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September 12, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along?
Posted by Michael Cohen

Kathy Griffin, who I actually think is a rather unfunny comedienne, had a mildly amusing line at the Emmys last night.

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus," an exultant Griffin said, holding up her statuette. "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

As a Jew, I probably shouldn't chuckle about this, but it struck me more as a joke about celebrities/athletes etc thanking Jesus every time something positive happens as opposed to an attack on the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, the amazingly unfunny Bill Donahue of the Catholic League doesn't agree:

It is a sure bet that if Griffin had said, 'Suck it, Muhammad,' there would have been a very different reaction," Catholic league president Bill Donohue said in a statement posted on the group's Web site. He called on TV academy president Dick Askin to denounce Griffin's "hate speech" and on Griffin to apologize.

Apparently, the coffers at the Catholic League must be running a bit low. To be sure, a little bloviating from Bill Donahue is hardly surprising and should really end this discussion, but James Kirchick over at TNR had to offer his two cents in his usual overwrought, self-righteous style:

There certainly "would have been a very different reaction" had Griffin said, "Suck it, Muhammad." Not only would the liberal PC police be after her head (figuratively), but she would have a fatwa placed on her head (literally), would be placed under 24-hour armed guard and would have to limit any public appearances, if even make them at all. In other words, the Rushdie treatment.

That a comedian cannot make an innocent joke with the word "Muhammad" in it out of fear of getting killed--and not a supposed ban on "blasphemy" against Catholics, who don't, as a matter of course, burn effigies, destroy buildings, or murder people when someone says or writes something they don't like--seems to be the larger outrage.

First of all, I think Mr. Kirchick needs a crash course on the Crusades, not to mention deductive reasoning, but honestly is he really prepared to say that 1.2 billion Muslims "as a matter of course" burn effigies, destroy buildings or murder people when they see or read something they don't like?  I can only imagine Kirchick's hyperventilating reaction if someone generalized so egregiously about homosexuals or Jews.

I suppose this type of argument shouldn't be surprising coming from a guy who works for Marty Peretz, a veritable font of anti-Muslim bigotry. Nonetheless, the fact that a coterie of pro-Israel supporters continue to conflate support for the Jewish State with virulent, anti-Muslim attacks is deeply troubling.

I hope that when many of them to go shul tonight and tomorrow (and I have no idea if Mr. Kirchick is Jewish) . . . they listen really closely.

Update: One of the commentors has brought to my attention a quote from Ms. Griffin after the show saying that she "hoped she offended people" with her comment. So much for my notion that she was trying to make insightful social commentary about religion in the public sphere. I stand corrected and Ms. Griffin should be ashamed of herself. It's one thing to talk about ones own religious beliefs in public, it's quite another to purposely try to offend people of faith. There's nothing funny about that.


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As a Jew, I probably shouldn't chuckle about this ...

Jew, shmew. You shouldn't chuckle about it because you have respect for people whose beliefs differ from your own.

Christian bashing has become good sport in the entertainment industry so this is nothing new but its no less disturbing to see it accepted as such. Griffins crass remarks were not funny or even "mildly" funny on any level and she makes it clear her intent is to offend so it makes me wonder how anyone with any sense of decency and respect for others would find this amusing instead of repulsive. I'm no Holy roller but I do have respect for others and what is near and dear to them.

Why shouldn't we try and offend people of faith? Why do they get out of jail free card? Please if Kathy Griffin's remarks offended you then you're in a pretty sad state. Jesus and all the rest of the invisible friends of different religions should suck it :) It was a joke people! If you can't laugh at yourself you have no business laughing at all.

Wow. First off, I think the joke's pretty funny. But what's with all this "don't make fun of people's religion" sentiment? Two comments and Cohen's update imply that religion is somehow off limits. Or that it's wrong to want to offend people.

The whole notion that it's okay to make this joke about Jesus and not Mohammed is pretty ridiculous, too. It wouldn't be funny if she'd said Mohammed because people don't, as a matter of course, thank Mohammed on awards shows.

Comics do make fun of Islam from time to time. Heck, they make fun of all religions. And they should.

People also seem to forget she said quite openly afterwards in the same "I hope i offended everyone" comment, that she also meant it as a joke, and she was glad she didn't get booed offstage because it means the audience had "a sense of humor still"(sic).


Was it Crude? YES

was it Anti-Catholic/Christian/Lutheran/Protestant/Pentecostal/(enter denomination here)? NO.

I found it mildly ... well... meh. It was a joke along humor lines I do not laugh on, but I still recognized it as a joke.

I think Andrew Sullivan hit the nail on the head when discussing that blowhard from the Catholic League. Basically, the reactions of nut-case jihadists has become our baseline now for blasphemy. If you substitute Mohammed for Jesus and they'll kill you for the joke, you've crossed the line.

I concur with the other comments that stated "why are religions somehow exempt from jokes?"

Sam Harris makes an excellent case for this in his book "Letter to a Christian Nation". Why aren't people upset when we make jokes about Zeus or Hercules?

Lastly, Kathy Griffin was making fun of every spoiled athlete/entertainer who, through some fluke of genetics has the ability to sing or catch a ball and then thanks Jesus. Don't you think Jesus is more concerned with us killing each other, poverty, global warming, injustice, etc. that he'd be a little too busy to bestow said gift upon the entertainer?

Lighten up. For the time being, this is a free country.

You're absolutely right in the fact that she's generally unfunny and in the fact that it's just a joke. I think it's hilarious that everyone wants to thank Jesus for the award. Are they thanking him when they lose? For her to take that and turn it on its head is the joke. To take it out of proportion is what makes it funny.

The morons you quote need to attack Islam for their raison d'etre so of course this becomes Islam-bashing. I think it came to this debate because of the jealousy they have in not being able to deliver a fatwa themselves.

In comedy and in a first-amendment country nothing should be sacred. It's the channel's right, in owning the broadcast, to choose not to broadcast the line - but it's within the principles of our country that she - and everyone else - can say whatever they goddamn well please.

Personally I was most shocked that I read something by Kathy Griffin that actually made me laugh.


Does an omnipotent Jesus really need the peons defending him?

I think that a deity held in such high esteem ought to be able to take a joke, even if it isn't that funny.

Why shouldn't we try and offend people of faith? Why do they get out of jail free card?

People of faith shouldn't get any special passes. We shouldn't try to offend people of faith simply because we shouldn't try to offend anybody. Of course if we sincerely criticize some view with which we disagree, some people will take offense. That is unavoidable. But outbursts like Griffin's strike me as mindless and cruel aggression, aimed at seeking attention more than any higher satirical purpose, and born of fear, resentment and hatred.

No good liberal can deny that Griffin has a right to say what she did. But my question is why would one want to say what she did?

There is no right not to be offended. We could use more offensive statements and cartoons. One can not learn tolerance without something to be tolerant of.

Little one liners are not what should be really offensive to a society in any case. It says far more about us than it does about her.

Offense is in the mind of the offended when it comes to words. Superstition is foolish and more people should blast the sacred cow of religion.
It may not be funny to offend people but it sure is fun and necessary sometimes.
A person who is secure in who they are pays no attention to their critics.

Kathy Griffin's comments illustrate to me why I can't stand militant athiesm, my experience with atheists has been that they are just as intolerant and narrow minded as the religious groups they claim to be agoinst

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