Freedom of expression is an important foundation to the rights of this country. However, when words can incite people to cause potential harm to themselves or others, they should be scrutinized.
According to Jezebel, Daniel Tosh of Tosh.O on Comedy Central, “asks viewers to record themselves sneaking up behind women and "lightly touch" their stomachs, deserves our attention for the way Tosh goes out of his way to stress that this touching should be unprovoked, non-consensual, and — hopefully, in best case scenarios! — shame inducing.”
Outside of any misogynistic issues, as someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for over half of my life, I am horrified by this clip because of the potentially damaging and triggering effect it could have on the millions of American women and men affected by the disease.
Body image and eating disorders are not something to take lightly or poke fun at. It is a common fact that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and the media largely ignores these issues. Individual’s bodies should never be allowed for the sake of comedy, much less be touched in anyway by someone they do not know. Instead of disparaging individuals’ for their body make up, we as a society need to demand the media and the corporations that run them to promote healthy lifestyles which evolve around nourishing foods and activities.
Comedy Central should be aware of potential harm and embarrassment that this type of “prank” can cause an individual. These videos are not funny, they are not entertainment, and frankly these types of activities used as a “prank” on an unknown individual without their consent could be punishable by law.
Because of the reasons stated above, I immediately call for Viacom Entertainment Group, Comedy Central and Tosh.O to
1) rescind the comments of Tosh.O,
2) no longer accept any videos submitted by viewers,
3) destroy any existing videos in his or Comedy Central’s possession, and,
4) publicly apologize to those individuals who had videos shown of strangers touching their bodies without their consent.
To do so would fall within in Viacom’s own corporate responsibility campaign, which includes a health and wellness component with the slogan, “Be Well. Live Well.” Which states “When it comes to an individual’s physical and mental well-being, Viacom is committed to educating its audiences and effecting change. Whether it’s addressing HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, cyberbullying, preventive care or mental health, we’re always in the forefront. Reach out to our viewers and partners to foster a productive dialogue and bring a greater understanding to these important and often challenging topics.”
I again stress that Viacom, the parent company to Comedy Central address the issues set forth in this petition immediately and live up to their own promise of corporate responsibility.