Afternoon Inquisition

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The Vatican said on Thursday it would take legal action to stop the distribution of a photo montage in an advertisement by the Italian fashion firm Benetton showing Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth. Apparently, the Vatican thinks the ad was “damaging to not only to dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers.”

Benetton, after creating several such images of world leaders and prominent people kissing, said the purpose of its campaign was “exclusively to fight the culture of hate in every form”. However, the fashion firm said it has agreed to withdraw the image of the pope anyway.

Thoughts? Is this a good way for Benetton to get its message across? Is it off base? Who is off base in this story? Benetton? The Vatican? What of the “damage to the dignity of the pope”? Is that a thing?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. I think Benetton is off base for using doctored images of people without their permission to sell a commercial product. They make the obvious bullshit claim that they are doing it for the purpose of “exclusively to fight the culture of hate in every form,” but that is merely an attempt to provide a colorable defense to a “misappropriation of name/likeness” (or similar) lawsuit.

    1. Haha you’ve been bannnnnnnnned, but I’m sure you still read this site in anger.

      Short story is you’re a dick who doesn’t get what it feels like to be a woman and experience regular discrimination, and you’re just interested in furthering the dominance of the frumpy-conservative-male-with-an-enlarged-prostate agenda.

      So in short, FUCK YOU!

        1. Something’s changed since I’ve been gone. O.O
          Did anybody go back in time and sneeze on an iguanadon?

          Either way, I would be lying if I said I cared about what happened to the Pope’s image one way or the other. Can’t really ruin the image of an ex-Nazi that protects child-rapists and tells people that condoms will give them AIDS.

  2. Uhm… Pope + dignity? What? Where? When? Seriously, with all the damage the Vatican has caused to so many people’s lives out there, who cares about this photo?

  3. Like any ad campaign, Benetton is trying to sell stuff, and the only thing they seek to raise awareness of is their own brand.

    That said, if the Pope hates it, I’m in favor.

    @romulus: They’re all public figures, generally public figures don’t have as much/any control over stuff like that as a random person would.

  4. Oh, it’ll take immediate legal action on something this silly and rather pointless, but they’ll cover up the sexual abuse of young children for decades?

    The Vatican is really, really awful.

    1. Of course! Who’s got time for decades worth of child rape when the delicate feelings of Papa Razti are at stake?

  5. Brilliant move on Benetton’s part. Who was talking about them last week? And it’s not as if devout Catholics were a big chunk of their target market.

    The moral is, if you push the envelope in the right spot, you get millions of dollars worth of free media attention. Not necessarily the best moral, but one for the world we live in.

  6. the Vatican has been a scourge on humanity from the start. screw them! they need to be smashed. they are outdated and a pure horror.

    Is your
    pedophile priest against gay marriage?

  7. The more troubling question at this point strikes me as whether Benetton should have removed the image upon the complaint. If every complaint results in removal then fine, but otherwise this would just become one more failed attempt to reign in religious exemptions from criticism.

  8. My views:

    The UNHATE photos are revolting.
    The photos make a good point.
    The Vatican and the Pope are fair game.
    The subjects’ being public figures does not weaken their right to protection from misappropriation.
    Benetton is ballsy. Remember the Colors of Benetton?
    Benetton ought to have refused to pull the ad, until directed by a court., of course.

  9. I don’t know if it’s the most effective way for Benetton to “fight the culture of hate in every form”, but I do like the photo and the statement. I also think the Vatican’s response is incredibly telling in a number of ways, though nothing incredibly surprising. Protecting the “dignity of the pope” is probably the funniest thing about the whole situation, especially when you consider (as marilove stated) that other little thing they had to deal with – what was that again? Oh right, an institution of child rape.
    But this doctored image is serious stuff!

    1. Does anyone really think Bennetton is spending its shareholders’ money to “fight the culture of hate,” rather than “make a big marketing splash so that people buy more Bennetton products?”

  10. *sigh* I really wish news outlets would stop going to Bill Donohue for “outraged catholic” quotes for every stupid little thing. They could just predict and write his quotes into their stories themselves. It’s not like he ever has a new trick.

  11. Can you read? “deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement.”

    Obama hasn’t said a thing about his. His press secretary did. Obama may or may not even be aware of it. I’m sure he has more important things to do than worry about something so silly. He has people to deal with this type of stuff, and this type of stuff likely happens a lot (Obama Chia Pets, anyone?).

  12. I think this campaign is hysterically (if that isn’t too sexist a term) funny and therefor Kudos to the ad agency that came up with it.

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