Penn Jillette's Hate Crime


Reader mediageek points us to, a website collecting documents obtained through various Freedom of Information Act requests. There's plenty of terrific material here, though, as mediageek points out, the "consumer complaints" to the FCC are by far the most entertaining; by turns hilarious and depressing. Check out the compilation of complaints against Penn & Teller's brilliant cable program Bullshit. The complainants are offended by the show's title, the duo's incitement of "hatred" when burning the Americna flag in support of free speech, and the supposed defamation of Mother Teresa (one dictatorial correspondent recommended to the agency that Penn & Teller "be reined in before they do more damage," another blamed Showtime, the show's network, for engaging in "hate speech"). The full document can be viewed here (PDF).

But wait…there's much, much more, including the inevitable complaints against our libertarian pals from South Park. (Note that all the links below are to PDF files)

Complaints to FCC about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart television show,2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about Desperate Housewives television show, 2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about The Oprah Winfrey Show television show, 2003—2007 Complaints to FCC about Family Guy television show, 2005—2007
Complaints to FCC about Sex and the City television show, 2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about The Simpsons television show, 2003—2007
Complaints to FCC about Saturday Night Live television show, 2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about South Park television show, 2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about The Jerry Springer television show, 2004-2007
Complaints to FCC about Law & Order: SVU television show, 2004-2007

reason's Nick Gillespie explains to Penn & Teller that nativism is bullshit.

Katherine Mangu-Ward recently praised Jillette's "crazy/awesome Internet-only video rants."

NEXT: Howley on Red Eye With Lovable Curmudgeon

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  1. Most of these are from the MRC. Brent Bozell can go do something untoward that is never the less still rated G. Like worship his invisible friend and hate gay people or something.

  2. I would have thought it was more the PTC

  3. I just started, but this is my fave so far (sorry about the formatting):

    “FOX has gotten to where they show those animated shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons. They think that
    parents are not listening to these programs just because they are animated. They are not the old time cartoons and
    I don’t like the language.. .it is really disgusting. These programs show disrespect to parents from their children, so
    in turn, my child tries to disrespect me. There are others that I just don’t know the names of right now. I try to put
    on parental restrictions, but it doesn’t always work. I would like to see these shows either changed up to show
    respect to parents and cut the filthy language or just taken oft the air totally. My child hears enough foul language
    at school and outside of hom, he doesn’t need to hear it from TV, radio, etc. too!!!!!!!”

    Grampa Simpson would be proud of this letter.

  4. I like the woman on the Daily Show complaint list who complained about the movie Saving Grace.

  5. Yeah, some of those Simpsons ones are freaking hilarious. One guy is complaining about how Principal Skinner in a burlap sack looks like a flaccid penis. He describes it in considerable detail in the complaint.

  6. He describes it in considerable detail in the complaint.

    Loving detail, almost.

  7. From one of the complaints about the Simpsons:

    “Do something – or get out of the job”

    Quite wise words for a hysterical pantywaist. Hopefully the FCC will agree with the latter part.

  8. OOh OOh!

    “Tonight during the Daily Show, Jon Stewart had two women on a bed french kissing, once again giving support to the agenda of the homosexual population”

    She then says that she’s not a homophobe because she had a cousin and 3 friends who died of AIDS, a lesbian “female” roommate, and a nephew who was gay. She goes on to say that TV is making it seem like the primary population is homosexual, and it’s time to get back to focusing on the majority of the population, the heterosexuals.

    “Practicing homosexuality is against the teachings of virtually every religion. So, we should not allow the left wing media to pass it off as normal and OK.”


  9. man, even if 90% of those are basically form letters from the same 5 people, the other 10% are totally out of their fucking minds.

  10. I like this complaintant about Family Guy that gets introspective about his problem with a gag and why … and settles on the issue that it isn’t funny.

    As a bit of a religious nut, I find all taking of Lord Jesus’ name to be grating at best, but within the context of this ‘joke’ about a pedophile stalking minors in an urban setting, I feel I must ask, what warrants this blasphemy?
    There was no actual reference to Christ outside the notion of using his name for profanity to make comedy. Yet After careful analasys of the bit, I’ve come to the conclusion that there was no comedy.
    Perhaps I missed something?
    As a fan of the show I only wish to gently point out that blasphemy may not be the same as other ‘bad’ language, but by that token (and depending on whom you talk to) it is either much better or much, much worse.

  11. By far the best is the guy complaining about Penn and Teller burning the flag. Do yourself a favor and read it.

  12. One guy on the South Park complaint list is pissed because they show Costa Rica as a smelly pit. Having travelled to Costa Rica, I can attest to the show’s accuracy, at least in the portrayal of its capital. However, I agreed with one complainant’s dislike of the show “Drawn Together”. That show, to use a phrase Cartman uses in the aforementioned episode of South Park “sucks donkey balls”.

  13. Crap, they redacted the complaintent’s contact info.

    ? la Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, these people truly deserve a response to their complaints.

  14. Holy fucking shit, Batman! These Catholic League assholes complaining about Penn & Teller are friggin ridiculous. I love how they say they ask for the plug to be pulled on “freedom of the press.” Yeah, next up, we’re pulling the plug on freedom of religion. Everyone gets to be Lutheran! Sorry, Catholics, you lose because you’re a bunch of whiny bitches.

    I’m glad Louis CK and Jim Norton ripped them apart.

  15. It should be noted, I think all of the Oprah ones come from when Howard Stern told people to complain about Oprah, when Howard was getting blasted by the FCC.

    This was by far the funniest complaint:

  16. Nick,
    You’re right. I like the last Catholic where the guy is like
    “Would you allow someone to put on a show with the content ‘Old black Martin Luther King loves watermelon and red ripple?’ Or would you allow a show with the content ‘Greedy Rabbi Gold steals his brother’s money and copulates with his brother’s wife?'”

  17. Penn Jillette is my favorite atheist libertarian celebrity. He could take Bill Mahr and turn him into a white rabbit, toss him into a wood chipper and it would be more entertaining than any episode of Politically Incorrect.

  18. The Simpsons complaints are the best things I’ve read in months. The reference to Skinner when he has been tied up in a burlap bag and asks for someone to free him by “cutting his ball sack.”

    Our complainant elaborates:

    “Principal Skinner’s use of the word ‘cut’ was an inferred reference to the procedure of circumcision, whereas a circumcised penis is commonly referred to as being ‘cut’ and a non-circumcised penus is commonly referred to as being ‘uncut.’ Principal Skinner’s use of the term “ball sack” would have a ‘double entendre’ intended to refer to the mail anatomical part of ‘scrotum’, which is commonly referred to as ‘ball sac.’ I hope I have provided sufficient information to assist you in reviewing this complaint. I look forward to your response.”

  19. Most of those shows air either on cable or between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM, so the FCC doesn’t even have jurisdiction.

  20. My fave so far is the guy writing in regard to Homer discussing masturbation.

    As I am typing, I’m beginning to realize that just because it is presented as a cartoon does not lessen the importance of the message or the impact it may have on those listening. It is adult entertainment where topics involving our everyday lives are played out in a satirical view point to minimize, maximize, or simply bring to the forefront issues which are not always addressed in a open, non-hostile manner. Just a thought. Maybe it isn’t really a “cartoon” after all.

    Uh, complaint duly noted?

  21. From the South Park complaints:

    “With all of the evil acts being committed against our children every day it was in extreme poor taste to use [pedophilia] as a comic gag.”

    Of course, one of the main purposes of those types of episodes is to mock the hysterical public perception that danger lurks around every corner.

  22. reading through those made my day. catholics get really pissed off easily. silly saint-worshipers.

  23. Ahem…

    Fuck Mother Theresa! The bitch was a hypocritical, sado-masochist, misogynist, whore for a religion that still acts like we’re in the 12th Century rather than the 21st. If I believed there was such a place as Hell, I’d hope she’s burning there right now.

    There! Now am I going to “face the wrath” of William “Hollywood likes anal sex.” Donohue?

    Come get some, Bill.

  24. I enjoyed the Simpsons complaint cited by Episiarch. Earlier in the letter, the author complains about “BJs” on the Sundance channel and then says “In most cases we need to protect the kids from the adults that are to lazy to set up a parential control programs – so who do we turn to when these kids get pregent and kill 14 kids in school. Ameriaca makes it to easy to see such trash.”

    Yes, curse you once again, Ameriaca

  25. I have enjoyed some of the programs to a certain extent, but I would never describe “Bullshit” as “brilliant”.

  26. so many of them seem to ask for a direct reply to their complaint. Does the FCC actually send them replies?
    I imagine some sort of form letter being sent to each one of these whiners.

    Dear concerned citizen,
    If something you see on TV offends you, change the channel.


  27. Don’t repress your emotions Akira, tell us how you really feel;-)

  28. How about this about SouthPark:

    “I was watching SouthPark a few nights ago and I noticed they bleeped out curse words which is great because I don’t want language on tv. But what bothers me is that the FCC overlooks the Lord’s name in Vain. Why are you allowing something that is no different then [sic] in the eyes of many?”

  29. From the Simpsons

    “Bart Simpson uses sexual innuendos and similarly degrading talk throughout his “skits” to further destroy what’s left of our American culture! I’m sure you realize that our culture is what we use to pass on our values and traditions and heritage, all of which literally keeps us going – surviving!”

    Put her in the back of the van with the others.

  30. Nothing makes you feel better than knowing that there are plenty of your neighbors that would put you up against the wall if they were in power.

    But, yeah, religion is good for you and all…

  31. Personally, I’m most offended by all the bad handwriting. We need government enforcement of higher standards, so our children grow up safe from the influence of scrawl.

  32. when I am king you will be first against the wall

    with your opinion which is of no consequence at alll

  33. “The Simpsons cartoon features two women in swimsuits. While there were no nudity, this scene certainly was inapropriate because women should be dressed conservatively and obey the wishes of their husbands.”

    “I watched the last few minites of the Simpsons on Feb. 20, 2005. It showed Homer marring two Lesbians on prime time. This has gone far enough! The show desensitises the consept of homosexuality that the Bible says is an abomination.

    Children are watching this, and if one is on the verge of being gay, it is saying it is OK.

    You better moniter what is being broadcast better than this. They could not have gotten away with this 10 years ago.”

  34. The Simpsons is trying to make me and my children GAY!

  35. I wonder how many of the complainants knew their letters could become public through the FOIA?

  36. Also, what’s with all these parents letting their kids watch the Simpsons if they find all this stuff objectionable?

    When I was a kid, my mom didn’t let me watch crap like that. The Simpsons were violent, Pee Wee Herman was… I never understood what that was about, and my dad really hated Bob Saget.

  37. The best “Bullshit” episode is the one about body hair. This super hot chick gets her asshole waxed. It’s fantastic!

  38. Wow. Some real Catholic haters in H&R.

    As a lapsed protestant, it is bizzare to me when I see so much vitriol directed at Mother Teresa, someone who rejected leftist class warfare arguments in her crusade to help the poor. She upheld the libertarian position that for charity to be real and effective, it had to be voluntary.

    Mother Teresa of Calcutta was one of the greatest public figures of the twentienth century. She merits more praise than any dozen of her biggest detractors.

  39. What CBS show was fined for showing a teen sex orgy? I’m not asking for myself, but is that show out on video?

  40. Joe Allen,

    I take it you have not seen the Bullshit episode on Mother Teresa.
    Get ready for a shit storm.

  41. “I take it you have not seen the Bullshit episode on Mother Teresa.
    Get ready for a shit storm.”

    So you’re saying she gets her asshole waxed?

  42. MCM, thanks for the links.

  43. Robin, was it asshole waxing or asshole bleaching? I must know.

  44. I like how on the FCC complaint form there it asks you to check a box if you’re a senior

  45. I used to want to create an organization that deluged the FCC with form complaints about every show that the PTC didn’t have a campaign against, so that the complaint count on their targets would be shiningly low. I’d always figured that faking sincerity would be the hardest part. After seeing these complaints, I can see the key to appearing sincere: frequent misspellings.

  46. If these people watched less TV, maybe they would be better at spelling. Don’t worry about TV making your kids gay, worry about you making them illiterate.

  47. Robin wins the thread,…and the assist.

  48. She then says that she’s not a homophobe because she had a cousin and 3 friends who died of AIDS, a lesbian “female” roommate, and a nephew who was gay.

    She’s not homophobic because they’re all dead or dying.

  49. Joe Allen,

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but it’s true. I know that devoutly religious people have done great things all over the world, but Mother Teresa was a bad person. (I almost called her a sick, lying, thieving cunt, but I held back.)

  50. I love how in one L&O SVU complaint, the author of the complaint said the episode portrayed the Catholic Church as intolerant, ignorant and homophobic. If I worked at the FCC and I was in charge of responses to these letters, I’d be hard pressed not to say “yes, and? You have qualms with the broadcast of facts?”

  51. Wow. Some real Catholic haters in H&R.

    You had to have been one to really understand, Joe.

  52. I love this one:

    “My complaint is about the show Desparate Housewives. The show sucks.”

  53. Should Teller be charged with hate silence?

  54. Yup. It’s Robin’s thread. We just post here.

  55. From Sex and the City’s:

    “The V-chips and other blocking technology are too complicated for many parents to understand how to use.”

    There’s got to be a better way!

  56. I have recieved several complaint forms about the language used on Reason Hit & Run’s comment thread. One of them said I have to “Do something or get out of the job.”

  57. The Daily Show complaints included someone complaining that “fuck” was bleeped out of a broadcast, because it could be inferred that “fuck” had been said. Apparently they want the show to go off air completely for the half-second that Jon amuses his audience.

  58. This. Is. Hilarious.

  59. Mother Teresa slept on a mat, washed out of a bucket, and picked maggots out of the open sores of homeless people by hand. Without discounting the fact that many others do the same kind of work in obscurity, that’s pretty impressive.

    Her priorities were different than yours and mine, but that’s no reason to try and villify her. She held different beliefs, but she never defended the Inquisition to my knowledge nor did she stress theology over service.

    Rip on the Pope all you want, but you really lose your audience by attacking Mother Teresa.

  60. Akira wrote:

    “You had to have been one to really understand, Joe.”

    If you say so, but I was a fundementalist creationist evangelical Christian and I don’t hate those people, regardless of how wrong and intellectually dishonest I believe them to be.

  61. Fuck the FCC, and all the whiny fucks who complain about what they see on their televideo screens! Instead of revelling in the glory of the video age, they seek to shackle the grandeur of it all, because their tiny little brains are only matched in size by their tiny little dicks! And that goes for the bitches in the fold as well.

  62. One thing you have to say about Penn & Teller, they’ll skewer your sacred cow if you keep watching. I’ve gotten annoyed with them myself, and I generally agree with them.

  63. but you really lose your audience by attacking Mother Teresa.

    Perhaps if you took the time to review some of those criticisms you’d realize there is much more to them than simply vilifying her for having different priorities.

  64. Joe Allen,

    As an apostate papist, I don’t have that sort of visceral hatred either. It’s all silly and I don’t shy away from an argument, but civility seems to work for me.

  65. I think the problem most people had with Mother Theresa is that she didn’t look like Salma Hayek (or functional equivalent).

  66. From Les’ second link:

    In Haiti, to keep the spirit of poverty, the sisters reused needles until they became blunt. Seeing the pain caused by the blunt needles, some of the volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused.

    That’s indicative of the level of care that Mother Fucking Teresa provided. Not to mention that she collected so much money that could have gone to people actually helping other people instead of giving the sick uncomfortable beds to die in.
    Watch the Bullshit episode.

  67. What’s worse, dull needles or no needles? Uncomfortable beds or no beds? You are saying she did good but not enough good. She relieved suffering, but no enough suffering. She was selfless, but not selfless enough. Listen to yourselves!

    You don’t judge charity by some perfect nonexistent alternative, but by comparing it against its absence.

    If you want to start your own charitable organization and put the Sisters of Charity out of business, go for it. I’ll donate, but I will defend any volunteer charitable organization against any state-mandated aid program every time.

  68. Joe Allen,
    Can you read?
    Try this sentence again:

    Seeing the pain caused by the blunt needles, some of the volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused.

    Here is a review of Hitchens’ book.
    If you can read, try to understand what peoples’ criticisms are. The woman was harmful.

  69. You are saying she did good but not enough good.

    I never said she did good!

  70. Joe,

    She took in billions of dollars while her “clinics” were filthy and the “patients” were regularly denied pain medication and forced to shave their heads and sleep on dirty cots, while she received state-of-the-art medical care. She took millions from Charles Keating and, upon being notified that the money she took had been stolen from the life-savings of elderly people, refused to return a penny.

    She worked to keep not just abortion, but contraception illegal in parts of the world that need it most.

    There are good Catholics doing good work all over the world. This wretched, thieving fraud was not one of them.

  71. You know, I wish that just once, the FCC would answer one of these douchebags with a letter saying “get the fuck over yourself” on FCC letterhead.


  72. I suggest that every time Bozell or Donahoe appear for yet another softball session on Foxnews, we flood the FCC with complaints about Fox showing assholes on TV…

  73. Why all the complaints about CABLE shows? If these people give enough of a fuck to write in to the FCC, they should be informed enough to know that cable is unregulated and the FCC can do zilch about it.

    Hell, these wimps should consider themselves lucky the broadcast networks don’t take the rules more literally. I could easily imagine Fox showing hardcore porn at 11pm.

  74. I’m starting to see what you mean when you mentioned a “shitstorm.”

  75. I have to wonder what people think the FCC actually does. Here’s a complaint about The Daily Show:

    “When Jon Stewart described loosing his keys as “bad”, I think after that he said that the apocalypse was “shitty”. It didn’t get bleeped, and you guys are usually pretty good at that. Either you slipped up or my ears are going bad,
    but I played it about 10 times and I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. Either way please E-mail me at the address above just to let me know. Thanks”

    Does this person really think the FCC is the in charge of bleeping out “obscene” language and images? “It didn’t get bleeped, and you guys are usually pretty good at that.” *sigh*

  76. b-psycho, one of them was writing in about the daily show as if the FCC itself was in charge of bleeping out swear words. These people have no clue.

  77. Okay–I found the best one. This gem is on page 73 of the “Desperate Housewives” collection. In a complaint about one of the “housewives” recommending to somebody else that she lose her virginity, the complainant requests this:

    “I recommend a fine of $10,000,000 against the ABC network, or 10 episodes of Desperate Housewives showing the Housewife dying of AIDS.”

    Seriously–you can’t make this stuff up. Especially the part where that complainer capitalizes the entire phrase “Christian Family Concept.”

  78. I’m impressed at how many people were shocked, shocked to see depictions of criminal violence on Law & Order: SVU.

  79. the duo’s incitement of “hatred” when burning the Americna flag in support of free speech

    saw them do that in Lost Wages. It was beautiful, moving, touching, and completely inoffensive.

    Maybe I saw a different segment.

  80. From a complaint on Sex and the City

    I do not relish the possibility of having to
    explain to my seven and eight year old son or my twelve year old daughter what a blow job is and why adults find humor in it.

    Yes, because it’d be best if they never, ever know or hear about it. Get the keys to the convent and the monastery! (oops, more Papist-hating…)

  81. Amazing how they can write so many complaints but can’t figure out how to turn the channel.

    But hey the up side is they all get to vote as well. Oh wait, nevermind.

  82. “Amazing how they can write so many complaints but can’t figure out how to turn the channel.”
    The same reason liberals just . . . can’t . . . stop . . . buying crap from the same “globo-corporatey” corporations they rail against.

  83. I would volunteer time at the FCC to write responses to these people. Who’s with me, cuz apparently there are lots of ’em?

    This is absolutely my favorite topic. I just can’t get enough of censorship advocates. The violence they are willing to impose on others to keep people from seeing nudity or hearing naughty language is mind-boggling. These are the people that support going to war to make sure Islamo-fascists don’t impose a caliphate on us.

    Ah, the depth of irony.

  84. “The Simpsons is trying to make me and my children GAY!”

    Well heck, the whole steel industry is. And so is Aerospace.

    I didn’t even realize that “hell” was a curse word. Isn’t it just a bad place, like Newark or Phoenix?

    D-FENS (An aerospace engineer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  85. Mother Teresa Bullshit Episode.

  86. That was part one. The other two parts are also on youtube.

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