The world was shocked this week when controversial comedienne and plastic surgery disaster Joan Rivers declined to apologize for a joke in poor taste she told on The Today Show. Rivers humorously compared the lack of space she has while living with her daughter Melissa to the conditions under which the Cleveland kidnapping victims of Ariel Castro were held, breaking at least a dozen rules in the official "jokes that are okay" rule book that all people attempting to be funny are required to abide by. This alone, of course, isn't unusual, as people accidentally break the cardinal rule of humor - don't offend anyone in any way - all the time.
However, while anyone else in such an unfortunate scenario would quickly issue a heartfelt apology, Rivers refused to back down,instead continued the vicious and brutal attack, telling TMZ of two of the victims: "One of them has a book deal. Neither are in a psych ward. They're ok. I bet you within 3 years one of them will be on Dancing with the Stars."
"How dare she?!" wondered millions of horrified people around the country who had not even seen the original jokes on the Today Show, and were aware of their existence only through the second and third-hand outrage permeating the entire American media all week long. Rivers was responding to a sternly worded statement issued Wednesday by the lawyers of two of the victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus:
Our clients have become aware of Joan Rivers’ unfortunate comparison of living in her daughter’s guest room to their captivity. We understand that Ms. Rivers is a comedienne; however, the idea that a celebrity would say something this hurtful, on national television, no less, is beyond shocking and disappointing.
Our clients are strong, private women who have endured unwanted and often painful media attention for quite some time. They now have to endure this, which is a new low, and we believe a sincere apology is warranted.
However, despite the fact that the statement clearly explained for all to see that being referenced in a joke by an eighty year old comedienne is worse than what the women had to endure under captivity - a "new low" - Rivers responded, inexplicably, with the even more outrageous claim that the women were not actually harmed by her joke:
I’m a comedienne. I know what those girls went through. It was a little, stupid joke. There is nothing to apologize for. I made a joke. That’s what I do. Calm down. Calm fucking down. I’m a comedienne. They’re free, so let’s move on.
If people are making jokes about these women, can they ever really be "free?" Surely, Joan Rivers should see that making a joke that people don't like or find to be in poor taste is as just as bad as condoning the women's horrible experience, or even kidnapping them herself. If it were simply a matter of accepting that a joke may not be to one's liking, but not necessarily a horrendous hate crime demanding of a public humiliation and pleas for forgiveness, then surely this would have all just blown over, and bastion of journalistic responsibility USA Today wouldn't have needed to publish a list of the top seven times Joan Rivers has "gone too far."
No. This is the worst thing anyone has ever done in the history of human civilization, and Joan Rivers needs to apologize.
But she won't.
Can she do that?
"I've never seen anything like it," said a puzzled Thaddeus T. Puffinbottoms, professor of Criminal Thought Justice at the prestigious University of Phoenix. "When someone makes a joke that offends someone else, they must apologize and grovel for forgiveness. That's the way it's always been. Joan Rivers is defying the laws of nature."
So there isn't any situation, ever, where people who are offended are overreacting.
"No," Puffinbottoms assured us. "They are always right, and you always have to apologize."
Good lord, Joan. Do you honestly think that as a pioneer of comedy with a legendary career as one of the all time comedy greats, you know more about comedy than the perpetually outraged blogosphere and mainstream media?
Luckily, the hosts of the Today Show apologized in place of Rivers Friday morning, promising viewers that they were also upset and horrified by the "attempted joke, if you can call it that." The rest of the media then continued to run story after story about it, repeatedly referring to the kidnap victims' story as the "Cleveland House of Horrors," a respectful term that in no way sensationalizes their plight. The media circus surrounding the week's events is almost as big as the one created to exploit the women and their story for ratings in the month after they were first rescued, which was also, of course, completely appropriate and in no way anywhere near as bad as making a humorous remark.
That's why the media has every right to criticize Rivers for making her "joke," and we here at The Outhouse hope that Rivers is brought to justice before she hurts anyone else with her words. In fact, even though we had nothing to do with it, we'd like to apologize for her actions too, as well as for any offensive things she or anyone else might say in the future. We condemn all of these future hypothetically offensive actions, and we only hope that, once they've been made, we can all find a way to move past the pain and return to some semblance of a normal, boring, unoffensive life.