Rape joke on Fox cartoons draws attention

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Rape joke on Fox cartoons draws attention
THE SIMPSONS: In a flashback, Grampa tells the family of his past identity as 'Gorgeous Godfrey,' the most feared, villainous man in pro-wrestling history, in the all-new 'Gorgeous Grampa' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, March 3 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
FAMILY GUY: The Griffin family drops in for a visit with the Simpson family in the special one-hour 'The Simpsons Guy' season premiere crossover event (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FAMILY GUY on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
FILE - This Oct. 1, 2011 file photo shows Seth MacFarlane in Los Angeles. NBC announced Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, that Seth MacFarlane will host“Saturday Night Live" for its 38th season premiere on Sept. 15. Musical guest will be Frank Ocean. The multitalented MacFarlane created the Fox series “Family Guy” and serves as writer, producer and voice artist on the show. He recently directed his first feature film, “Ted,” and furnished the voice for its teddy-bear title character. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)
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LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 16: President of Parent Television Council Tim Winter pictured here on January 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Winter has questioned a joke about sexual assault set to air in an upcoming crossover episode of 'The Simpsons' and 'Family Guy' (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: The 'Yellow Badge of Cowardge' Season Finale episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, May 18, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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THE SIMPSONS: Cast member Yeardley Smith and the city of Springfield, OR celebrate THE SIMPSONS 25th ANNIVERSARY with the unveiling of the Simpsons mural during a block party dedication ceremony on the downtown walk of murals on Monday, Aug. 25th, 2014. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
This image released by Fox shows characters from the Fox animated series, "Family Guy." Fox is pulling from websites an episode of "Family Guy" that depicts mass deaths at the Boston Marathon and has no immediate plans to air it again. Fox spokeswoman Gaude Paez says the episode has been removed from Fox.com and Hulu.com. (AP Photo/Fox)
THE SIMPSONS: The Springfield Subatomic Supercollider creates a black hole that terrorizes the city in the 23rd annual 'Treehouse of Horror' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, October 7 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: The Simpson family is excited to try out Homer's new toy in the 'Specs and the City' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
FAMILY GUY: The Griffins' decide to climb Mount Everest in the 'Into Fat Air' Season Ten premiere episode of FAMILY GUY, Sunday, September 30 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: In the 23rd annual 'Treehouse of Horror' episode Bart travels to 1974 to buy a comic book at cover price but inadvertently disrupts Homer and Marge's courtship, leading to Marge pairing up with Artie Ziff (guest voice Jon Lovitz) on THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, October 7 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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THE SIMPSONS: The 'Days of Future Future' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, April 13, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: Stan Lee guest voices as himself in the 'Married to the Blob' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: The 'Yellow Badge of Cowardge' Season Finale episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, May 18, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - JULY 26: Creator Matt Groening poses with Simpson characters at 'The Simpsons' Panel during the 2008 Comic Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 26, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Fox)
This image released by 20th Century Fox Television shows a cartoon image from the "Family Guy" series that was used in a mailer lobbying for best animated program with Emmy voters. The image shows series regular Peter Griffin dressed like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and spoofs Christie's traffic scandal from last year when a Christie aide made reference to causing traffic problems as political retribution in Fort Lee, N.J. Christie denies any involvement in shutting down lanes near the George Washington Bridge, frustrating commuters. (AP Photo/20th Century Fox Television)
FAMILY GUY: The 'He's Bla-ack!' episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, May 11, 2014 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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FAMILY GUY: After Peter accidentally shoots Quagmire on a hunting trip, the two friends clash and Joe must choose a side on the 'Brian's a Bad Father' episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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FAMILY GUY: The 'Meg Stinks!' episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, May 4, 2014 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
FAMILY GUY: Peter and the guys go on a quest to find God and ask Him to stop interfering with the outcome of professional football games in the '3 Acts of God' episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, March 16, 2014 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
THE SIMPSONS: In a flashback, Grampa tells the family of his past identity as 'Gorgeous Godfrey,' the most feared, villainous man in pro-wrestling history, in the all-new 'Gorgeous Grampa' episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, March 3 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
From left, cast member Patrick Warburton, series writer Steve Callaghan and cast member Alex Borstein attend the FOX "Family Guy" panel on Day 2 of Comic-Con International, on Saturday, July 20, 2013 in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision for FOX Broadcasting/AP Images)
Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, signs a poster at the unveiling of the new "The Simpsons" U.S. postage stamps at the Twenty Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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By DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) - The Fox network isn't responding to suggestions that it edit its upcoming crossover episode of "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" to remove a joke where the punch line is "your sister's being raped."

The line appears in Sunday's much-awaited special where Bart Simpson and his family hang around with Stewie and the rest of the "Family Guy" crew, and has already circulated in a trailer for the episode that Fox released online over the summer.

It punctuates a scene in which the incorrigible Bart is instructing Stewie Griffin in the art of the prank phone call. Bart dials the owner of Moe's Tavern and asks whether there is anyone there with the last name Keybum, first name Lee. When Moe calls out to his patrons, asking for a "leaky bum," everyone gets a laugh.

Stewie thinks that's cool, and asks to make his own prank call.

"Hello, Moe?" he says. "Your sister's being raped."

Tim Winter, president of the advocacy group Parents Television Council, said he's a longtime fan of Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," and sought out the trailer when it was released.

"I was blown out of my shoes when I saw the scene with the rape joke in it," Winter said. "It really troubled me."

He said he found it particularly offensive in the context of stories about sexual assaults on college campuses and, most recently, talk about abusive treatment of women by some players in the National Football League. He said when rape is accepted as a punch line for a joke in entertainment, "it becomes less outrageous in real life."

Winter said he wrote to Groening, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane and Fox in August, asking that the joke be removed when the episode is shown on television. He said he received no reply.

Fox's entertainment division, through a spokeswoman, said it would not comment on the criticism or whether there are any second thoughts about the joke.

Katherine Hull Fliflet, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said she did not find the line offensive.

"I think the show is making it clear that rape is not funny by how they are positioning the joke," Fliflet said. "It's my hope that would be the viewers' take-away."

RAINN, which says it is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization and operates a rape hotline, works with creators in Hollywood to help them depict sexual assault realistically. The group lists actress Christina Ricci as a national spokesperson.

The National Organization for Women didn't respond to requests for comment on the Fox comedies.

MacFarlane brought up the line during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, predicting he will get attacked for it in the media. "But in context," he said, "it's pretty funny."

Winter said he didn't think the subject was worth joking about, and said he was particularly concerned about its exposure to younger viewers who may be fans of "The Simpsons," but are not familiar with the "Family Guy" style of comedy.

"We don't mock certain groups because we realize that it is highly insensitive and morally wrong," he said. "Why wouldn't we do the same thing about sexual assault?"

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