Donohue and Who? September 15, 2009

Donohue and Who?

galefI hear that Bill Donohue has a new book coming out.  Miranda Hale has a nice piece on about it, and by nice I mean it trashes his very purpose and goal in life. She mentions his crazy outbursts – and even links to my story here on FriendlyAtheist about laughing at his accusations.  But she brings up something important to remember:

As Galef says in his account, it’s almost impossible to do anything but laugh when faced with such ludicrousness.

But, unfortunately, Donohue’s nonsensical temper tantrums are not only funny. They’re also often hateful and dangerously dismissive of the First Amendment. Donohue has positioned himself as the voice of American Catholicism and he both courts and manufactures controversy in order to get attention and to further his agenda.

It’s a fair point – the nonsense he spouts shouldn’t be a laughing matter.  They do real harm, and not just to my feelings.  If anyone takes him seriously – and news outlets give him the platform to reach people – his twisted views are spread.  To that I say: and that’s exactly why we SHOULD laugh, to dismiss his ignorant and offensive influence.  If people see us laughing at him, it’s a powerful signal not to take it seriously.  (For more on this school of thought see Myers, PZ.)  Plus, the silly accusations are usually funny as hell, aren’t they?

To continue laughing at the punchline that is Bill Donohue, check out his press release about the new book.  Look at who he quotes as support.  Sing it with me: “One of these things is not like the others…”

“Wake up, America! The secular minority has cut the brake cables on America’s In-God-We-Trust-Mobile™! Not even all 43 of our Christian presidents can save us now.” – Stephen Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report”

That’s right.  He quoted Stephen Colbert to bolster his argument.  Stephen Colbert.  The satirist.  I know there’s a study finding that conservatives are more likely to believe Colbert is doing some kind of complex double-satire, but do they think he lampooned President Bush to his face out of homage?  You would think Donohue’s press people would be younger and more aware of the act.  No, we have to assume that he used the quote on purpose, knowing that many people – a lot of his target audience, probably – would be fooled.  That’s a problem.

But still… I can’t help but laugh.

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  • gribblethemunchkin

    Damn, i’m sure this isn’t the first time that i’ve seen Colbert used as an endorsement by the very people he mocks, but i can’t remember where the other one was.

    Using Stephen Colbert like this really does just prove that Poe’s LAw is a real rule not just some snarky internet meme.

  • I think Tom Delay did it too, but less blatantly.

    Wow, I never thought I would accuse Tom Delay of being less brazen than anyone.

  • bill

    haha that colbert quote is awesome. i’ve actually found myself explaining to people that colbert’s show and character is satire, and many of them still don’t believe me.

  • False Prophet

    Not only does Donahue need to be laughed at, he needs to be called on his own bullshit. He does not represent all Catholics, nor even a majority of Catholics. Because he only speaks out on those points of Catholic doctrine that overlap with Republican party talking points (abortion, public displays of faith), but is strangely silent on papal proclamations that are opposed to Republican doctrine (opposition to the death penalty, the war in Iraq, and globalization).

  • mikespeir

    …he both courts and manufactures controversy in order to get attention and to further his agenda.

    I just can’t imagine anybody doing that!

  • Thanks so much for the kind words about my article Jesse 🙂 I appreciate it. But I hope I wasn’t TOO mean. I can’t stand Donohue, but I hate to think that I’ve trashed anyone.

    I hope you didn’t think that I was criticizing your response to his attack on you and on humanists in general. I definitely would’ve responded in the exact same way. He’s so insane that it’s almost impossible not to laugh at almost everything he says. I just wish that he wasn’t also so vicious and dangerous. He’d make a great comedian if he wasn’t also such an asshat.

    & I was SO confused when I was that Colbert quote on the Catholic League’s homepage. I was going to mention it in my article, but I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be funny by including it, or if he really thinks Colbert was being serious? So strange.

    Also, on the Catholic League homepage, they link to only one review of Donohue’s book, and, in it, the reviewer actually says “I’ve never been able to refuse Bill Donohue anything.” Um. Yeah. Really objective there. Plus, kind of a creepy thing to say.

  • jtradke

    D-bag’s press release says, “Here is what some are saying about the book” before the Colbert quote. I highly doubt Colbert was reviewing the book when he said that. So aside from being obtuse, he’s disingenuous, and possibly unethical depending on whether or not he got Colbert’s permission to use the quote as a blurb.

    Edit: Colbert may have actually given that as a blurb. I can’t find any other instance of it except in reference to Donohue.

  • conservatives are more likely to believe Colbert is doing some kind of complex double-satire

    I think it is obvious that Cobert is doing an even more complex triple satire 😉

  • Tizzle

    I don’t see why they shouldn’t believe Colbert is on their side. Aren’t Beck and O’Reilly practically parodies?

  • Gordon

    This is a man who defended rapist priests and called their victims golddiggers – while on a program with one of the victims.

    It stuns me that he can be interviewed anywhere without that dominating the conversation!

  • Baconsbud

    I would like to see Colbert interview him about his book. That could be interesting.

  • Didn’t the intelligent and always amusing Mel Brooks say that the best thing you could do to discredit and attack the Nazis is make fun of them and laugh at them?

    “If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator you never win,” says Brooks, 75. “That’s what they do so well; they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter–they can’t win. You show how crazy they are.”

    I think that could easily be applied to Bill Donohue.

  • This is a man who defended rapist priests and called their victims golddiggers – while on a program with one of the victims.

    It stuns me that he can be interviewed anywhere without that dominating the conversation!

    Exactly! He says horrifying, sickening things like that, but rarely gets called out on it. He really needs to be held accountable for what he says and for what he advocates.

    On a lighter note, here’s a video of Donohue and Christopher Hitchens on Hardball back in 2007, in which Donohue asks Hitchens if he “wants to take it outside.” Oh, good lord.

  • muggle

    That had me laughing. Colbert is one of the things I miss since I gave up cable. He’s a riot.

    This guy is the direct opposite. I’ve heard of Holocaust denial but, listening to Gordon’s link killed the laughter. Fondling not abuse? The nuns slapping him not abuse? Because if it’s not the worst case scenario, it’s not abuse, right? Well, I must say they apparently f*cked him up.

    It’s amazing, even after all the years of publicity about sexual abuse how in denial people can be. Stunning is the only way to put it. I share that guy’s sentiment about not knowing whether to be flabbergasted or nauseated. I skipped state with my daughter when she was three to protect her from an abusive father. I got that no one believed us. But 10 years later — big surprise — he gets busted for child molestation. It burns me because if we had been listened to who knows how many children could have been spared.

    But the thing that gave me that feeling was when my daughter, who has a really unusual name started working retail in her teens(a few year’s after his arrest in another state made it safe for me to return to the state I never stopped being homesick for), her family from her father’s side recognized her and were all let’s get together, we’re family.

    Then drove her away with wild claims that the reason he was arrested wasn’t true. The victims were making it up. Her cousin, a year older, whose mother (her father was my daughter’s father’s brother) did the same thing a year after I did for the same reason went so far as to say our moms were lying. That was enough to drive my daughter away from them period, which is really sad, but sometimes the family you have is worse than no family.

    I get how the interviewer who said that feels. I mean I’m certainly in an I told you so position and still no one wants to hear it.

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