Managing Editor's Note: The following was originally published today at the Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" page. Mr. Bozell was asked to contribute this "Guest Voice" column to explain his complaints about Comedy Central's planned "JC" cartoon.
Comedians often pride themselves on being irreverent, and in today's popular culture a favorite thing to ridicule is religion. The network Comedy Central has made laughing at religion its bread and butter. Their irreverence has limits, however, and it has nothing to do with taste. When radical Muslims wrote ominously online that the creators of "South Park" could end up like Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh - shot eight times on the street - mockery of Muhammed was formally and publicly censored.
Within weeks of that very public retreat, Comedy Central announced plans to work up a series laughing at Jesus Christ called "JC," a half-hour animated show about Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York City to escape the "enormous shadow" of his "powerful but apathetic father." God the Father is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ is the "ultimate fish out of water."
Beyond the glaring double standard there is this question: Where is the market demand for an entire television series dedicated to attacks on Jesus Christ? What did Jesus Christ do to Comedy Central that they must relentlessly mock Him by portraying him defecating and talking about his "yummy, yummy crap" on "South Park" and roast him on specials titled "Merry F--ing Christmas"? Why the visuals of Jesus Christ being stabbed to death? Of the Blessed Virgin Mary menstruating? To call these attacks "juvenile" is an insult to juveniles.
Enough is enough. Citizens Against Religious Bigotry, a coalition of some 20 organizations and leaders, some Christian, some Jewish and some secular, in all representing millions of Americans, has come together to demand that the advertising community withhold their sponsorship dollars from this show, based on Comedy Central's documented history of anti-Christian bigotry. To sponsor this show is to support that anti-Christian bigotry. In reply, network spokesman Tony Fox declared that this show is only a vague idea and perhaps our group "should save their energy for the moment if and when this series ever makes air." But if "JC" is too vague to deserve comment, why did Comedy Central announce it with flagrant God-bashing fanfare?
It's amazing that the Comedy Central folks consider this putrid material to be "art" and wrap themselves with the blanket of artistic freedom of expression. Said programming head Kent Alterman: "The beauty of working at a place like Comedy Central is you can empower people to actualize their vision in a really unfiltered way."
Unless, of course, the "vision" is an attack on Muhammed, in which case there will be immediate self-imposed censorship.
Comedy Central loves the idea that irreverence is the highest value that inspires the biggest laughs. Christians are called to love the opposite idea: that reverence to God is the highest value. We are called to take up the cross of Jesus daily, and that as a result people will "utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."
We will not be silent. This anti-Christian bigotry must stop.