Knockout Barstool, a group formed to protest the Northeastern date of the Barstool Sports Blackout Tour, a party at the House of Blues tonight, has garnered quite a bit of attention this week. The Knockout Barstool letter was published on the News website Jan. 28 was referenced on popular feminist website Jezebel, as well as Boston news sources Universal Hub and BostInno.
The letter divided those interested in a typical way – the “Stoolies” see it as an attack on their good time. With a few choice words from David “El Presidente” Portnoy like “group of 5 fatzo’s who probably didn’t get invited to prom want the school to denounce it,” they’ve managed to paint Knockout Barstool into a straw feminist corner, and, employing their trademark immaturity, make light of the issues Knockout Barstool brings to the table. Example: “I don’t know what misogyny means but if it’s good we’re it and if it’s bad we’re not.” El Pres, kudos for building a small media empire without understanding five-dollar words, but you make it exceedingly easy to hate the patriarchy.
Knockout Barstool and its supporters, which Barstool deemed “ugly, hairy, lunatics,” are on the other side. They found Barstool Sports’ language extremely offensive and decided to do something about it. Some quick examples of Barstool Sports condoning rape culture: “We don’t condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties in mid January. However if a a chick passes out that’s a grey area though” and “Even though I never condone rape if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right? I mean skinny jeans don’t look good on size 0 and 2 chicks, nevermind size 6’s.” The term “rape culture,” by the way, is used to describe the prevalence of attitudes that excuse and make light of rape.
The Stoolies have the First Amendment right to make rape jokes and throw parties. Knockout Barstool has the same right to protest said parties and point out the inherent lack of human decency El Pres and the gang display when they make rape jokes. Free speech is free speech, and any speech, however moral or amoral, should be encouraged. Perhaps some Stoolies will research rape culture. Perhaps some feminists will look into straw feminism. Maybe somebody will learn something after all of this blows over, or maybe not.
The ideas clashing here are huge. Sexual assault is a long-standing issue on campuses everywhere and rape culture needs to be discussed. But it’s a sensitive issue. It cuts deeply into some people’s notions of masculinity and femininity, perhaps uncomfortably so. This animosity is most clearly seen on comment boards, where users have transcended rational, healthy dialogue and gone straight for pure hatred.
The hate manifested itself on the News website when someone used the name “El Pres” to say that he or she would rape the writers of the editorial – a comment The News removed upon reading. Barstool’s follow-up article Knockout’s letter to the editor displayed similar hatred. One commenter addressed the point that sexual assault effects both men and women as the “funniest thing I’ve read all day,” and another said that men who support Knockout Barstool are an embarrassment to the gender. One can almost smell the insecurity radiating off the comment page.
Trolls are trolls regardless of the issue, and should always be ignored, but the trolls on Barstool have taken to posting personal information about Knockout Barstool members, to the point where Knockout members filed harassment reports with police. Personal attacks like this cannot be ignored. It’s irresponsible for Barstool to leave these comments up, and the heated responses seem to negate El Pres’ argument that Knockout is overblowing the issue. In fact, it seems they’ve struck quite the chord.
So people, be people. Let the Blackout Party go into the night, let the protesters point out its flaws, but leave it at that.