To boycott or remain silent?

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Mar 02, 2005

When should we speak up against public offenses against the Church and when should we remain silent to avoid giving them credibility they don't deserve? So-called shock entertainers thrive on making people mad so do we give them what they want? The old saw says there's no such thing as bad publicity and they're working to prove it.

This isn't merely a rhetorical question. There’s been a lot of words flying around recently about a particular sitcom whose latest episode made light of the Eucharist. People are outraged at the disrespect shown to Catholics, and more importantly to our Lord in His Real Presence. I’ve been asked why I haven’t joined the chorus of outrage. (By the way, I'm not mentioning the name of the show to avoid giving them undeserved publicity.)

To be honest, I’d never heard of the show before, and now with one script the producers and network have received all kinds of free publicity, courtesy of outraged Catholics (who I will admit are justifiably so). The show probably would have gone off the air due to low ratings and sunk into the cancelled-show abyss. I checked and they were ranked 13th out of 19 shows on their assigned night, and that's including the WB and UPN. But now everyone will be curious to see what the fuss is about and their viewership will undoubtedly rise. They’ve accomplished their goal.

In reacting to this slap in the face, I would give the same advice that I’d give concerning a "precocious" child: Don’t pay attention to his outrageous behavior, you’ll only encourage him.

The lesson the network and producers have learned? Blaspheme God and outrage Catholics and they’ll do your advertising for you.

(By the way, it’s interesting they chose Catholics to attack and not, say, Muslims. I don’t have to wonder why.)

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2005 5:20 PM ET USA

    Hmm....handle abuse with silence. Now there's an idea Yes, Jesus had it first, but He said, "Turn the other cheek."

  • Posted by: Franko - Mar. 03, 2005 2:12 PM ET USA

    We have a saying where I work "Silence is agreement." I wonder if this is why we get these attacks in the first place. We go along to get along and we get no respect.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2005 11:43 AM ET USA

    I thought St. Justin Martyr made it crystal clear: "To know the truth and remain silent is to merit the wrath of God."

  • Posted by: Monk247 - Mar. 03, 2005 9:46 AM ET USA

    Hmm....handle abuse with silence. Now there's an idea!

  • Posted by: Monk247 - Mar. 03, 2005 9:36 AM ET USA

    Quite by accident I stumbled across that episode. The story: a visitor to a Mass takes Holy Communion. He carries it to the repast in a local bar later and tries to persuade a friend to take "Jesus-the Lord God Almighty" back to the priest. The sight of the host in a bar made me stop my channel surfing. A few days later I said to a group of clergy that I wonder what the reaction would be if the host in the episode were replaced with a Torah or a copy of the Queran? Jihad anyone?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2005 12:12 AM ET USA

    What you say about television attacks on the Catholic faith is true. However, to frame our response as "speak or be silent" is too limiting. I would like to see guidance from leaders, lay and cleric, regarding fruitful avenues of response to these attacks. We need some general guidelines that will help us work together in reversing these evil trends.

  • Posted by: Brad - Mar. 02, 2005 2:43 PM ET USA

    I agree. The bottom line is that almost all the current comedies running today are mindless drivel. The larger issue is why people are wasting their brain cells in watching any of them, not that one show takes a shot at Catholicism. Almost all of them take shots at Catholicism - either overtly or subvertly. Immorality, in today's culture, is an easy and unintellectual means of attracting the masses. When shall we lift ourselves out of the cesspool and stop watching?