Frequent visitors to the blog know my dripping disdain for Ms. Doud and her gum-snapping chick analysis of adult subjects. Reading her columns are for me, exercises in self-control and mastery of the gag reflex.
But today I found something in her column worth pulling out into a larger discussion. In this piece (entitled "Coffee Cups in Hell"), Dowd gives us a light-hearted treatment of the light-hearted romp on broadway these days produced by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Their "Book of Mormon" just opened on Broadway, and the "scatological scamps" have put forward a production that sounds like a pretty darn funny send-up of Mormonism. It's something I would like to see. So far, so good.
But Dowd herself lets the camel's nose into the tent--without then contemplating the camel.
She writes: "But as Terry Teachout wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Making fun of Mormons in front of a Broadway crowd is like shooting trout in a demitasse cup. ... If the title of this show were ‘The Quran,’ it wouldn’t have opened.”" And then walks away from the implications of what she had written. So what are those implications?
First, Teachout (and Dowd) imply that if a play of this nature were to skewer Islam as deeply as this does Mormonism--it would never see the light of day. No theater producer, no group of investors, no actors or statehands union--would expose their people to the almost CERTAIN violent and potentially terrorist inflamed reaction that would ensue. But the Mormons? Fair game! First, religion in America has always provided grist for parody--but Mormonism? Why, even the looney toon fundmentalist Baptists think it is looney toon. Jesus was in the US? Maroni? Hah, hah, hah--how silly it all is. At least that would be the view of the effete salon gassers who pass themselves off as arbiters of what is acceptable in the US. Apparently nothing in the canon of Islam is as worthy of parody as that of the Mormons.
Second, where are the mass protests in Salt Lake City? Where are the fist waving, chanting, sign carrying "death to Broadway, death to Parker and Stone, bomb South Park" folks? What you say? That's silly? Mormon's simply wouldn't over-react like that? Exactly. While there may in fact wind up to be some level of push back from the Mormon community over this play--it is inconceivable that violent demonstrations or terrorist actions would ensue. Not so with our friends in the Islamic community. No group on earth is so primed to take offense, and no group on earth takes offense in such a violent manner.
Now Parker and Stone? I love these guys. To their credit, they HAVE done some pretty fair parody work with Islam at its center (the Muhammed in a bear suit stuff). It's not Parker and Stone with whom I have a beef, it is with those in the government and media who continue to act as if all religion world-wide is fair game for parody and criticism--save one. It is with those who do not consistently and relentlessly criticize the immaturity and shallowness of the marchers in the Islamic world who take to the barricades aided and abetted by their Friday afternoon sermonizing mullahs. Such reactions are ridiculous, and do not constitute the reactions of societies ready for integration into a modern, interconnected world.