I keep getting mail from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. It flows into my e-mail in-box in electronic form and into my post office box as hard copy. Bill tries hard to attract my attention and to keep me entertained. It's a thing that we have.
On previous occasions I have mentioned the piquant humor in Bill's role as Catholicism's most public face in the United States. You'd think the Church would have anticipated some downside to being represented in the mass media by a whining, histrionic, and mean-spirited curmudgeon, but perhaps there's a lesson in this. God moves in mysterious ways his blunders to perform.
This week I discovered that Bill wants my opinion on a variety of matters relating to the representation (or misrepresentation) of Catholic values in the news and entertainment media. He began with a series of yes/no questions:
Prior to receiving Bill Donohue's letter to you, were you aware of any other Catholic organization or spokesperson that denounced the episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in which Larry David urinated on a picture of Jesus for the disgusting example of anti-Catholic bigotry in the media that it was?The media poll was accompanied by an 8-page cover letter from Bill, who wanted to make sure that we would be properly briefed before answering the questions. I'm sure it makes it more likely that the Catholic League will get the answers it wants.
As it happens, I saw the episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in question and found it quite easy to—um—curb my enthusiasm. The humor was too broad and and I didn't find many laughs in it. The pee incident was an unintentional accident occasioned by an excessively effective diuretic medication, not an act of deliberate desecration. Furthermore, I detected nothing that was specifically anti-Catholic about the episode. (Are Catholics supposed to be more likely than Protestants to unwisely hang pictures of Jesus in their bathrooms? My Catholic family never did.)
Prior to receiving Bill Donohue's letter to you, were you aware of any other Catholic organization or spokesperson that exposed the New York Times's refusal to print Archbishop Dolan's indictment of its anti-Catholic bigotry as proof of that very same bigotry?Dolan and I have a lot in common: The Times refuses to publish my letters, too. I suspect the Times is prejudiced against Portuguese-Americans. Or mathematical-Americans. Not sure which.
Prior to receiving Bill Donohue's letter to you, were you aware of any other Catholic organization or spokesperson that exposed the anti-Catholic bigotry involved in the Washington Post blog providing a forum for atheist Richard Dawkins's diatribe against the Catholic Church?I admit that this one upsets me just a little. Why was Dawkins relegated to the newspaper's blog? His views should have been prominently displayed in the editorial section. It's a shocking suppression of the views of a prominent international spokesperson for millions of nonbelievers. Yeah, I'm a little upset. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Bill!
Prior to receiving Bill Donohue's letter to you, were you aware of any other Catholic organization or spokesperson that documented Bill Maher's repeated, decade-long expressions of contempt for the Catholic Church and the beliefs of all Christians?Actually, Bill, I've seen plenty of religionists complaining about Maher's denigration of fatuous faith—including Islam, which takes a little chutzpah. Maher has his own fatuities (mostly in the field of health and medicine), but it's not exactly news that Maher pokes fun at religion and religious people don't like it.
Do you agree with Catholic League President Bill Donohue that these examples prove that anti-Catholicism is widespread in today's news and entertainment media—the last and only remaining “allowable bigotry”?Nope.
Do you agree that the writers, editors, producers and on-air personalities responsible for these examples of anti-Catholic bigotry should have been fired or otherwise disciplined?You're kidding, right? Nobody expects the American Inquisition! (You want a nice red uniform, don't you?)
Do you agree that the fact no one was disciplined in any way for these expressions of anti-Catholic bigotry shows that anti-Catholicism is acceptable to the owners and management of the media in question, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Viacom, Time-Warner, and Disney?Nope. (1) Calling it anti-Catholic bigotry is reaching too far. (2) It actually denotes a modicum of respect for free speech. (3) Shut up. (I decided to leaven this post with a little humor!)
Do you agree that if these examples of bigotry had been against another religion, such as the Jewish or Muslim faith, those responsible would certainly have been disciplined?In the case of actual bigotry, or imagined bigotry?
Do you agree that being bombarded by such bigotry against and contempt for Catholicism in the media threatens the spiritual well-being of our younger generation?The younger generation? You mean, like altar boys? Wow, Bill, bringing up the well-being of young people in a Catholic context demonstrated how thoroughly ballsy you are. You crack me up! You'll go to any length for a joke, won't you? (I bow to the master.)
Do you support the Catholic League's campaign to reach at least l million Catholics with this Survey and to publicize the results as widely as possible in the Catholic and secular media?Since when does “survey” merit capitalization? Is it a proper noun? It is a sacred text?
If so, it's a pity I'm about to desecrate it with the recycling bin.