On The differences between Satire and Bigotry
Yesterday, I posted a satirical post about the Pope. I was happy with it. I thought it was pretty silly. I was especially pleased when I called him “Benedict the Cumberbatch.” Comedy genius, I tell ya!
I knew that it might upset a few Catholics if they read it and that was totally OK. That’s what happens when you write a blog post that is critical of the Papacy – even if it is primarily written as a joke. If someone doesn’t like the joke, the intent is not relevant.
Well, a friend of mine shared the post and then a friend of hers got pretty upset about it and we had a conversation. He kept saying he didn’t want to have a conversation but he actions suggested otherwise. I guess he was obsessed with someone being wrong on the internet. I get that. I’ve been there.
I tried very hard to be civil and I feel like I mostly succeeded. I don’t feel like my compatriot did. I’m sure he would argue the opposite so that’s a push.
I’m not going to link to the conversation because while it was public, I’ve not asked permission to do so. Sharing the entire conversation without permission from the other party would be a dick move. And honestly, I’m using that conversation to explore some ideas I really couldn’t explore in a vitriolic Facebook thread.
What I’m going to write about is the idea of “bigotry” versus “satire.” The individual I was arguing with stated that I was a “bigot” because I was making fun of the Catholic Church. He defines “bigotry” as follows:
1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own
OK, we’ll go with this definition.
Let’s first consider that I did not exhibit complete intolerance for Catholic beliefs. I was pretty intolerant of the Papacy, which is fair because I don’t like the Papacy. if that is intolerant of the beliefs of some Catholics then yes, I am intolerant of that belief.
But is it intolerant in the sense that I would treat a Catholic differently (negatively) because of what they believe? No. I don’t dislike Catholics. I dislike the Catholic Church and the men who run it because I believe that they are bigots.
Oh shit! Irony!
Bigotry, I think, also involves belief in things about certain groups that are not true. If you believe black people are inferior, you are a bigot. If you believe people who are Republicans are wrong, you are not a bigot. At least not about that.
Let’s examine what I said about the Pope and his beliefs:
I said the Church is opposed to Homosexuality. It is. In fact, under this pope, the Church poured more than 2 million dollars into opposition of gay marriage this last election cycle.
I said Benedict the Cumberbatch (sorry – I still love that joke) had shielded pedophile priests from prosecution. He did.
I said the church opposes birth control. It does.
Now I also said that the guy looks like the Eighth Dwarf. You be the judge:
I also implied that some facets of the catholic chuch seemed a little bit gay. That was intended as an ironic counterpoint to the fact that the Church is adamantly opposed to gay marriage. I wouldn’t call it an insult because I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being gay.
So most of what I said was satire that was grounded in truth. I’m not trying to pretend that I love the Catholic Church because that would be a lie.
However the reasons I dislike the Catholic Church are not bullshit reasons. I didn’t make them up.
Hell, I didn’t even mention the fact the Pope lives in opulence and that opulence, in my opinion, is in complete contradiction to the life of the guy the church is supposed to represent. The riches the Catholic Church has amassed (and continues to amass) also present a stark contrast to the life of Christ. I also didn’t bring up transubstantiation, which I think is kind of nuts.
Do I think the Catholic church would be better off without the Papacy? Yes! There, I said it! I’m a bigot after all!
But look, the real question here is whether or not making fun of a specific religion qualifies as bigotry. I don’t honestly think it does. No more than making fun of a political position is bigotry. Writing satire is not, in itself, a bigoted act. It is shining a light on absurd truths and making jokes about them.
Now – do I have an anti-Catholic bias?
Yep. I’m an atheist. I have an anti-religion bias. I’m going to make fun of religion when I think it is wrong because I have a problem with people telling other people what to do and believe in the name of god. You want to call that bigotry? Go ahead. You aren’t going to make me feel shitty about it or convince me to stop.
I will make fun of any and all religion when they do things that, in my opinion, deserve to be mocked. That’s what comedians do.
You can certainly argue that I do it badly if you like. That’s OK.
But to suggest that any religion is off limits because the moment I make a joke about a specific religion, I’m a bigot?
That one doesn’t fly with me. I think that exposes the individual making the accusation as something of a bigot as they are unable to accept any observation that their religion is flawed unless it comes from within the religion.
In the end, I’m going to keep making jokes about religion because I think that many things done in the name of religion are horrible and the best defense I have against things that are horrible is to make jokes about them. I feel no need to apologize for that.
I’m sure not apologizing for “Benedict the Cumberbatch.” That shit is golden.
It’s fascinating to see how hard some folks work to transform basic questions of judgement into a case for prejudice. The catholic Church is a human institution. It’s actions and its doctrines can be assessed like any other. And when they are found wanting it is NOT bigotry to say so.
Anyone who can’t grasp the correct concept of “bigot” wouldn’t understand the concept of “irony” either. I am amused…and willing to bet that conversation in its entirety is really entertaining.
Criticising someone’s actions is not bigotry. That shows a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of the word. If we weren’t allowed to criticize there would be no free press, just to give one example. Satire is a perfectly valid form of criticism.
Some people are just looking for an excuse to get offended. I say let them.
And yes, that Benedict Cumberlatch shit is golden…