Religious jokes: funny until they become dangerous
|Family Guy hasn't always been kind to Jesus|
As the men are getting voted off the show, one of the contestants asks if he can say hi to a friend, to which the host says, “Uh, sure?”
The contestant, Trevor, turns to the camera and says, “Hi Jesus!”
The scene quickly cuts to Jesus sitting on a couch eating chips who says in disbelief, “No way!”
His phone then rings to which he says, “Hello?.... I know, I saw it!”
First off, it’s a fairly irreverent way to talk about our Lord and Saviour.
Second of all, it’s absolutely hilarious.
Yes, I can laugh about it. I laughed myself silly at the time and, as I was just re-writing it then, I had a chuckle.
This, however, is one end of the spectrum. The other end happened earlier this week in France when magazine, Charlie Hebdo, printed a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed and a speech bubble with the words: '100 lashes if you don't die of laughter'.
Later that day, the office of the magazine was firebombed and burnt to the ground.
There seems to be a push/pull mentality between secular media and Islam of late with one side constantly ‘pushing the boundaries’ of what Islamic extremists deem acceptable.
Furthermore, given the propensity for extremists to use Islam as an excuse for terrorist acts, making jokes about Mohammed is a reasonably dangerous course of action, as proved by the attack on the French magazine’s office.
The majority of French Muslims seem keen to take the middle ground. While condemning the cartoons, they also condemned the firebomb attacks. Their quote was interesting reading: 'I am extremely attached to freedom of the press, even if the press is not always tender with Muslims, Islam or the Paris Mosque'.
Naturally this raises about a billion different questions, but one in particular which springs to mind is, “Is it worth it?”
Are jokes about Islam really worth it given the propensity for extreme and, quite frankly, dangerous responses?
Sure you can make a few people laugh, but when people’s lives get put in danger as a result, surely it’s going a bit too far.
Some might argue that by not making these jokes you’re effectively letting the extremists win. I’m not so sure. Artists throughout the centuries have been deeply committed to ‘staying true to their craft’.
But sometimes, when your actions have consequences which put people in danger, playing the “we won’t abandon our commitment to making people laugh” card is something that needs a little more thought.
I fear, a little, this is the start of a new ‘warfare’ – words against weapons. Satirists and cartoonists will continue to provoke extremists, and extremists will continue to commit atrocities in return.
How far will this escalate? Who knows where this could lead us, because the extreme parts of Islam aren’t getting any less extreme. And if these comics are anything to go by, irreverent humour directed against Islam isn’t going anywhere either.