TWO MONTHS AFTER THE PASSION: BODY COUNT—ZERO

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Great headline and a great rant by the great Bill Donohue:

"Two months have elapsed since the film was released and no Jew has been killed. Not only have there been no pogroms, there have been no reported beatings, and no reported acts of vandalism associated with the film. This is true not only in the U.S.; it is true all over the world. By now the movie has played in literally scores of countries, all without violence.

"Those who predicted that the movie would generate violence need to explain themselves. And in some cases, they need to apologize to Christians. Recall that it was ADL director Abe Foxman who said last January that Mel Gibson is 'hawking it [the film] on a commercial crusade to the churches of this country.' He then concluded, 'That's what makes it so dangerous.' In other words, it's not lax Christians who are a danger to Jews, nor is it the anti-war protesters who carry banners bashing Israel, it's those Catholics and Protestants who go to church on Sundays that Jews have to fear the most. Not only is this radically wrong—indeed it's dangerously wrong—it's also insulting to practicing Christians.

"Calls to censor the movie have been voiced in many countries, including the U.S. In France, three Jews who claim to be acting as spokesmen for the Jewish community, the Benlolo brothers, went into court to ban the film. Moreover, there is only one nation in the world where the movie has been banned—Israel; Shapira Films has the Israeli distribution rights and refuses to release the film. Just imagine the uproar if a Catholic country were to ban a film Catholics found offensive!

"Every time there is a Catholic-bashing movie, play or art exhibition, the critics lecture Catholics on their need for tolerance. For example, Catholics are told that artists like to 'push the envelope' and to 'make people think.' But somehow none of this elite spin seems to apply to Mel's masterpiece. Which just goes to show that Catholics have been lied to all along."

NEXT: Mary McGrory, RIP

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  1. Great post. After seeing the movie I was suprised at all the pre-release contoversy. They cut out a lot of passages that could have made the film more controversial. This was a great film that really portrayed what it wanted to portray and left it at that. Others can debate the merits of the work, but I think Gibson achieved what he set out to do, and very well at that.

  2. How stupid, Bill Donohue thinks that if an Israeli movie distributor declines to pick up The Passion of the Christ it has been ‘banned’ in Israel. Obviously he hasn’t any clear idea about what ‘banned’ means, does he?

    He might have a point about ‘elite opinion’ vis-a-vis anti-Catholic bias in art, but in every respects Donohue is no less of a myopic alarmist than Abe Foxman or any other professional interest-group maven. And with just as dumb arguments, too.

  3. “I read this a lot, but I’m at a loss as to the particular Catholic doctrine, prior to Vatican 2,
    that said it was a religious duty to pound on the Jews- even the doctrine that says it acceptable. ”

    deicide, baby. now it’s just a shitty metal band from florida or some place hot like that.

    vatican II did more than help the mafia and cia assassinate a pope with an apple pie. 🙂

  4. Oh and memo to Rick Barton, hardly able to keep his dishonest anti-semitism under wraps: Israel’s ‘nazi like, mixed marriage impediment law’ has nothing to do with race–it has to do with Israeli citizens of any race marrying the non-Israeli citizens of the territories. You’ll need better propaganda than that, brother.

  5. Maybe Catholicism never was anti-Semitic, but the current Pope seems to think it was; he formally apologized for and renounced the Church’s [apparently non-existent] anti-Semitic history.

    And there are other things which makes the Church appear to be an historical source of Jew-hatred: the canonization of the Spanish Queen who kicked the Jews out of Spain and got that cute little Inquisition up and running, for example.

    Those of you who insist that Catholicism never advocated formal anti-Semitism need to ask the current Pope what the hell he apologized for.

  6. There is an odd species of left leaning folks that shows itself most during its very odd, out of proportion negative responses to Christianity. So many people’s world views are informed, and politics so strongly affected by the betrayal they felt from their parents making mistakes, or lying to them, often about religion. Some people spend the rest of their lives fixated on hypocricy over it, and I imagine it leads many into libertarianism, in an effort to never be a hypocrit.

    How many of you are the ones that still complain about your parents when you get together with your siblings? There’s one in every family.

  7. This is a real conundrum for H&R posters.

    Gibson was tarred as anti-Semitic, and the posters here usually jump on anything that might be anti-Israeli.

    But a lot of Gibson’s critics are on the left, and the first axiom of this forum is that the left is always wrong.

    Heads are exploding…

  8. Shyeah. If you want violence in response to a movie with religious subject matter, it has to be a movie depicting muslims in a bad light.

  9. I’m so tired of the whole “elite [i.e. left-wing] vs. the masses [i.e. right-wing]” crap that Donohue parrots… I stopped reading “National Review” for a reason….
    Anyway, if it is elitist to have the opinion that Mel Gibson should be bitchslapped for pretending surprise at the enormous profit of this movie (I don’t buy for one second that he didn’t suspect this movie would be a huge hit with the faithful), well fine. I am an elitist.

  10. Starger-
    Replace “Christian” with “members of the Flat Earth Society” or “people who insist that black and white folk are different species of animal” and then see if your question becomes easier to answer. Although in modern America, Flat-earthers and overt racists usually aren’t given much sway in dictating policy.

    Quoth Jesus of Nazareth, famed Son of Somebody: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Hmmph. He was righter than he knew, when he compared his worshippers to sheep.

    I loathe religion for the same reasons I loathe Communism or Nazism: any philosophy which results in the suppression, torture and/or death of millions of human beings throughout history is by definition evil.

  11. I haven’t seen the film and have no intention of seeing it. The story bored me the first couple of hundred times I heard it. But let’s examine the accusations levelled against the film:

    (1): “It will cause anti-Jewish violence.” I’m sorry, but two months is not enough time to make the call on this one, especially since the connection between propaganda and violence is not always clear. So the best we can say here is that the accusation hasn’t panned out thus far.

    (2): “The film is anti-Semetic”. Well, I’ve heard more than a few people who’ve seen it, including non-Jews, back up that claim.

    (3): “Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite”. I thought this was a stupid accusation when I first heard it. But after hearing Gibson’s non-denial denials about whether he was a Holocaust denier (how’s that for a sentence?), and his apparent decision to base his movie on the teachings of anti-Semites, I have to say that I’m more than a little worried that Gibson’s accusers might be right. At the very least, he’s one creepy motherfucker.

    So really, I’m not sure what the film’s accusers have to apologize for.

  12. Jennifer,

    Yes. That’s exactly what I was talking about.

    You need to forgive your parents before it kills you. (Or if you were the victim of truly awful or abusive parents, at least try to find a way to move on.)

    I’m guessing your life is a little screwed up because of your constant obsession with the imperfection of those you see as authority figures. Am I wrong?

  13. That is thoroughly ludicrous.

    What is ludicrous is that you purport to be able to separate what is objectively true from what your own biases will create from that which you observe. Observation does not disqualify evidence, but self-awareness disqualifies objectivity.

    You have no ability to observe what happened 2,000 years ago. You have no idea whether the water was turned to wine, or the fisherman at the urging of Christ cast their nets and caught 153 fish, or whether the curtain of the temple was torn in twain, etc. You have no idea what Gibson’s intentions were in making this movie, only what you surmise. You have no evidence either towards the crucifixion or the movie about it. All you have is a movie, and a downtrodden people who thought it was a cheap shot. No “objective evidence” is going to swing the needle either way as to whether the film was inappropriate, anti-Semitic, or whether any of the characteristics which a segment of the population found offensive were intentional, or most importantly, whether the rest of us who didn’t care should treat this movie differently on account of it.

    Obviously he hasn’t any clear idea about what ‘banned’ means, does he?

    It was banned, but implicitly, using licensing laws. The sole company that had the power to distribute it refused to, and did so on the basis of content. Thanks to region encoding, it is in effect banned in Israel.

  14. Starger-
    I am not talking about my parents here; I’m talking about religious/political philosophies that have resulted in millions of deaths throughout history. As Jesus of Nazareth said: “Judge a tree by the fruit it bears.”

    Are you seriously claiming that anyone who finds fault with the evil fruits of organized religion must have had a Christina Crawford-style childhood? If so, what basis have you for this belief?

  15. Jennifer, it’s a troll. Ignore it.

    _____________________________________________
    “All non-Samoans must die.” Oh, hey wait….

  16. RST-
    Consider this statement: “I just said a magic word, and turned lead into gold.”

    You don’t have to be sitting in my living room watching me to know that I’m lying; awareness of the laws of nature will do just fine. A three-digit IQ is also helpful. I know some people who COULD be convinced that I can turn lead into gold or water into wine, but none of these people have reached their fifth birthday yet.

  17. The lack of a body count now only proves that Christians have grown up since the Middle Ages

    I wonder what the ever-growing body count in the Middle East proves about the Jews and Arabs.

    whether he was a Holocaust denier

    I hear the best way to find that out is to toss him in a well and see whether he floats.

  18. You don’t have to be sitting in my living room watching me to know that I’m lying

    Actually, I would. Short of that I would merely not believe you, which is very distinct from saying that you are lying. The process you describe is theoretically possible. Whether you could provide the appropriate energy and free particles to transmute lead, I don’t know. With the right equipment, maybe. After all, you didn’t say that it was your magic word that caused the transmutation. 😉

    Don’t count on that IQ, all it measures is your ability to recall data to which you have already been exposed.

  19. RST-
    Seriously? You are EXACTLY the type of customer I try to cultivate in my business!

    I have all kinds of great things to sell you at bargain-basement prices. Tropical islands off the Alaskan coast, beachfront property in Iowa, and a magical “soup stone” that will turn tap water into nourishing broth.

  20. You are EXACTLY the type of customer I try to cultivate in my business!

    No, I am exactly not the type of customer you try to cultivate in your business. There is nothing you can sell me, because I am not likely to believe anything you say. Nothing personal, of course, this is just a general rule. Whether at some instant you’re actually lying or not, I won’t believe you, and would only buy if I thought the gamble worth it.

  21. ‘Banned’ in classical liberal, free-expression terms means the government has used the state’s coercive power to censor some expression. That’s not what Donohue was talking about. And what does ‘region encoding’ have to do with big-screen release exhibition? This is not a DVD.

    Regardless, if some movie business oligopolistic practice is responsible for not having this film shown in Israel, say so and be honest–don’t make up this b.s. that it has been ‘banned’.

  22. Jennifer,

    RST is correct in saying that it is possible to transmute lead. Not to nit-pick.

  23. i’m sure divx will take care of it, eventually.

  24. And what does ‘region encoding’ have to do with big-screen release exhibition? This is not a DVD.

    But it will be. Except in Israel.

    don’t make up this b.s. that it has been ‘banned’

    Hey, I don’t exactly agree with Donahue. I’m not the conservative Christian type. But regardless of how it arrived there, the effect is still the same: unless it comes out on VHS, you’d have to break the law to see it in Israel.

    ‘Banned’ in classical liberal, free-expression terms means the government has used the state’s coercive power to censor some expression.

    However, the above having been said, it is entirely possible that this is precisely what Israel did. Licensing laws are after all a coercive power of the state. The appropriateness of those laws notwithstanding, a simple agreement between the oligarchy and the Knesset would accomplish what its government otherwise may not have the ability to do.

  25. Maybe the problem with Mel Gibson’s “Kill Jesus, Volume One” is that it is a commercial exploitation of the violent death of God. Mayhaps some Jewish people are a little touchy about a matter which has justified 2000 years of shit kicking. Oh, and the problem isn’t necessarily that Catholics or the “elite” need to be more tolerant. The problem is that they need taste.

    Jews rule.

  26. There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church, along with Martin Luther and other protestants, promulgated a fierce anti-Semitism. I was raised in the same pre-Vatican II Catholic sect that Gibsons was, and can vouch that most of those people are anti-Semitic, and that would include my parents.

    The Catholic League *used* to be cool. There really has existed in the U.S. some nasty anti-Catholicism among fundamentlaist Xians. But now the CL calls for boycotts of any film that approaches Catholicism in any terms less glowing then “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” Rent “The Magdalene Sisters,” and google the pharse “Magdalene laundries.” The CL denounces this very well done — if intense and depressing film– as mere Anti-Catholic propaganda. Well, fact is, and as the CL basically concedes, the film is accurate about the slavery the Irish Catholic Church imposed on women well into the late 20th century, for “sins” of sexual impurity. As a warning against theocracy, it is indeed a great film and this story SHOULD be told. If truth necessarily makes the Church look evil, too bad.

    –Mona–

  27. This thread sucks. Forget theology…let’s talk about something more interesting to the hearts of libertarians everywhere: money. Can anyone point me to a recent (post beginning of March) piece detailing how Mel’s going to make out, profit-wise? $365+ million dollars is a lotta cash; what’s his cut?

    I couldn’t care less about the film; Mel’s my hero for the piles of dough he’s making off the thing.

  28. I’m not sure what’s more annoying, that Snarker blind hatred requires him to make excuses for bigotry, that his “argument” isn’t internally coherent, or that it has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

  29. Now remind me again, how many Catholics were killed because of The Last Temptation of Christ?

  30. That Donohue, what a card! Honestly, is there any single person who’s brought more shame on the Catholic Church than this man? I realize he doesn’t officially speak for them, but can’t they be bothered to disavow him?

  31. the magdalene sisters was excellent.

  32. “Just imagine the uproar if a Catholic country were to ban a film Catholics found offensive!”

    Actually, Catholic countries regularly, even casually, ban films they find offensive. Now I realize it’s unfair to ask Donohue to actually use facts in mid-rant, but you’d think he’d start each claim with “I’m no expert and I haven’t done any research, yet…”

  33. Not all of this is related to what has been said so far, but here are my views on The Passion.

    Anti-semitic?
    A resounding NO. Yes, the Jews in that specific time and place are depicted as being partially responsible (the Romans are, as well) for Jesus’ death. Well, guess what, that is a FACT. Whether Jesus is the son of God or not is debatable. However, the fact that he existed and was crucified at the urging of Jewish leaders is not. It happened. What is anti-semitic about acknowledging that?

    Furthermore, by the end of the story the viewer is not left with hatred for the Jews or even Pontius Pilate. Rather, he is left feeling sorry for them.

    Too bloody?
    Yes and no. It’s probably too bloody for children, especially if they don’t understand the story. However, as someone mentioned earlier, it’s all about context. Yes, it’s graphic and bloody, but unlike most of the schlock that comes out of Hollywood, it is not glorifying such behavior. It is indeed horrifying, but that’s the point – the crucifixion was a horrifying thing.

    Also, some people (though thankfully not on this board) have called the violence sexually perverted, etc. If anyone was sexually aroused by this movie, or even imagines that someone would be, he needs to have his head examined because he has his own issues.

  34. steve – agree with you on the anti-semetic thing…the only scene which made me wonder about the film’s seriousness (outside of the absolutely ridiculous ‘jesus invented western styled table and chair set’ flashback!) was when they first arrest him and bring him to the temple – the crowd seemed a bit too vicious for too long compared to other scenes in the movie, rather than contemptous or just wound up.

    the violence was about glorification, but about the glorification of withstanding torture rather than inflicting it. in that respect, it’s not uncommon, and actually belongs well within the mel gibson canon of torture sequences (braveheart, the first lethal weapon, and so on).

  35. My reading of the films’ critics was that it was offensive not because it would incite violence, but because it was an attempt to overturn Vatican II’s renunciation of a traditionally anti-Semitic reading of the story of the crucifixion.

  36. Pardon me, but what is “anti-Semitism”?

    According to Merriam-Webster’s Third New
    International Dictionary, it is defined as:
    (1) hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination
    (2) opposition to Zionism
    (3) sympathy for the opponents of Israel.

    So, if you opposed the ethnic cleansing of the palestinians during the establishment of Israel or if you are sympathetic to the Palestinians, then you are anti-semite based on def. 2 & 3, respectively. Arabs are anti-semite by definition unless they are self-hating.

  37. Charles is right.

    After seeing the movie, I was almost more annoyed by the crying (or those claiming to be “moved”) than the blatant anti-Semitism. Christians not only seem to have a covert-Jew-baiting fetish, but they also have horrible taste.

  38. “The reason so many fundie Protestants support Israel is because the Book of the Revelation states that Jesus will not return until all the world’s Jews are congregated in Israel. By supporting Israel, therefore, you’re helping bring about the end of this evil world and the beginning of a better one.”

    The fundies tend to think God will have His way, on His schedule. So I don’t think your explination quite makes it.

  39. Whoever might have been right or wrong about the predictions, the apparent lack of any killings (jon: could you amplify on the Christian deaths you mentioned?) is something to applaud in a world that usually seems to be on the brink of insanity or beyond. Maybe my head should be exploding over the lack of censorship, riots, film-burnings, etc., but I’ll take it.

  40. One interesting point made by Andrew Sullivan a few weeks back was that the relgious right, which has generally backed the movie, will never, ever be able to launch a moral crusade (‘scuse the pun) again against movie violence.

    Apparently we get to see Christ flogged for 90 minutes. I can think of better ways of spending my money than watching that, to be honest.

  41. I’m not a Christian, but I just love it when a movie like this comes out and people say that Christians are tasteless, yet for some reason you don’t hear the same thing about Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and similar movies.

    One thing I’ve learned reading blog comments: no one is more sanctimonious than a non-Christian telling Christians how they should worship God.

  42. usually, it’s bill donohue warning of pogroms against catholics, which is about as fucking absurd as you can get. considering american church leaders were actively aiding and abetting child molesters, sometimes for years, it’s amazing there haven’t been bishop burnings or at the very least, RICO charges.

  43. In order to pay the expenses of the numerous child abuse settlements, the Boston Archdoicese just agreed to sell (for $100 million) the Archbishop’s mansion and grounds to one of the most successful companies in the area’s most successful industry: Boston College.

    Q – What will they do to Michael Jackson if they find him with another 8 year old boy?

    A – Give him his own parish.

  44. Roger Sweeny: People outside the Boston area may not be aware that BC is a Jesuit college. It’s not as if the mansion is going outside the Church’s hands.

  45. Gibson was tarred as anti-Semitic, and the posters here usually jump on anything that might be anti-Israeli.

    A free thinker who is being honest with himself will look at an “anti-Semitic” label with some measure of doubt. I’m surprised how many people in this country (and on this board) have knee-jerk reactions to the slightest sentiment that might offend Jews. Yes, the holocaust was an indescribable horror, we heard you the first six million times. Jews probably got massacred the worst in the history of the many peoples who have been massacred. I feel for the people, but I didn’t do it, I don’t justify it, and I don’t apologize for it. And I find it funny that some of you would probably support some halfwit telling you that you can’t see a movie because some are offended over a history that you had no part of.

    it is a commercial exploitation

    Hollywood commercially exploiting an historical event to make money at the box office? Say it ain’t so! What a dangerous precedent to set in an open market.

    films’ critics was that it was offensive not because it would incite violence, but because it was an attempt to overturn Vatican II’s renunciation of a traditionally anti-Semitic reading

    I’m not clear as to why a film critic (or society as a whole) would find something offensive (or for society, patently offensive) because it goes against a papal bull.

    I can think of better ways of spending my money than watching that, to be honest.

    And you are free to do so, which is why to censor the movie would have been more offensive than the movie ever could be.

    The outrage was misplaced because it assumed that the “betrayal” would be the pivot point of the film for the audience. Indeed, the movie came and went, and nothing changed. I’m sure the next time somebody throws an egg at a synagogue, however, we’ll once again revisit what this evil and dangerous roll of celluloid has done to the poor hapless Jews.

    I don’t think the folks who called for its censorship have to explain themselves. If you’re dumb enough to think that censoring ideas will protect you from the dumb assholes who act on those ideas, that’s your right. It’s not like the people who called for its censorship notice that nothing happened, all that matters is that they were offended and we should have done something about it apparently.

  46. “I’m surprised how many people in this country (and on this board) have knee-jerk reactions to the slightest sentiment that might offend Jews.”

    Why does this nonsensical idea keep coming up? Where is this hyper-sensitivity? If Mel Gibson wants to spread hateful ideas (like anyone who doesn’t agree with his pre-Vatican II beliefs are condemned), no one’s suggesting he be stopped–that’s what they do in the countries we’re fighting right now. On the other hand, if you’re referring to those opposed to the hundreds of millions of Muslims openly calling for the death of Jews, who say Jews are the spawn of pigs an dogs, who traffick is the ugliest Jewish stereotypes that one would have thought were abandoned after WWII, well, pardon me for being sensitive. I’ll try to look the other way the next time a moderate Arab leader tells of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy controlling the world.

  47. i really didn’t think the passion was anti-semitic. maybe i missed something?

  48. Personally, I find it highly ironic that some of the biggest fans of this pre-Vatican II Catholic vision of the passion are fundementalist protestants who love the anti-catholic “Left Behind” novels, think the pope is the anti-christ, and say that Catholics aren’t really chirstians.

    Go figure.

  49. More commentary by Mr. Donohue:

    ?We are at a cultural tipping point. Never has the division between the elites and the masses been more evident. Many good things are happening: the smack-in-the-face that the public awarded Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake; the public revulsion to the anti-marriage campaign; the firing of Howard Stern from many radio outlets; and, most of all, the public?s embrace of ?The Passion of the Christ.?
    ?Saint Mel. That?s what he is in the eyes of millions of Americans. But for some, he?s Satan. Leon Wieseltier, the big fan of the Catholic-bashing writer Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, labels the movie a ?sacred snuff film.? … Already, left-wing censors in Hollywood are out to get Mel. They think they can stop him. But it?s too late for the blacklisters to win. Nothing can stop the public from rallying around Saint Mel.

  50. How does that old church youth-group sing-along go?

    “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
    Yes they’ll kno-ow we are Christians by our loooove.”

    By this standard, I am still trying to find evidence of the Christianity of Messrs. Donohue and Gibson.

  51. Where is this hyper-sensitivity?

    Did you notice the uproar over a few rolls of developed film?

    like anyone who doesn’t agree with his pre-Vatican II beliefs are condemned

    Why did this nonsensical idea come up?

    I’ll try to look the other way the next time a moderate Arab leader tells of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy controlling the world.

    I wasn’t talking about some Arab leader whining about Jews. Arabs have been whining about Jews for as long as there have been Arabs and Jews.

    This is a board about a movie and how half the people on this board couldn’t get over how “anti-Semitic” and irresponsible it was for Gibson to make this zero-effect movie at all. In a world where someone can freely toss elephant dung on a painting of the Virgin Mary, someone can also freely shit on the Jews of Judea c. 33 A.D. Whatever individuals – Arabs, assorted rednecks, etc. – do on account of that, the blame rests with those individuals.

  52. I have not seen The Passion, nor do I intend to (can’t stand the sight of blood), but something just occurred to me, in the middle of putting dishes away:

    Donohue seems to be saying that the racism of a statement is measured not by the statement itself, but by how people respond to it: Nobody has killed a Jew because of this movie; therefore, this movie is not anti-Semitic.

    By the same logic, a phrase like “All Samoans must die” is ONLY racist is somebody uses it as a justification to kill Samoans; otherwise it’s fine.

  53. Abe Foxman said…”it’s those Catholics and Protestants who go to church on Sundays that Jews have to fear the most.”

    Yeah, that was ridiculous and ugly, but don’t worry about anything Abe Foxman says. The guy is a major hypocrite. He is the director of an organization with the fine name of, “The Anti-defamation League”, yet he is a huge supporter of the Israeli government and Arial Sharon. Sharon actually supported “Jews Only” housing laws for housing on government land, in open discrimination against the 15% to 20% Arab citizens population of Israel:

    http://www.eto.home.att.net/jewsonly.html

    http://www.newsfrombabylon.com/article.php?sid=1779

    And, the Israeli government’s has a Nazi like, mixed marriage impediment law!

    law:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/01/international/middleeast/01MIDE.html?ex=1072933200&en=b3bdb3489e181def&ei=5070

    I don’t know how Foxman can stand to look at himself in the mirror.

  54. “…and no reported acts of vandalism associated with the film.”

    This is actually incorrect. At least one synagogue in New York was spray painted after the rabbi called for a boycott of the film. There was also a similar incident in Maryland or Virginia as I recall.

  55. that’s not really what he’s saying. he’s saying all of the RIDICULOUS proclamations of violence and impending doom – as if thousands of american christians would suddenly go looking for jews to kill because of a single fucking movie – should be reviled as dingleberries.

    which i agree with, and that shocks me as badly as it would shock mr. donohue, if he knew who i was. 🙂 the ADL should eat some crow over this.

    that said, donohue is both insane and overly sensitive. a bad combination indeed.

  56. rst said “Hollywood commercially exploiting an historical event to make money at the box office? Say it ain’t so! What a dangerous precedent to set in an open market.”

    The historical accuracy of Jesus’ crucifiction has never been objectively confirmed. I’m no religious scholar, but at best, the story of Jesus and the crucification, if it actually happened around 33 CE, only means that some raving lunatic who thought he was the son of God got axed on a cross.

    The point is that all the hand-wringing and worrying about this movie has ignored the entire point – was Jesus the Son of God? Until that’s proven with objective evidence, then the story of Jesus’ crucification is either a) historically about a raving lunatic getting iced, or b) a myth. Neither a) nor b) gets me, a modern, rational person living in 2004 CE who’s an atheist, worked up. Thus, a movie about this story has no impact on me, and I don’t care about it.

    You may respond that the movie impacts so many people because there are a large population of Christians in the world. Well, just because a large number of people believe in the factual accuracy of an obvious myth with zero objective evidence supporting its claims doesn’t make that myth true. Truth is not determined by popular vote.

  57. JJB-
    I too am an atheist. Bear in mind that even if Jesus did exist and was crucified, he was executed by the Romans for treason–declaring himself to be King of the Jews without official Roman approval.

    All Samoans must die.

  58. I don’t understand why Bill Donohue sounds even remotely surprised, or thinks this is different than the norm. To put it in a broader context, has there ever been a single instance of a doomsday prophet of any sort (I’m thinking specifically of environmentalists, but it could apply anywhere) actually being called to task when his or her prediction is blatantly wrong? More often, those that make silly predictions get even more press the next time they do the same thing, and they’re never held accountable for past failures. That’s just the nature of the beast.

  59. “Maybe the problem with Mel Gibson’s “Kill Jesus, Volume One” is that it is a commercial exploitation of the violent death of God.”

    A two hour Aramaic/Latin, Roman Catholic exegesis on the sorrowful mysteries is “commercial exploitation”? Are you forgetting that all the commentators, critics, even Gibson himself, predicted this movie would flop.

    “Oh, and the problem isn’t necessarily that Catholics or the “elite” need to be more tolerant. The problem is that they need taste.”

    Some people would think it arrogant and a little silly to insult the personal taste of all the adherents of a particular religion..

    “My reading of the films’ critics was that it was offensive not because it would incite violence, but because it was an attempt to overturn Vatican II’s renunciation of a traditionally anti-Semitic reading of the story of the crucifixion.”

    I read this a lot, but I’m at a loss as to the particular Catholic doctrine, prior to Vatican 2,
    that said it was a religious duty to pound on the Jews- even the doctrine that says it acceptable. Perhaps if a person thinks the Gospels themselves are inherently racist and anti-semitic -which I assume is the position that many on this board take- then perhaps Vatican 2 can be considered a reversal in policy.

    “One interesting point made by Andrew Sullivan a few weeks back was that the relgious right, which has generally backed the movie, will never, ever be able to launch a moral crusade (‘scuse the pun) again against movie violence.”

    Is it possible Sullivan doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “context”? Here’s an exchage from the “Answer Man” section on Ebert’s website:

    “”Q. The movie that beat out “The Passion of the Christ” as the biggest box-office draw is the remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” This is clearly a more egregious display of graphic violence than “Passion,” yet I have seen few if any objections to the violence from reviewers, whereas that seemed to be a primary objection to “Passion.”
    I think it’s because the violence in “Passion” was not gratuitous and because it had meaning and people found it repulsive (as they should) but in “Dawn,” it’s back to cartoon violence to which we have become desensitized. What do you think is going on?

    Jim Densmore, Ramona, Calif.

    Ebert: That’s exactly what it is. The violence in “Dawn of the Dead” is not real in any sense, and has no meaning or significance. The violence in “The Passion of the Christ” comes with a context.
    “”

  60. “Maybe the problem with Mel Gibson’s “Kill Jesus, Volume One” is that it is a commercial exploitation of the violent death of God.”

    A two hour Aramaic/Latin, Roman Catholic exegesis on the sorrowful mysteries is “commercial exploitation”? Are you forgetting that all the commentators, critics, even Gibson himself, predicted this movie would flop.

    “Oh, and the problem isn’t necessarily that Catholics or the “elite” need to be more tolerant. The problem is that they need taste.”

    Some people would think it arrogant and a little silly to insult the personal taste of all the adherents of a particular religion..

    “My reading of the films’ critics was that it was offensive not because it would incite violence, but because it was an attempt to overturn Vatican II’s renunciation of a traditionally anti-Semitic reading of the story of the crucifixion.”

    I read this a lot, but I’m at a loss as to the particular Catholic doctrine, prior to Vatican 2,
    that said it was a religious duty to pound on the Jews- even the doctrine that says it acceptable. Perhaps if a person thinks the Gospels themselves are inherently racist and anti-semitic -which I assume is the position that many on this board take- then perhaps Vatican 2 can be considered a reversal in policy.

    “One interesting point made by Andrew Sullivan a few weeks back was that the relgious right, which has generally backed the movie, will never, ever be able to launch a moral crusade (‘scuse the pun) again against movie violence.”

    Is it possible Sullivan doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “context”? Here’s an exchage from the “Answer Man” section on Ebert’s website:

    “”Q. The movie that beat out “The Passion of the Christ” as the biggest box-office draw is the remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” This is clearly a more egregious display of graphic violence than “Passion,” yet I have seen few if any objections to the violence from reviewers, whereas that seemed to be a primary objection to “Passion.”
    I think it’s because the violence in “Passion” was not gratuitous and because it had meaning and people found it repulsive (as they should) but in “Dawn,” it’s back to cartoon violence to which we have become desensitized. What do you think is going on?

    Jim Densmore, Ramona, Calif.

    Ebert: That’s exactly what it is. The violence in “Dawn of the Dead” is not real in any sense, and has no meaning or significance. The violence in “The Passion of the Christ” comes with a context.
    “”

  61. Good plug for the First Amendment. Now we need to get Mr. Donohue on the Second.

    Ever since 1985, when the Florida concealed carry legislation was being debated, the gun control folks have responded to every proposal on civilian ownership of firearms by saying:

    • Blood will flow in the streets.
    • Fenderbenders will turn into firefights.
    • Pilots will go crazy and shoot passengers.
    • NFL football players will blow each other away.
    • It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
    • Etc.

    We now have 37 states with either shall-issue or no-license concealed carry. Out of dozens of predictions the anti-gun folks have been wrong every time.

    Someone needs to remind their public that the sky still isn’t falling.

  62. that some raving lunatic who thought he was the son of God got axed on a cross.

    That was the historical event. Its gravity is irrelevant. How near objectively correct any available history of that event might be is irrelevant. The movie does not reflect “the objective reality” of what happened at Golgotha, nor is the director beholden to do so. It is a movie.

    Nobody has killed a Jew because of this movie; therefore, this movie is not anti-Semitic.

    Jennifer – the point is that whether this movie is anti-Semitic doesn’t really matter. The metrics used popularly to make or deny that assessment have been biased in both directions. However, the accusation was made, without evidence to support it. Further, the suppositions made by those accusers largely turned out to be false.

    Well, just because a large number of people believe in the factual accuracy of an obvious myth with zero objective evidence supporting its claims doesn’t make that myth true.

    First off, your conjecture that it is an “obvious myth” is as void as the conjecture that the myth has factual accuracy. You have observed zero evidence, and never in your life will you observe objective evidence, because once you have beheld it, it is no longer objective. Regardless, my position on the film and the ridiculous reactions it received has nothing to do with what people believe w.r.t. God and Jeeeeezis. In 1491 people believed the earth was flat.

  63. Well, I’m sure the throngs of liberal tolerance-loving jews who frequent art galleries filled with crucifixes in urinals and want to censor The Passion are feeling that warm yolk running down their face right now.

    An unfair characterization? Well sure. But some critics of the movie did just as much to perpetuate this stereotype as anyone else.

    The movie itself did less to fan the flames of anti-semitism than the moronic response by many of those claiming to speak for the Jewish community.

    Many critics seem to think that the debate is about who killed Jesus two thousand years ago. But to Christians it seems to be about who’s trying to kill the Jesus movie now.

    Damn it, Jewish controlled media. Would you *please* stop killing our Lord?

  64. “…nor is it the anti-war protesters who carry banners bashing Israel”

    Tell me, Bill, how many Jews have been killed by anti-war protestors?

  65. “Personally, I find it highly ironic that some of the biggest fans of this pre-Vatican II Catholic vision of the passion are fundementalist protestants who love the anti-catholic “Left Behind” novels, think the pope is the anti-christ, and say that Catholics aren’t really chirstians.

    Go figure.”

    And often they are the same protestants who are some of the strongest supporters of Israel–maybe more so than a lot of the limosine liberal jews in the US.

    Go figure.

  66. The Catholic League has really cool heraldic insignia. If they ever want to start a crusade, i’ll sign up, just for the uniform.

  67. Well, I saw the movie. I won’t rehash all of my arguments for why I didn’t see much anti-semitism in the movie. And I do agree that you can’t judge the racism of something solely by the presence or absence of a violent response.

    However, since I heard some predictions of pogrom-style violence, it’s worth pointing out that the doomsday prophets were wrong.

    If anything, the movie and the response to it prove that the best cure for bad speech is more speech. I’ll leave it to Gibson’s fans and critics to sort out which side constituted the “bad speech” and which side constituted the “more speech”, the point is that something controversial happened and it was debated and no violence ensued, and maybe, just maybe, the lack of violence has something to do with the existence of (quasi-civilized) debate over it.

  68. I think Jews are perfectly justified in warning about violence that might spread because of Mel’s modern-day Passion play. They’ve seen it happen before, you know. The lack of a body count now only proves that Christians have grown up since the Middle Ages–it doesn’t require anyone to atone for the fact that the warnings haven’t come true. Nor does it mean that religiously motivated violence is somehow unthinkable in this day and age.

  69. There was also a similar incident in Maryland or Virginia as I recall.

    WRONG, Jean Bart, WRONG.

    Dadburned not getting your geographies straight. MD is far removed from its colored-only waterfountain days, and in fact will put ya in jail for not wearing your seatbelt. It also has a pretty large Jewish population ’round the suburbs of Baltimore; no such thing happened here, and if it went down in Virginia, we’d speak of nothing else for weeks…

    You have to go down past Durham, NC before you can cast vague aspersions against states without anyone calling you on it.

  70. “Tell me, Bill, how many Jews have been killed by anti-war protestors?”

    Anti war types on both the right and the left in Europe have been contributing money to terrorists in the Middle East. Sure, they haven’t been pulling triggers themselves, but they have been financing others to do the “wet work”.

  71. Don-
    The reason so many fundie Protestants support Israel is because the Book of the Revelation states that Jesus will not return until all the world’s Jews are congregated in Israel. By supporting Israel, therefore, you’re helping bring about the end of this evil world and the beginning of a better one.

  72. (Sigh) They ain’t making Jews like Jesus anymore…

  73. rst writes: “You have observed zero evidence, and never in your life will you observe objective evidence, because once you have beheld it, it is no longer objective.”

    That is thoroughly ludicrous. If observation disqualifies evidence, then what’s left is ignorance, unfounded assertion, fantasy, and fabrication. And that’s all that stands behind the claim that Jesus is God.

  74. No dead Jews, maybe. There were a few Christians that died–why don’t they count?

    Reason must be part of The International Jewish Conspiracy to make such claims!

  75. The reason so many fundie Protestants support Israel is because the Book of the Revelation states that Jesus will not return until all the world’s Jews are congregated in Israel.

    Is this also why they wetdream about running Hollywood out of business?

  76. Re: this religious discussion group.

    Q – Who are atheists trying to convince of their dis-beliefs?

    A – themselves

    Q – Why do atheists love to talk so much about religion?

    A – They need mutual reassurance that they are not wrong.

    As far as the real topic goes,
    Mel had a hit despite all odds…get over it.
    And the movies critics hated it before seeing it,
    and hate that it was the great success it was,
    and hate themselves for giving the movie such a boost.

  77. planethoth is definitely a troll, if combining pedantic nitpicking distraction from the point the other is trying to make, with gratuitous insults, is a guide. Two examples of him doing this:

    1. “Oh and memo to Rick Barton, hardly able to keep his dishonest anti-semitism under wraps: Israel’s ‘nazi like, mixed marriage impediment law’ has nothing to do with race–it has to do with Israeli citizens of any race marrying the non-Israeli citizens of the territories. You’ll need better propaganda than that, brother.”
    —> Israel’s marriage laws are indeed nazi like and racial. Nominally, their intention is to ensure that only marriages between practicing Orthodox Jews are allowed. This is bad enough. But since for a convert being recognised as an ‘Orthodox Jew’ by the Israeli Orthodox Rabbinate is a racket (it tends to revolve around clerks who say things like ‘$1000 will solve the problem’, and I am not making that up), the effect is that only Jews-by-birth can marry, and this is racial.

    2. “How stupid, Bill Donohue thinks that if an Israeli movie distributor declines to pick up The Passion of the Christ it has been ‘banned’ in Israel. Obviously he hasn’t any clear idea about what ‘banned’ means, does he? … ‘Banned’ in classical liberal, free-expression terms means the government has used the state’s coercive power to censor some expression. That’s not what Donohue was talking about … if some movie business oligopolistic practice is responsible for not having this film shown in Israel, say so and be honest–don’t make up this b.s. that it has been ‘banned’.”
    —> a distributor buys the exclusive rights so as to ensure that it is NOT shown. A government that does not entertain complaints that this is dishonest trade is effectively ensuring that the film isn’t shown i.e. banning it. The fact that the Tel Aviv Cinematheque plans to show it is no surprise, they are also trying to screen ‘Jenin, Jenin’ – which is formally banned. This is what is so heartbreaking about Israel – there is just enough powerless dissent to make it look like a ‘democracy’. There was about the same amount of dissent in Soviet Russia, thinking back, and the Cheka were pretty similar to the Shabak in clamping down on it.

  78. “I loathe religion for the same reasons I loathe Communism or Nazism: any philosophy which results in the suppression, torture and/or death of millions of human beings throughout history is by definition evil.”

    Then tell me, do you also loathe democracy?

  79. planethoth:

    “Israel’s ‘nazi like, mixed marriage impediment law’ has nothing to do with race–it has to do with Israeli citizens of any race marrying the non-Israeli citizens of the territories.”

    I didn’t make the claim that it has something to do with race. Either way, it’s still Nazi like and is clearly aimed stopping marriage between Israelis and the Palestinians in the occupied territories. The Israeli government wouldn’t want too much love to get the upper hand there or anything.

    But, on the hate side of the spectrum, you didn’t address the point of Sharon’s support of “Jews Only” housing laws for housing on government land, in open discrimination against the 15% to 20% Arab citizens population of Israel:

    http://www.eto.home.att.net/jewsonly.html

    http://www.newsfrombabylon.com/article.php?sid=1779

    planethoth, you called my criticism of Sharon and the Israeli government, “anti-Semitism”. Lacking real argument, you resort to unfounded accusations of racism which indicates that you also lack honor.

  80. um … the ‘marriage impediment’ you are referring to is the recent attempt to deny citizenship and, consequently, residence rights within the entity, to arab spouses of jews. All such marriages, being unrecognised by jewish religious law, have to be performed overseas in any case, and will only be recognised by the interior ministry if it is feeling secular that day, in any case, which it normally isn’t.

  81. dj: as much as what you’re saying is true for many people, on the other hand people like mr. donohue can ignore that the only reason the catholic church in america hasn’t been department of justice’d out of existence is because it’s the catholic church. had it been something just weird enough, whether scientologists or one of the krishna groups or just something non-western-tradition enough – branch davidian-esque – with that much money and property…you can damn well bet they’d have been carved up lickety split.

    that their followers are stupid enough to keep giving them money when their leadership has proven themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt to be untrustworthy in the extreme is another issue entirely.

  82. I’ll admit to my surprise at how much “legs” this movie has, I figured two weeks and done. Props to Gibson for knowing a market existed and getting it to the market.

    As for the fear of violence, I remember the exact same crazy fear when “Do The Right Thing” was released, and the lack of violence afterwards; I figured the same thing would happen with this movie. Of course, Spike Lee’s movie pretty much was two weeks and done, which may have influenced my thinking.

    Maybe we’ve got enough wars going on already (Iraq, Afghanistan, Drugs, etc.) that we don’t have any desire to manufacture another right now.

  83. Jason-
    Other than the hell we’re creating in Iraq (which I blame on Bush, not flaws in the philosophy of democracy), what historical evidence have you that the philosophy of democracy has led to torture and death? What is the Constitutional equivalent of “Suffer not a witch to live?”

  84. This just in…

    “TEL AVIV (Reuters) – An Israeli art house cinema said Thursday it would screen Mel Gibson (news)’s controversial “The Passion of the Christ” after commercial distributors in the Jewish state decided not to handle the film.”

  85. The movie is not accurate to the Gospels. Part of that is because the Gospels simply don’t give enough story about the crucifixion to last 2 hours. However, much of it has been filled in with stories that have sprung up around the cruicifixion which paint Jews in a much worse light than the Gospels alone do. I think Jewish leaders were justified in being worried about the parts that were filled in. I think they were also crazy to think this was going to incite violence in the most Jew-friendly country in human history.

    – Josh

  86. “Jason-
    Other than the hell we’re creating in Iraq (which I blame on Bush, not flaws in the philosophy of democracy), what historical evidence have you that the philosophy of democracy has led to torture and death? What is the Constitutional equivalent of ‘Suffer not a witch to live?'”

    Your phraseology was that any philosophy which results in those things is bad, not what they originally promote. And for a list of those such things in regards to democracy, just look to American history, or if you desire to see democracy’s genesis, look at Ancient Athens. Does democracy necessarily promote the idea of putting entire cities to the torch and selling the remnant of who you do not kill into slavery? Certainly not, but that’s what democratic Athens did, more than once I might add.

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