In a segment for PBS NewsHour, Orthodox Jewish comedian Ashley Blaker argues that religious beliefs should be free from mockery.
As if the one thing people shouldn’t make fun of is the mother lode of irrational ideas.
… Just because I’m allowed to make jokes about my life, should everyone else?
Let me answer in a word: No. We’d rather you didn’t.
It seems to me that in our super politically correct age, the religious are the last group of people that it’s fair game to mock — that anyone religious is a crazy fantasist who believes in made up fairy stories to give them comfort, or even worse, uses these fantasies as an excuse to perform the most terrible atrocities.
But why are the religious fair game? Is following your faith so much worse than having a fanatical interest in your favorite sports team? At least if you want to go to church, you don’t need to spend loads of money buying a ticket from a scalper.
And God is never going to let you down by heading off to the L.A. Lakers for an extra 10 million dollars a year.
We live in troubling times. There is so much that’s worrying in the world. What’s wrong with having a bit of faith in something bigger? That someone has a plan and it is going to work out okay in the end?
The nonbelievers will say that it’s religion that has caused many of the world’s biggest problems. But I say, don’t judge religion by the religious. Sometimes, we all just need something to believe in.
If it’s not for you, that’s okay. But please afford us the same respect we give to other minorities. God bless or just bless.
Of course comedians should mock religion. It shouldn’t be off-limits just because he happens to like it. If religion provides ample material for comedy — and it does; just look at Kentucky — then it’s worth exploring.
Blaker asks if having religion is worse than having a “fanatical interest” in your favorite sports team. Yes it is. Much worse. Seeing a game may be expensive, but the Chicago Cubs don’t pressure me to give them 10% of my income. (They’re also not pressuring city officials to take away the civil rights of people living on the south side of the city.)
It’s not just that religion causes some of the world’s biggest problems; it’s that religion is often the cause of plenty of the smaller ones, too. We’re living through an administration that values religion over reason, and look where a government propped up by white evangelical Christians has taken us. Religion isn’t just a problem when it comes to wars. It affects education, and civil rights, and the opportunities available to different people.
Bad ideas always deserve to be criticized, and religion is a bad idea.
One of the most powerful ways of criticizing bad ideas is by pointing out their pitfalls, and comedians do that better than most. If they can get people to realize that faith rarely lives up to its own ideals, in part due to massive hypocrisy within those religious groups, then they are helping people break those chains. By getting people to laugh at something they’re supposed to take seriously, comedians help take away some of religion’s power and mystique.
If religion made sense, there would be nothing to mock.
The fact that religion, like politics, has always provided material for good comedians is an indication that they should keep going after it, from every possible angle.
The bit of delusional hope you get from religion isn’t worth all the damage is causes to people who aren’t part of a religious majority. An Orthodox Jew, of all people, should recognize that.
(Thanks to Richard for the link)