Tame Religion Joke Costs Punk Band $13,000

Dave Hooper over at MusicMarketing.com posted today about the Canadian band Living With Lion’s recent go around with the the Canadian government run FACTOR organization that fund and supports Canada’s music artists.  A fantastic thing unto itself.  Sort of like our NEA, but without the snob appeal.

Anyway, LWL’s new album is called “Holy Shit” and the cover looks leather bound like a bible.  I think it’s funny.  And as the band says on their tumblr blog, “The content of our artwork for our new recording was created out of our passion for satire and absurdist humor. The lyrical and musical content of this record does not contain any commentary on religion, nor does it use a pejorative or malicious voice against any particular group of people (excluding possibly some of our ex-girlfriends).”

And so James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage got all uppity about the title saying it was an attack on Christians.  Now, I don’t know if Mr. Moore is a Christian himself.  But since he’s a conservative white politician, I’m going to go out on a ledge and say he’s probably not Muslim.  The band was classy enough to give back the $13,000 they’d received to make the album.

The more I travel around the country singing songs and telling jokes, the more I find that skewering Christianity is the one thing that can most get a performer in trouble.  And notice I say Christianity and not religion in general.  There’s a long history of Jewish jokes (enjoyed by Jews) and certainly doing jokes about Muslims goes over just fine with a conservative audience.  But anything more than “Gee, how did Noah get all those animals in the ark?” will get stony stares from a lot of audiences.  Even a more mainstream, liberal audience will get uncomfortable with it.

Because why?  We’re allowed to take the piss out of politicians.  Hell, we’re LEGALLY allowed to do that. Ethnic material in a variety of forms goes down fine, both by performers of that ethnicity and not.  Misogynistic humor is still alive and well with lots of comics calling women “bitches” on a regular basis.

Each audience in each town is a little different.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of the humor I talked about above.  Comedy is about exploring the boundaries to find out what we really think about things.  What I disagree with is the Christian right and their followers believing they should be above ridicule in even the slightest sense.  Sure, we’re legally allowed to do it.  That’s freedom of speech.  But the fact they get offended by such things is evidence of the closed-minded, top-down, cult-like status it’s reached in North America.

One of the things I most value in my life and others is self-awareness.  Being able to look at both sides.  Being able to see the flaws in your own beliefs.  Not changing those beliefs necessarily, but just being open minded enough to see other points of view.  And James Moore, obviously is not that type of person.

I wish I had $13,000 to blow.  I’d give LWL their money back.

Phil Johnson

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