The Ottawa Citizen asks: is it ever OK to satirize religious leaders or beliefs?
Which seems like a silly question. Yes, of course it is.
But asking it gets people to say why they think it’s not ok, and it’s useful to know why people think that.
First up is a rabbi, and a radio rabbi at that – head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and host of Sunday night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA.
…the fact that it is legally OK to make such comments does not translate into it being OK on other levels.
The Pope was certainly no stranger to controversy, even within the church. Arguing with his views on matters of principle is fair game. But this is all fair game when it is within the boundaries of respect.
Arguing not on the issues, and instead undercutting the person, is difficult to justify. I can see it when there is evident hypocrisy, or lying, or deliberate truth twisting, but failing that, it is important that we have some appreciation of the sacred.
Well, Rabbi, there is evident hypocrisy and lying and deliberate truth twisting. But suppose there isn’t. Suppose there is only protection of child-raping priests, telling people in Africa (and everywhere else) not to use condoms, trying to force hospitals to refuse life-saving abortions, the effort to silence “radical feminist” nuns, refusal to contemplate the ordination of women while still expecting women to obey The Rules of The Church…and so on. Why is it important that we have so much “appreciation of the sacred” that we treat the head of an institution that perpetrates all that and more as above satire?
No, on the contrary. Bullshit like “appreciation of the sacred” is the main reason institutions like the Catholic church get away with so much evil activity.
A Catholic priest says what you would expect.
Particularly when talking or writing of the religious beliefs, traditions or leaders of other faith communities, we need to pay special attention to how our communications will be perceived by members of that community.
Uh huh. That’s what they think in Bangladesh, too…but only for certain understandings of “members of that community.” Some communities are more sacred than others.
The Anglican priest does a much better job of it.
There’s a difference, however, with humour whose sole intention is to hurt and harm. Its unlovely and usually unfunny character is generally accompanied by a sneering sense of superiority on the part of the “humorist.” It doesn’t really matter if such humour is directed against religion or against any other persons or sets of belief. The world hardly needs any more aggression, vitriol, or contempt. Whatever our differences or conflicts, we all, as human beings, deserve respect. We all need to try to develop empathy toward others.
Kevin Smith of CFI-Canada gets to grips with the particulars…to amusing effect.
If the Harper-Cons thought it an offensive issue, I have no doubt they would have established, with suitable fanfare, the Office of Religious Freedom from Satirical Persecution. Spoofing Buddhism or Bahá’i? They wouldn’t bother you. Lampooning Catholics, certainly a stern warning letter. But mocking an Evangelical would guarantee your name in a CSIS binder for life.
There are times when satirizing religion should be forbidden, where their words or actions are no joking matter. History is littered with them.
For instance, any religion that not only fails to deal with sexual abuses of children in their care but also willingly covers up the vile acts should be held accountable in a court of law. Otherwise they’ll be the ones getting the last laugh.
Skip the satire and call the cops.