Sikh sect sick over lame Leno lark

India is up in arms over a joke made by Jay Leno. Judge the heinousness of it yourself:

httpv://youtu.be/WfGlyjY5bJU

Right. In the midst of a very mild joke about Romney’s summer home, Leno flashed a brief image of the Temple of Amritsar, the “Golden Temple,” in the state of Punjab in northern India. 

The literally gold-plated temple is the holiest shrine in Sikh culture, and gets more visitors than the Taj Mahal — more than 100,000 a day.

A petition is being circulated. The embassy of India is expected to lodge a protest with the U.S. State Department. And Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi called the joke “quite unfortunate and quite objectionable.”

Said Ravi:

Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others.

Actually, Mr. Ravi, it probably does. If we all had to walk around cringing in fear of offending any of the countless True Believers out there in the world, we’d have very little freedom left to say anything at all. Much less crack a joke — even a lame one.

To clarify, Mr. Ravi:

If I bump into you on purpose, I’m in the wrong.
If I bump into you accidentally, no one is in the wrong.
If you leap in front of me so that I can’t help but bump into you, you’re in the wrong.

But if you scream that I have bumped into you, that you are mortally wounded, when I obviously haven’t even touched you, it seems to me that makes you a whiny, grandstanding sympathy whore.

And you are definitely in the wrong.

________________________

Here’s another voice from India on the subject:

Sikhs are not very happy with using their religious place as a plug for mockery in the US Presidential race. And one can understand why. This is not the only time people aren’t sensitive to their culture and way of life. [...]

It is known that in the US Presidential race almost everything is considered “Fair Game”. But such acts should stop where someone’s reverence starts.

________________________

Also on the subject, and well worth reading:

Joan Smith: Strong religious belief is no excuse for intimidation

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    FFS. Some people really need to get a sense of humour, it’s a joke folks.

  • Nomen Nescio

    as RAW (i think it was) said many decades ago: pun-jab is sikh, sikh, sikh.

  • Brad Young

    “But if you scream that I have bumped into you, that you are mortally wounded, when I obviously haven’t even touched you, it seems to me that makes you a whiny, grandstanding sympathy whore.”

    Or, a soccer player.

  • http://paperdove.org/ nigelTheBold, Abbot of the Hoppist Monks

    But such acts should stop where someone’s reverence starts.

    I revere truth. I revere knowledge gained through honest inquiry. I revere equality among people.

    The very golden palace they defend is offensive to my reverence. It is gaudy opulence in a country with desperate poverty. It is an edifice that honors lies, which offends my reverence for truth and honesty. It is an icon of religious oppression, which offends my sense of justice.

    So it seems we’re at am impasse. How do we judge who is in the right?

    • Dave

      Very unfair of you to base you assertions on appearances. Fine it looks opulant to you but believe me it’s not always been that way.

      You said:

      It is an edifice that honors lies, which offends my reverence for truth and honesty. It is an icon of religious oppression, which offends my sense of justice.

      Not true. History of Harimandir Sahib has been built to unify people of all faiths in India. It has four doors to signify that it is open to all four corners of the world (and four castes) and all people of all backgrounds, men, women and children. There is free food served 24/7 to anyone regardless or wealth, position, caste, religion, belief/lack of belief. The temple itself has been razed many times by Afghan invaders intolerant of the Sikh world view and rebuilt with sacrifice, fearless to preserve the openess of the Sikh worldview that is: serving the poor, the dispossessed, fighting for freedom, justice and a world which is at peace with it’s diversity. Visit if you get a chance and you’ll see that Harmandir Sahib is not a edifice to something negative – it’s living spiritual and social space for all.

      • John Swindle

        Sorry, Dave, you have missed the point. It is not about whether yours is a religion of peace(tm), but whether anyone has the right to require others to shut up and accept bullying. I find your religion to be honorable, compared to some others, but your expectations are just as ridiculous as those of muslims and christians. I am not trying to be clever when I say I am offended by them; they truly are offensive.

        • Dave

          You don’t have to shut up, you have the freedom to be crass or offensive and Sikhs have the freedom to not accept offensive remarks. It works both ways surely? :)?

          • ‘Tis Himself, OM.

            In other words, Sikhs have the right to whine. Nobody is denying them that right. They can whine at all they like and all we should do is note that they’re whiners.

          • Dave

            In other words, Sikhs have the right to whine. Nobody is denying them that right. They can whine at all they like and all we should do is note that they’re whiners.’

            Not really. But keep telling yourself that if it helps you feel superior.

          • Tony

            Dave:
            -I’m sorry. I disagree. For too long, religions the world over have been largely free from criticism. Far too often people have been killed for simply criticizing religion. As if there’s something wrong with open criticism. For example, there are many people that think its preposterous that a woman was made from the rib of a man made out of dirt, or that snakes can talk. There are people who find it massively offensive that the religion of Islam reveres a man who took children as his brides. Having just looked up Sikhism, at a glance I see nothing I find offensive. That’s just at a glance however. There may be something there I find offensive. There may not be. However, at the end of the day, I cannot take seriously any claim to knowledge achieved by spiritual or religious means. The minute a belief system starts off with the premise that god is real is the minute I discount it from being truthful. Until such time as one can provide evidence for the existence of any god, I find no reason to accept any religious claim involving a deity.

            I’m curious, what exactly is so insulting about drawing pictures of a holy figure (and one that even if he existed, is dead)? What’s insulting about Jay Leno making a joke about Romney’s summer home? There are no victims here. No one is going to die from a picture of jesus and mohammed in bed. A picture of a holy temple included in a joke about a prospective presidential candidate (who himself is part of a ridiculous religion) hurts someone…how exactly? No one loses their religion. No one is physically harmed. This is an example of the armor of religious belief. People expect their religious views to be exempt from criticism, when they shouldn’t. The views that the vast majority of people on this planet possess have largely been free from scrutiny and one result is this ‘no pictures, no jokes, no criticism’ mentality. Sorry, but when your worldview is based on wishful thinking, fear of death, fear of the unknown, logical fallacies et al, it’s open to criticism. The truth of reality can be respected. Superstition cannot.

          • Nomen Nescio

            Sikhs certainly have the right to take offense when someone says something they don’t like. everybody has that right. but neither Sikhs nor anyone else has the right to demand, or force, anyone else to be silent simply because the speaker is saying something offensive.

            in my opinion, religious faith genuinely is a poisonous mind killer and people who promote it are doing a genuinely offensive thing. but much as i might like to, my offendedness does NOT give me any right to ask believers to be silent.

      • http://paperdove.org/ nigelTheBold, Abbot of the Hoppist Monks

        Fine it looks opulant to you but believe me it’s not always been that way.

        Is it that way now? How much wealth is invested in the gold leaf that adorns it right now?

        Not true. History of Harimandir Sahib has been built to unify people of all faiths in India.

        If it’s not true, then why the Sikh demand for respect? Why the public outrage over a humorous dig at a US Presidential candidate that had nothing to do with Sikh culture, other than the use of an image of an opulent palace meant to represent, not an opulent palace, but one of the homes of the Presidential candidate?

        They are demanding respect for their religion, and using that demand to silence others. That is itself religious oppression. So, yes, it does represent religious oppression in this very instance. They demand nobody else have the right to offend them, to offend their beliefs. This very demand is offensive to my beliefs.

        And that was my point entirely.

        I am glad to hear it is also a social place, a place where poor are fed, where goodness is practiced and preached. But the Sikh also believe in a God, a creator of the universe. They claim to have knowledge of the characteristics of God. This is insupportable by any valid way of knowing. And in that respect as well, it is a temple to falsehood.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512768863 sc_af4f3773976236ddc573af390b0cb267

          Kind of weird religion that tells you to be nice and feed people and disregard their caste, and then tells you to build giant expensive buildings that could feed thousands with that money.

          Another case of egotistical maniac god person, has to be whoreshipped.

          Give me a break. I’m so tired of religious telling me what’s funny, sacred, profane, and so on.

          Poop on them, and the temple they rode in on…

  • Martin

    “…you a whiny, grandstanding sympathy whore.”

    Or, a soccer player.

    But, you repeat yourself.

  • Robert B.

    Sense of humor is irrelevant. It would also be entirely consistent with free speech to show that image as evidence in an entirely serious argument that religion manipulates or threatens people into donating money and then uses it wastefully. (Or, it would be assuming I have my facts straight – it occurs to me that I have no idea how the Sikh religion gets its cash, and I’m just assuming they do it like Christians.) Delete the words “Presidential Race.” In the US everything is considered fair game all the time for free speech, except when it directly threatens the health or life of a person. Even malicious lies are usually protected; our slander and libel laws are fairly narrow, and rightly so.

    And honestly, are we really supposed to believe that an institution that can produce the this egregious example of conspicuous consumption needs protection from rude jokes? That building is a frigging caricature of wealth and power.

    • Dave

      It’s funny that you probably live in a nice place and assuming you live in America, you have some of the most expensive buildings known to man, and yet you have poverty of a sizable proportion of you population. Usual double standards we all apply to pretty much anyone i.e. ‘why is that so expensive?’, ‘you dont need that?’. Sikhs don’t have a problem with their honestly earned money being spent on Harimandir Sahib as for them it’s a form of worship. It’s their business what they spend their money on – and in fact they’ve done more for poverty than any nations foreign aid to India as they are self sufficient, create jobs and earn via the sweat of their brow. The concept of serving the poor is central and is at the heart of Sikh practice. Fair enough you dont have the poverty of India but you may want to read up your history on why most of india, not all of it, is so poor.

      • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

        “Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others.”

        Next thing he’ll say is something like freedom is slavery.

        • Dave

          Don’t be silly, you know better than that.

          • ‘Tis Himself, OM.

            Freedom is the right to whine. Dave is just indulging in this freedom.

            Please let us know when you’re done whining, Dave.

          • Dave

            I think your projecting :)

        • Tony

          “Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others.”

          -I wonder what freedom means to an individual that says something like this. I think it’s silly.
          I’m gay. I live in the United States of America. My sensibilities are offended when any number of bigots appear on tv and spout anti-gay rhetoric. I do, however, understand their right to think what they want and to speak it. I don’t have to like it. I can despise it. I can criticize them for it. I’m not going to hide behind ‘freedom’ and say they can’t harm my sentiments. Instead of whining about it, I can try to educate people.
          I see nothing in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights
          (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights)
          about freedom from criticism or freedom from having your feelings hurt.
          I can see how Article 12 (no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.) could be construed to think we all have freedom from having our feelings hurt, but in practice it wouldn’t work. Not when we have freedom of speech (Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.)
          At the end of the day, no one has a right NOT to get their feelings hurt.

      • kermit.

        “It’s funny that you probably live in a nice place and assuming you live in America, you have some of the most expensive buildings known to man, and yet you have poverty of a sizable proportion of you population.”

        This is true. I find it shameful. I would not find it irritating if somebody used photographs of opulent buildings from the US (most of ‘em are ugly, anyway) to make a point, whether humorous or deeply philosophical.

        But even if I found their comments deeply offensive, I wouldn’t claim they didn’t have the right to offend me, let alone take active steps to stop them. I might, however, offer my opinion on the content of what they said.

        • Dave

          What you would or wouldn’t do in response is immaterial. It’s not your right to dictate a response to your liking. Freedom of speech cuts both ways. :)

          • Tony

            Dave:
            -Did you read what kermit said?
            In case you missed it:

            But even if I found their comments deeply offensive, I wouldn’t claim they didn’t have the right to offend me, let alone take active steps to stop them.

            -this is clear admission that freedom of speech works both ways. People deserve respect, and many prefer for that respect to be earned. Religious beliefs don’t deserve respect any more than political beliefs deserve respect. Respecting the right of an individual to hold a belief is not the same as respecting that belief. I think Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, George W Bush and Pat Buchanan are all detestable human beings for the views they hold. That said, I do believe they have the right to say the things they do, no matter how horrible they are. I wouldn’t call for censorship of their views (educating them is another matter).

  • Sheila

    Huh, this is the first time I’ve LOL’d at a Jay Leno joke in ages.

    @nigelthebold, your response at number 4 sums up quite nicely yet another reason this joke is funny; the hypocrisy.

  • Pingback: …And Now The Sikh’s Are Doing It | Meddling Kids

  • davidct

    Seems like just another religious sect standing up for it’s right to be offended. There was demeaning about the joke toward sikh culture. The complaint is like the proposed anti-blasphemy laws proposed in the UN. Religion demands respect since it is increasingly unable to earn it.

  • robb

    here is my reverence i would like to show religion:

    thpppppt!

  • Alverant

    I think the joke was in poor taste.

    First, Mittens is not Sikh. Sikhism is not a factor in his actions. So why bring Sikh into it? How would you feel if a famous comedian in say Germany used your hometown in the butt of a joke about some German politician. I would think that many would respond by “WTF! Don’t get us involved! What did we do to you?”

    Second, not many people in the USA know much about Sikhism. I remember reading a few years ago about how a Sikh was murdered in the USA because someone thought he was muslim (I guess turban=muslim). When I first glanced at the picture my first thought was that it was London with some special gold lighting. Buckingham Palace would make more sense for the joke than a temple on the other side of the planet. I’m pretty sure most viewers saw it as a big gold building with no religious significance whatsoever. The joke is ruined by taking a cheap shot at religion most Americans never even heard of.

    Also along those lines, what would have happened if he showed a cathedral or the Vatican? Would he have dared to toss that religion into the joke instead of a very small minority faith?

    That being said, I think the response was way over the top. Leno has the right to tell the joke and I have the right to say it was in poor taste. Freedom includes the right to be a jerk and be called out on jerkish behavior. Leno caused unnecessary offense even though he was in his rights to do so.

    Let’s hope he wises up in the future and stays on topic.

    • http://paperdove.org/ nigelTheBold, Abbot of the Hoppist Monks

      I think you have the two keys to the joke (which really isn’t that funny):

      First, Mittens is not Sikh. Sikhism is not a factor in his actions. So why bring Sikh into it?

      I don’t think Leno was intending to bring Sikhism into it. I think the joke hinges on your next observation:

      Second, not many people in the USA know much about Sikhism

      That’s the key. The joke relies on a generic picture of a generic palace-looking place. Leno could easily have used the Thai Golden Palace instead. There was no intended association between Romney and anything other than a generic palace as a summer home. What little hackneyed humor the joke conveyed relied upon general American ignorance. The joke only works (for some herbal-tea-weak value of “works”) if you don’t make the association.

      Which makes this stupid outrage all the more pathetic.

      • Alverant

        Point taken, but if he didn’t want to bring Sikhism into it he shouldn’t have used a Sikhism holy place. Again, we could reverse it and say a Japanese show wants a generic palace and shows the Vatican. The Pope would probably have something to say about his home being the punchline for “just another castle”. Better yet, use a picture of the palace of some South American banana republic.

        Also if you want a generic castle, how about that fairy tale one in Europe. I forgot the name. Remember the Spaceballs movie, that palace on Drudia? That’s the one, which is also an iconic palace to boot.

        Actually I find the fact the joke hinges on the audience being ignorant of other faiths to be on the more insulting side. But this time it’s insulting to more people for different reasons. Instead of “we’re using your holy place as the butt of the joke because it’s covered in gold” it’s “we’re using your holy place as the butt of the joke because your religion isn’t worth knowing about by the audience”.

        Doesn’t justify this degree of outrage. Both sides made mistakes.

        • F

          Both.

          It doesn’t matter, though, because you don’t get to ring up a government and have them do something about it.

          But Sikhs and others are free to be offended all they want. Enjoy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=512768863 sc_af4f3773976236ddc573af390b0cb267

      What would have been REALLY offensive, rude, and totally funny would have been a picture of the Mother Temple of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City. IN joke, in deed!

  • Tom Robbins

    sweet googly moogly. and i thought the vatican was fancy.

  • Tom Robbins

    however… while david needs to calm down, and we need to as well, i do feel that sikhs in general are nice folks, after all, their main tenets are virtue and defense of others, no matter what. to my knowledge, i mean, it’s not like they eat dolphins or something.

    • http://paperdove.org/ nigelTheBold, Abbot of the Hoppist Monks

      I most definitely agree sikh belief has some great attributes — the idea that we’re all in this together, for instance, is one I most definitely share.

      That does not change the fact that nobody has the right to demand others refrain from insulting their beliefs. Okay, they have the right to make the demand — they just shouldn’t expect it to be obeyed. Also, should they make the demand, they should expect further mockery.

      • Tom Robbins

        Agreed. I’m all for streisanding, i just think we should calm down on picking fights with them. They’re nice guys, they don’t evangelize, and they respect everyone. most don’t even regard homosexuality as an issue. I gotta say, when we have baptists and mormons and muslims and santorums running about, raj singh and his friedship religion aren’t our issue.

        • Tony

          I don’t know why Sikhism shouldn’t be criticized as much as Hinduism, Mormonism, Scientology, or Islam. They’re all religious beliefs that assume some sort of supernatural power influences the world. Right from the jump, they’re disqualified from rational discussion.
          We can give them something of a pass only because we don’t see Sikh followers doing vile, inhuman things to other humans in the way we see Christians, Islamists, and Mormons.
          At the end of the day, however, Sikhism is still a religion and is unsupportable by any evidence.

  • No One
    • F

      Oh, of course the Catholic mouthpiece agrees that the idea was offensive. Can’t get much more transparent than that.

  • http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/ Avicenna

    Well it’s not a funny joke for starters. And secondly? It’s a case of “Sikhs and Hindus get a lot of the flak from Islamophobia”.

    Because people don’t know much about Hindus and even less about Sikhs resulting in them getting a lot of stupid crap about being muslim and since they look like the muslim stereotype they get a lot of the stupid nonsense that muslims do.

    And Sikhs aren’t without their fair share of issues. They had a big terrorism streak during the 80s and took a fair amount of flak for that back then.


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