Complaints about comedienne who made a point of not thanking God

Kathy GriffinOn the O Project’s list of ways to support the Project’s aims is the suggestion to “be less modest about doing things because you are a humanist, for example, if you are ever interviewed by your local radio or newspaper about charity or community work you are invovled in, don’t be afraid to mention that a motivation was your non-religious ethics (if true!)”

In perhaps a similar vein (although not exactly what I had in mind), when American comedienne Kathy Griffin won a creative arts Emmy last weekend for her hit program “My Life on the D-List”, Commondreams.org reports that she remarked that “a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus… This award is my god now.”

The website adds that the Roman Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called her remarks “vulgar, in-your-face-brand of hate speech” and the Academy of Television Arts& Sciences (which oversees the Emmy awards) decided that they would cut the “offensive” elements before broadcast.

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists responded that “Celebrities can go on national television to ‘thank’ Jesus, or Allah, or Scientology for their success, but an Atheist cannot make an honest and forthright statement that their success came from developing their talents and working hard.”

American Atheists are now urging people to contact the Awards to complain about the decision.

You can now see the offending speech on Youtube

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5 responses to “Complaints about comedienne who made a point of not thanking God

  1. Apparently one the ellipses in your quote are an omission of the phrase “Suck it, Jesus”, which (to some) would alter the tone somewhat. Not enough that she should be censured, let alone censored, though! Personally I think a comedian has some responsibility to be funny and to undercut the pomposity of others, especially toadying Jesus-thanking celebrities.

  2. Ah, that wasn’t in the original article but not surprising.

    I wouldn’t expect (or want?) a comedian/enne, especially an edgy one like Griffin, to say “Thanks, as a humanist I was really inspired by my belief in the creative and comedic potential of humanity rather than in any divine being’! There’s a time and a place for everything and that seems the perfect time and place to mock the celebs who give credit to the Almighty (rather than say the mechanisms of a few poerful media companies).

    American Atheists are probably milking it a bit but it’s hardly hate speech.

  3. The title of the article is more than a misnomer – it is intellectually dishonest (excuse me for saying so). Let’s face it, whatever public outcry there has been has nothing to do with Ms. Griffin’s “failure to thank God.” On the contrary, that which has caused offense is the deliberate action on her part to profane and debase what others consider sacred. Though I am neither a muslim, nor a hindu, nor a buddhist, I would never think of flippantly disrespecting the names of Allah, Brahman, or Buddha in the manner Ms. Griffin misused the name of Jesus. One might compare it to dumping a bunch of toxic waste at the feet of someone with environmental concerns. Her comments were meant to be a provocation. Somehow, I would expect that even according to a humanistic ethic, her actions would be deemed inappropriate. Rudeness, irreverence and disrespect should clearly be out-of-bounds according to anyone’s code of good conduct. I truly hope that she eventually has a change of heart and retracts and repudiates her statement. For one day we all will have to give account for every careless word spoken.

  4. I agree the title of the post might be misleading but it’s not factually untrue and so isn’t intellectually dishonest. I’ve now posted a link to her actual speech (well the offending bit anyway) so people can be properly informed about .

    I certainly wouldn’t ever advocate unnecessary insults to religious beliefs or believers but I think irreverance, disrespect and rudeness should never be completely out of bounds.

    I think that there are times when it quite acceptable to poke fun, although I realise this is a hotly contested subject and lots of people think you shouldn’t make jokes ever about some things.

    Griffin’s riff began primarily as a highly relevant take on winning the awrad, how stars routinely thank Jesus and her own lack of belief (and so suggests Jesus wouldn’t have wanted her to win). The language might have been edgy but I really see far less ill will in what she said than for example the person who comments on my Spirituality for Atheists post (above) suggesting that all atheists are selfish and only care about material things!

    I suspect you might disagree with me on this.

  5. NB: I have now changed the title of this post (it was originally “Complaints about comedienne who didn’t thank God”)

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