British comedian Russell Brand has described his “loathing” for the act of tickling children, and suggested that those who do it without consent should be punched in the face.
While debates are ongoing regarding how evil or dangerous a person has to be to merit a fist in the face, the 43-year-old comedian set the bar on retaliatory violence pretty low, saying he would punch anyone who tickled his daughters.
“[Tickling] is an attempt to subvert the child’s bodily autonomy, to take away their right to their own space and peace,” Brand said, defining the word in terms somewhat more grim than Merriam-Webster’s “to touch or stir gently.”
Despite his seemingly strong feelings on the matter, Brand’s hatred of tickling is apparently a recent development. The star said that he had tickled a friend’s son in the past, which leaves him feeling enough “dreadful shame” to make him want to punch himself in the face, which presumably would be a consensual act (both on the part of the actor and among the public).
I can’t stand him. He violates my space when he appears on telly, thank god for remote controls.
— Dave 🕊 (@djmac2467) January 31, 2019
Aside from this extrajudicial punishment for handsy aunts and uncles, the outspoken liberal comedian suggested the practice should be made illegal until a kid is old enough to consent, “which by my reckoning is at 35,” he added.
Imagining Brand’s utopic vision of a world without children’s laughter, some Twitter users were a bit sad to think that some of their favorite childhood memories would no longer meet society’s (or at least Brand’s) ethical standards.
Some felt that Brand might want to give the tickling question a bit more thought in light of professional considerations.
He should be pro tickling, it’s the only way he’ll make people laugh.
— Martin Williams (@topfotogmw) January 31, 2019
Others were unconvinced by Brand’s virtuous preaching, considering that the actor’s own consent track-record is unlikely to hold up in the #MeToo era.
Amazed anyone might have thought Brand was a feminist after the sexist phone messages he and Jonathan Ross left for Andrew Sachs, where Brand bragged about having sex with Sachs’s granddaughter.
— David J McDonagh (@McDonaghDJ) January 20, 2019
Some might question the actor’s parenting skills, but at least he is self-aware enough to know the risks of being left alone with his own kids for too long. Brand told the Sunday Times last month that his wife “respects and cares for [the kids’] safety too much” to leave them alone with him for more than 24 hours, joking that he has a “mystical appreciation” for his daughters, but is “not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food.”
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