'Homophobic Singer' and Our Frame of Reference Problem

Dear Editor,

After reading your publication’s recent article on Conan O’Brien and his “homophobic country western singer,” it got me thinking. I tried to dig up a clip of the skit and instead ran into some Conan forum commenting about “extremist right Christians.” I want to say something about it, because it is more than just a problem with a Conan O’Brien skit.

There is a growing argument nowadays talking about the media’s “war on Christianity.” The same scenario keeps popping up. Media does something to upset Christians, Christians complain about it, then non-Christians criticize Christians saying that they are extremist/hypocrites. Who’s right and who’s wrong?

One comment that I found in the forums interested me a lot. Paraphrasing it, it basically says that “Christians have no sense of humor, and that the homophobe skit was only a joke.” I feel like many people have this sentiment, not only to the Conan parody but to Christians in general.

As I see it, this is probably one of the most recurring cliché arguments against Christians. A joke is not necessarily always a joke. There is a point to where a joke is still funny and a point where it crosses a line. Where do we draw this line though? This is the real problem.

Personally, the joke on the Tonight Show was a bit inconsiderate, and that they should have questioned more before putting it on the air. However, I did not feel so outraged by it that I would have ranted on about it. The reason I write this letter is to address that: one, there have been many incidents in the media that could be seen as prejudiced against Christians, and two, they are not clear cut issues where someone is 100 percent correct. The predicament here is our frame of references.

To some Christians, the “homophobic country western singer” CAN come off as offensive. From their frame of reference, the singer is mocking ALL Christians, not just a select group. They look at it as a direct insult to themselves, even if they are not “extremist right.” And it’s not just an insult about something trivial, but something they take very seriously - Jesus Christ. They are warranted to have an opinion.

Some people label these Christians as cry babies. From their frame of reference, it is just a joke. It was also only directed toward a select group of Christians that they feel are overly zealous. These people attack with some trite expression such as “the right extremist Christians are at it again.” That’s not really fair though. They have no problem with the joke, because they are not being insulted.

Why is it bad that some Christians are offended? Are Christians not allowed to have an opinion, because so-called “free speech advocates” don’t agree?

Where do we draw the line at what is a joke and what isn’t? In fact, why do we even have to make these kinds of degrading jokes in the first place? All of our frames of references are so varied that who can actually make a judgment call on what is acceptable?

What we are actually judging here more than anything else is, “Whose frame of reference is the most legitimate?” And that is indeed an attack on Christianity. What the media deems acceptable may not be. To Christians, the only frame of reference that is valid is the Bible.

I want to end this by saying that I do not necessarily think that the Conan skit was abhorrent like some may see it. I just wanted to point out a growing trend that people take for granted. I want to encourage Christians that we do have a right to be offended, just like other people have the right to be offended if their beliefs are attacked.

However, being offended does not give us the right to name call!

Christians are seen as judging individuals. We have to change this image problem. Comments like the one made by Mr. Scott stating that “ABC and NBC are bigots” is over-the-top. Christians need to learn to be offended without insulting back. We need balance.

So let’s all stop flinging mud at each other. We both have the right to disagree but let’s not categorize everyone into easy packages such as “extremist right” or “complete bigots.” And can we take some time to actually consider the other side’s frame of reference before we act? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Gary Herd
Louisville, Ky.