2011 Harvard Humanist of the Year: Seth MacFarlane

Gotta hand it to everyone at the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy — they know how to use that name to their advantage.

They got Family Guy and American Dad! creator Seth MacFarlane to accept their Humanist of the Year award on June 14th! June 4th.

We are very excited MacFarlane was able to work this exclusive event, an award ceremony and fundraiser for our organization, into his schedule.

While it is rare for someone his age to receive this honor, his extensive body of work, his active, passionate commitment to Humanist values, and his fearless support of equal marriage rights and other social justice issues compel us to recognize his contributions now.

Not to mention his acceptance speech is bound to be hilarious…

Tickets go on sale at the Harvard Box Office sometime next week. The Facebook event page is here.

Past recipients of the Harvard Humanist of the Year award include non-theistic Congressperson Pete Stark (D-CA), Steven Pinker, and E.O. Wilson.

A couple years ago, MacFarlane appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher and discussed the atheist movement (for which Maher seems to take far more credit than he deserves…):

It’s a great selection on the Chaplaincy’s part — MacFarlane’s bright, popular with the college crowd, and a person who can go a long way to bringing our movement to the mainstream.

Now, who’s gonna fly me to Cambridge so I can watch him accept the award…?

P.S. One downside to this: It’s another white guy. Next year, I want to see Rachel Maddow accepting this award. (She’s a Humanist, right?)

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  • SlipperyWhenWet

    I dont see it as “taking credit”, more as “shameless self promotion”. 😛

  • Shawn

    Yay! I love that guy. But, God, it’s weird when he channels Peter’s voice.

  • http://www.harvardhumanist.org Jonathan Figdor

    Hey Hemant, thanks so much for your support and advertising. We are really excited to have Seth come to HCH! You’ve got a couch to crash on (again) if you need to.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I don’t think Bill Maher is either “taking credit” or doing “shameless self promotion”. It’s all kind-of part of his humor to act a bit like he is doing that but he is really purposefully making fun of himself.

    I love MacFarlane. Really funny. It’s great that he was awarded the Harvard Humanist of the Year award. It would be funny if he accepted it with one of his voices but he will probably play it straight.

  • http://www.casimirfornalski.com Casimir

    Not sure I agree with this one.

    Family Guy has been a showcase of some of the cruelest, most misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic humor on television.

    Not exactly what comes to mind when I think of humanism.

  • http://www.harvardhumanist.org Jonathan Figdor

    Also, Ms. Maddow is not a Humanist, publicly, sadly. Otherwise she would have been my top choice!

  • http://www.harvardhumanist.org Jonathan Figdor

    @Casimir: I think Family Guy is making fun of people who laugh at racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, etc. jokes. That’s just my interpretation though.

  • stephen goeman

    To go off of Casimir’s comment–

    Family Guy further showcases humor which relies on cheap shots on terminal illnesses, sexual violence, and sexism. As a humanist, I believe that these are topics relating to the human condition which should not be taken lightly– especially when humor relating to certain topics (i.e: sexual assault) contributes to the “victim deserved it” trend in modern society.

    I want to make it clear that my support for the HCH couldn’t be higher– I love the HCH and think the world of them. I can understand why they would go for such a high-profile name as MacFarlane, but this talk won’t be for me. I’ll rewatch the video from Stephen Fry’s acceptance performance instead :)

  • dauntless

    Add racism to the list and I completely agree with Casimir. Just because Christians hate MacFarlane, it doesn’t make him a paragon of humanist values.

  • stephen goeman

    Great point dauntless– I’m ashamed that I overlooked the blatant racism displayed in FG & AD in my post.

  • Char Dar

    Family Guy is taken in the same vein as the old tv show “All in the Family”… The characters on both were/are racist, bigoted, sexist, etc etc… The show is made to smack the audience with these problems, not to glorify them.

  • Jalyth

    I agree with Casimir and dauntless, too. I’ve tried watching Family Guy so many times in different states of drunkenness or while high or both, and still can’t stand it. I cringe so much (in a bad way) and only occasionally smile.

    I wouldn’t have known he was a humanist from his shows. But I’ll try to think of it as any publicity is good publicity. For humanism. Nothing is perfect.

  • http://www.angryvince.com Angry Vince

    There is a separation between MacFarlane’s work which does tend to towards a lower common denominator, but his public persona is staunchly atheist.

  • Kari

    Family Guy takes that humour so far because they are trying to point out the stupidity of it. South Park does the same thing. There have been some episodes where I think “Finally, some one is calling them out!”
    Also, MacFarlane created the show and does the voices. He doesn’t write for it.

  • WishinItWas

    I don’t understand people that don’t understand humor like what Family Guy and South Park are capable of …. pure gold IMO

  • Erica

    FWIW, I adore South Park, but I’m squarely in the anti-Family Guy camp here. There’s only so much you can hide behind irony.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Ugh, Family Guy is awful. Is it the rape jokes, or just the bitter misogyny of the show, or the racism, that I detest the most? I know that MacFarlane is supposedly a liberal, but his show is really just a cesspool of lowest common denominator humor. One of the last things I think of when I think of Family Guy is humanist values.

    Also, as a lifelong fan of the Simpsons, I’m more than a little bitter about the fact that nearly everything that is genuinely funny about Family Guy has been unabashedly stolen straight from the Simpsons. But I guess what bothers me more than anything else is, that show has no heart. The family members all hate each other, for the most part. Peter has joked about his own daughter being raped. I don’t see how that is satire. It certainly is poor satire at best.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Here’s just one example, which I found by Googling “Family Guy” and “transphobic.”

    Also, I’m so sick of hearing about how “the show targets everyone” — that seems to be the number one thing people say to defend the show, as if its broad mandate to offend everyone makes it somehow better. But isn’t this just an expression of white, straight, male privilege? Even if there is some satire directed at white straight males, and there is plenty on that show and American Dad too, it is still not at all the same as when the show picks on LGBT people, women, or anyone else. It’s still people with privilege picking on those who live in marginalized positions vis-a-vis mainstream society. It’s nothing new; alas, it is quite an old strain of humor Family Guy is tapping into.

  • BrettH

    @Jonathan Figdor: I’ve never heard he use the word “humanist” on her show, and I honestly have no idea if she’s an atheist, but it seems that if the award was for humanists and not specifically for atheist humanists she would qualify just for the way she talks about what’s right and wrong. She seems to be advocating a secular humanist viewpoint in a way that might not raise awareness about atheism/humanism the way we might like, but also might get more people (including moderate theists) thinking about morality in a secular way. I’ll admit I’m biased though, I love her show.

  • http://criticallyskepti-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    I’m in agreement with Casmir. Family Guy is a horrid show rife with misogyny and racism and transphobia and it’s just not funny. It’s no different from complaining about a person’s gay joke and said person responding, “oh I’m not really a homophobe, it’s just a joke” without realizing how the actual words are used by homophobes to purposefully hurt gay persons.

  • Charlie
  • Casimir

    Even if MacFarlane is not the head writer, he’s still the creator. He’s the authority behind the show, so he has to own responsibility for what it does.

    And his public persona is not necessarily better, either. I’ve seen him on more than one occasion make stupid, sexist comments when he does public appearances (he seems smart enough to know that overt racist or homophobic comments in public would tarnish his image, but for some reason thinks taking shots at women is okay.)

    Also, he’s said that the reason Meg is underwritten and a complete punching bag for a lot of the cruel and misogynistic jokes on the show is because they “just didn’t know how to write a teenage girl.”

    Apparently, hiring a woman writer who actually was a teenage girl to relate her experiences was out of the question. Or if they did, they just conveniently didn’t listen when she had something to say.

    Either way, it’s not congruent with humanist values, in spite of the godlessness.

  • Tom

    I think it’s a positive sign that people feel so strongly for or against Seth’s work. It shows his willingness to provoke discussion in the mainstream on issues that modern culture was too afraid to address. That takes a certain courage that shows like the Simpsons never showed. I find the genius of the show is that it causes me to get offended, but then shows me that my sensibilities are too tender and I am a hypocrite if I would advocate to censor their speech.

    Some people have had their sensibilities shaped by more, how to say, “proper” culture. McFarlane has those who feel secure with “proper” culture scared, and he has had roaring success with those who know that today’s culture is sick from propriety.

    A part of me winced at first when I saw McFarlane was receiving the award when I remembered the past recipients like Rushdie and E.O. Wilson. Could a young comedian who features in a culture that is seen by many as superficial and obsessed with immaturity really help humanism? I believe that until humanism decides that in addition to making new friends it must also make enemies, it will be relegated to impotent relativism and boring conferences/billboards.

  • T-Rex

    Wow, some people really need to develop a sense of humor. Seth points out the stupidity behind these prejudices and bigoted stances in a poe like fashion. Some of you actually miss that point all together. Right over your heads. Wake up.

  • Casimir

    It shows his willingness to provoke discussion in the mainstream on issues that modern culture was too afraid to address.

    Family Guy does not provoke discussion about these issues. It provokes glib laughs from people who think these things aren’t problems, and it provokes outrage from those who know they are. This is not productive.

    That takes a certain courage that shows like the Simpsons never showed.

    It is not “courage” to be a giant douchebag and then hide behind “it’s just a joke” when other people aren’t crazy about your douchebaggery.

    I find the genius of the show is that it causes me to get offended, but then shows me that my sensibilities are too tender and I am a hypocrite if I would advocate to censor their speech.

    Strawman. No one is trying to censor MacFarlane. He has the right to do the dumbest, most hateful show in the world if he wants to. And we have the right to criticize him for it. We’re also saying that someone with a demonstrable track record of overlooking humanist values might not be deserving of a humanist award.

    Some people have had their sensibilities shaped by more, how to say, “proper” culture.

    Yes, because thinking there’s nothing funny about say, beating sex workers to death is only a sign of priggish gentry upbringing.

    and he has had roaring success with those who know that today’s culture is sick from propriety.

    Today’s culture is not “sick from propriety.” If anything, it’s sick from gross marginalization, colonialism, unchecked greed and overwhelming ignorance. The prevalence of demure manners is not a pressing issue.

    I believe that until humanism decides that in addition to making new friends it must also make enemies

    Humanism has plenty of enemies. They’re called bigots.

    I don’t deny that MacFarlane is intelligent and capable of groundbreaking, provocative humor that advances secular humanist goals. But he certainly has not shown that with Family Guy.

  • stephen goeman

    “Humanism has plenty of enemies. They’re called bigots.”

    Quoted. For. Truth.

    As for “knocking down sacred cows,” I don’t buy this either. So just to be clear, you think that the belief that sexual assault is something that is not inherently funny is a “progressive” sacred cow and worth exposing? Or perhaps childhood cancer is the sacred cow mentioned? The belief that transgendered individuals shouldn’t be harassed? …

    It is not edgy to tell cancer survivors that their condition is inherently funny or reduce sexual assault to a cheap punch line. Doing this causes serious harm to survivors of trauma. Not to mention it makes those of us who have survived trauma fearful to turn on the TV (it’s not exactly fun to see one’s own 7 months of chemotherapy utilized in a sick joke).

  • http://criticallyskepti-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    I sent a letter to the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy expressing my disappointment in their decision.

  • Marsha in TN

    Have never watched his shows. I’m pretty sure Rachel is an atheist. She has said as much in several interviews. She’s too smart to be anything else

  • Dark Jaguar

    I enjoy Family Guy, but yes, I blanch at a lot of the jokes. Does he sometimes make a joke ironically to point out the existence of a bias? Yes, he does that, but those cases are very clear because that’s clearly stated in about 5 seconds. The rest of the jokes are CLEARLY just racist jokes for their own sake with NO sense of self awareness. That asian driver joke above is an example. It’s the sort of joke that someone would defend with “well sometimes stereotypes are true, and one time this one asian woman pulled right in front of me, so I believe it”.

    The misogynistic jokes are rampant as well, especially lately. In early episodes, they actually seemed to have a point, they really did seem to be purely for irony. Lately? Well, did Seth just get out of a bitterly nasty breakup or something? There’s just so much HATE against women, and it’s explicit!

    For example, a recent one where Peter gets raped by a bull and then his daughter (just clarifying which one, okay? Just making sure we’re on the same page here) showed Brian talking with some woman and commenting on how teenage girls “have everything ahead of them, so much promise, before they all turn into bitches”, and the woman says “yeah, what happened to all of us?”. I mean, is that funny? I’m actually surprised the voice actor for the woman went along with it. It really just felt painful, like Seth had a nasty breakup, inappropriately got mad at the entire gender for it, and took out out on “them” by writing that into Family Guy. If it was meant to be ironic, it wasn’t at all clear. Nothing puts it into an ironic context.

    Worse yet, lately a lot of episodes seem to have the moral of “we’re all terrible, let’s just shut up and accept it”. What a development arresting lesson right? American Dad, for example, had an episode where Fran and Stan (wait… I just got that, they rhyme! No really I JUST now got that, haha, but this is serious time) get in another stereotypical fight. It starts out with Stan revealing he ONLY married Fran for her looks (fine so far, a stereotypical lesson about mysogeny done in the Seth style of being incredibly on the nose and direct about it the entire time, which is funny). Later after he tries to grow close to her by blinding himself (which actually seems to be working, and was funny) we find out that Fran only married Stan so she would never have to do a day of “honest work” again. Now it’s offensive, now he’s saying 1, that a housewife and mother is just a lazy good for nothing mooching off the husband, and 2, that wanting to be financially supported WHILE doing all that is the same as wanting a “hot wife”. By the end of it, they decide that in spite of their shallowness, “it works” so they just go back to normal under the understanding the whole thing will fall apart in a few decades when they get old. Wow… Now, if that was meant to be ironic, that would be one thing, but when you add up all the other “I’m faulted but I’m okay with that and you should be too” lessons lately (excusing everything from being a manipulative womanizer to, um, MURDER in one episode, Roger!), I don’t think that was the intension. I think he’s literally saying these days “Okay fine, I know I’ve got problems, but instead of trying to fix them, instead I’ll claim that real adulthood is not trying to change my admitted faults at all and just accepting myself for who I am, even if I’m terrible”.

    I think Seth might be terrible. Still going to watch his show though.

  • Kenny

    I am completely stunned at these comments. Did you even watch the video?

    For example, they bring up his gay rights activism but in the same breath, yeah sure he made a joke about gays “I like a good ass #### as much as the next man”.. I’m sure most gay people laugh along and enjoy having his support on the ISSUES.

    It reminds me of people who thought the Borat movie was antisemitic when the whole point was to laugh at people who ARE antisemitic/racist etc.

    Get a grip people! It’s not gonna do anyone any good if we have no sense of humor and have this silly outrage if someone makes a joke at the expense of gay people or black people EVEN IF they do activism on their behalf.

  • http://criticallyskepti-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum


    Tell that to a gay person. Or a black person. Or a Jewish person. This kind of pervasiveness of “it’s okay to laugh at gay jokes” causes an uncomfortable atmosphere. It’s the worst of the “I have gay friends, but…” type of rationalization of this kind of behavior. The people who actually are homophobic, transphobic, or racist will look at the so-called humanism here and feel legitimized. If the humanists feel it’s okay to make fun of trans-persons, then I guess I’m able to do the same.

    And don’t go telling me I have no sense of humor because I don’t find Family Guy funny. It’s low-brow humor at its worst.

  • DreamDevil

    Some of the commenters here really need to pull the stick out of their ass.

    When judging the offensive nature of a joke in Family Guy it’s important to look at it in context of which character is saying it, why they say it and – most importantly – HOW they say it. More often than not the stereotype is the butt of the joke rather than the person being stereotyped. This is often done by blowing the stereotype completely out of proportion to show just how rediculous it is.

    Another reason for an offensive joke can be to highlight a fault or flaw in one of the characters. The episode described in the article linked by “Lost Left Coaster” is a perfect example of this. Brian (who, by the way, is a great example of anthropomorphism) acts like the most accepting/progressive character in the world, yet when confronted with the fact that he had sex with a transgender he reacts with extreme revulsion, highlighting his own hypocrisy and imperfection. Brian is an example of plenty of people out there that pay lip-service to progressive values – even convincing themselves of it – yet when confronted by the “otherness” that they defend, their buried predjudice rises to the surface like a vile zombie of bigotry.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    @DreamDevil: I’m sure the viewers at home are picking up on all the subtlety of Brian’s character as they laugh and laugh at him vomiting in disgust for having had contact with a transgender person.

    Quick question: has a major character on a TV show ever vomited for having had contact with a person like you? Just curious. Because trans people deal with some of the most virulent prejudice in America. Just a few days ago a trans-woman was brutally assaulted in Fredricksberg, VA. I wonder if that poor woman would grasp how Brian’s hypocrisy is the real target of Family Guy’s supposed satire if she were to see his character vomiting copiously after having had contact with a woman like her.

    And wow, such sharp and creative satire! He vomits and vomits. Wow, what intellectual prowess that show exhibits. Surely it is driving American culture forward.

  • Sarah

    Yeah. Maybe people would get it if he vomited after realising he accidentally slept with a mixed race person.

  • Kenny

    “Tell that to a gay person. Or a black person. Or a Jewish person.”

    Look, you don’t get to talk on behalf of those groups either. As far as I’m aware Seth McFarlane doesn’t get a lot of grief from those groups and politically he is certainly in their camp and as a progressive he will campaign for their equality.

    I bet Seth McFarlane has also lampooned uppity white political correctness which would be appropriate for this comment section.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    Perhaps I can’t speak for those three groups – but I am a transgender. And the attitude on that show about how trans-persons are treated is disgusting and horribly offensive. It’s not just a funny “oh look at the satirical nature of the show, it’s so witty” it becomes a dig, another bit of evidence that someone sees you as less than fucking human. (I’m also an American Indian, but I have white privilege cause I’m white-skinned.)

    It’s not funny if you’re on the butt-end of the joke.

  • Thackerie

    I’ve only seen three or four episodes of Family Guy in their entirety. I usually can’t get through ten minutes of that twaddle without turning it off in disgust.

    I’ve tried to watch it because some people whose opinions I otherwise respect say it’s good. But I just can’t bring myself to sit through a whole episode of offensive jokes and references to C-list celebrities I’ve never heard of.

    It’s. Just. Not. Funny.

  • Dark Jaguar

    Does the term transgender only refer to those who get cosmetic surgery or does it also include those born with indeterminate genitalia? I’m just trying to get my terminology clear.

    I’m about to reveal my ignorance. Thanks to shows like South Park I get the impression that trans gender surgery is really at it’s infancy and the result is really much more cosmetic than functional. (The rest of that episode tried to compare changing genders to getting changed from stereotypical white to stereotypical black or changing to a dolphin. I’m not sure how to feel about that The race thing was clearly banking on stereotypes. The dolphin thing, unfortunately, is similar to how a lot of people imagine it.) I am of the opinion that people should feel free to modify their own body as they will, from tattoos to that one guy that got his face made into a cat face. That said, I myself am guilty of judgement stemming simply from looking at it from a purely functional point of view. The person with a cat face makes me think of heavily breeded modern persian cats. It looks very uncomfortable and like it would cause breathing or eating issues. This does spill over into gender changing.

    In the end, I’m basically saying I’m very ignorant of it and just don’t know where the technology is.

    As for Brian’s reaction up there… yeah I don’t see it. It really doesn’t help that Brian is a DOG and somehow doesn’t seem to mind his own bestiality fetish. Why would a dog find humans hot?

    Peter: Oh my god… You can talk!

  • R.T.

    I’ve stopped watching shows created by people who are major assholes.

    Macfarlane’s track record show that he has no problem maintaining the status quo in US society 21:57 every episode to for a 3 second shout out at the people whose power create the bigotry and hate here.

    I’m mentally disabled, physically disabled, and have cancer, and I know Seth thinks it’s great for him to appropriate my tragedies and those of others’ just for a cheap laugh.

  • Thilinab

    So much family guy bashing from people who can’t understand what satire and humour are. American Dad is in its entirety satire. And lately family guy is making more and more jokes about how so many people don’t seem understand satire.

    I’ve been in many of the groups that family guy is suppose to have offended, and have never personally found any of it offensive because I actually understand what a joke is.

    And if you find your self offended by family guy, get over you’re self. The world doesn’t exist to make you happy.

    The Seth has said many time that the joke are meant to show society its own prejudices.

  • Sarah

    Learn to spell.

  • R.T.

    Love that comeback “you don’t understand x and y, and though I have no basis for my assertion, you’re wrong + need your ego checked.”

    Thilinab, it doesn’t matter what Seth is trying to do when he’s failing at what he’s trying to do and thus making the problem worse by making it acceptable to be a hateful bigot.

  • Thilinab

    @R.T.: my assertion that Family Guy is a comedy show is based on the fact that, Family Guy is a comedy show.
    And if you think that you’re so special that no one should ever make a joke about you, then you do need your ego checked.

    Pointing out that bigotry exists doesn’t make the problem worse and it doesn’t make it any more acceptable to be a bigot.

    Family guy is not suppose to be the moral high ground of society. It’s a show meant for entertainment purposes that Seth uses to make a satirical point about society as a whole. In that sense I’d say the only thing Seth failed at was thinking society understood what satire was.

    If you don’t like a TV show don’t watch it. It’s that simple.

  • R.T.

    Unfortunately we share a reality with shows like Family Guy so just turning off the TV doesn’t make the problem go away. The problem is the uncritical consumption by the public of harmful messages that they then share as something they think is acceptable because it was on TV.

    @R.T.: my assertion that Family Guy is a comedy show is based on the fact that, Family Guy is a comedy show.

    Great circular logic.

    And if you think that you’re so special that no one should ever make a joke about you, then you do need your ego checked.

    Not just me in particular, but all the people like me who are constantly on the bottom of the social pyramid, who are the acceptable target of every joke, who get kicked hard when we are down for no fucking reason other than that we aren’t “normal.”

    Pointing out that bigotry exists doesn’t make the problem worse and it doesn’t make it any more acceptable to be a bigot.

    Seth perpetuates bigotry by using it as a way to make fun of societies’ acceptable targets. Seth would be doing the opposite of perpetuating bigotry by making fun of bigotry and those who use it.

    Family guy is not suppose to be the moral high ground of society. It’s a show meant for entertainment purposes that Seth uses to make a satirical point about society as a whole. In that sense I’d say the only thing Seth failed at was thinking society understood what satire was.

    This is crap. Has the idea ever slipped through your head that Seth is bad at satire? Or maybe those who don’t think his form of satire is funny may, just may have a different sense of humor? Or are you going to die on the sword that says “Seth’s satire is to sophisticated!”

    If you don’t like a TV show don’t watch it. It’s that simple.

    Stopped watching it. Simple. But I still analyze my culture.

  • stephen goeman

    Thilnab– You’re making a gross mischaracterization here. Family Guy doesn’t simply make jokes about mental illness, physical illness, etc. It reduces the entire entity to a joke. Family Guy relies on the assumption that personal trauma is inherently funny. What is evil if not the indifferent apathy to personal suffering? But you’re totally right. People with a history of trauma just shouldn’t watch TV, and if the world makes fun of their past it’s their own damn problem. o_O

    Also if one more commenter tells the collective group of dissenters that we don’t “get” the (clearly genius) humor of Family Guy, I’m going to puke. Perhaps I should counter with the suggestion that you don’t collectively “get” how feminism and LGBT equality are set back by such frat house humor. It’s because of these approaches to humor that rape culture (the social belief that rape victims deserved their lot and aren’t actually victims of trauma) is furthered (Ms Magazine had a great issue out on this topic recently).

    “As far as I’m aware Seth McFarlane doesn’t get a lot of grief from those groups and politically he is certainly in their camp and as a progressive he will campaign for their equality.”
    No. This is accommodationism. Just because someone gets one issue right does NOT mean it is OK for them to be assholes and it does NOT mean that we stop critical assessment on other fronts. So Seth is an atheist. Fine– and hey, he gets people thinking about that. But in terms of the care and attention to human suffering which Humanism dictates, he simply doesn’t measure up. Remember when Bill Maher received the first ever Richard Dawkins award for his work promoting atheism despite being an anti-science whacko? When he was given the award, he was also slapped on the wrist for supporting something detrimental to the cause of rational thought. It would be nice if we saw something similar in the case of social stigmas which Seth’s work contributes to.

    Really inspired by the thoughtfulness and passion displayed in the comments thus far.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Dark Jaguar:

    It depends upon the trans-person how they themselves define transgender versus things like transsexual. I, for example, consider myself transgender although I have never had any sort of surgery or hormone therapy. I merely cross-dress, and I actively display myself as a feminine persona. At work or in public, I’m putting on a facade of being a male, but in private or to people I trust not to hate me for it, I show that inside I’m female.


    I absolutely love comedies. Movies like Princess Bride have hilarious parts in them without being offensive at all. I can watch The Emperor’s New Groove, A Shot in the Dark, or Arsenic and Old Lace and always, always laugh my head off. Laughter is my favorite type of medicine by far.

    I do not laugh, however, when people are pervading a sense of “it’s okay to target these people.” When transgendered persons aren’t regularly assaulted, maligned, or killed for being transgender, then maybe it’ll be okay to laugh. This kind of humor doesn’t make bigots stop to think “oh gee, maybe it’d be better if I didn’t laugh at these people.” It only makes them feel legitimized in their bigotry.

    For a humanist society to consider a person who’s almost entirely known for a show that legitimizes homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and racism, it’s clearly missed its mark.

  • Tom

    First, do you dont like F. Guy believe that McFarlane is using the guise of a “joke” to secretly hurt people’s feelings? Or can he make a joke regarding someone’s misforturne that is made with respect and not spiteful?

    And, I’d like those who are offended, personally, from a joke that is directed at them from Family Guy to consider something: could you find some catharsis from find something about your condition/troubles to laugh about?

    That’s my favorite part about satire and self-deprecation.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    I don’t like Family Guy cause it’s dumb. Some parts are funny and I’ll admit I laugh at some of the things. It’s just not my style of humor, it’s frat humor, and I much prefer vaudeville (I die laughing when I see old Abbot and Costello or The Three Stooges shows.)

    It’s just that some of the humor is hurtful. I think it would be easier to laugh if transphobia didn’t result in the unbelievable number of beatings, murders, suicides, and just plain meanness that exists due to people who think trans-persons are less human than they are. It’s hard to find humor in reaffirmations of the transphobic nature of people around you.

  • R.T.

    First, do you dont like F. Guy believe that McFarlane is using the guise of a “joke” to secretly hurt people’s feelings? Or can he make a joke regarding someone’s misforturne that is made with respect and not spiteful?

    I think the best idea is to not make fun of others’ misfortunes. Let those who are hurt have a laugh at their predicament, when they are ready to.

    And, I’d like those who are offended, personally, from a joke that is directed at them from Family Guy to consider something: could you find some catharsis from find something about your condition/troubles to laugh about?

    Oh I’ve a deep, developed sense of black humor. However this came from within and was not due to some “catharsis” from abuse.

    That’s my favorite part about satire and self-deprecation.

    It’s not self-deprecation when one is hurting others.

  • Stephen

    I’m ashamed that Seth MacFarlane and I have anything in common. How many fart jokes does the Humanist community need?

    Is this what we’ve become? Celebrating any loser who stands up with our banner is a dead end road. There is Richard Dawkins and then there is Seth MacFarlane. That is NOT the same boat.

  • PCE


    Christians hate MacFarlane.

    False. Not to say that most are in love with him, but I know hordes of Christians that watch Family Guy.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Transgender is an umbrella term, referring to a wide variety of totally different groups, most of whom have nothing in common except that they upset people by being gender nonconformant.

    It means straight guys who dress as women to perform on stage – and straight guys who dress as women for a sexual thrill – and straight guys who just want to show their feminine side sometimes.

    It means women with anatomically female brains, but anatomically male bodies, who want to get that mismatch fixed. It means people of either sex whose anatomy is neither 100% F nor 100% M, even though they look upon themselves as men or women with an embarrassing congenital issue.

    It means those who change sex – either through medical intervention to make their anatomy consistent, or through natural causes. 5ARD, 17BHDD or 3BHDD are the most common syndromes that cause that – it’s not just Clownfish who do it.

    One thing – many of the above object to being labelled “transgender”. But they don’t get a say in it.

  • Reality Cheque

    Some people really take things too seriously.

    Seth Macfarlane is the creator and producer of Family Guy as well as the voice artist.
    He isn’t the writer.

    Judging a person by the type of show that he creates is ignorant and just stupid.
    Bernard Matthews, the owner of his breaded chicken franchise, is a vegetarian.

    What you do for your job, does not have to equate to the kind of person you are, or the kind of ideals you hold. To think otherwise would be foolish.

    Seth is a major defender of gay rights, human equality, political democracy, freedom of speech, most secular beliefs. I think it would be healthy if everyone shared Seth’s moral outlook on life.

    Just because his show makes light of a person with an physical diability, or sexual orientation, or mental disability, does not mean that he himself would be so callous. that WOULD be immoral. The show works on stereotypes, and enormous exaggerations of peoples prejudice.

    Seth dislikes those who spout their prejudices, and hypocrisies with genuine conviction, and zero reasoning. All good jokes make light of serious issues, because they are just that. There is a character for every aspect. Jew, Christian, atheist, gay, black, hispanic, paedo, political candidate, celebrity etc.

    Seth, at the end of the day hopes that while making the viewers laugh, also gets some valid points across, “damn, there are so many shitty things that exist in the world today that shouldn’t” (religious intolerance and ignorance of science and human nature, blind faith, bigotry, racism, sexism, ignorance, war, corruption, terrorism, stem cell restrictions the list is endless).

    So next time you try and judge Seth for his show, try and understand what satire is. It’s pointing out humanity’s faults, and putting a humerous spin on them.
    To think Seth is anything like the characters he portrays, or holds every belief that relates to their prejudice just shows that we’re a long way from being a collectively intelligent and rational race.
    And the sooner we get to that level, the sooner we won’t need shows like Family Guy and American Dad to point out the ridiculosity of it all.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    Seth, at the end of the day hopes that while making the viewers laugh, also gets some valid points across, “damn, there are so many shitty things that exist in the world today that shouldn’t”

    The problem is that it just doesn’t work this way. People who are bigoted see affirmations of their bigotry. They see their hurtful, hateful nature displayed proudly by the characters that are in the show. It doesn’t come across as “this kind of behavior is bad don’t do it” it comes across as “making fun of transgender people is funny and doesn’t hurt them at all.” (I’ve already explained what transphobia results in…)

    For Pete’s sake, the main character (the hero of the show) is a raging misogynist – he treats his wife like cheap labor. It draws very minor parallels to The Simpsons, but in the end of the day when Homer treats Marge poorly, it usually ends with him realizing that she completes him. I don’t see any of that from Peter, he continues to treat her like sludge.

    If it’s supposed to be a satire and supposed to teach lessons to people, it does it very, very poorly. Mister McFarlane might be a wonderfully rational, humanist person, but when you speak his name, the first thing that comes out is not reasonable humanism. The first thing I think of is the rampant bigotry paraded by his most well-known TV show.

  • John

    The anti white male hatred!! P.S. One downside to this: It’s another white guy. Next year, I want to see Rachel Maddow accepting this award

  • Erica

    I feel like I need to go a little 101 with the commenters here trying to tell marginalised people to get a sense of humor.

    There are no topics off-limits for humor — that’s not the issue. The question is where the joke is drawing its humor from. At whose expense are you laughing?

    I used to work with Holocaust victims in Germany, for instance, and my fellow volunteers and I tooootally made Holocaust jokes. All the time. Really funny ones. Really sick ones. But not a single one of the jokes drew its humor from, say, generalisations about Jewish people. Not one of them had “Jewish greed” or “Gay flamboyance” or “Romani thievery” or any other poisonous stereotype as its punchline. It wasn’t hard. A joke like that wouldn’t have been funny to us.

    MacFarlane’s jokes, on the other hand, use already-marginalised people as their standard punchlines. He is a bully, not a champion.

    And yes, I fucking well know what satire is. Do you?

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    Oh, and apologies to Mister MacFarlane for misspelling his name so many times.

  • Ben

    After reading the entirety of these posts, Erica said it best.

  • The Dude

    The butt of most of MacFarlane’s jokes are religious apologists and right-wingers. You’d think people on this site would appreciate that. Family Guy mostly smears people who deserve it.

    This show gets most of its’ humor by shocking its’ audience with that “I can’t believe they just said that” kind of humor. Calling it frat humor isn’t doing justice to the brilliantly composed musical gags, the semi-intellectual cultural references, or the constant tearing down of self-affected celebrities [which I particularly enjoy]. Yes, there are dick and fart jokes. Good job noticing those. There’s also a lot of humor a thinking person can appreciate.

    There’s a multitude of races on the writing staff, a few of them are gay, so why would they write material that they find offensive? At the end of the day, Family Guy preaches secular and liberal values [the underlying themes in most of the episodes are actually pretty positive, usually], but isn’t afraid to push people’s buttons for the sake of humor. It’s called not taking yourself too seriously.

    These days I relate to it a lot better than South Park’s preachy agnosticism [every episode: take social issue, ridicule both sides of it, preach middle ground at end of episode]. It’s redundant.

  • Atheist Jim Jones

    LMAO Peter’s an idiot. He’s not supposed to be a role model. If there is a “role model” to be had, it’s Brian. The characters on the show that usually do and say racist/misogynist things are MORONS. That’s why it’s funny. It’s making fun of them. It’s like how Republicans watch American Dad or the Colbert Report because they don’t understand this show is making fun of them. I doubt Mr. MacFarlane is any of the nasty things attributed to him in these comments. If you scrutinize any art to this degree, it’s all got something offensive to someone in there.

  • Erica

    Thanks, Ben!

    Atheist Jim Jones —
    Just so I’m clear, we’re to think about it hard enough to ‘understand’ the humor but not so hard that we get offended by the misogyny and racism…?

    So, we MUST find it funny, but only the RIGHT kind of funny? Or, it’s geared for smart people, but not the kind of smart people that like to…er… think too much about art?

    Just want to make sure I’m doing it right.

  • The Dude

    I think all Atheist Jim Jones was saying was that if people take a character like Peter Griffin and get any values from him, they’re probably idiots. Idk. It was kind of rambling and incoherent [no offense, because I sort of agree, I think]. The character who’s always made out to be the voice of reason is the atheist/liberal Brian. Macfarlane’s said before that he introduced Brian to counterbalance Peter’s stupidity [and the fact that he is an asshole] and the misanthropic dark humor of Stewie.



    ^These are the kind of humor I enjoy on this show. Nobody else does that kind of thing.

    I guess we’re really just debating art here, which is all emotion and no fact so nobody’s going to change anyone’s mind. The only reason I’m here is because I think MacFarlane, more for his public stances than the show itself, deserves this honor.

    BTW: I’m bisexual, and have always taken particular offense to gay jokes. You could say I’m oversensitive about it. When a show makes a gay joke, I usually stop watching. Family Guy’s are all of a very mild nature and tend to not offend me, at their worst they’re gently poking fun. I think the worst they’ve ever done, gay joke wise, is probably the episode with Brian’s gay cousin, where the jokes were once again, mild at worst. South Park making fun of transgendered people, for example, was more offensive to me anything I’ve seen on Family Guy. The whole Mr/Ms Garrison thing was absurd and made trans people out to be a joke. When Family Guy tackled the subject, yeah they had some laughs, but in the end preached acceptance for the trans character.

  • loreleion

    I normally agree that shows like Family Guy and South Park can be funny as social commentary, mockery of bigots, and all that jazz, but MacFarlane has pretty much said he feels the same as his characters about trans women.

    Details: Maybe the fact that Brian barfs his guts out when he realizes he’s had sex with a transsexual threw them off.
    Seth MacFarlane: Hey, we’re still Family Guy.We’re not suddenly going to become 7th Heaven. Actually, I guess on 7th Heaven they would probably burn the transsexual at the stake. Let me think of another example. We’re not Mr. Belvedere. Look, Brian happens to be a heterosexual character, as I am. If I found out that I had slept with a transsexual, I might throw up in the same way that a gay guy looks at a vagina and goes, “Oh, my God, that’s disgusting.” It’s just the way we’re biologically wired. They should give that another look.

    Basically, it’s okay for us to exist, but the concept of our existence repulses and disgusts him and that’s okay because biology wired him that way. Not great humanism.

  • Redhawk239

    It’s not your existence that disgusts him.  Read that again, for him personally to “accidentally” have intercourse with one would unsettle him.  He says nothing about being against their existence, or anyone doing what they personally are comfortable with.

  • http://AnaWiederBlank.wordpress.com/ Chanyart

    I an a disabled lesbian and a rape victim.  I am first and foremost a womon.  I am sick to my stomach everytime I watch Family Guy. The misoginy is so intense that it physically makes me sick.  The rape scenes in the bullfight scene and the aquaman beach scene are disgusting and triggering beyond belief. Its not funny it’s straight up evil.  The way the whole family treats Meg is horrific,  It begs the question.  Why doesn’t she kill them.  This man is being honored as a Humanist.  This isn’t a joke, its a shonde