Religion

Mother Theresa was a hag. Deal with it.

Radio DJ John London was just fired from “FreeFM,” the CBS station that broadcasts free over the Internet as well as on the radio in some markets. Why? Because he offered a reward on-air to anyone willing to kill Penn Jillette.

Some of you are thinking: “Wait, you mean the little magician who doesn’t talk?” No, that’s Teller. Penn is the big, loud one who was given his own show on FreeFM, which I happen to listen to and maybe you should, too. Penn is funny, insightful, and unabashedly skeptical; plus, he’s on from 2pm to 3pm EST, which is that neverending afternoon hour when you’re at work and lunch is already over but 5pm seems so very far away.

Hag.What did Penn do to deserve death threats? Simple. He told the truth (with his own comedic embellishments — he is a performer in case you hadn’t noticed) about one Mother Theresa. Some of you may be under the impression that she’s just a sweet Albanian grandma who devoted her life to helping others. Hopefully by now, more of you actually know that she was actually a total hag.

I highly recommend a reading of Christopher Hitchens’ book The Missionary Position, which details some of her more insidious characteristics. To tide you over until you can get to your local independent bookseller, here’s a taste:

She made millions of dollars, but never divulged any figures to the public.

A ton of donated money didn’t go to orphans in India or anywhere else the contributors may have hoped — it went straight to the Vatican.

She was a tireless fighter against any form of birth control.

Her friends included Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier and convicted embezzler Charles Keating.

She never built a single god damned hospital.

So, Penn criticized this hag on the air, and in response a hack DJ offered listeners $5000 to off him. Wow, what a good and decent person. Was that just something that popped out of his mouth in the heat of the moment? No, because he upped it to 7 grand the next day if Penn “suffered” first.

“I was sickened by it,” said London. “What he said wasn’t satire. He raped her morally, when she couldn’t respond.”

Apparently it’s sickening to criticize an abhorrent person who is wrongly perceived as a perfect person, but it’s perfectly okay to ask people to kill another human. Brilliant. Here’s my favorite quote:

London said he was told that Jillette had received death threats as a result of the broadcast, but the local host added that such threats would be expected after what the comedian said about the venerable Catholic.

Oh, even the religious expect other “Godly” people to be morally bankrupt. Fabulous.

I haven’t heard Penn talk about this yet as I haven’t had a chance to tune in lately, but I’m guessing that as a mega-libertarian, Penn completely supports this moron’s right to say whatever he wants on air, including asking his listeners to send in death threats. I’ll listen to the podcasts later to see if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling that when it comes to always acting the way you believe is right even if it means supporting freedom of speech in the face of death threats, Penn will show himself to be head and shoulders above the sniveling, hypocritical London.

Oh, and speaking of shows, the latest Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast is now available for your enjoyment.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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14 Comments

  1. Mother Theresa was really creepy. She had this kind of love of suffering. I think she got turned on being around all of those really sick and decaying people. Kindof disgusting and reminiscent of medieval Catholocism if you ask me.

  2. It wouldn't surprise me that she might have sent millions to the Vatican. The purpose of such institutions is to "expand their turf", money and more converts are primary means. (the no birth control stipulation) I know someone who worked at one of her soup kitchens. She was told not to give out too much food to the needy.

    While I am for free speech, inciting people to violence to break the law shouldn't be protected speech. (like the dangers of yelling fire in a movie theater when there isn't any.)

    I was thinking the other day, how does one distinguish fraud from reality? There are lots of the Woo-Woo crowd that believes in (and pays for) "miricle cures". Sensible people wouldn't take these fraudulant cures. They would look for established evidence. How is that different from other things? Why shouldn't other claims be handled the same? (eg other Woo-Woo behavior) Just a general rhetorical question.

  3. Death threats aren't protected speech. Liberal or conservative, I support firing anyone who uses the air waves to make them.

    As for Penn, I'm with you. He can say whatever he wants. Maybe he will take on Opus Dei next. (And not by saying the DaVinci Code is true. Check out http://www.odan.org.)

  4. Offering money to kill someone isn't just a death treath, it's an oral contract. He should be tried for attempted murder, because basically he's just offered people money to kill someone for him. I'm think the law is quite specific about such things (cfr. prostitution), but I'm not a lawyer myself so I don't know for sure …

  5. Just for my curiousity, does anyone know of any sources specifically that analyze Mother Teresa from multiple viewpoints? I haven't heard Penn's analysis, but from reading a few different sources, it seems that one's opinion of this figure is entirely dependant on which facts one wishes to focus on. Did Penn mention any particular sources? I would like to read them if he did.

    I too often find that these arguments over the "true nature" of a historical figure (even recent ones) too often get caught up in the debunking of the widely accepted viewpoint at all costs, even to the extent of overstating the truth. I have usually found that the truth is usually in the middle somewhere, where the figure did some "good" stuff and some "bad" stuff. Don't know if this is the case in this instance, but I would love to read anything that is specifically referenced by Penn as a claim, if you happen to remember it.

    Oh… and I hope no one kills him… that's really lame…

  6. Nettie,

    Thanks for the link. Interesting article. I think I will need to read the author's book. The article reads more like a list of opinions than an active middle-ground analysis (I particularly find this statement to be rather speculative: "She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction." Not quite sure this is "the only known cure for poverty". Such a statement makes me question the author's impartiality.).

    All in all I guess I can't really expect an impartial factual analysis. Its more fun to write (and to read) articles that only focus on the specific opion that one is trying to support. The Christians will write how MT was awesome and people who like to anger Christians (Penn :P) will say she was a total loser. She was probably just a person who did a lot of different things, some of which different people will look at and say is bad and some people will look at and say is good; just like any one of us.

  7. Interesting article. I think I will need to read the author’s book. The article reads more like a list of opinions than an active middle-ground analysis (I particularly find this statement to be rather speculative: “She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” Not quite sure this is “the only known cure for poverty”. Such a statement makes me question the author’s impartiality.)

    So what other cures of poverty do you think there are? Maybe his use of the word "only" is out of place, but replace it with "primary" and it still conveys pretty much the same message.

    I wrote a comment yesterday, but it seems it didn't get through, so I'll repeat the gist of it (because it's answering the same questions Adrian is asking):

    Hitchens probably has his own agenda (i.e. he's no fan of religion and their practices). But if TAM4 and the kind of questions he got from people who had a problem with a some of the things he wrote in his book on Jefferson are any indication, he really thoroughly knows his subject by the time the book goes to print. You may not like what's in his book, and you may not like the way he presents the information, or the underlying message he's trying to sell, but that doesn't make his facts any less true.

  8. To be more accurate he offered $5000 for someone to off him and he would make it $7000 if he suffers.

    Wow he is even more sadistic than Mother Terresa, and that is hard to do.

  9. I agree with scubajim and Joel that inciting violence is not protected free speech. But I don't agree with exarch that the guy should be tried for attempted murder. This clearly falls into a gray area. On one hand, any reasonable person could argue that the death threat was not sincere, and instead meant to express strong emotions, and that if anyone actually made good on the deal, no money would actually be given to the killer. However, it could also be argued that the incitement encourages and instructs a specific act of violence, and so if anyone did actually kill Penn, both London and the station could be prosecuted for less serious crimes, or at least sued. That is why London was fired, and it was a good decision to fire him.

  10. I agree with scubajim and Joel that inciting violence is not protected free speech. But I don’t agree with exarch that the guy should be tried for attempted murder.

    I think because of what he host said he would definitely have been an accessory to the crime the person who would have killed (or tried to kill) Penn would be accused of.

  11. I am perhaps a member of a rare breed in enjoying both Penn's and John London's shows. I was disappointed to see London fired, as his show was one of the funniest I've ever heard, and I don't think his "hit" was anything more than a comedy. You really have to be accustomed to his humor to get it, for example one one of his shows he asked the listeners what would be the best way to beat the crap out of the homeless, in response to an incident involving a homeless person in San Francisco.

    But I never really understood why London was always riled up against Penn, as he admitted he was not a Christian in a true sense, only as "insurance in case Hell exists".

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