AFRICANGLOBE – Comedian Artie Lange directed a series of sexually violent and racist tweets at ESPN First Take’s Cari Champion and the vile tweets are still up.
Lange, who has appeared on ESPN programming as a guest, first tweeted “how f*ckin hot” Champion is before saying how he was trying to mast**bate to her but was interrupted by the constant panning back and forth to her male co-hosts, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. His tweets become sexually abusive and racist while he ranted on about a fantasy he has about the African-decorated African-American reporter.
Here are the sick tweets in the order Lange sent them to Champion:
1. I want the Chick on First Take to laugh at my white d*ck!
2. Here’s the scenario I’m using to j*rkoff to chick on First Take I’m T. Jefferson & she’s my slave. She beats the sh*t out of me & runs free
3. Then I c*m and she’s free! The Happiest ending ever!
4. Then as reparations I make Skip Baylis my slave!
5. This is a God Damn mini series!
6. Your thoughts?
7. Podcast in 3 weeks
8. Hey @CariChampion lets me and you get busy!
9. I attempt to whip @CariChampion cuz she disrespected the Jefferson Plantation but she grabs whip & beats me I c*m like a fat founding father
10. After having 8 illegitimate kids together @CariChampion & I marry at The Knights of Columbus in Linden New Jersey. Prob with that?! F- Off!
With exception of Buzzfeed, a few Black websites and criticism from people on Twitter, there has been no mainstream criticism of Lange’s behavior. Comedy Central or ESPN haven’t responded to the tweets and Champion hasn’t tweeted anything in response either.
While Lange is a shock jock personality, his repeated mentioning of violent sexual fantasies against a prominent television reporter and host crossed the line. There is nothing funny about parodying the rape of Black women by White men who used the legalized institution of slavery to do so. And yes, slavery was used to rape Black women. That’s not comedy, that’s sexual violence resurrected for Lange’s sick pleasure at Champion’s expense.
Moreover, his tweets are a form of online sexual harassment. I previously wrote about online harassment against women and how terrifying it can be for women on social media:
“According to Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA), a volunteer organization that has tracked online harassment since 2000, 70 percent of the more than 4,000 people who have filed online harassment cases are women. Online users with feminine usernames are particularly vulnerable to online attacks. In 2006, the University of Maryland onducted a study in which researchers created fake online accounts and entered them into chat rooms. An average of 100 threatening or sexually explicit messages were directed at users with feminine usernames each day; masculine usernames incurred a mere 3.7 in comparison.”
Sexual violence against women is very real offline as well. Women have a one in five chance of being raped in their lifetimes and a 1 in 4 chance of being assaulted by an intimate partner.
What is equally disturbing is how so few people have come to Champion’s defense. There is a feeling among many Black women that, had such sexist tweets been targeted at ESPN’s more prominent White personalities, the public response would have been far more immediate and intense against Lange.
Pia Glenn, an African American actress, said that being a Black woman online means she often deals with racism and sexism.
“It takes fewer back-and-forth vollies to get to ‘n*gger bitch,’ ‘n*gger cunt,'” she said. “I’ve had lynching threats. People send me terrible historical pictures of our ancestors being lynched. So proportionately speaking, if you’re not a person of color, you will not get that. Let’s say there are 100 insults in the world, there are more of them that apply to us. When a White woman gets terrible harassment about being raped, attacked or killed, that’s very serious as well. But there’s no way she can get the lynching threats with historical pictures of Black people. So there’s a whole other section of ugly, hideous things people feel they can say to us.”
The tweets are still live on Lange’s timeline and many people have even chimed in to share how funny they think the tweets are. According to Comedy Central’s website, Lange is a regular on its various television programs. It should be made clear that the network will not tolerate sexual violence against women that is paraded as comedy.
While many may be quick to point to the racism of Lange’s tweets, we can’t prioritize the racism of his remarks over their sexually violent nature. Cari Champion is a woman and her right to engage her followers online should not be interruped by violence falsly disguised as humor.
By: Terrell Jermaine Starr