The tongue-clucking against Pamela Geller for her Mohammed Art Exhibit reached deafening levels over the weekend, as media conventional wisdom solidified around the “irresponsible abuse of free speech” talking point. Under this weird interpretation of the First Amendment, liberals wish to be given enormous credit for conceding that Geller technically has a free-speech right to violate sharia speech codes, but she should be condemned by all right-thinking people for actually doing it.
“Not since Westboro Baptist Church’s ‘God Hates Fags’ message and Florida pastor Terry Jones burning the Koran has the principle of free speech been so sullied and abused,” sniffed Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post.
Got that, everyone? Threatening violence to suppress free speech, and making good on the threat, doesn’t “sully and abuse” the First Amendment, but defying the violent extremists does.
This sudden concern for religious sensibility from the media elite is astounding, since it seems like only yesterday they were gleefully encouraging hate mobs to trash Christians who dared to politely assert their own religious beliefs. The media elite has no problem whatsoever with cartoons, and other forms of entertainment, designed to offend Christians. In fact, merely expressing criticism of such entertainment is considered deeply uncool, and very nearly a hate crime unto itself.
Mockery of Christian faith is rarely even portrayed as “offensive,” the way Mohammed cartoons are routinely and uncritically described as “offensive” to Islam, no questions asked. Instead, art that makes sport of, or even actively insults, any religious faith except Islam is classified approvingly as “provocative” or “irreverent.”
There’s no sign of the tidal wave of “provocative” and “irreverent” entertainment slowing down, even as our media elites declare themselves experts on the finer points of sharia law and castigate uncouth “far right” types for daring to violate them.
How about a TV series starring the Devil himself as the protagonist, helping the police solve supernatural crimes? It’s coming your way next year, courtesy of the Fox entertainment network. The new show, called Lucifer, finds the “bored and unhappy” Lord of Hell handing over the keys to his old kingdom and moving to the “gorgeous, shimmering insanity of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.”
That’s nothing compared to AMC’s upcoming Preacher, which like Lucifer is based on a series of graphic novels. “Preacher revolves around Rev. Jesse Custer, a badass Texas preacher who, after losing his faith, learns that God has left heaven and forsaken his duties,” explains the Hollywood Reporter. “Jesse becomes the only one who is able to track God down and hold him responsible for his abdication. Tulip O’Hare, Jesse’s beer-guzzling vampire ex-girlfriend, accompanies him on his quest for answers. But the story doesn’t end there: The Saint of Killers, an immortal killing machine and Western lone gunman type, is hot on their trail with his sights set on Jesse.”
Allow me to put my cards on the table: I’ve read both Lucifer and Preacher in their entirety, and found them very well-written, beautifully drawn, and frequently hilarious. I’m not calling for any sort of censorship against them. Fans of the books are doubtless looking forward to seeing a talented cast bring these memorable characters alive. The Lucifer series offers one of the most interesting and offbeat fictional portrayals of the Devil; the actor who plays him will have quite a challenge on his hands.
I can also see why Christians of sincere faith would find them both offensive, especially Preacher, which is deliberately, gleefully, deliriously offensive. The Hollywood Reporter’s synopsis is incorrect on several points (there is a beer-guzzling vampire involved, but it’s not the hero’s ex-girlfriend) and really soft-pedals a few others. For example, our heroes run into a Da Vinci Code-style Church conspiracy, but the terrible theological secret they’re hiding would make Dan Brown sick to his stomach. The Saint of Killers is a lot more than just a pissed-off cowboy. God is an absolute bastard, while the angelic host is a pack of cowardly, egotistical, back-stabbing bureaucrats.
Lucifer looks to be setting its sights considerably lower than its graphic-novel inspiration, which told a huge, cosmic story about the title character’s relationship with God and the rest of the angels. Actually, what I’ve seen of the TV adaptation makes it sound like a prequel to the events of the original books. If the series is at all faithful to its inspiration, however, it will portray God as a somewhat abusive absentee father, most of the angels as dithering twits – with a few outright villains mixed in – and you don’t want to know what Adam’s first wife Lilith has been up to.
Again, I’ve read and enjoyed these books, so my purpose is not to stoke public outrage, or demand any sort of pre-emptive censorship. I’m curious to see if AMC is willing to go where Preacher wants to take it – HBO had the rights for a while, but could never work up the nerve to pull the trigger on its proposed series, which should tell you a lot about what viewers are in for.
I merely observe that nothing remotely comparable based on the Koran instead of the Bible would be permitted. Few would have the guts to write such a book – look what happened to Salman Rushdie – and if anyone did, Western media would denounce the writer as a “hate criminal.” They would be held partially or fully responsible for any violence perpetrated against them, and castigated for irresponsibly “abusing” their First Amendment rights.