Friday, January 11, 2008

Fair Game Isn't So Much?


Was Eucharist fair game? But Faith gets forgiveness

Public Radio International has apologized for a recent skit on Fair Game with Faith Salie that recommended an imaginary “Huckabee family recipe” for “Deep-Fried Body of Christ — boring holy wafers no more,” the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said yesterday. The recipe skit was one of several based on weight problems of the preacher/presidential candidate (here’s another), but this one was pulled from the nightly comic interview show’s website, the league said, concluding: “We are satisfied with this outcome — it effectively ends this issue.”

I fully realize this is Monday-morning quarterbacking...but why does this feel a lot like PRI rolled over and muzzled Faith Salie? I mean, come on! They apologized to the Catholic League? This is the same group even the Pope thought wasn't very Christian.
(yes, that's a here if you haven't seen the South Park episode about it)

I'd like to think that PRI put up a fight for free speech and only backed down when it was clear the League was ready to go to extreme lengths to make everyone's life difficult. But somehow I doubt that.

I also find it interesting that the League insidiously choose to go over a Fair Game affiliate...namely KCPW in Salt Lake City, Utah, a station that's no doubt always on the hot seat when it comes to religious issues...rather than complain directly to Fair Game's producer, WNYC. Or the distributor, PRI. And here's the real clincher:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“We are lodging a complaint with Ed Sweeney, KCPW’s general manager. This kind of programming would be over-the-top on a shock-jock station, never mind a station funded by the taxpayers. We would also like to know who was behind this assault on Jesus. Therefore, we are asking for an investigation.”

Ummm...if you'd listened to the show, Bill...I think you'd know. It was Faith Salie and the rest of the staff of Fair Game. No real big mystery, there, dude. But of course, demanding an investigation sounds a lot more intimidating and scary.

And isn't the Catholic League based in New York? Why the hell did they go after a station in Salt Lake City?!?!?! Shouldn't they be complaining to WNYC?!?
(Yes, I know the answer is because they knew WNYC would not be so easily intimidated as a smaller station in a smaller market that happens to be in the most religiously-charged city in the country. This is what's known as a "rhetorical question".)

And don't get me started about the "station funded by the taxpayers" bit...never mind the fact that taxpayer dollars make up perhaps 5% of a pubradio stations' revenue...never mind that commercial radio conglomerates get far more in dollar values in tax breaks/corporate welfare than pubradio stations will ever see...isn't a religion talking about another group being a burden on taxpayers the same as the proverbial pot calling the kettle black?

Man, I'm getting outraged again...I need to pay less attention to the world. :-/


Anonymous said...

It's embarrassing that they rolled over. There wasn't even a fight for... I don't know... Freedom of Speech or "hey, it's satire!" If they're giving in to these people, who else are they giving into. I think a lot less of Public Radio today than I did yesterday.

Aaron Read said...

I feel that I am probably justified in feeling that PRI just "rolled over".

However, speaking with hindsight, I feel compelled to point out that there's probably more going on behind the scenes than was made public. I certainly hope PRI and/or WNYC didn't merely yelp and shake like a chihuahua when the big bad Catholic League snarled at them.

While it'd be nice for PRI, WNYC and/or Fair Game to post some explanation of exactly what happened and why they did what they did...a five minute web search revealed no such press releases or anything on PRI's or Fair Game's sites.

OTOH, it doesn't really help the situation to give it more attention than it deserves; for example, if the segment was felt to be kinda weak to begin with, then this was a convenient excuse to end it. In such a case, the Catholic League is still being a bully, but why give the League the satisfaction of national exposure over something that might be kinda trivial, ya know?

Exactly how much attention this whole thing deserves might be too much if PRI posted a long explanation about it in the first place, if that makes sense.

Still, my inclination is that PRI, WNYC and/or Fair Game would be better served by erring on the side of disclosure than not. If they decide that they've gone too far and self-censored, they can always take up the bully pulpit and use the explanation as a way to snarl back at the League.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they pulled it because it wasn't funny. Juvenile fried eucharist jokes aren't news. Stuff like this is a perfect example of the dumbing down of public radio. We deserve better.