Several at St. Blogs are noting the obvious irony double standard in a cartoon by Pat Oliphant in which, in the specific context of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic drunken rant, he engages in what can only be called a really crude anti-Catholic rant. Without the “excuse” of drunkenness.
As should be obvious, I don’t have a thin skin for “offensive” subject matter. Or even jokes about the Church. I took the title for this post from a musical-revue play that I once saw performed by a college or community theater. It was no Mel Brooks,¹ but I mostly enjoyed myself IIRC. I think it beehoves all groups, even religious ones, to have a sense of humor; it’s a sign of a balanced disposition.²
Nevertheless, this is just offensive calumny. Even if you don’t take the words literally and ask yourself “what is the overall point of the cartoon” (which, as a SOUTH PARK fan, I obviously believe is what one should do in engaging an artistic text) — “the point” could not more obviously be that “nuns beat anti-Semitism into Gibson and/or Catholic children generally.” Which is an absurd and tasteless lie.
But what I find particularly curious is that Oliphant once drew a virtually identical cartoon about Mel Gibson and a nun, back during the MSM’s hatefest over THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.
The current cartoon would be plagiarism if Oliphant weren’t “plagiarizing” from himself (which is obviously OK). The compositions of the images are virtually identical. The order of nuns has the same title (“Little Sisters of the Holy Agony”). The scrawny child in both cases is one-tenth the size of the bullying nun,³ who in both cases is cocking a ruler in the right hand and is near-identically drawn, even down to the pupil-less glasses-hidden eyes and the crucifix leaning toward the right. The only difference I tell is that in the earlier cartoon the POV doesn’t “look up” quite as much (a very small difference, obviously).
What was the reaction to the earlier cartoon? Well, it prompted the ombudsman of the Boston Globe, not exactly the newspaper with the deepest readership base of [or sympathy for] orthodox Catholics, to issue an apology (adequate or otherwise). Now, I understand that Oliphant is syndicated, not on the Globe staff, but, the ombudsman said, there was similar reaction at several other papers that ran the cartoon. Nevertheless, it’s Management 101 that if you rebuke someone for doing X (even if it’s a contractor whom you cannot formally sanction per se, as one could an employee), and then he does X again, the earthly reaction has to be harsher. The person has been granted fair notice that “this is not good,” thus making his second X a demonstration of his contempt for you. That’s why the virtual identicalness of the two cartoons matters. If ever “X equaled X” in the world of artistic representation, those two cartoons are it.⁴ And as the Boston blogger Politica Obscura noted, in re the earlier of these virtually identical cartoons, Oliphant is engaging in the equivalent of “In his early years little Steven Spielberg gets Jewed-down by Rabbi Bankem Goldman of the Zion Temple of the Sacred Money Grubbers.”
¹ … speaking of religious humor. Maybe Gibson should have said that Jews control the world of comedy, and so are responsible for all the lousy sitcoms.
² I treasured reading reports on Cardinal Bertone, the new Vatican Secretary of State, about how once, in the context of denouncing human cloning, he said that “an exception might be made in the case of Sophia Loren.”
³ … which is just stupid. The remarkable thing about “old-school” ethnic nuns, as Camille Paglia has pointed out, is that a little old five-foot lady could control a class full of big jocks by her sheer force of personality and conviction.
⁴ Not that there aren’t plenty of other precedents of Oliphant engaging in ugly anti-Catholic caricature (the boy plainly, as they say, has issues. Or in less therapeutic talk, he’s an anti-Catholic bigot).
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