Comedian Sandra Bernhard says the decision by a women's shelter to cut her act from its annual benefit was based on a misleading account of what she said about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Bernhard made the remarks last month during her one-woman show in Washington before Palin visited New York to campaign. The 53-year-old comedian said Palin would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" during a diatribe in which she also criticized Palin for opposing abortion rights.
Rosie's Place, a Boston shelter, announced Wednesday that Bernhard would not take part in its Oct. 16 luncheon, "Funny Women ... Serious Business."
Many women at the shelter have been victims of violence, said public relations director Leemarie Mosca.
"In light of our mission, we don't think violence against women is a laughing matter," she said.
Bernhard said she's "terribly upset" that the shelter cut her act from its annual benefit.
In a statement Wednesday, Bernhard said the decision by Rosie's Place was based on a misleading account of what she said, and her words were taken out of context.
She said the gang rape comment was part of a larger piece from her one-woman show about "women, racism, freedom and the extreme views of Gov. Sarah Palin."
"In no way am I making any sort of joke about crimes against women — quite the contrary. I'm speaking out about someone who doesn't do enough to protect women," Bernhard said. "I think if you look at the real issues I'm addressing, my intent becomes clear. I am a die-hard advocate for women's rights, and fully support the work of Rosie's Place."
Mosca said the shelter expected to book a replacement.
"Right now, our main focus is our event and making sure the event is a success," Mosca said. "And for us, that means not including Sandra Bernhard at this time."