16 October 2009

One Man's Obscenity...

Sarah Silverman, a comedian, appeared on Bill Maher's talk show the other day and said something obscene -- or at least it was obscene to the ears of the Catholic League, that institution of bigotry-envy that acts as the Popish equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League or the Rev. Jesse Jackson. According to the League's own website, this was Silverman's obscenity:

What is the Vatican worth, like 500 billion dollars? This is great, sell the Vatican, take a big chunk of the money, build a gorgeous condominium for you and all your friends to live in…and with the money left over, feed the whole f---ing world....You [The Pope] preach to live humbly, and I totally agree. So, now maybe it’s time for you to move out of your house that is a city. On an ego level alone, you will be the biggest hero in the history of ever. And by the
way, any involvement in the Holocaust, bygones…If you sell the Vatican, and you take that money, and you use it to feed every single human being on the planet, you will get crazy p---y. All the p---y.

In the opinion of Catholic League grand inquisitor Bill Donohue, this is an "obscene rip" at the Vatican and a "filthy diatribe," and further proof that there is "something pathological" to Maher's indulgence of anti-Catholic commentary. Donohue explains that the Church has done quite enough for the world by running "more hospitals...than any other private institution in the world," though the story of the Widow's Mite might come to even irreligious minds. One wonders whether the obscenity that so offended the admittedly easily-offended Donohue was Silverman's dirty words or the idea that Catholicism should live up to the teachings of its founding spirit.

Donohue's bigotry-envy is blatant in his crack that Silverman's little rant wouldn't be tolerated "if the chosen target were the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and the state of Israel." Whether targeting that official makes sense compared to the wealth of the Vatican is one issue, but the more obvious one is Donohue's persistent insistent that any criticism of Catholics or Catholicism be equated with bigotry against Jews or blacks. Once upon a time, when Catholicism was identified with particular ethnic groups in certain countries, like the Irish in the U.S. in the 19th century, you might have made a case for anti-Catholicism as a form of bigotry. But I define bigotry as hostility based on who you are rather than what you do, and anti-Catholicism is self-evidently a critique of the beliefs and practices of Catholics rather than their mere existence. Catholicism is no longer identified with particular races of people the way Judaism is identified with Jewish ethnicity or Israeli nationality, or the way Islam is often (if wrongly) identified with Arabs or Pakistanis. Catholicism is a value system and like every other value system it is accountable for its values. But before I go further I should note that Silverman never criticized any aspect of the Catholic value system, unless you count a papal habit of accumulating property and art treasures. All she said was that a rich institution ostensibly dedicated to helping the poor could go further in helping the poor by giving up its most ostentatious wealth. But Donohue is so thin-skinned as a matter of choice that he feels compelled to lash out as if Silverman and Maher had reformed the Know-Nothing party. I might have made him a late contender for Idiot of the Week, but Donohue is such a chronic offender that he really doesn't belong in the weekly competition anymore. He belongs in an Idiocy Hall of Fame.


Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but the guy does have a little bit of a point. If I were to crack a jewish joke and a member of the JDL overheard, I'd be accused of being anti-semitic. If a jewish person cracks a joke on jews, it's prefectly acceptable. I think all of these groups of people need to understand that not everyone agrees with their value system and if someone doesn't agree with you, isn't it better to have them make light of you than to shoot you or throw a bomb into your building?

Samuel Wilson said...

Maybe so, but does what Silverman said count as a Catholic joke? My point is that the Catholic League (which consists of Donohue and who else?) can't stand any critical comments about the Catholic Church, whether they're fair hits or not. They should heed the second part of your post.

d.eris said...

Let's not forget that these are also some of the same folks who spent inordinate amounts of time "debunking" The DaVinci Code by stating over and over again that it was "fiction."

hobbyfan said...

Ah, Vatican City, practically a suburb of Rome right inside the city itself, no? Anyway, Ms. Silverman (who can't decide if she does or doesn't want to be Mrs. Jimmy Kimmel) has run afoul of the Catholic League before, IIRC, via her Comedy Central series in which she did a skit that mocked God Himself.

I have to believe that not only is Donohue so thin-skinned such that he doesn't comprehend the very definition of what a joke is, he'd censor every comic who's ever told a joke about Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Christians, et al if given half a chance. Remember, this is the guy who also represented the Catholic League in railing against "South Park", and he's done that at least 3 times to my reckoning.