In an email blast last week, “Cowering before Muhammad to mock Christ,” Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said:
A few months ago, Comedy Central and their parent company Viacom acquiesced to death threats from militant factions of Islam and heavily censored one of their shows from depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad—an act that would be seen as blasphemous to the Muslim world.
It is now becoming clear that the network chiefs have even less respect for peaceful religions like Christianity. Just weeks after refusing to offend Muslims, Comedy Central is now at work advancing a “comedy” that would mock the faith of those who call Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
The show under production at Comedy Central is no laughing matter. It seeks to openly mock Jesus and essential Christian beliefs. This is nothing new for the tasteless cable channel, which has a history of depicting the Son of God in manners so disrespectful that I cannot, out of reverence for our Savior, show clips of them.
All of us can tolerate and even welcome discussion over religious differences. But when it comes to mocking the Person Christians believe was God in the flesh, the Savior of the world, under the guise of humor, we’re compelled to speak out. We ask that you please email Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom, and kindly ask them to not allow this show to make it onto their schedule.
I never thought I would write this, but I actually agree with Perkins. In April, South Park’s depictions of Muhammad for its 200th episode caused a couple of guys with a website probably living in their parents’ basement to hint that someone could get hurt because the show hurt Muslim feelings. In response, South Park’s bosses at Comedy Central behaved like total weenies and censored the shows.
And yes, it follows that if company executives were so worried about offending Muslims, shouldn’t they also be concerned with how Christians might feel about a satirical show about Jesus? Yup. On that, Perkins and I share common ground.
Of course, the Family Research Council may be jumping the gun on this. The show, which would be called “JC” and would be about a son moving to New York to try to escape the pressure of an overbearing father, is merely in the discussion phase. But that didn’t keep FRC from joining conservative forces and holding a press conference about it.
From the Washington Post:
The project, “JC” may never make it to the network’s lineup, but the coalition of media watchdog groups have formed the Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) in response to the script that has been ordered and which none of them have read. The coalition includes the Media Research Center, radio talk show host Michael Medved, the Family Research Council, the Catholic League, the Parents Television Council, and the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
Of course, where Perkins and I part company is that I don’t think any religion should be above satire. While CARB hasn’t yet seen a script, it’s put together a mashup of clips from Comedy Central mocking religion, including one in which Buddha is snorting cocaine and Jesus is watching internet porn. Some of the clips strike me as funny. Some not so. Which actually makes my point.
Satire is supposed to offend. And in doing so, it can challenge our assumptions and force us to rethink how we view the world. Did Jonathan Swift really believe the British should eat the infants of the poor? Did Mark Twain really think Huck Finn was damned to hell for helping a runaway slave?
Those who believe their religion should be above mockery (free speech, anyone?) are basically taking the position that their faith is so tenuous it can not stand up to close examination. And that by poking fun at their most cherished beliefs, they might be revealed as nothing more than airy confections, something no more substantial than cotton candy.