Richard Herring fails to dig his way out of a rape-joke shaped hole

Richard Herring can't dig his way out of a rape-joke shaped hole

An article in yesterday's Metro sparked a confrontation with comedian Richard Herring, which he didn't come out of unscathed.

Storified by Alex Hern · Wed, Jul 11 2012 04:21:49

The article that Herring wrote was published yesterday, but it took Lykara Ryder to report it on Twitter before anyone really noticed:
In yesterday's Metro, Richard Herring wrote about how comedians deal with hecklers. He apparently told one loudly talking woman: [1/3]Lykara Ryder
'You're the one woman in the world where a man would put Rohypnol in your drink and then leave you in the pub.' [2/3]Lykara Ryder
Now, excuse my redacted diction, but WHAT. THE. ****. Why did he say it? Why did Metro print it? Does anyone find this funny? [3/3]Lykara Ryder
Given the opportunity to defend himself, Herring deflects the concern of the first person to raise the issue, Sophia McDougall:
@Lykarar WHAT. @Herring1967, after all your work on the hatefulness of Gervais's ableism, you pull misogynist "too ugly to be raped" jokes?Sophia McDougall
@McDougallSophia that's not what the joke is about at all. Read it again and think harder.Richard Herring
@Herring1967 Okay, read it again, I guess the point was no so much "too ugly" as "a rape drug would be a great way to shut you up."Sophia McDougall
Judging by Herring's replies, McDougall's reading of the joke is the one he intended. But he denies that "a rape drug would be a great way to shut you up" is a joke about rape:
@Herring1967 You know there's a 1/4 chance the woman had BEEN raped? & that some women in yr audience definitely would've been? Still funny?Sophia McDougall
@McDougallSophia The joke is not about rape.Richard Herring
At this point, Herring's wife apparently intervenes, noticing him digging himself into a hole. Sadly, he doesn't take her advice:
@McDougallSophia my feminist wife says I have to stop engaging with you. Sorry you didn't like joke. I think you have misunderstood intent.Richard Herring
@Herring1967 @McDougallSophia 'How can I be sexist? My wife's a feminist.' Ah come on...Owen Jones
@OwenJones84 and so am IRichard Herring
@Herring1967 Fair enough, but you can do better than a 'my wife's a feminist' defenceOwen Jones
@OwenJones84 it wasn't meant to be a defence.Richard Herring
When Laurie Penny joins in, Herring finds himself with some "defenders" her probably doesn't want.
.@Herring1967 joked' You’re the one woman in the world where a man would put Rohypnol in your drink and then leave you in the pub.’ ugh.Laurie Penny
@PennyRed @Herring1967 except it's not about rape, it's about the female in the joke being fugly.Scott Flanagan
@FLANANANAGAN no it isn't. It's about her being talkative.Richard Herring
And in his last tweet before he finally realises that it's impossible to dig up, Herring makes the hole that much deeper:
@Herring1967 What was the intent of your joke? @McDougallSophiaMore Thought
@Moretht to get someone to be quietRichard Herring
What do you think? Is Herring joking about rape, or is it a more innocent line to a heckler which has been unfortunately misconstrued?

Richard Herring. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.