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Joan Rivers Doesn’t Apologize For Joke About Ohio Kidnapped Women

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

I love comedians, but where should they draw the line?  Some are asking this about Joan Rivers, who refused to apologize for a joke about kidnapper Ariel Castro’s victims.

Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa were on the Today Show Tuesday, talking about their reality show on WE television’s “Joan and Melissa:  Joan Knows Best?”  When it came down to their living conditions with Joan staying in Melissa’s spare bedroom, Joan, who never misses an opportunity to get in a quirk, said “I’m still in the same stupid little room.  I mean, those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space…it’s just the worst!”

The worst was probably when she said that statement. She was referring to the 3 Ohio girls who were kidnapped, brutally tortured and raped, and isolated from the rest of the world for over a decade, until, through a miracle, they all escaped.  After her interview on the Today Show, many were outraged, including Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, 2 of the 3 women who were kidnapped.  Lawyers for these 2 women came out with a statement saying that Joan’s comments where “hurtful and shocking” and asked for an apology from Joan.

Joan not only refused to apologize, she told TMZ that those girls shouldn’t complain, saying, “They got to live rent free for more than a decade…”  She also told the Cleveland, Ohio newspaper, “Cleveland Plain Dealer,” that “I’m a comedienne; I know what those girls went through.  It was a little, stupid joke.  There’s nothing to apologize for.  I made a joke.  That’s what I do.  Calm down…they’re free, so let’s move on…”

I know that comedians do what they do–tell jokes and make fun of things around them–but did Joan Rivers cross the line?  There’s been many others who have, for lack of a better term, “bite the bullet” by saying things that wished they could take back.

Comedian Gilbert Gotfried lost his voice job as the “Aflac Duck” because of comments he made about the Japanese Tsunami. He thought he’d get some laughs, but instead, he lost his job.

Michael Richards, a.k.a. “Kramer” on Seinfeld, was doing a comedy stint in a club long after his Seinfeld days.  He slammed someone in the audience who was talking while he was doing his comedy stint, hurling racial slurs him–slurs he tearfully and publicly apologized for–but never quite bounced back after the incident.

Then there’s Paula Deen, whose major career as the “Southern Bell of the Food Network” literally fell after being accused by a former employee of making racial slurs. Paula has yet to bounce back to stardom, at least not to the heights that she once had.

Could this be the demise of Joan Rivers? Or do you think she’s right, that she’s a comedienne who, when it comes to making jokes about anything, should be able to say anything? Because in her words…”That’s what I do…” is acceptable.

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