The riots caused by Newsweek's story claiming American interrogators were flushing the Koran caused many Americans to be amazed by the extreme reaction in the Islamic world. Ken Woodward, the long-time religion writer of Newsweek, tried to explain to Christians just how offensive Koran-flushing is to Muslims: "Recitation of the Koran is for Muslims much like what receiving the Eucharist is for Catholics -- a very intimate ingestion of the divine itself."
There's a certain irony here. If you wanted to see the Eucharist in the toilet, you needed only to watch the NBC sitcom "Committed" in February, when NBC played for laughs the idea that two main characters thought they accidentally dropped a communion wafer in a bar toilet.
Hollywood makes lame jokes and harsh satires of Christianity all the time, figuratively and literally tossing Jesus, the Bible and church figures into the toilet. Those alleged American interrogators are pikers compared to Tinseltown. They could learn at the feet of the masters of mockery.
Last May, on Fox's "That ?70s Show," one character explained to another: "You don't get paid to be the best man. You do it for the satisfaction of nailing the hottest bridesmaid. It's in the Bible." Religion is often mocked as fairy tales for fruitcakes. In a January 2004 episode of "The Simpsons," the daughter Lisa tells the son Bart, "The Mount Builders worshipped turtles as well as badgers, snakes and other animals." Bart replies, "Thank God we've come to our senses and worship some carpenter that lived 2,000 years ago."
Anti-Semitic riots and hate crimes were endlessly predicted when Mel Gibson made "The Passion of the Christ." Frank Rich and all the other Gibson-bashers looked pretty silly when millions of Americans saw the movie, and the impending Kristallnacht didn't materialize.
But that hasn't stopped some in Hollywood from satirizing Gibson as a Nazi kook. You can go out and buy the DVD of South Park's cartoon treatment, titled "The Passion of the Jew," in which the young characters see the movie, and then Cartman starts a Mel Gibson fan club with Nazi/Holocaust overtones, while two other characters confront an over-the-top crazy Gibson dancing in a Carmen Miranda get-up as they demand their ticket money back. The DVD also includes a "classic" episode titled "Red Hot Catholic Love," where almost every Catholic priest and cardinal in the world favors having sex with altar boys, because it's supposedly been enshrined in Vatican law.
Impressed by lucrative DVD sales of the crude cancelled cartoon "Family Guy," Fox brought their old show back to Fox on May 1 with another Mel Gibson-as-kooky-Catholic-Nazi satire. The lead characters go on a second honeymoon in a Gibson hotel room, where they discover a secret film titled "The Passion the Christ 2: Crucify This," a buddy-cop picture with the tagline: "This July, let He who is without sin kick the first ass." Jesus even replies to a buddy-cop who claims he's crazy: "That's what my ex-wife said."
Peter, the lead character, protests ("That's all we need, more Mel Gibson Jesus mumbo-jumbo") and pledges to "save the world from another two hours of torture on behalf of Jesus, Scooby and the other beloved children's characters." His wife, Lois, worries that it's one thing to take Gibson's "towels, bathrobes and Nazi paraphernalia," but not the movie. A duo of Gibson's priest henchmen kidnap Lois and fly her to Gibson's house on the top of Mount Rushmore. The cartoon Gibson later falls to his death off the famous sculpture. Peter says it's because "Christians don't believe in gravity."
Even as Muslims rioted in Afghanistan, Fox was showing an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer and Bart convert to Catholicism, and havoc ensues. Marge is having a vision of being in Protestant heaven with country-club types, while over on the other cloud, Catholic heaven is full of passionate Latinos and fighting, drinking Irishmen. Homer and Bart join everyone else in Catholic heaven doing the Riverdance. At the end, two futuristic armies are about to kill each other pointlessly over differing interpretations of what St. Bart Simpson said. The episode was postponed because it was originally planned to air on the weekend Pope John Paul II died. How thoughtful.
So why doesn't Hollywood produce storylines about the Koran being flushed down the john? That, they would tell you firmly, with conviction, would be religious bigotry.