On NBC's Today, Robin Williams Smears Critics of His Anti-Catholic Jokes -- Including NB
On Thursday’s Today, NBC’s Meredith Vieira interviewed Robin Williams, introducing him jokingly that he "has always made people look to the heavens and say what was he thinking? So it's only appropriate that in his latest film, License To Wed, he plays a man of the cloth. And his character, Reverend Frank is more than a little unorthodox." He’s playing an Episcopalian minister, but all his trouble lately has been by making harsh jokes about Catholic priests and pedophilia.
On the June 18 Tonight show, Williams unfurled a whole routine suggesting there were pedophiles everywhere among the Catholic priesthood, a smear on the vast majority of serious and celibate priests, as well as mean-spirited jokes about priests being sexually aroused in the confessional. Ten days later, he smeared his critics – specifically, without citing names, Michael Chapman on NewsBusters -- suggesting they didn’t care whether child-abusing priests were exposed, that keeping it quiet was okay. About halfway into the interview, Vieira steered into his mockery of priests:
Vieira: "We watched you on the Tonight show talking about the movie-"
Williams: "Sorry for noticing."
Vieira: "No, and you started making jokes about priests and pedophiles. Next thing you know the Church is up in arms."
Williams: "Yeah but they should have been up in arms, basically after the children's crusade. I think it started there. All of a sudden the Catholic Church went, 'Oh look! They're everywhere!'"
Vieira: "Well do, do you ever worry about offending people?"
Williams: "Oh, all the time. But it's my job as a comic, sometimes to keep going, you know? If you read it and go, it's not like it didn't exist. And I love his defense was, 40 percent of the, 40, 40 percent of the victims were under 14 years of age. It was, oh, oh thank you. That makes it okay then. Because I was using the word children, saying that under, 14 and under were only children. 40 percent, and the rest were still illegal but that's okay."
Vieira: "So what, the fact, that you don't care what they say?"
Williams: "You care if its really, really, should, no. I was basically going if you're noticing it, it's, you can't ignore it. If you do, it's like, then why live in this world?"
William Donohue at the Catholic League was the first one to draw attention to the comedian’s harsh anti-priest routine: "Williams suggests that most molesting priests are pedophiles, when in fact they are homosexuals. But to make a joke about gay priests could get him into trouble. So it’s better to lie. This is justice – Hollywood style."
It's easy to make jokes about priests being pedophiles, but it's completely unacceptable in Hollywood to make jokes about priests being gay. The controversy over terms, then, is: Is "pedophilia," defined as an adult attraction to sex with children, a term that applies when men seek sex with post-pubescent males? (Personally, I would define my children as still "children" until 18, but the libertine left certainly doesn't.)
In his NB post, Michael followed up on that point: "Williams essentially smeared all priests, ignoring the fact that 81 percent of the victims in the Catholic Church were males abused by priests and that more than 40 percent of these victims were males aged 11 to 14. The majority of the victims, according to the official reports on the cases, involved people who were past puberty, i.e., young teenagers." Michael did not say, as Williams mangled it, that 40 percent were under 14, but that 40 percent were between 11 and 14.
To follow up with more numbers, the John Jay study for the bishops' National Review Board estimated 14 percent of accusations of child sex abuse were of children under 10. But over 50 percent of them were aimed at children 13 and over, suggesting that the majority of the problem centered on post-pubescent males.
Catholics who fight with anti-Catholics on this matter are NOT saying "Oh, that makes it okay, then." It's not only a horrible scandal when priests are engaged in sex with children. It's a horrible scandal when priests are engaged in sex with anyone. I remember Brent Bozell lamenting a priest in nearby Manassas who engaged in adultery with a married woman and then left the priesthood to marry her. Catholics find that offensive, destructive of the church community. Hollywood would probably make it an uplifting love story of the week.
Also, in his Today show appearance – as he has with Rush Limbaugh – Williams began by callously making drug jokes about Ann Coulter:
Vieira: "And Robin Williams good morning. What a morning you chose to come here. Huh?"
Williams in French accent: "I come here on crazy morning. The liberation of Paris [Hilton]."
Vieira: "Yes. Steroids."
Williams: "Steroids and Ann Coulter. Kind of redundant really."
My question is: how on Earth is it that Robin Williams, who left his first wife for the nanny, who had a serious cocaine addiction – how does a man who’s messed up his personal life on multiple occasions think he has the slightest moral high ground to condemn others? Vieira mentioned the comedian's marriage, hailing it for lasting 18 years, without mentioning the scandalous way it began. Vieira also sensitively asked Williams about rehab and his latest trip there. Hollywood celebrities are given a much more sensitive platform than little-known priests in little-known towns, who are mocked as perverts for laughs.
In effect, with these jokes, Williams is telling the Catholic priests of the world "I am holier than thou." Priests aren’t making screwed-up Robin Williams jokes from the pulpit. Perhaps he ought to reflect on how he would be smarter to follow that moral example. Comedian, heal thyself.