Ha, ha… wait.

Flipping through the channels last night, the Better Half and I came upon the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen.  My feelings were that roasting Charlie Sheen is like hunting a caged turkey, but the fascination of watching a slow motion train wreck caused us to pause for a few moments.  I lasted ten minutes before we had to change the channel.

Pardon me while I clutch my pearls, but there was something truly disturbing about the whole ordeal.  It’s not merely that Sheen is a self-destructive mess, whose debauchery makes Anna Nicole Smith look like Florence Nightingale.  He seems far more sad than amusing to me, but sitting around while a bunch of D-listers and has-beens makes fun of him is hardly the worst of his problems.

What’s really bringing out my inner bluenose is the casual way the roasters joked about Sheen’s history of violence toward women.  His abusing his wife and menacing hookers were just two more things to joke about, along with zingers about “tiger blood” and cracks about his rampant drug use.  I don’t care if he hoovers up a mountain of cocaine or drinks enough to give a rhino cirrhosis.  Laugh it up.  But threatening your wife with a knife isn’t funny.

I know, I know.  Hookers are walking punchlines.  But those women Sheen terrorized didn’t exist merely as some abstract comedy concept.  They were actual people, feeling actual fear for themselves.  Being hookers, we laugh at them because hey, they’re hookers!  They kind of asked for it, right?  But women don’t choose a life of prostitution for the glamor, and usually end up there as the result of some pretty damn tragic circumstance or another.  They don’t deserve to be locked in a closet or have their lives threatened any more than anyone else does.

Doubtless I come off as a humorless scold for griping about this, but I really do think it’s shameful to blithely joke about Sheen’s violence against women.  If people want to yuck themselves silly while he melts what remains of his brain and turns his lungs and liver and kidneys into creosote, I couldn’t possibly care less.  Something something free country, and all that.  But it’s a different thing altogether to serially assault women, and laughing along with him makes it far too easy to pretend it’s OK.  It’s really, really not.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. It may sound strange, but I either didn’t know or I forgot about Sheen’s violence toward women.

    But I agree, it’s horrible to joke about it in the way you describe. And you’re right, the “hooker had it coming because she’s a hooker” trope is one trope I can do without.

  2. And what do you say about Brooke Mueller (the ex-wife who made the allegations that he threatened with a knife) who was at the roast and laughted her ass off when they joked about this so called ‘violent’ altercation ? I am a woman and quite feminist and really loathe violence against women but in Sheen case we really don’t know what is true and what is not true..so as an actor i love Charlie Sheen and i respect the way he doesn’t take himself seriously..this roast was awesome by the way.

    • Well, Margot, you’re right. We don’t really know what’s true and what’s not. If the ex-wife in question was there and seemed in on the joke, that does alter things a bit, I suppose.

      That being said, in Sheen’s case, there have been enough allegations of violence from enough women that it seems at least very suspicious. My understanding is that, in one of the more infamous cases, the prostitute Sheen had in his company was found by police locked in the closet. The details may be unknown, but I really doubt the woman locked herself there.

      And the bits of the roast I saw did not conform to my idea of awesomeness. Vive la difference, I suppose.

    • I think what he’s saying is that, as Anime World Order puts it, rape is hilarious but only as a theoretical construct.

      Or, to pull a quote from The Last Psychiatrist and mangle it up and turn it backwards…when Charlie Sheen jokes about getting all coked up and terrorizing hookers, everyone thinks it’s a gas. When he actually gets all coked up and terrorizes hookers, it’s not so funny anymore.

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