Thanks to Patton Oswalt, the impossible has finally become possible: a man has admitted he is wrong. In a recent blog post titled, “A Closed Letter To Myself About Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes,” the long-time comedian apologized for his previous statements claiming “rape culture” didn’t exist and that people were overreacting to rape jokes in the media. He writes:
I have two initial reactions to Oswalt’s post. The first is simply the obvious. Oswalt is the kind of person everyone should strive to be and not just because he is able to write reflective, thought-provoking blogs on dark subjects and instantly gain the respect of millions of people. (Need I remind everyone of his awesome Facebook post? No? Too bad. I just did.) No, Oswalt is worthy of praise because he did something publicly that not many of us can do even to ourselves or another human being, sometimes. He admitted he was wrong and he did it shamelessly.
Oh how I wish I could have that gift. It would have saved me years of pretending to hate TV things that I actually liked simply because at one point, I had said I hated it and was too scared to admit my opinion had changed (Gilmore Girls, classic hummus, roller coasters: you know I loved you all along, right?). All “stubborn men” jokes aside, Patton exposed his flawed thinking to millions of readers, virtually pointed to it, and said, “Look how wrong that is.” Just imagine if everyone could do that. It would save a lot of failed relationships, if you ask me.
But then came my other reaction, one that many commenters on the post seemed to recognize, as well. By acknowledging that some of his beliefs about rape jokes were insensitive and founded on a lack of knowledge on a subject he knew nothing about, Patton Oswalt was simply being a decent human being. What he did wasn’t necessarily special if you consider that what he said is what everyone else should already be saying. Applauding him for that would be like rewarding a child for not stealing from the cookie jar when we walk out of the room. That kind of thinking should be automatic. In our culture, it’s not. Maybe that’s why we’re so fascinated with his story, after all.
Ultimately, though, I smothered the second reaction in favor of the first because in the end, he did what was right and we don’t see a lot of that happening anymore. While he did stand his ground on some points (one being that Daniel Tosh shouldn’t be criticized for performing the rape joke that started this whole argument, which is debatable), most of what he said holds some very important life lessons. Namely, that it’s okay to be wrong. No, that it’s almost good to be wrong because it can teach you more about the world and yourself.
Was that cheesy enough for you? No? Good, because I’m about to drown you in cheesiness right now. Like, sharp cheese. It might even burn your eyes. Ready? At the end of his post, Oswalt said: “I am a man. I get to be wrong. And I get to change.” Switch “man” with “human” and the world might just have a mantra worth following.
Featured image via NPR.org