William Donohue- I Am A Hypocrite (And So Can You!)

(Please note I am an atheist raised as a Catholic, but in my mind, hypocrisy has no religious borders)

Although pitting Bill Donohue seems redundant, I have to point out a double-standard of his that seems to show how much of a hypocrite he really is. Donohue, the president of an organization called the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has often commented about how non-Catholics should not criticize the Church and its teachings. This apparently explains why he has never complained about a practicing Catholic and Sunday School teacher who is also a comedian- Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert has made many jokes over the two years his show has been on the air about Jesus, the Pope, the Catholic Church, and the Nativity- jokes in the same vein that Donohue has complained about over the years, and jokes that he would demand an apology for or complain about if they came from non-Catholics.

Recently, Donohue forced Bill Maher to apologize for calling the Pope a Nazi. Although it is true that Bill Maher has made many jokes and criticisms about the Catholic Church over the years, it is somewhat interesting that Stephen Colbert referred to the Pope as “a Nazi youth” on his show on both Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Although it is a more accurate phrase (and might be referring to the actual organization, the Hitler Youth, rather than being a Nazi as a youth), as Donohue himself pointed out, " Like all young men in Germany at the time, he was conscripted into a German Youth organization (from which he fled as soon as he could). Every responsible Jewish leader has acknowledged this reality and has never sought to brand the pope a Nazi."

If this was just an isolated incident, I wouldn’t be complaining. But Donohue and his organization have complained about jokes in television programs and Comedy Central shows multiple times, and Colbert has never gotten a complaint. (Actually, he got a complaint once, when he was a correspondent on The Daily Show. The League has not yet released its 2007 anti-Catholicism report for free on its website, but based on the track record, I find it unlikely Colbert will show up there.)

Some other examples:
-One of Donohue’s biggest complaints is contant jokes about molestation and pedophilia by priests. On March 19, 2008, when commenting on Jeramiah Wright’s controversial “god damn America” speech, he joked that the parishoners probably weren’t listening since people are usually bored in church: “It’s warm. You’re thinking about the donuts. Your mind wanders. Hell, while I was daydreaming for the last 43 years, my church silently sanctioned the sexual abuse of children. Who knew?” The on-screen caption, which always silently disagrees with Colbert, gives an answer: “Victims and church officials.” If this joke had been made by any other comedian who had said “the Catholic Church” instead of “my church,” Donohue would have demanded an apology or complained. (In fact, one of the complains the League had about Colbert, in their 2005 Report on Anti-Catholicsm, was about a joke involving Colbert on The Daily Show commenting that the Catholic Church states condom use is immoral, adding, “What would high Catholic Church officials know about immoral sexual conduct?” The other complaint they had in the same document was with a joke regarding Pope Benedict XVI waiving the five-year period one usually must wait for sainthood for John Paul II: “What are you going to do about that, bitch?” Colbert has mixed the sacred and the profane multiple times on his show, perhaps most memorably in telling an interviewee who was impressed in his Bible knowledge, “I teach Sunday school, motherfucker.”
-Donohue has often complained about flippant, whimsical portrayals of the Nativity sold around Christmastime, replacing all of the figures- including the Holy Family- with dogs, etc. Colbert has twice satrized the Nativity- once when Bill O’Reilly came to visit (replacing all of the figures with Fox News correspondents), and once in a Christmas card he apparently sent in the 2007 Christmas season he showed on the show (depicting himself with his arms around Mary and Joseph and giving a thumbs-up, a common photo pose for Colbert on the show).
-Donohue has also complained about various flippant, comedic portrayals of Jesus- which Colbert has made many- perhaps most memorably his “War on Easter” graphic, depicting the War on Easter in a literal sense as unseen guns fire on Jesus as He rises from the tomb, then Jesus grabbing a machine gun to defend Himself.
-Speaking of Easter, Donohue has complained about jokes about mixing the religious and secular meanings of Easter, such as a gag in The Onion depicting an Easter coloring page with Jesus carrying a basket of Easter eggs and wearing bunny ears and a crucified Easter Bunny. In April 2007, Colbert commented that Easter is the time that celebrates when “Jesus rode out of the tomb on a giant rabbit that laid colorful pastel eggs. I believe that is the gospel according to Cadbury.”
-Last week, Colbert anticipated the Pope’s arrival in New York City, especially his upcoming Mass at Yankee Stadium: “You have not had Communion till you’ve had it smothered with pump-on nacho cheese.” In 2001, Donohue forced the Unilever corporation to pull and apologize for an ad depicting a man about to dip the Eucharist in a bowl of Lipton onion dip. As Donohue stated: “The Lipton ad is not poking gentle fun at Catholicism the way some other ads have. Rather, it is demeaning the Eucharist. And there is nothing more central to Catholicism than the belief that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus Christ…For the elites at Unilever to allow their ad department at Lipton to insult Catholics like this is the height of corporate arrogance. And stupidity.” Isn’t Colbert’s comment just as demeaning and stupid? Or does Donohue prefer his body of Christ with nacho cheese?

And perhaps most indicative of all that Donohue probably believes Catholics can make fun of the Church but others can’t: Donohue has complained mutliple times about companies which either comment on or depict the stereotype of a stern Catholic school-teaching nun brandishing a ruler to whip the wrists of insolent children. On July 25, 2006, Stephen Colbert’s guest brought a ruler with him, which he used to whip Colbert on the wrists in a satire of this stereotype. Who was his guest that night? WILLIAM DONOHUE.

Please note that I don’t want Colbert’s brand of humor to be censored- I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of Donohue and his organization. Apparently, the Catholic Church can be criticized and satirized, but only by Catholics. And that’s the Word.

Who may safely use the “n-word” when discussing African Americans?

But Colbert is funny. Bill Maher isn’t.

I should know- I’ve seen his stand-up act. shudder

The Onion and The Daily Show are.

You can’t really compare religion to race. Religion is chosen, race is not. Satirizing or even outright mocking religious organizations or beliefs is no different than mocking a political party.

beside, Donohue has no problem savaging religions he doesn’t like.

I know you’re worked up about this, but in the pantheon of right-wing organizations the Catholic League or whatever they’re called now is hardly the worst offender.

Ah, yes. Donohue.

I can and will. If you believe it’s okay for people to disparage what you are just because they are what you are, you should believe it’s okay for others to do the same. Whether or not that’s okay depends on the situation (and my personal belief is that no one should use the n-word and it’s okay to make fun of Catholics but I can see how some might differ on this,) but if you think it’s only okay for your own kind to make fun of your own kind, you’re a big fat hypocrite.

Is that satire now?

Yes, and ‘religion’ starts with ‘re’ while ‘race’ starts with ‘ra.’ So I can see how they’d be considered completely opposite for the purposes of this analogy.

My distintinction is not inconsequential. Mocking a belief is not the same thing as mocking an inherent racial/ethnic characteristic.

What exactly is the “inherent” racial/ethnic characteristic you’re referring to?

The one referred to in Bricker’s first post.

I see references to culture there, not immutable genetic characteristics. Culture is not immutable.

I don’t know if you’re trying to be cute (in which case I don’t get it) or if you looked at the wrong post, but I’m referring to the “innate racial characteristic” referred to by the N-word.

If that were the key element, then use of the word would be met with disapproval no matter who was using it.

The point of my comment is that the use of the word is accepted when it’s used by a member of the class that it supposedly disparages, in the same way that Louie Anderson could get on stage and do ten minutes of fat jokes.

Is it possible Colbert is getting his criticism routed through the church instead of public media? He is plugged into the Catholic community, after all. They’re probably making him say hundreds of Hail Marys every night. (How’d you like to be Colbert’s confessor?)

Alternatively, this might just be one of those things you can only understand if you’re a Catholic. So join up, and then decide if its hypocracy.

Comparing Catholics to blacks is a common tactic Donohue uses when complaining, saying Catholics should be given the same fair treatment as blacks are. But although there are some similarities, race and religion are not 100% compatible- you can’t change your race; and although whites often claim to be better than blacks and vice versa just as religions claim to be better than other ones, I don’t think anyone has attempted to prove that black people don’t exist the way people have attempted to prove God doesn’t exist.

I know it’s stupid of me to complain about someone who’s already a big hypocrite, but the fact that he himself appeared on Colbert’s show and added to the hypocrisy has always stood out for me.

Catholics love Colbert, apparently- this blog from a Catholic writer reprints and comments positively on many things I commented on that they probably would have been offended by if they came from a non-Catholic. Not to mentoin this Deacon who calls Colbert a “close personal friend” and actually has a picture of himself standing next to Colbert on his website.

It’s ironic that one of the Google ads says “Revelation 17 Reveals. Identity of Next Pope. He Will be The Last Pope. Learn Bible Prophecy.” I’m not up on echatology but if I’m not mistaken the personage pointed to in that passage is a pretty bad dude.

I wonder if Google would allow a link that’s as apparently anti-black as this one is -Catholic.

I think it might be for more self-serving reasons. Donohue has been a guest on Colbert’s show at least once, and even was part of a quick comedy bit. He probably doesn’t want to piss off Colbert as that would take away his most likely “hip” demographic venue.