Controversy has forced comedienne Amy Schumer to distance herself from a writer on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer who defended a fellow comedian against allegations of sexual misconduct. The writer criticized “internet vigilantes” for condemning the accused without any evidence, and now is himself being slammed as a “rape apologist.” The whole sordid affair is emblematic of the dangers of the social media mob mentality, particularly in a time of hyper-sensitivity to the pervasive conception that we inhabit a rape culture.
The controversy began when comedian Aaron Glaser apparently was banned recently from the famed improv theater Upright Citizens Brigade after an internal UCB investigation into allegations that he had raped one or more women. He spoke out about the incident, which he referred to as a “witch hunt,” in a now-deleted Facebook post: “I know these are serious accusations, and I know they are untrue.”
Glaser went on to write that UCB banned him based solely on the word of the women without providing him any details of the accusers or accusations or any opportunity to defend himself. UCB is “asking me to prove to them that I’m not a rapist,” he complained, and said he has now been banned from other comedy clubs, “not one of which contacted me to ask whether the allegations were untrue.” “I am being deemed a sexual predator,” he wrote, “and my life is being ruined by accusations, not findings.”
Amy Schumer got dragged into the issue when, in a subsequent series of hyperbolically sarcastic and angry Facebook and Twitter rants, her writer Kurt Metzger defended Glaser’s right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. The social media mob immediately swarmed, labeling him a “rape apologist” and urging Schumer to fire him. She washed her hands of it by declaring that though she was “saddened and disappointed” by his comments, he is not her writer anymore because her show is ending and “there are no writers.”
It is doubtful that Metzger’s profane ranting won any converts to his side; neither did his apparent history of misogynistic social media volleys, which The Daily Beast detailed. In a Facebook post, he later apologized for using inflammatory language and stressed that he was not being dismissive of actual victims of sexual assault. “I was talking to the perennial social media mob who, without knowing victim or accused, GLEEFULLY want to be part of social mob justice.”