Penn Ultimate Sin


It's not enough that Penn Jillette has drawn the attention of the national security state, oh no. He now stands accused of "anti-Christian" acts by the Catholic League.

In a letter to ABC, League president William Donohue charges that a recent Penn & Teller act was so offensive that the network should pull the duo's Super Bowl pre-game gig.

The bit evidently involved Teller on a cross, a cherub—whom the presumably in-the-know Donohue describes as "a midget dressed as an angel"—some simulated sex, and some Shroud of Turin lampooning. (Taking offense at the later seems on par with objecting to a Piltdown man sketch, but to each.)

The offending act also sounds like the exact opposite of treacly Super Bowl fare. There's a reason non-fans tune in to watch the ads. The ads entertain.

NEXT: Creepy Jackalope Eye

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’d be wary of making a hero of Penn. He’s just as full of B-list bombast as Bill Maher.

    Where do you get off making this claim? Penn and Teller have made it abundantly clear that they come down firmly on the side of liberty. Recently they have even incorporated a bit into their stage show in which they “burn” a flag to make a point about the bill of rights, and its probably the most thought provoking bit of social commentary you’ll ever see in a “magic” show.

  2. Yes, well, I’ll have some respect for Penn when he has the balls to blaspheme Mohammed as a pedophile on stage.

  3. Penn and Teller; Champions of liberty but no more effective than the rest of us

  4. I’d be wary of making a hero of Penn. He’s just as full of B-list bombast as Bill Maher. (another pseudo-celebrity claiming to be a libertarian.) While Penn appears sincere in his efforts, his account of his recent encounter with hapless airport security personnel made him look like a jackass troublemaker.

  5. Sure, Donohue’s offended (what’s new?), but the entire stunt has caused a bit of an uproar here in Sin City. P&T put on their act at a roast for another local gonzo magician, The Amazing Johnathan, and according to the roastee (see, a number of “gospel magicians” in the audience walked out. Super-clean, hyper-establishment magician Lance Burton (who was also on the program) thought the sketch was a hoot, and said so. Of course, The Amazing J didn’t exactly boost his stock with the bible-thumping crowd when he said, “I know that Penn is a practicing atheist, and I agree with him that Christianity can be dangerous. Look at the Trade Center. That was done in the name of religion.” Guess he won’t be invited to perform in Salt Lake any time soon.

  6. I have been reading Reason since before I was one of the charter members of the Libertarian Law Society back at UCLA Law School, but I didn’t know that to be a good libertarian you had to be a devout atheist or a bigot. Reading the message in this post and the post addressing the attempt by some Bishops to refocus funeral services on things that “no adult really believes” like the Resurrection, I guess I never got that part of libertarianism.

    Until I read your post, I thought that Donahue was mischaracterizing the act. It would seem from your post that Donahue was factually correct but should have stifled his free speech right to object to a “simulated sex act” performed on a crucified Jesus by a midget dressed as an angel – which, of course, is a cherub and not simply a midget dressed as an angel – with the Shroud of Turin used as a prop. Correct, what is “anti-Christian” there. Of course, even the idea that anything could be considered “anti-Christian” is so silly that the concept deserves “scare quotes.” The Shroud is, of course, a fraud and its status as an object of veneration because of what it depticts just proves that Catholics are simpletons who will accept any silly thing.

    Thanks for the clarification. As a practicing Catholic, I guess I’m just not sophisticated or intelligent enough to belong to your club. Good thing that my fellow libertarians back at UCLA didn’t know I was a practicing Catholic or I might not have been allowed to join.

    Blog on.

  7. People that don’t believe in the truth of Jesus Christ have absolutely no ultimate meaning in their life. How else is he to act with no purpose for his existence? Lost.

  8. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 07:37:36
    Man is the missing link between apes and human beings.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.