How To Make People Very Angry July 29, 2008

How To Make People Very Angry

All you have to do is have this banner flown over a large city:


On a recently filmed episode of the show Kenny vs. Spenny, where the two guys attempt to beat each other in random competitions, the battle was over who could piss off the most people.

Kenneth Joel Hotz (Kenny) went with the banner above.

Here’s the story (Q = The National Post, A = Kenny):

A: … I decided I’d just rather piss off large groups of people instead.
Q: What made you decide to pick on Christians?
A: My excuse: I wanted the banner to say “Heil Hitler” or “Guys are stupid” or something, but the airplane company wouldn’t agree to those. So, I said, “My friend Jesus [said with a Hispanic accent] is getting married and I want to play a joke on him.” And Jesus [said with hispanic intonation] spells Jesus [said with non-hispanic intonation]. They didn’t want to intentionally piss people off, so I kind of manipulated the situation.

Q: Why do you think it’s OK to offend all those Christians?
A: I don’t know, I don’t think Jews get really offended if you say “Moses sucks!” And I think because I’m not defining who Jesus is, it’s one of the few things I could get away with.
Q: What’s your religious background?
A: My parents are Jewish, but I don’t really care about it. I’m pretty well atheist, I guess.
Q: Do you know any Christians?
A: Of course.
Q: What do you think they’d have to say about the banner?
A: Our show is stupid and we’re stupid and I feel bad if anyone actually got offended but, I don’t know. I guess it’s freedom of speech. I’m sure people got pissed off, but I don’t think it’s offensive. I don’t really think Jesus sucks. I don’t. So, it was just something that was intentionally done to win a competition.

Q: Did you see any irate people as the plane flew by?
A: I think people were a little more confused. And awe-struck. Maybe shocked. But listen, I’m doing this to beat Spenny. I don’t think Jesus sucks. So I really hope nobody takes offense. Our competitions are very very important to us.
Q: Do you think stunt this might have clinched the competition for you?
A: Oh yeah, Spenny’s screwed.

So in terms of pissing off people, this does it.

Though if you really wanted to win this competition hands down, I imagine a banner reading “Allah Sucks” would have been more effective.

When PZ Myers said he was going to desecrate a communion wafer, I said it was ineffective. He wanted to make a point that there was nothing special about a consecrated wafer, but he ended up pissing off many more Catholics in the process. I questioned whether his point got through to them. (That said, I did appreciate the way he ultimately destroyed the frackin’ cracker.)

In this case, however, the point was specifically to piss off lots of people with no regards to any theology.

So while I do think the banner offensive, it wasn’t ineffective. Kenny did precisely what he set out to do. While he may be an atheist, he wasn’t trying to prove a point about atheism.

The fact that conservative Christian groups may protest or overreact only means higher ratings for the show.

Here’s the National Post‘s Charles Lewis:

I know a lot of people will say the Jesus Sucks banner was funny, and that the idea was to irritate people. That’s the entire point of the show. And by reacting to what Mr. Hotz did just plays into the gag and shows I have no sense of humour.

OK Kenny, you got me. As anyone who has ever met me knows I have no sense of humour and the last time I laughed was at a Bob Hope joke in the late 1960s.

And just to be clear, I also think that you should be able to fly around with any banner you want. Including something that reads: “It’s Amazing What Passes For Humour.”

People should be able to laugh at anything they want, even Heil Hitler, but it’s the implicit double standard that bugs me. It’s not a case of being politically correct. That’s an easy way to dismiss anyone who doesn’t get the antics of a moron.

Maybe moron is going too far, but I’m paraphrasing what Mr. Hotz told the Post today.

“Our show is stupid and we’re stupid.”

Now that’s funny.

What do you think: Was the banner offensive or just a joke?

Is there something else Kenny could have done (or should have done) instead?

(via Unscrewing the Inscrutable)

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  • stogoe

    I think what Charles Lewis meant to say was “I wish those damn kids would stay off my lawn. And where the hell’s my prune juice?”

  • That show does sound stupid.

    I have to admit the banner is shocking.

    As to why they picked Jesus? Of course, if they are flying the plane somewhere in the U.S. then they will pick Jesus if the goal is to offend the most people.

    If they were flying the plane over a predominately Muslim country they probably wouldn’t have used Jesus.

    This sounds like senseless crap to me. I would say it is senseless for people to be offended by it. It’s kind of like Jackass. If you don’t like it, turn it off. It would be ridiculous to let such a show affect you personally.

    If it had been mean spirited or intended to criticize Jesus, then I can understand people being upset, but these two “Jackasses” are hardly worth it.

  • Brian E

    Another quote from PZ Myers that is applicable to both this situation and his own is that you do NOT have the right to NOT be offended. That was part of the entire point to be made with Wafergate. You don’t get to sue someone, or call for their resignation, just because they offended you. There are lots of people out there that really do think Jesus sucks, and they are entitled to that opinion and they’re entitled to express it as well.

  • Anyone who has watched the show know it’s completely stupid (and fun-the “Who can eat more meat episode comes to mind) knows this is just a stupid prank. I rather enjoyed the prank.

    I also enjoy it because if they flew an “Atheists Suck” banner there would be laughing and rejoicing, not derision.

    But srsly. Go on You Tube and watch them. Silly goofy laughs.

  • I’m of the opinion we need more Jesus Sucks banners. The fundies tend to show their true colors when you slap their religion with the mental equivalent of a “yo’ mama” joke.

  • I’d like to add there are a lot of Jesus [said with a Hispanic accent] that really suck. As the present Mexican president, Felipe de Jesus Calderón Hinojosa, that would be very happy to make from this a more Catholic Nation than it already is, and to sell our oil to private foreign companies.

    And yes, we have a right to say Jesus Sucks very loud.

  • TheDeadEye

    I don’t think “Allah Sucks” would piss many people off. You’ve got a large portion of the US population who have no idea who/what an “Allah” is; not to mention that many Christians don’t like Islam.

  • Larry Huffman

    Jesus does suck.

    Allah blows….

  • Mark

    One of the biggest problems in the world is that people are so damn easily offended. I mean c’mon. The banner says ‘Jesus sucks’, fine. You might not agree with it but so what. Just shrug your shoulders and get on with your life. If someone flew over with a banner saying ” myname is an asshole!” I would laugh pretty hard and take a picture of it. That’s what the Christians should have done.

  • Ashes

    What bothers me the most about this is that the guy set out to piss off as many people as possible, succeeded, and then afterwards tries to weasel out of it and pretend he didn’t want to offend people. People should at least own up to what they purposely do.

  • Larry Huffman

    Oh how true Thordora!

    If this were an ‘Atheist Sucks’ banner…the people flying the plane would be sainted…and the TV show it is for would not be referred to as a stupid show, but a relevent and meaningful commentary on what is right and what is wrong.

  • Polly

    Though if you really wanted to win this competition hands down, I imagine a banner reading “Allah Sucks” would have been more effective.

    Not in the US. Here, it would most likely be met with either applause or incomprehension.
    But, in some other countries the plane would likely be the target of SAM’s. Get ready for a bumpy ride!

    I wouldn’t be happy about an “atheists suck” banner. Not yet.

  • Siamang

    This stuff happens every week on South Park.

    The word “sucks” to me makes it clear that it’s humor they’re going for… especially because on first read, the banner looks like it says “Jesus Saves”, like tons of those that fly over Disney World.

    The proper reaction when seeing something like this is to scratch your head and go something like… “methinks thou protest too much” Whatever… someone wants attention… back to your lives, citizens.

    To do this for a tv show? That makes it just plain funny. But I don’t know why if people are allowed to have Jesus saves signs all over the place why anyone should get bent out of shape because someone else presents a different opinion.

    I mean, really, would there even be an article in the newspaper if someone flew a Jesus Saves banner?

  • Saving Abel

    Has anyone seen Christopher Hitchens debate? I’ve heard he is going to be debating D’Souza in St. Lous September 10th. I found this website

  • They could have pissed off even more people with a banner that says RONALD REAGAN SUCKS.
    This just goes to show that people are more enraged by challenges to their fantasies than to real-life objects. (Reagan counts as a fantasy because belief in his all-around goodness is a fantasy that aggressively excludes his notorious real-life actions.)

  • Polly

    My problem is that (assuming Jesus was ever real) Jesus probably DIDN’T suck.
    It’s like saying “Gandhi sucks.” He had his flaws, but he certainly didn’t suck.

    Now, many of JC’s followers OTOH…

  • I personally don’t think it is offensive, but I also don’t think it is funny either. I think it is kind of moronic, personally.

    I understand why people think it is offensive. Technically, the thoughts they are having about what he is saying is what is causing them to be offended. That’s why some people are offended and some people aren’t over the same thing. But . . . I’m not going to hold their thougths against them.

    While it is not a deliberate attack on their religion, perse, it is a deliberate attempt to piss people off– which, to me, suggests malicious intent on his part. Sure, he wants to win this game, and to piss people off *intentionally* you have to do something antagonizing. He can say he feels bad if he offended people, but his actions do not suggest that is true.

    That being said, I wouldn’t take away his right to say it. And in regard to the “Jesus Saves” flyers . . . I find those somewhat annoying, but again, it’s because the thoughts i have about it– the banner itself is not actually harmful to me.

  • Siamang

    Jesus probably DIDN’T suck.

    Which is why the banner, to me, is funny. Because that and the exclaimation point makes it clear that the banner is more about what an angry person would say than what would be “true”.

    I think we have a knee-jerk response to print, which is to take everything we see in print as either truth or a threat to truth. There’s something either offensive or really funny about things in print passing themselves off as official writing. Which is why the Onion is funny, and why “Someone is WRONG on the Internet” behavior is so true to life.

    This banner is just visually funny, because I picture a really angry guy flying that plane, swearing under his breath: “This’ll really show them!”

  • The difference between this and Wafergate is that this is a free speech issue. Anyone who doesn’t want to see the banner can just not look, and anyone who sees it anyway can just not agree with it.

    I don’t think this is going to have any positive effects, but Kenny Joel is well within his rights to do it.

  • If his goal was to intentionally make people angry, targetting Christians in a country that is 80% Christian is probably the best way to do it. There is pretty much no larger demographic, unless he was targetting white people (still smaller than number of Christians, I believe), but unfortunately, I can think of no pithy way of offending a city full of white people due to the fact that they are white, in of itself. Saying “Jesus sucks” was the shortest way to offend the largest amount of people without resorting to vulgarity, tacit threats or mention of violence, or even directly insulting the group that he is targetting. And, even then, the offense comes entirely from a broad, simplistic insult directed towards a religious figure. No mockery, no parody, hell, Jesus is insulted in front of a larger audience and with more fanfare almost every day on one t.v. show or another (namely, anything on Comedy Central or adult swim).

    I’ve got to call this banner hilarious, and perfectly suited for the task he was aiming to accomplish. Whether it was offensive or not to others is really a trifling detail. If you are willing to get offended over someone stating that “[insert anything short of a racial slur here] sucks” and nothing more, you really are too thin-skinned for people to care.

  • Siamang

    The question is, will he make more people laugh? If so, then the angry people are just collateral damage.

  • I like it. But I also think it throws more fuel into the “Atheists are just as dogmatic as Fundamentalist” argument. Still, I think it’s funny. Especially in context.

  • J Myers

    … but it’s the implicit double standard that bugs me.

    And what double-standard is that, Mr. Lewis?

    The difference between this and Wafergate is that this is a free speech issue. Anyone who doesn’t want to see the banner can just not look, and anyone who sees it anyway can just not agree with it.

    Epistaxis , how is that a difference? Speech in the “free speech” context is not limited to that which is spoken or written; this is why activities such as flag burning are considered protected “speech.” No one was forced to read Pharyngula.

  • Wes

    People need to be offended every now and then, when the things they’re offended about are trivial. I don’t have a problem with this prank, even though it’s very juvenile. The only “harm” it does is hurting people’s oversensitive feelings. Jesus either never existed or is long-dead, so “insulting” him doesn’t really mean much.

    It’s definitely not the kind of thing I would do, but it’s also not something I think he should have to apologize for. I feel the same way about PZ’s cracker stunt. Immature? Yes. Offensive? Yes. Wrong? No. Entertaining? Yes.

    If his banner had been an actual attack on people rather than on a symbol—such as “Christians suck” or “Religious people suck”—then that would be a totally different story. It would be simply bigoted. People comparing this to a banner saying “Atheists suck” are comparing apples to oranges, because such a banner would also be an attack on people. A better comparison would be a banner saying “Epicurus sucks” or “The God Delusion Sucks”, neither of which would really offend me at all, as an atheist. “Insulting” an idea or symbol is not, in itself, bigotry.

  • Larry Huffman

    No…I do not really believe the jesus of the bible ever really existed. If there was a jesus, he was not what is portrayed.

    As for the jesus of the bible…he most certainly sucks. He introduced the concept of hell. Jews did not have that, per se. Any deity who claims to create hell as a place to punish his creations and then call himself a god of love…well…SUCKS!

    Does that mean i think he is real? No. Sauron sucked too…and he was not real.

  • Gabriel

    Some one will be offended no matter what the banner said. Big groups of people are offended by something every second of the day. Look at the comments on the different posts on this blog. A good portion of them are about people being offended by what someone else posted. It seems that humans are a prickly bunch and we spend a fair amount of our time looking for something to be pissed off about. I’ll bet I’ve just offended you. If I have let me knw.

  • Jas

    Jesus was awesome, it’s the more rabid members of his fan club I can’t stand.

    Just like Elvis.

  • Larry Huffman

    This thread has taken on a very interesting topic.

    So…regarding people needing to be offended. Christianity has built into it a need to be offended. The early church was repleat with people TRYING to become martyrs…because the doctrine seemed to call for that. In order to be a martyr, you have to have opposition to your cause. The beginnings of that is offense.

    At it;s basic level, chrisitianity has set itself up to be viewed as strong by it;s followers if there is opposition. Satan is working to bring down god’s kingdom. He will use all kinds of tricks like people using their intelligence, and scientific facts, and the fossil record and such. All of it is an affront to god, and those who perpetrate it, offenders of god. it is teh only way they can comfrotably expalin us away. If the bible did not pidgeon hole us into that role, they would be confused and very likely pay attention to us. But…people obviously voiced their intellectual offense at the purly idiotic christian fable…and those men who were building control put in verses and statements that took care of this…making anyone who saw it is untrue part of satan’s camp. And, as mentioned above…christians expect satan to attack their beliefs. How? US! So they expect and require it…to validate part of their faith.

    Chrsitians need this. They need people telling them they are wrong, so they can defend their god. They just are typically not prepared for good arguements. Their doctrine leads them to believe those who offend them are all just evil buffoons who know nothing. Instead, we have real arguements that require answers or a complete and total disregard for human intellect. They end up unable to stand in discussion about thier belief…usually runnning away or calling on faith as the magic word, silver bullet to it all…and then run away. Either way…usually a christian wants the offense, just so long as they do not have to engage their brain beyond quoting a verse or using some long over-used platitude about faith.

    So yes…christianity specifically…and I think many other religions have the same need…need to be offended. They find validity in the fact that those they perceive as evil are affronting them.

    They just fail to see the root cause of this perception of evil. It is simple and throws their arguement off the tracks, intellectually speaking. The bible is the root and the answer. It asks the questions and then asnwers, never allowing the person to think for themsleves. The illogical circle that is god vlidating the bible, and the bible validating god…also is what makes them yearn for offense and then it makes them think they championed god by calling on the word faith. All it all really does is make these people look deluded and misguided to those of us with an objective brain.

  • Some years ago, at a large LGTBQ(etc.) pride march in my city, a plan banner circled the festivities for an hour or so that said something to the effect of “YOU WILL BURN IN HELL”, but with more vulgar language for “YOU”.

  • Is it offensive?

    Of course. It was meant to be offensive. It was a contest to see how many people they could piss off.

    The question is: Is that a worthwhile goal?

    In this case, I’m going to say No.

    Offending people in order to make a point? That’s often worthwhile. Offending people as a by-product of some other political or artistic intent? Yeah, that’s valid.

    Offending people just for the sake of offending them? Offending people just to prove that you can? Offending people just to win a contest on a television show?

    That’s pretty fracking childish, in my opinion. Almost a dictionary definition of “childish,” in fact. As Bart Simpson said, “Oh please — this is senseless destruction, with none of my usual social commentary.”

    Of course they should have the right to do it. But I remain unimpressed.

  • David D.G.

    Thanks, Greta Christina, for channelling and expressing my thoughts on this matter so perfectly.

    ~David D.G.

  • Gabriel G.

    If the point was to be offensive, suggesting for them to do something other than “Jesus sucks” because it’s offensive to Christians, is a double standard. Basically, by saying they should have made fun of (or be offensive to) someone else, you’re saying that it’s okay to make fun of anything except religion.

    Now that, in my mind, is fucked up.

  • Ron in Houston

    I have lots of Hispanic friends named Jesus. I wonder which one he was talking about?

  • pen_devil

    I’m sure glad I don’t buy the National Post.

  • Though if you really wanted to win this competition hands down, I imagine a banner reading “Allah Sucks” would have been more effective.

    That depends whether you’re looking for quantity or quality of offense. In the United States, Christians win hands down for quantity, but the quality leaves alot to be desired. Besides angry, misspelled, grammatically incorrect death threats, offended Christians don’t pack a lot of ooomph. Offended Muslims, on the other hand, include people who will riot, burn flags and effigies and maybe even try to kill you and everybody who looks like you. That’s some quality offense.

  • Tao Jones

    A little context may be in order.

    This show has a somewhat small but loyal cult following here in Canada. It’s been on for quite a long time, actually. The show is about two friends who have these random competitions with each other. Things like… who can dance the longest… or who can go the longest without speaking… or first guy to get a boner loses…. you name it, they’ve probably done it. Kenny, the guy who hired the banner, usually tries to cheat.

    There’s really nothing held sacred on the show so everything is fair game. As silly as some of the stunts have been, the show isn’t outlandishly stupid and more often than not, the joke is on them. This latest stunt is entirely keeping within the spirit of the show and I would be very surprised if it caused any kind of uproar at all beyond an article in the paper.

  • Ryan

    I think Jesus sucks too!

  • I’m with Tao Jones. If you know anything about the show, you know this is really no big deal at all. A huge “meh”.

  • What do you think: Was the banner offensive or just a joke?

    Well, both of course. It’s by definition offensive, because people were offended. On purpose. And it was just a joke, because he didn’t actually believe that Jesus sucks.

    Offending people and having fun: What better way to spend a Saturday?

  • I have no doubt that the “Jesus Sucks” banner was effective at offending people, but it strikes me as stupid and useless.

    By contrast, I think P.Z. Myers effectively made a legitimate point, and also provoked a demonstration of the irrationality and double standards of numerous Catholics. It doesn’t make sense to claim that what he did was “ineffective” as though his goal was to persuade Catholics.

  • hahaha

    i will be laughing when all you guys r burning in hell 

  • Andyrowley

    surley if your laughing at someone elses misfortune then u urself would be commiting a sin, this means that u would end up joining him while he burns ? 

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