You can do worse than a notpology
In one of her big Sunday link-collection posts, Natalie Reed had what she termed a “call to arms” about the Green Light Show March 2nd episode. Go to Natalie for the full story. I think their Facebook post really encapsulates the problem:
In case you’re not aware, we’ve recently been under attack regarding our “Tranny” conversation on the 03-02-12 episode. We’ve had threats, hate mail, and comments posted on our website – all because we said “Trannies are weird” and that we would “punch a tranny in the face” if we took one home, things got sexual, and then we found out they were “transgendered”.
This wasn’t hate speech. And we weren’t promoting violence against anyone. If you understand where we’re coming from, please have our backs by commenting on the episode at http://greenlightshow.com/episode/gls-03-02-12/
This is actually just a small sampling of things they said, but you get the idea. There are so many problems in these five sentences that it’s hard to know were to begin. I suppose I should address the obvious first. Hard as is may be to believe, this is not an ironic joke about the obliviousness of transphobes. This is the reason Poe’s law exists. I am actually reminded of something Kazim wrote a month ago about how horrible people don’t realize they’re horrible.
Because you’re already used to regarding people who react badly to racism as “hypersensitive,” when you get even more of those negative reactions you just shift further in the direction of blaming them.
“What the hell?” you’ll eventually write. ”When did the world get so blasted sensitive and politically correct? I can’t even make jokes about lynching a nigger without the thought police jumping all over me!”
Kazim here was trying to come up with an example so ridiculous that everyone in the audience would immediately understand it was completely ridiculous. The Green Light Show managed to make a nearly identical claim with a straight face, though. In fact, theirs is worse as lynching is a mostly historical problem whereas their joke scenario is identical to the murder of Gwen Araujo, which was relatively recent.
I encourage you to go to the Green Light Show’s page and read the comments and try to find the threats. The closest I could find was this from Natalie:
[I] recommend you think a bit, too, such as “Hmmm, so does my definition of sex mean I’d cease being a ‘dude’ if i lost my dick to infection, cancer, an accident or disfigurement (say from a trans women who i was trying to beat the shit out of?). ta.
It’s amazing that this is a threat, but their stated intent to “punch a tranny in the face” is not. Double standard much?
The really telling thing to me is how they are handling this afterward. Plenty of comedians have said stupid things. Comedy can be dicey. A lot of times you express sentiments to mock them rather than because you mean them. For instance, no one is going to read MaryAnn Johansen’s review of Sucker Punch I linked to the other day and conclude she’s a raging misogynist. She’s commenting on misogyny in Hollywood by taking on persona. Some people are just insensitive, too. Think of Michael Richards and Tracy Morgan‘s rather disastrous racist and homophobic jokes, respectively and their sincere, if clueless, attempts at apologies. Then, you get people like Rush Limbaugh, who enjoy being bullies and hide behind the comedy label, but also understand that bullying is generally frowned upon and will issue a notpology and claim they have lots of respect for whatever group they offended if too much shit gets stirred up.
The Green Light show isn’t even doing that. There’s no “I’m sorry that your feeling were hurt” or “My tranny friends all thought it was hilarious.” The only defense offered seems to be “It was just a joke.” The problem is that’s not a defense. Comedy shouldn’t be taken too literally, but it does mean something. They’re basically saying “I would really beat up a trans person, but the idea of beating up a trans person is funny. Also, verbally abusing them is funny. I don’t care if their feelings get hurt because they don’t matter.” There’s no indication they were performing as characters in order to criticize ideas or something. They’re just mean-spirited hacks who thought it would be amusing to take shots at a vulnerable group. I have news for them: This isn’t like Pat Condell shooting off his mouth, then sending his fans to mob anyone who dares call him a racist. The Green Light Show is small fry. They don’t even have a Wikipedia page. There are lots of people who care about trans rights. They are the vulnerable minority here. Of course, they seem to be gearing up for the basic hypocrite’s gambit that they have free speech and criticizing them isn’t free speech, but oppression. I’m keeping an eye on them.