Thursday, September 13, 2007

What would Jesus do?

Nothing brings out the hypocrisy like a little religion, eh?

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard Kathy Griffin’s Emmy Award Acceptance speech, which went something like this: A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this. He had nothing to do with this. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.

Outrage is spewing from the orifices of every Christian in America; Since Christians make up roughly 85% of the population, that’s a lot of outrage – and a lot of orifices.

Understand, while I’m not exactly the religious type myself (in fact profoundly agnostic and cheerfully unconcerned about it might be a better description), I find Griffin’s comments to be at best crass and most likely delivered with malice aforethought. I don’t much care for Griffin, I’ve seen her show on cable maybe once, and seen her on some late-night talk show while channel surfing in a hotel room on a business trip a few years ago. She’s of the defensively obnoxious variety of lapsed Catholic comedienne, and I usually don’t find offensive shock humor to be all that funny. With that said, I suspect she’s been quite shrewdly clever with her comments at the Emmy’s, because she’s getting press that money just can’t buy. In her business, it don’t get any better than that.

As usual, when Catholics have been offended, Catholic League President Bill Donohue is leading the tar and feathers brigade. Donohue has managed to get his corpulent smugly self-righteous face on every major news channel by calling Griffin’s remarks a “vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech.” He seems pretty outraged, truly he does. But, really, Bill, hate speech? Donohue has gone on at length about how poor Christians have been victimized by this statement and others of similar nature. He also said that if Griffin doesn’t apologize “she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life.” This, from a guy who has made it his mission to represent a religion that, as a matter of fundamental policy, preaches intolerant bigotry from thousands of pulpits every Sunday? This, from a guy who on a daily basis spews racist, anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-science, anti-anything that isn’t part of his belief system? Seriously, Bill, are you kidding? Griffin’s remarks were not directed at Christians in general or at Catholics in particular, so who, exactly, should she apologize to? Jesus? Would that make everybody feel better? Do you think it would be sincere? Or is it more of a matter of imposing your will on somebody you don’t agree with?

Donohue, through the Catholic League, an anti-defamation group, called on the TV Academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" at Sunday's ceremony. [Emphasis mine] Okay, somebody explain to me how this is obscene? Crass? Yes. Obnoxious? Yes. Funny? Depends on your point of view I guess. And as I understand it, blasphemy only applies to members of a religion, who make statements contrary to the current canon, or is that a heretic? I’m not up on my Holy Inquisition terminology. For me, the absolute pinnacle of Donohue’s hypocrisy came yesterday when I watched him, alongside a Jewish Rabbi (didn’t catch the name) on CNN with Paula Zahn. Donohue was all properly outraged at how he, Catholics, lesser Christians, God Himself, and the poor little baby Jesus had been just traumatized by Griffin’s remarks. At the end of the show, the Rabbi wished everybody a happy Rosh Hashanah. Donohue rolled his eyes, pursed his lips in a pinched expression of anti-Semitic disapproval, and made a snort of disgust before CNN could cut his mic.

I’m not a Jewish comedian, but I think I’m offended. In fact, I demand an apology from the Catholic league for Donohue’s behavior. I demand it I say.

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to bash Catholics, Christians, Jews, comedians, or any Knight of the Holy Inquisition. I do, very much, realize that Bill Donohue doesn’t represent all Catholics (Isn’t that the Pope’s job?), but if the Catholic Church doesn’t publicly disown this jerk, I have to assume it agrees with him in large part.


  1. Ah, religion. Nothing can make people lose their reason, sense of proportion and common sense more quickly.

    I tend to agree with you that Griffen was crass and rude, and there's not a lot of doubt in my mind that she did it intentionally. Seems consistent with her style and what I know of her. On a more practical note, let's get some perspective here. This woman is an entertainer, not the leader of the free world. If she offends you, don't watch her show.

    As for Bill Donahue, I have the same reaction to him that I do to most bigoted zealots - "fuck off, pencil dick." Or more nicely put, "hypocrite much?" Maybe he and the good senator should get together.

    For myself, I'm a secular Buddhist, and I don't see the point of the endless finger-pointing and evangelism. I mean, seriously - get over yourself. People have been bashing the Jews and (more recently) the Muslims on pretty much a daily basis for years, and there wasn't a huge moral outrage from every orifice. I guess it's okay to make crass, rude comments about a creed as long it doesn't involve self-identified "Christians." Nice job of compassion, there, pencil-dicks.

    Disclaimer: I don't care if I offend Catholics, Christians, Jews, comedians, or any Knight of the Holy Inquisition. If you're going to act like a prick in public, then you should be prepared to defend your actions.

    Disclaimer Disclaimer: I am solely responsible for the above disclaimer. Jim "Tinman" Wright and "Stonekettle Station" are not responsible for my rhetoric.

  2. Disclaimer Disclaimer: I am solely responsible for the above disclaimer. Jim "Tinman" Wright and "Stonekettle Station" are not responsible for my rhetoric.

    Well, I don't disagree with it either. So, you know, bring it on, pencil-dicks.

    Disclaimer: It is not my intention to belittle those who are somewhat less than well endowed. Heh, heh.

  3. Oh hell, I bet it was intentional. I bet she rewrote the thing several times and practiced in front of a mirror to get the pacing and wording down exactly, because that's her job.

    I guess his "War on Xmas" wasn't getting enough traction this year and he needed a little help. He should send her a nice thank you card.

    Hey, Torquemada, my Sky God can kick your Sky God's arse. (And he was an honors student).

    General disclaimer, my thoughts are my own (except for this one right here) and aren't Jim's or the fine proprietors of Stonekettle Station.

    And somehow I can't see Donahue in Enzite commercials, he just can't pull off the goofy grin right.

  4. I guess his "War on Xmas"

    Man, I forgot all about the whole Xmas thing. Heh, he's an even bigger jackass than I remembered. There's just something about his jowly, corn-fed, smugly self-righteousness, firebrand rhetoric that instantly makes my blood boil. The only thing that keeps me laughing is thoughts of the day they find him in bed smoking crack from a gay prostitute or in the stall next to Senator Craig. 'Cause you just know it's going to happen sooner or later. (and that, ladies and gentlemen, takes care of the Senator Craig bitch-slap for today. Like I said before, as often as possible, just because I can).

  5. This:

    This, from a guy who has made it his mission to represent a religion that, as a matter of fundamental policy, preaches intolerant bigotry from thousands of pulpits every Sunday?

    And this:

    It is not my intention to bash Catholics, Christians, Jews, comedians, or any Knight of the Holy Inquisition.

    Not exactly congruent statements, are they? I don't personally begrudge you your cheerful agnosticism, but I find it deeply offensive that you think I, or any other given Catholic, would willingly and unreservedly sit through the kind of hateful bigotry you accuse the clergy of.

    I have a hard time believing that you strung these words together absent of the intention to bash Catholics.

  6. David, not at all. Most of my family is Catholic, and while I am not, I would never intentionally ridicule their beliefs.

    With that said, David, please hear me out. Truthfully, you must admit that while I used a fairly harsh word, bigotry, no matter how polite or sugar coated I make it in a effort not to offend you - the Catholic Church broadcasts as a matter of policy an anti-gay, anti-semitic, anti-right to choose, and etc message. It is the church's right to do so. They may not do it in a hateful manner, and they may not be as out and out rude as Griffin was with her statement, but it is still intolerance. I don't believe I'm saying anything that you don't already know, even if you use less harsh language than I do. The Catholic Church may be a good neighbor in most cases, but it is an extremely judgmental neighbor. I know a number of folks, some family, some friends who were excommunicated for being gay or even for marrying outside the Church. My Dad's family was forbidden by the Church from attending my parent's wedding because he married my mom, a Protestant. I could go on, but if you're honest with yourself, I don't need to, you already know the truth of the matter. Again, I do not deny the Church the right to preach and run their affairs as they wish, providing they don't try to impose their views on me. But I also reserve the right to call 'em as I see 'em. And I say it's intolerant bigotry.

    HOWEVER, if your reread what I wrote in the post, you'll see that my remarks were directed at Bill Donahue, though I did take a gratuitous swipe at the Catholic Church, true. I felt the need to make this post because I find Donahue's message hypocritical and deeply offense myself. I feel that his views are completely contrary to the principles I have spent my life in uniform defending. I feel this way specifically because Donahue claims to represent all Catholics. I suspect, based on my conversations with a number of Catholic acquaintances that many Catholics do NOT consider Donahue's position representative of their own. David, it is a sin of omission to allow Donahue to make this claim without repudiation. I have yet to see anyone in authority at the Church say point blank - no, this does not represent the Church's feelings on the matter. Without such a statement, the Church gives tacit approval of his statements. By the way I noticed you didn't distance yourself from his remarks either.

    If I offended you, deeply as you said, I apologize, it was not my intention. I enjoy the comments you make here and on other sites and I would hate to think that I drove you away because you were offended by something I said. However, I reserve the right to say what I think and I will continue to do so. And I expect that you will do as well. If you can live with that, then you're welcome here, if you can't, well you're welcome anyway.

  7. Just as I don't begrudge you your cheerful agnosticism, I also don't begrudge you the opportunity to call Donohue on his hypocrisy. But I do object to the "gratuitous swipe." The former is not dependent on the latter.

    Anyway, distancing myself from Donohue was, in many respects, irrelevant to the thrust of my gist. But, as you say, he does not speak for all Catholics and does not speak for me. The debate among Catholics is rather... energetic when it comes to Donohue and his mouth. Most in my generation and younger are pretty fed up with him, and I don't see his brand of grandstanding lasting for long. But he's the head of his own organization, so other than simply ignoring him, there's not much to do. He has the ear of big media, we don't, which makes it hard to shout him down.

    Further, I can't speak to the experiences you had with the Church, but my experience has been quite a bit different, and I don't think what you cite is official Church policy. I can tell some stories, too, like my grandparents being threatened with excommunication for not tithing in their parish back in the 1970s, but it's hardly the norm and not policy. I know many interfaith couples, and none that I am aware of have been excommunicated. Much of what you describe can come down to an individual parish or diocese going off the rails.

    Agreed, the Vatican itself should do a better job of policing up these kinds of things, including Donohue. But as in-our-face as he is, American Catholicism makes up about 5-7% of the world population of Catholics, which makes issues in American Catholicism something of a low priority for the Vatican. Not to mention that there has been considerable tension between the American Archbishops and the Vatican since ... pretty much forever.

    Long story short, I still disagree with your overall characterization of the Church as a whole. But I do agree with you about Donohue, and I probably will hang around.

  8. Thanks, David. I do occasionally suffer from foot in mouth disease, and that's not likely to change despite my wife's long suffering efforts. As I said, I enjoy your remarks, and you have given me something new to think about. By all means, stick around and take anything I say with a grain of salt.

  9. No problem, Jim. And you can certainly count on me to hang around.

  10. I love your point about calling it "blasphemous." It's rude, but that's all it is. You can't blaspheme against a religion you don't belong to.

    I've gotten shock at referring to "Christian mythology" seriously as mythology because the line for people of Donohue's opinion is that their religious stories are scripture and the Vedas or the Greek stories of the gods are mythology -- despite numerous modern pagans that follow the Greek gods, Norse pagans who take the Havamal as scripture and Hindu religious people for whom yes, the Bible is mythology and the Vedas are scripture.

    I finally came to the conclusion that for someone not in the religion whether to refer to something as mythology or scripture depends on the context of why you brought it up, whether you're comparing Osiris and Jesus as resurrecting gods, or you're discussing religioun and listing a group of scriptures, Talmud, Vedas, Bible, Koran, etc.

    Looking at scripture as mythology makes sense in a discussion of mythology and since I'm not Christian, it's more honest of me to just look at all of them as mythology when I do -- instead of bending to social pressure to give special honors to a religion I am not a member of and don't actually care about beyond being a bit concerned about the impact they have on the legal system, that they can *enforce* their religious customs on me and others.

    Like all the blue laws and the way I can't go buy liquor on Sunday or places close early or never open on Sunday because of one religious group's holy day, while others wind up having trouble getting Saturday off for being their sabbath and still others don't have a day of the week that's a sabbath.

    I wish this country really had freedom of religion and separation of church and state...

    Robert A. Sloan

  11. Steve Buchheit said:

    "I guess his "War on Xmas" wasn't getting enough traction this year and he needed a little help. He should send her a nice thank you card."

    War on Xmas??? This Donohue guy doesn't approve of Xmas... oh right, he probably doesn't like the term Xmas because he wants it to be "Christ" mas whether you're actually into it for Yule, Passover, Ramadan or Kwanzaa or Santa Claus instead or not. I'm pagan, it's Yule, most of its customs come from my religion and on top of that I'm into Santa Claus as just a very cool myth in himself. Been there, wore the suit, love the meaning.

    Xmas is a lot politer to me and a lot easier to exchange cards and gifts with Christians and non-Christians alike. To me it's the season, and Xmas is shorthand.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.