An author drafts a novel in which the characters prove that one of the fundamental truths for millions of believers is a lie. It's just a novel, with a smidgen of research to make it better reading. Yes, it's a fast and exciting suspense novel. But its premise insults a few hundred million people worldwide.
Nonfiction television programs, from chatty news shows to "investigative reports" glom onto that novel, and ask the public, "How much of this book is true?" And they proceed to make no real differentiation between fiction and fact. It is sensationalism alone. Not only do they insult the believers, but they insult the intelligence of any half-awake viewers who were hoping for a legitimate news story.
These folks weren't the first to spit in the face of this religious group. The entertainment industry has been insulting Christians for over a generation. When they weren't portraying the devout as sanctimonious, selfish, elitist twits -- or worse -- the movie moguls, music studios, and television producers were busy producing things that no self-respecting Christian would be comfortable taking his family to see (and for that matter, even non-Christians often find the shows family-unfriendly), bringing in tawdry sex and passing it off as a love story, and showing graphic detail of murder and mayhem as "fun summer entertainment".
For years, Christians have been the easy Hollywood target, so it's no surprise that some have begun to get their noses out of joint. Still, Hollywood has no compunction about making another "blockbuster event", featuring the most popular actor (Tom Hanks), directed by one of the most artistically successful directors (Ron Howard), and released by one of the biggest studios (Sony). "The Da Vinci Code" is slated for release next summer. I don't know who plays the direct descendant of Mary Magdalen and Jesus, but... well, you can see this story could be problematic for numbers of people worldwide. It has more than a faint twinge of a "yer muther..." about it.
Yet Hollywood seems to think that Christians can handle the insult. I find that sublimely comforting. It means that none lives in fear of the Christian Fido on the frayed leash next door (forgive my canine analogies, please. From Latin, "Fido" is "I place faith in"). By and large, it isn't a mad dog, waiting for an excuse to rip your face off. You can tease that animal all you want, and it will wag its tail and lick your face. You wouldn't mind being in the doghouse with it.
Alongside the Christian pup, there is another hound -- the Jewish population. For years, nobody was allowed to tease it, since it had been beaten nearly to death. Recently, however, some members of the far left, worldwide, have felt more comfortable tossing sticks at its Israeli flank. That, too, I find vaguely reassuring. Folks are beginning to feel that animal is strong enough to handle a bit of roughness, and don't expect it to bite back.
But Muslims don't get the same treatment. Nobody throws sticks at that monster puppy. It's not the biggest dog on the block, but everybody plays nice around it. When folks throw things at it, those things are generally meaty bones. Fox television's action series "24" featured Muslim extremists plotting to blow up a nuke in the heart of an American city, so Fox was compelled to tell everybody that "not every Muslim is a terrorist," and that "Islam is a religion of peace". Did they think that every American would suddenly go out and kill a bunch of Muslims because they saw some Muslims do bad things on a FICTION PROGRAM? Or, are they afraid that Islam just can't handle the same sort of treatment that the other religions with Mideast origins get? Is Islam the Pit Bull with rabies? Sure, it plays nicely when it feels like it, but you never know which time you put your hand out to pet it, you won't have that hand still attached when you try to bring it back. When a child says "boo!" to it, the child is banished, as was Michael Graham, when ABC radio fired him for suggesting that, unless more Muslims stood up and spoke against terrorism, Islam would be known as a terrorist organization. His words were labeled "hate speech", and he was removed from the airwaves.
Nobody got fired from Air America for calling Christians or conservatives* really nasty names. Ward Churchill still teaches -- on the State of Colorado's dime -- after comparing the 9/11 victims to nazis. The New York Times' editors continue to blame the Jews of Israel for all the troubles in the Mideast. Howie Dean is still the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, even after his "I hate Republicans" speech. Doesn't any of that qualify as "hate speech"? Apparently, the only victims protected, today, are terrorists, lunatics, and their supporters. Everyone else seems strong enough to take a few hits.
That gives me comfort -- of a cold sort.
* Or America in general, for that matter: "Our country is founded on a sham: our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, 'Oh my God, you're insulting me."
Recommended reading:Jason Apuzzo: The Bad Timing of The Da Vinci Code
Update: La Shawn Barber suggests her Christian readers take the time to blog The Da Vinci Code, as well, for the sake of peaceful protest. Even a non-Christian like me can get behind that idea.