The Slatest

Obama Says Prison Rape Jokes Are “Unacceptable”

President Obama at the NAACP convention in Philadelphia.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

President Obama spoke about criminal justice reform Tuesday afternoon to an audience at the NAACP’s national convention in Philadelphia. The president addressed a number of controversial topics related to the United States’ unusually high incarceration rate, and the meaning of his speech in its totality will surely be covered by Slate and other news outlets. One line, though, stuck out not just for the force with which Obama delivered it but because it took a position on an issue that’s not a matter of public policy, but of good taste:

We should not be tolerating rape in prison. And we should not be making jokes about it in our popular culture. That’s no joke. These things are unacceptable.

John Oliver and Gawker, among others, have previously made the case that the serious problem of prison rape is too often treated as a lowbrow punchline.