Lewis Black’s The Root of All Evil

Last night, I watched the first episode of The Root of All Evil, Lewis Black‘s new show on Comedy Central.

I didn’t find it that funny… it was just the lead-in to The Daily Show for me. (Very disappointing, though, that Comedy Central hasn’t found a better venue to showcase Black’s talent.)

The episode revolved around the topic whether Oprah or the Catholic Church is more evil. A different comedian took each side to task and Black acted as the judge.

Before I even heard what comedian Greg Giraldo said about the Church, my first thought was that Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was going to flip out no matter what .

He did.

In a press release titled “LEWIS BLACK’S SHOW GETS UGLY,” Donohue responded and included a partial transcript of the show. The transcript was supposed to describe how offensive the show was.

That didn’t work — I kinda want to watch the show again next week now… (Thanks, Bill!)

Comedian Greg Giraldo, making the case against the Catholic Church:

Did I mention the boy fucking? A couple of years ago the Catholic Church held a two-week conference to discuss what should be done about the sexual molestation claims. Two weeks. What are they talking about? Lets stop diddling kids fellas, what do you say? That’s what, half hour tops? Somebody proposed a one strike and you’re out rule. One strike and you’re out. And it was voted down. They debated it and it lost. Someone actually got up and said, “Look we’re not going to kick a guy out for knob gobbling just one kid. I mean that’s not fair to the guys with a lot of hot kids in their parish. Maybe we will just move them to a place with uglier kids.” It’s awful. Dioceses in Tucson, Portland and San Diego, just to name a few have gone bankrupt defending these molestation claims. The Catholic Church is sack tickling its way into bankruptcy.

The Catholic Church is also evil because it has such a grip over the mindless masses that they’ll wait in line, thousands of them in the rain for hours, just to get a glimpse of a pork rind in the shape of the Virgin Mary. Then there is the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary. God impregnated Mary. We have a whole religion based on one woman who really stuck to her story.

And lets not forget the Inquisition. In the 1400s Jews and Muslims in Spain were forced to convert to Catholicism. And to test the sincerity of these conversions thousands were tortured. Lets say you were acting a little Jewy. You know, maybe you complained about your entrée. Or, you know, Paco it is a little moist could you towel it off for me. Next thing you know they put you in one of these [shows picture of torture instrument]. , Yes that is called the head crusher. , I think it was used to crush your head. These are actually implements of torture that were used by the Catholic Church. How about this one [shows another device]? It is called the breast ripper. Yeah, I think it was used to rip you breast. Sometimes they would try and soften the blow. They would say, “Hey good news is you get to sit down. Bad news is you have to sit on this.” [Shows a chair with a pyramid-shaped spike on it.] Yeah that was called the Judas Cradle. I guess ass shredder was already taken.

Additional quotes:

Lewis Black: Greg you have been babbling on about the Catholic Church and you haven’t mentioned the pope. Do you even know who he is?

Giraldo: Ah, yes I know who he is and the pope to me is a hypocrite in his Prada loafers and his ball gown. How can he condemn homosexuality when he dresses like he is on his way to nickel cosmo night at the Veiny Shaft Tavern?

And this:

Black: I read in Parade magazine that the Catholic Church is letting people use condoms now.

Giraldo: What did happen was because of the crisis on Africa, the Catholic Church considered allowing people to use condoms. If they were married and if one of the partners had AIDS. HAHAHA. A loophole. Well we can’t have any more kids, we live on two bucks a month and we are running out of mud pies to feed them. One of use is going to have to get AIDS.

How did Donohue respond?

By saying teachers molest more kids than priests. So the Church is great.

By saying radical Muslims murder more people now than the “miniscule” Inquisition ever did. So the Church is great.

By saying it was hate speech… (by that definition, any comedian who criticizes religion is guilty of the same crime).

In other words, by sounding like a lunatic himself.

You can read a wonderfully snarky response to Donohue and his “arguments” at Bay of Fundie.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Karen

    Does this guy Donohue do anything besides watch TV and get all het up about 9/10ths of it? Why doesn’t he just turn off the set and put us all out of his misery?

    What I want to know is – who won? And what did they say about Oprah? Because I don’t think she could come close to being worse than the Catholics. Just in terms of sheer longevity, the church has got her hands down.

  • Aj

    I don’t see this show lasting long if it doesn’t get better. Although I’m starting to tire of The Colbert Report as well. Lewis Black is great on The Daily Show, and doing stand up, one of the best.

    I thought the two jokes from the transcript were top quality, one about the pope’s dress, and the other about a partner having to get aids to use a condom. When Lewis said that Catholic school girl uniforms had gotten him into bad relationships six (?) times, and was the reason Oprah was chosen. The rest of it was below par though.

    I’m beginning to think Donohue is a spoof, he’s not really a Catholic, he’s just a comedian who discovered he could make money for nothing.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    I stopped watching after the first segment because I just didn’t find it funny. But the stuff I read here is much better, I actually laughed a few times. Maybe I’ll give the show one more chance.

    Of course, the only reason I even saw the first five minutes is because it came on after South Park.

  • http://thecrazychristianblog.blogspot.com/ Phoenix

    Yeah, it wasn’t funny at all… poor Lewis Black. He is such a talent and I have enjoyed all of his stand up.

    Donohue freaks about about EVERYTHING!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    What I want to know is – who won?

    Oprah won. It was a letdown.

  • julie marie

    I didn’t see the show, but if he’s as funny as y’all say he is, maybe he just needs some time to mature. I remember watching Conan O’Brien15 or so years ago, when he first got his late nite show. It was dreadful. Painful to watch. He was palpably failing and trying so hard…now, I can’t stay up that late anymore and do all the grown up things I have to do these days, but I hear his ratings are high and he’s doing well. He just needed time. Maybe its the same for Lewis Black.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    Wait a minute. Not to get snarky or point out a logical fallacy here, but if I say “I hate homos” (which I don’t) you would consider that hate speech. If someone says hateful, spiteful things about the Church, why is this not hate speech? Is it because it is a belief? A lifestyle. As the research is ongoing in the area of sexual identity, one could argue that homosexuality is the same thing. Furthermore, it is often pointed out here that people are Christians because they are raised as Christians and therefore generally cannot break free of the indoctrination. If this is true, you can no more hold them accountable for their belief (or call them hateful for holding the beliefs) than you could blame them for having blond hair and blue eyes.

    The fact is, it is very easy to say “Priests f*ck little boys” and “The Spanish Inquisition was horrible…” and neglect the fact that the Church still does more than any other organization in the world to alleviate pain and suffering (even pain and suffering it may have had a hand in, at some point, creating). As I am not a Catholic, I don’t agree with the condom issue, especially in the case of Africa. However, pointing at the Pope “wearing a dress” and condemning homosexuals isn’t even an argument and everyone knows it. The vestments of the priestly order have sprung from years of tradition and everything down to how the garment is stitched together has meaning and communicates something meaningful to believers.

    What is further, you can point to any organization and find some way in which that organization has helped screw up the world. Heck, if you shop at Wal-Mart, you’re helping to screw up the world. If you drive anything but a hybrid vehicle, according to Al Gore, you’re screwing up the world. It is always easy to take a position like “Look how horrible religion has made the world…” and point to various things while neglecting the good. It is also easy to chastise the Church while neglecting to put your money where your mouth is and reaching out to care for the fatherless and the widow.

    I’m not looking for who is more evil and I know this just makes for controversial television. But the fact is, until people are willing to go to the people on the margins of society and serve them, they have no business speaking. Dropping money into the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time to alleviate any guilt and get into the Wal-Mart faster and continue oppressing underpaid laborers in China is not helping the world.

    If you want to say the church is evil, make sure you realize you’re evil, too.

  • cautious

    calvin,

    If someone says hateful, spiteful things about the Church, why is this not hate speech?

    …can hate speech be visited upon an organization?

    Are you basically saying that it’s comparable to say “I hate gays” and “I hate Wal-Mart”? That it’s “similar”, in some way, to hate people for their sexual orientation, and to hate an organization that causes both good and bad in the world?

    neglect the fact that the Church still does more than any other organization in the world to alleviate pain and suffering

    …seriously? Not, say, UNICEF?

    If you want to say the church is evil, make sure you realize you’re evil, too.

    I’m fairly certain my exes will say I’m evil, or, at least, a jackass. But I am not an organization that has been fighting progress for hundreds of years.

    I mean it’s the Catholic Church here. The organization that took 400 years to say, hey, maybe we were hard on Galileo.

  • Aj

    C.E. Moore,

    I don’t believe there should be thought crime, and I believe in freedom of expression, I don’t believe “hate speech” should be illegal. People who hold beliefs of hate are de facto hateful at something, that’s the strangest criticism I’ve ever seen.

    My criticism of this view is that it’s based on total nonsense, and in reality what I do in the bedroom doesn’t harm myself or anyone else, unless they’d like that. Perhaps the beliefs have been forced on them, all the more reason to point out it’s baseless.

    Do people actually believe that the church does more than any other organisation to alleviate suffering? Not in a practical sense, suffering of the real world, when we consider the consequences of their teachings, and that they’re interested in souls not human suffering. They make saints out of those who think suffering is good for people. They are thoroughly against abortion, that’s an option that would alleviate much suffering. They’re against stem cell research and cloning, even though those could help millions of people, reduce suffering a lot. They make people feel guilty and fearful, forms of suffering, because of their “sins” and hell.

    Wal-Mart isn’t exactly perfect, far from it, and some corporations do a lot of damage, that doesn’t make the Catholic Church any better or worse. It doesn’t change, whether I’m a saint or a murderer, the validity of the criticism doesn’t change.

    Hemant, of course, is not evil at all. He’s *pinches index and thumb* this far away from being a demi-god.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    Cautious,

    Hate speech, in the sense that it is understood can be launched against a people group and organizations. And yes, the church does more to alleviate pain than UNICEF and has been at it A LOT longer.

    AJ,

    There are LOADS of studies that would disagree that what you do in the bedroom with the same sex is not harmful. But, the point of science is to continue studying and thus the research, as I stated prior, is ongoing. So, to reach your conclusion without consulting the research on both sides of the equation is foolish, at best, dangerous at worst.

    And to say the Church is concerned more with souls than alleviating suffering is a false dichotomy. You will definitely have those in the church who are firmly in one camp or the other–alleviating pain at the expense preaching the Gospel (verbally) and preaching the Gospel (verbally) at the expense of alleviating suffering. However, that is painting with a very broad brush. The Church is against abortion because abortion causes the suffering of an innocnet child to alleviate the pain of another. And stem cell research is not opposed by every church, but those who oppose it do not oppose it haphazardly. Stem cell research is a slippery slope because man is stupid. Every time we do something like, oh I don’t know, split an atom we go and make a bomb and kill lots of people in Japan. With stem cell research, you run into the slippery slope of human cloning which, argue as you might, is a HUGE ethical dilemma. Man WILL create life just to destroy it in order to prolong the lives of the living, making very clear-cut moral and ethical statements about the value of one life over and against another (this is the same with abortion). (Interestingly, I JUST finished watching THE ISLAND which shouldn’t be informing my opinion, but human history informs my viewpoint also and man WILL do something stupid because that is our nature.) So, it is not as if the Church says, “Hey Christopher Reeves, maybe you shouldn’t have been riding that horse, so God has punished you by putting you in that wheel chair. Yeah, we know stem cells will help, but you deserve it.” (I know Reeves is dead.)These aren’t calloused statements. The Church tends to have foresight (not always, but more now than in the past) and this is an ethical dilemma you have not taken to its logical extreme.

    My point is, the Church has been around for 2000 years now. There will be good and there will be bad. And because it is so large, it makes an easy target to free us of our own responsibility to help alleviate suffering. UNICEF does an excellent job as a secular organization to alleviate world suffering. However, there are many, many Christians who feel called to work with UNICEF and if they pulled out of UNICEF, I’m not sure it would be as effective as it is now. This doesn’t make it a Christian organization, but it is Christian faith that informs many people to help out their fellow man. There will be big, huge, gapping mistakes and people who do horrible things in the name of God along the way. But, let us not cast stones at the majority who are working to breathe life into this world, even if that means disagreeing with stances that, on the surface, seem helpful but will be dangerous in the long run.

    You might want to check out a number of the interviews on my website http://www.thechristianmanifesto.com that highlight leading Christian thinkers and how they are attempting to bring healing to the world through thought and deed. I recently sat down with Dr. Amy Black to discuss how Christians can be involved in the political process on both sides of the aisle and she had a lot of insightful things to say. Read it and give some feedback if you’d like. I like alternative POVs and I also want you to see that Christians and the Church aren’t a bunch of cheeseheads running around with mongoloid notions of what it means to change the world for the better. Here is the link:
    http://thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/an-interview-with-dr-amy-e-black-author-of-beyond-left-and-right/

  • Aj

    C.E. Moore,

    There are LOADS of studies that would disagree that what you do in the bedroom with the same sex is not harmful.

    Cite some.

    The Church is against abortion because abortion causes the suffering of an innocnet child to alleviate the pain of another.

    Suffering? Innocent? Child? What are you talking about, I said abortion, involving killing a human embryo or a fetus.

    Man WILL create life just to destroy it in order to prolong the lives of the living, making very clear-cut moral and ethical statements about the value of one life over and against another (this is the same with abortion).

    Create life? That’s not what cloning is. Life was created a long time ago, that ship has sailed. What the hell do you mean by “life”?

    The Church tends to have foresight (not always, but more now than in the past) and this is an ethical dilemma you have not taken to its logical extreme.

    The Church tends to make statements and laws that offend reason. Look at the Catholic Church’s leadership, and official positions on these things.

    This doesn’t make it a Christian organization, but it is Christian faith that informs many people to help out their fellow man.

    I am unconvinced that they are better people because of it, although they certainly do act from their beliefs. Yet if it were true, does that mean they necessarily have to have the harmful beliefs on some Christian sects? Certainly not.

  • stogoe

    “Hate speech” isn’t illegal, and I wouldn’t want it to be. But that does not in any way stop me from calling out hateful speech.

    “Let’s all go get in our pickup trucks and have ourselves a fag drag” is a different beast because you’re inciting people to go commit real, actual violence.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    Black is brilliant. His show sucks. And that lead in episode of SouthPark was a bit substandard as well. And WTF does anyone expect from Bill Donohue but the same old thing. (Now the SouthPark episode featuring Donohue was excellent.)

  • Jen

    but if I say “I hate homos” (which I don’t) you would consider that hate speech. If someone says hateful, spiteful things about the Church, why is this not hate speech?

    Hate speech (or, say, hate crimes) is designed to target a minority group and threaten them by making an example of one member of the group. This is why threatening/acting out against a small group of people who get discriminated against (say, homos, who die from violence at an alarming rate compared to their counterparts) is a lot worse than saying something about Catholics, who could damn protect their own.

    The fact is, it is very easy to say “Priests f*ck little boys” and “The Spanish Inquisition was horrible…” and neglect the fact that the Church still does more than any other organization in the world to alleviate pain and suffering (even pain and suffering it may have had a hand in, at some point, creating).

    I am curious what proof you have of this. And what do we mean by “church” here? The Catholic Church? If I accept that you are correct, and the Catholic church has alleviated the most suffering, that might be because they are so damn large- perhaps each individual Catholic only does a small amount of service, but because there are so many Catholics, that adds up to more service, while maybe individual Buddists do more per person.

    Also, I would like to claim, sans evidence, that WOMEN do the most to alleviate suffering. I bet I am right, statistically.

    As I am not a Catholic, I don’t agree with the condom issue, especially in the case of Africa.

    Brilliant. But don’t you think that whole “can’t use condoms, AIDS-ridden Africa” thing might perhaps be cancelling out some of the suffering the Pope is ridding the world of? Foood for thought.

    However, pointing at the Pope “wearing a dress” and condemning homosexuals isn’t even an argument and everyone knows it.

    I agree. But condemning, say, transexuals for wearing the wrong outfits does make the whole thing a little hypocritical.

    What is further, you can point to any organization and find some way in which that organization has helped screw up the world. Heck, if you shop at Wal-Mart, you’re helping to screw up the world.

    I agree. Shop union stores, everyone! The difference, I suppose, is that no one is claiming Wal-mart has done the most to alleviate suffering of anyone ever (except WOMEN, as I already pointed out.)

    It is also easy to chastise the Church while neglecting to put your money where your mouth is and reaching out to care for the fatherless and the widow.

    I agree. B to the W, the fatherless and the widow? Can’t anyone survive without a man these days?

    Dropping money into the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time to alleviate any guilt and get into the Wal-Mart faster and continue oppressing underpaid laborers in China is not helping the world.

    I do agree with you here.

  • Karen

    However, pointing at the Pope “wearing a dress” and condemning homosexuals isn’t even an argument and everyone knows it.

    It’s a joke, son. The show is on Comedy Central.

    Lighten up.

  • http://pastorwick.blogspot.com WICK

    Here’s my tribute to all the “I found a holy image in a piece of cheese” crowd…

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    Usually I love Black, but this show isn’t very good for him. He doesn’t get a lot of lines. And that’s the other thing, it feels very scripted. The format feels stuffy and the laughs fake.

    However, I do like that the show is actually incorporating the concept of “evil”. My generation is so culturally relativistic that it’s hard to get anyone to make any kind of moral judgements at all. While I do not believe there’s an absolute good or an absolute evil, I get frustrated when my fellow liberals extrapolate this kind of thinking into one where we take no stands at all. Everything is so wishy washy in our culture nowadays. Sure, there are many instances where we should be agnostic and completely uncertain, but there are also many instances where it is completely justified to feel that one is probably right and the others are probably wrong. For instance, I think that Islam is, by and large, wrong. It is mostly a religion of extremists. Not all Muslims are extremists, of course — it should go without saying. But at the same time that we’re being careful not to be racist we can still take a stand and say that most Muslims are fundamentalists. We don’t have to be vague and overly “fair” (and it isn’t being fair at all, is it? The only thing that’s truly fair is telling the truth… the whole truth.) It’s so frustrating, because we should be humble and we should realize that in any given circumstance we could easily be wrong, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t say that we could also be right. And when the evidence points overwhelmingly in that direction, we should not be scared to say that we are very likely correct.

    You know what I mean?

    Unfortunately, this show may not do so well with my generation. A lot of people may feel it’s too rude and that the comedians on the show are bigots. Oh well.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    BTW guys, it is not “hate speech” to criticize the Catholic church. In fact, this is exactly what I was talking about in my previous comment. Someone speaks one uncomfortable truth and all of a sudden he’s “spewing hate”. Hate speech is when someone says something rude about some group because he hates them. It is not rude to say something that actually has basis in fact. It is not hateful to say something you believe if you are not doing it out of hate. Hate speech is characterized by the fact that it’s irrational. (For instance, racism is irrational, because to say one group of people is always this way or always that way is irrational and incorrect, because it ignores stereotypes, and the fact that every group is made up of individuals.)

    That said, if someone says that the Catholic Church is made up of molesters, and he’s not saying it because of evidence he has but because he simply hates the catholic church, that would be hate speech. But if he has good evidence, and he’s not saying it out of hate but simply because it is something he observed, then it’s not hate speech. This is a problem, because there are times when we can’t distinguish the people who are saying something simply because they are hateful from the people who are saying something simply because they actually think it’s the truth and have good evidence that it is. For instance, there are some (not many) atheists who disparage religion simply because they hate it, but most atheists who criticize religion are not doing it hatefully, just fairly and strongly, because they think what they’re saying is the truth and, dare I say, have good evidence that it is.

    Also, if anyone said that all catholics were molesters, or that all of any group were anything (that isn’t common in everyday society), then it would pretty much always be hate speech, because there’s almost never an instance where every individual in a group is the same as every other individual, except on matters that are orthodox or dogmatic for that particular group.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    I do not think it is wrong to criticize the Catholic Church either. For one thing: If you don’t want to be criticized, then do not go around telling people what to do with their lives.

    I think the pedophilia scandal will go down in history as one of the stupidest and most corrupt moves in human history. The percentage of priests that did the bad thing was very small. I think it was less than five percent. The REAL scandal is what the church did next: They covered it up. (Haven’t these guys heard of Watergate?) The Catholic Church looks out for the Catholic Church. By that I mean the institution looks out for the institution, not its constituents.

    And now dioceses are going bankrupt because of the actions of 1/20th of the priests. Stupid stupid stupid. Why should I respect these people?

    Plus my family is from Ireland. I think it is fair to say that the Irish have done more for the Catholic Church than the Catholic Church has done for the Irish. Lots of pretty buildings were being built while people were dying for their faith.

  • complete disbelief

    Wow, you have an entire website dedicated to your belief that there is no god(s)?

    That’s dedication, keep the faith brother!

  • Doug

    “My family is from Ireland so I can bash the Church.”

    Wow….you’ve convinced me. The Protestants in Britain killed 1 million Irish because they were Catholic. But who cares about that, we hate Catholics!

    Whatever happened to live and let live. I though atheists would be leading the charge for this. Leave people alone.

    And for those of you that don’t think its hate speech, your getting dangerously close. The Catholic Church wouldn’t use words like you do to describe your fellow human beings. The reality is that Catholics are an OK minority to bash…period. If only you made comments like this about Jews….

    And speaking of Jews. Go research the inquisition. Its proven now that the numbers were vastly exaggerated. That’s just another anti-Catholic slander.

    I wonder what would happen if it was the Root of All Evil: “Jews or Muslims”. Methinks, the show would be canceled.

  • red

    the problem with the show is that it is based off of a good recurring skit idea, and tried to stretch it into a whole show. they go to far. it stops being funny. it just does.

    i love everyone involved, lewis black and the comedians, but this show is a disaster.

    also, colbert rocks, i don’t even know what you are talking about,.

    also, atheists don’t believe there is no god, we believe lack belief in a god. the minimum required for being an atheist is that, although it is usually called “agnostic,” (which really is more of a debating stage than a philosophy.) although i am the first to admit there are more extreme atheists out there. er, in here.

    i consider myself an apathetic atheist.


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