that, it seems, is acceptable for the sake of making a hilarious joke that nobody else has made. That's what's getting me: you're willing to trivialize something so awful for the sake of puppeting a joke made a million times already? So your vocabulary can mirror the collective vocabulary of all the vanilla-assed Guys On The Internet?

That's what Inman did, and he received plenty of crud for it. In lieu of an apology, Inman issued whatever the shit this is:

The final panel to this comic has been removed.

I've made jokes about genocide, war, third world starvation, death, killing the elderly, sodomy, and infanticide, but apparently saying "Every time the internet does not perform as expected, I rape the shit out of my F5 key" was too offensive for many people.

If you're asking me for my opinion, I'm not particularly interested in jokes about most of those things, either, but I don't know that Offensive Subject Matter Power Rankings 2K12 is gonna be all that productive. Rape is horrible. I don't care whether it's more or less horrible than some other damn thing, because that's not what we're talking about.

Ever since Daniel Tosh made an ass out of himself by making a shitty, unfunny rape joke onstage, now anytime a comedian says the word rape everyone jumps out of their seats in protest.

rip anti-rape joke sentiment: july 10th, 2012 - december 3rd, 2012. it died today because the rape joke was hilarious rip

I don't want to eternally have to keep reading complaints about the final panel to this comic, so I've removed it. Apparently calling my F5 key a rape victim is on the naughty word list by too many people.

Oh goodness, I think we're getting to the bottom of this. "Rape" isn't a cuss word. It isn't "shit." Does he think people are offended because it's impolite?

Nevermind the fact that I actually put my money where my mouth is and donated $1,000 of my own money to a battered women's group earlier this year, what appears to be more important to most people is that I strictly adhere to G-rated vocabulary.

Welp, it's neat that he did that, and it's a good thing the value of the dollar doesn't rise and fall by the spender's ability to comprehend what the hell's going on here. I want to think that Inman really does want to do the right thing ... then again, I think he's a smart person, and smart people typically don't miss the point for this long unless they're not interested in getting it.

Once again, dude: this isn't about being the Magic Evil Word Police. It's about letting you know that trivializing the word "rape" is heartless. And that isn't a function of how harmful or harmless you reckoned it to be when you said it. It just is.

To all those who complained: thank you for censoring me. It worked.

OK, listen: I, like Inman, am a privileged straight white dude who produces content on the Internet for a living. There are ups and downs to this line of work, as there is with any, but we have it very good. We are obscenely privileged. Crying victim because people are upset about your rape joke? If you really can't deal with this, I might suggest not playing with words you don't entirely get.

You can go back to reading The Family Circus now.

I am generally reticent to bag on someone as I have here, but this little "fuck you" of a sign-off put any doubts to bed. Are you gonna be a giant baby about this forever, or are you ever gonna try to learn something about this? Because as it is, there are no neighborhood adventures to be had, no dotted lines that need drawing. You're just fuckin' standing there.

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