People who combat rape for a living were less than amused by Jerry Seinfeld‘s uncharacteristic foray into shock humor today.
Promoting his new animated film, Bee Movie, in the New York Daily News today, the usually family-friendly comic quipped, “Bees have the only perfect society on earth … They have no crime, they have no drugs, they have no rape. A little rape, but it’s not that bad.”
Karen Baker, director of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, says she has trouble understanding why Seinfeld would make such a joke, particularly in the context of a film for children. “It surprised me, frankly, because I’ve always been a Jerry Seinfeld fan,” she says. “With what I hear about every single day, I don’t find anything at all funny about rape, and I don’t like it being made light of. I understand he’s a comedian and he’s inclined to find humor in everything, but it was offensive.”
Margaret Mikkelsen, the executive director of Students Active For Ending Rape, had a similar reaction. “I’ve always been a fan of Jerry Seinfeld, but I’m not a fan of rape jokes, whoever’s telling them,” she says. “Working in the anti-violence field, we get accused of not having a sense of humor. But just because you’re a comedian doesn’t mean that everything that comes out of your mouth is funny.”
Meanwhile, RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, responded with an admonitory statement: “Rape is not a joke. It’s the most violent crime a person can live through. It is an incredibly traumatic experience that should be seriously treated and never made light of.”
A rep for Seinfeld hasn’t responded to a request for comment. But don’t be surprised if he issues a rapid—and not-so-heartfelt—mea culpa. In the same News story, Seinfeld is quoted saying, “When you’re a married guy, one thing you learn is it’s no big deal to apologize…. It really makes everybody feel better. So you apologize. You don’t even have to mean it!”