Pharyngula

Bring me the heads of Penn and Teller!

Bill Donohue has a new target: he has taken out an ad in Variety, demanding that Penn and Teller be fired, because they’ve been irreverent and sacrilegious towards the holy Catholic church.

On August 27, Showtime, owned by CBS, will feature a vicious assault on Catholics. In the season
finale of Penn & Teller’s show, they “take on the secretive inner world of The Vatican, the holy city of
Catholicism and home of the Pope.” How do we know it will defame Catholics? Because on the
show’s website, it says so: There is a Showtime Advisory for “Graphic Language, Adult Content.”

If Showtime posted that warning about a show on Islam, Muslims would brace for the worst (and so
might CBS). But Muslims need not worry: it’s not all religions that Showtime likes to trash–just
Catholicism. Indeed, Showtime is currently working on a show, “Revelation,” that promises to be at
least somewhat respectful of Protestantism.

What will the upcoming show be like? On his Twitter page, Penn Jillette brags how he rips a Catholic
encyclical on sexuality: “I’m dressed as Darth with a condom c–k light saber.” He even boasts that
the show is “hardcore,” admitting that “we attack the Vatican.” From trashing The Last Supper to
mocking Catholic prayers, anti-Catholic bigots who feed on this kind of stuff will have a stomach full.

This is not the first time Showtime has featured a vile Penn & Teller show. In 2005, Mother Teresa
was called “Mother F—ing Teresa,” and her order of nuns were branded “f—ing c–ts.” The year after,
Jillette said on his CBS radio show that Mother Teresa “got her [sexual] kicks watching people
suffer and die.”

Just recently, Jillette took after me again in his usual foul way. That doesn’t matter, but what matters
greatly is his pathological obsession with bashing Catholics and their religion. There is no legitimate
place for this kind of frontal assault on any demographic group.

CBS/Showtime needs to send Penn & Teller a message and let them know that they have crossed
the line for the last time. This should be their final season. We know that they’ve been told before to
drop the Catholic bashing, and yet they persist. By doing so, Penn & Teller have effectively stuck their
middle finger right in the eye of CBS.

I can guess how Penn and Teller are reacting to this: with jubilation. They make a living by poking authority with a sharp stick, and there is no better response than a spittle-flecked denouncement from a pompous windbag who reacts to every slight with a flurry of press releases and angry demands.

Speaking of Donohue, he has a new book out: Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America. I think his title is half right — some of us liberals do aim to diminish religion, but it’s rather silly to suggest we’re going to get rid of culture. We just hope to make secular culture dominant.

His book has been “reviewed” by his fellow-traveler and religious suck-up, L. Brent Bozell, and it does give you a taste of the absurdities within.

“Secular Sabotage” is serious business. Donohue insists the United States should be considered unequivocally a Christian country. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves as such. Indeed – and I didn’t realize this – the United States is the most Christian country, in quantitative terms, in the world. “In fact,” states the author, “the U.S. is more Christian than Israel is Jewish.” And yet if this is so, why can’t we celebrate Christmas? Why can’t our children pray in school? How did we just elect a president who insisted the United States ought not to be considered a Christian nation?

Wait a minute…I’m a goddamned atheist, and I celebrate Christmas. Do we have goon squads that barge into religious people’s homes now and confiscate their Christmas trees and inflatable Santa Claus lawn displays? I don’t think so.

If Mr Bozell’s children need some instruction in religious liberty, they should sit down for a little talk with Uncle PZ. Surprise: they can pray their adorable little hearts out in school if they want. There is no law that says kids can’t have a little silent prayer on their own before the big test. The thing is, though, that the public schools — those government administrators and bureaucrats, don’t you know — aren’t allowed to tell you what to pray, what god to pray to, when to pray, or whether to pray at all. They’re supposed to stay out of your religious life altogether.

And President Obama got elected because he avoided offending people with religious sensibilities and has only said that the US is a secular nation with religious liberty. Again, what that means is that the government is out of the god business (or should be, ideally), and individual Americans get to worship or not worship as they want. It’s really not hard to understand, unless of course, you make a living by stirring up people’s outrage by pretending not to understand.

The rest of the review suggests that the big focus of the book is on the Gay Conspiracy. It doesn’t mention if any small-town college professors who brutalize crackers are talked about — maybe Donohue has realized that that whole escapade made him look absurd. If somebody gets their hands on it, let me know — he hasn’t bothered to send me a review copy.

Don’t pay full price for it, though. Wait for it to show up in the remainder bins. It won’t take long.