Rape ‘comedy’ debate shut down after social media backlash

A comedy debate about whether rape is funny has been cancelled after a furious backlash on social media.

Participant Rob Caruana has apologised for his ‘‘stupid mistake’’ after hundreds criticised the event.

Richmond’s Station 59 was to host the November 14 debate, titled There’s nothing funny about rape: a comedy debate’’ next Wednesday, featuring comedian Danny Stinson as adjudicator and an all-male panel of eight debaters.

A poster advertising the debate depicts a man and a woman in an uncomfortable pose.

SEE: Comedy audience heckles rape survivor

The event prompted Twitter posts and hundreds of posts on its Facebook page,  many calling on organisers to cancel it as it was ‘‘bad taste’’ and ‘‘nasty’’. They also criticised the choice of an all-male panel.

‘‘Not cool. Not funny. Not going,’’ Sky Mykyta posted on Facebook.

Simon Imagin posted: ‘‘Too unbelievably stupid for words. Totally uncool and makes me feel sick.’’

The Facebook page for the event was taken down within hours.

The pub’s owner, Michael Giacomi, told MTW he did not condone the event, which he said had been organised without his knowledge or consent.

He said he cancelled the debate within half an hour of being told about it by members of the public.

‘‘It was all done behind my back,’’ said Mr Giacomi. ‘‘Normally those things pass through but this one didn’t. I apologise to everyone.’’

He also posted an apology on his venue’s Facebook page.

The cancellation and apology hasn’t stopped a long online debate, withsocial media users criticising the performers and the culture of  ‘‘edgy’’ comedy about rape and assault.

Rob Caruana, who was to have taken part in the debate on the negative side, also issued an apology, admitting he had  ‘‘screwed up’’.

‘‘I did not think before I posted that image, and I completely understand why it upset people. I should have been aware, and it was a very stupid mistake.’’

Another would-be performer at the debate, Alan Driscoll, was less conciliatory, posting: ‘‘What exactly have I personally done that was wrong?’’

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