The newly formed Citizens Against Religious Bigotry launched a pre-emptive strike against Comedy Central today. The coalition formally announced its opposition to “JC,” a new animated comedy in the planning stages at the network.
Comedy Central’s own statement on the show describes it as the story of “JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father’s enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy … meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city.”
The group held a teleconference earlier today to urge advertisers not to support inflammatory programming and let it be known the show won’t go through the production process without a stiff fight.
Media Research Center president Brent Bozell says the project is “designed to mock and ridicule” Christianity.
“This is a deliberate attempt by Comedy Central to be as offensive as they can,” Bozell says, adding a petition aimed at stopping the show before it begins drew 93,000 signatures in just one week. “You don’t have to be Christian to be offended by this.”
Bozell says the network’s “glaring” double standard regarding the treatment of religion has been apparent for quite some time.
“They won’t do anything to denigrate the Muslim faith. On the other hand, for years it has shown a desire to mock and ridicule Jesus Christ, Christians and God the Father,” Bozell says.
While the network’s double standard regarding religion “jumps off the page,” Bozell says all religions should be treated with respect.
The group also debuted a four-minute video montage on its official web site detailing previous examples where Comedy Central programming trashed both Jesus Christ and the Pope.
Nationally syndicated talk radio host Michael Medved says people should consider whether the network would produce a similar show, but one focusing on the Prophet Muhammed.
They could call it “The Big Mo,” Medved says, and the story would be all about Muhammed moving into New York City basement apartment and marrying a nine-year-old girl.
Even if every major Muslim leader promised such a show wouldn’t result in violence, Comedy Central still wouldn’t produce it, he says.
“They don’t want to hurt the sensibilities of two million American Muslims,” Medved says. “Comedy Central won’t do that to decent Muslims because it’s so wounding, unnecessary and mean. So why doesn’t that apply to Christians?”
Medved, who admits much of Comedy Central’s ribald “South Park” show is funny, says a common refrain in matters like this is for the offended parties to simply change the channel.
“Your children might not be allowed to watch it but other children will. It spreads hatred,” he says. “They have friends who will watch it and will tease … is your Jesus like that?”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue says the debate over “JC” is an “important moment” in our culture.
And the boycott approach might be the best way to move forward.
“Absence a boycott I don’t think these people [at Comedy Central] will pay attention to us,” Donahue says, the best approach would be to target individual sponsors of the program.
“We can do this through a peaceful, nonviolent approach,” he adds.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of The American Alliance of Jews and Christians, says Comedy Central programs like “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and even “The Man Show” have “added something to the culture.”
But the new program crosses a clear line, and it’s one that should upset any citizen with “cultural pride.”
“It just isn’t funny,” he says, adding that Comedy Central’s restriction on using mockery against Islam “is a pathetic amalgam of cowardice and hypocrisy.”
Bozell says not all religious humor is offensive.
“Don Rickles could do that kind of comedy. Jackie Mason could do that comedy,” he says. “There’s a good natured way of doing this … it begins with talent, which there is very little of at Comedy Central these days.”
Lapin added few people objected to films like “Sister Act” or the comedy stylings of Mel Brooks.
“Having our blessed Mother menstruating on ‘South Park’ – that’s vulgar,” he says.
Several teleconference participants recalled the reaction industry types had when challenged on the objectionable content coming out of the entertainment industry.
Donahue asked Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone directly once about his beef with today’s coarse entertainment product, and the media mogul told him he believe in artistic freedom.
Bozell had a more specific example of entertainment types ignore public complaints about their product. He sat in on a Viacom shareholders’ meeting in which a woman pleaded with the company to curtail the way it treats women on its BET channel.
“They all but laughed at her,” Bozell recalls. “It was a shocking display of indifference.”
Bozell says the newly formed group isn’t calling for a boycott at this point, even though individual members of the group may do so independently.
He predicts the ensuing backlash will be sufficient.
“I don’t think at the end of the day they’ll be a need for a boycott,” Bozell says.
“What you’re seeing here,” Medved says, “is a perfect free market solution.”