Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comedy, American-Style

Pat Robertson, Bob Beckel: Quit while you're ahead.

Saturday Night Live's skit (video, below) featuring Jesus Christ, Tim Tebow, and the latter's Denver Broncos teammates understandably raised quite a few hackles.

If this had been a Muslim country and they had done that, and had Muhammad doing that stuff, you would have found bombs being thrown off!... We need more religious faith in our society. We’re losing our moral compass in our nation and this man has been placed in a unique position and I applaud him. God bless him.

Robertson was right (for the most part), initially. The freedom of expression allowed to be expressed about the U.S.A.'s dominant religion, Christianity, is not matched by a parallel tolerance in Muslim countries about Islam. Bombs may or may not have been set off- but as Theo Van Gogh tragically experienced, criticizing Islam in some quarters is vigorously discouraged.

But the 700 Club founder didn't stop there. After drawing attention to religious intolerance in Muslim countries (you know where this is heading, don't you?), Robertson added "we need more religous faith in our society."

Perhaps we do. But Robertson's example: "bombs being thrown off" if Muhammad had been caricatured in "a Muslim country" doesn't substantiate that view but, sadly, does the country.

Religious intolerance in some Muslim countries doesn't emanate from insufficient faith but from the religious fanaticism sometimes labeled "Islamofascism."

On GOP TV, Fox News consultant Bob Beckel remarked

First of all, it's despicable to display Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, like that on Saturday Night Live and they should be ashamed of themselves. And the fact that this keeps drawing attention to Tebow and Christianity and faith and Jesus and they make it into some sort of commercial operation ... there’s nothing funny about that.

Obviously (except to Beckel, it appears), Jesus Christ is not Lord and Savior to all Americans (not even to many people affiliated with Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, or Orthodox Christianity), but he is to many. More significant and less defensible, owing to Beckel's lack of irony (a trait shared with Robertson), is his criticism of SNL for deciding to "make it into some sort of commercial operation."

That is offensive (although funny, depending upon your taste in comedy). Unfortunately, however, it was not left to Comcast-owned NBC or Lorne Michaels to "make it into some sort of commercial operation." Tebow beat them to it. As seen in the videos way below, Tim Tebow made himself into a commercial operation- even before his surprising success in Denver.

Tim Tebow was not reticent about using his fame as a Christian, pro-life athlete to gain a contract to pimp for underwear, and the minds behind Saturday Night Live were not reticent to use their fame to present a skit expressing ideas which, if not couched in comedy, would have offended even more people. It's not what's done in some Muslim countries. But they do it here, and it's a "shame" that neither Pat Robertson nor Bob Beckel understands.


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