Faith, Media & Culture

Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. Tonight Show joke results in Sikh lawsuit. From The Wrap: …(Host Jay) Leno has taken heat from a religious group after cracking that presidential contender (Mitt) Romney keeps the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, as his summer home. And how he’s being sued by a religious organizer who claims that Leno libeled the entire Sikh religion with his joke. In court papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday and obtained by TheWrap, Dr. Randeep Dhillon, who does business as Bol Punjabi All Regions Community Organization, claims that Leno “hurt the sentiments of all Sikh people in addition to those of the plaintiff” with his joke. Dhillon further claims that Leno’s joke “clearly exposes plaintiff, other sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh.” Claiming libel, Dhillon is seeking unspecified damages, plus court costs…
Comment: I’m all for reasonable sensitivity toward all groups but if Dr. Dhillon can sue over this then I pity our already over-stressed courts. If Christians were to sue every time a late night comic offended them it would be, well, pretty comical. The fact is this is America and there is something we value very highly. It’s called free speech. People can offend us. We can complain. We can even offend them. But to turn every offense into a legal case is a huge waste of everyone’s time. 

2. Producers cut leprosy joke from pirate comedy. From Aardman Animations is modifying a scene in its upcoming stop-motion 3D pic The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (UK title: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists) following objections from leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP)…The leprosy orgs were concerned such a scene could increase stigma and discrimination for disease sufferers. An Aardman spokesman gave Deadline the following statement…“After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing anyone intended was to offend anyone and it is clear to us that the right way to proceed is to honor the efforts made by organizations like ILEP to educate the public about this disease.” Lepra Health in Action for its part said it was “genuinely delighted that Aardman has decided to amend the film” and praised the filmmakers’ respect and sensitivity
Comment: Bravo to all involved. The leprosy groups made their concerns known. The producers actually listened and had the sensitivity to alter their film and those raising the original concern showed gratitude for being listened to.  Civility, what a concept!

Here’s the movie preview which includes the clip that raised the initial concerns. Future versions of the trailer (and, of course, the film itself) will reportedly be be sans the offending joke.That’s good. The movie looks funny enough without it.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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