Monday, January 26, 2015

Penn Jillette on Criticizing Islam

Photo from the CATO Institute

Below is an excerpt from an interview with professional magician and skeptic Penn Jillette of the duo Penn & Teller, in the June 24, 2010 issue of Las Vegas Weekly: 
Let’s talk about your TV show Bullshit! Will you ever run out of theories to debunk and people to expose? If you build a kingdom on bullshit, you’re not in danger of running out of it. Our producer says that Teller and I can take any subject in the news and do a credible show on it. Sure, we like to have a villain, something to call “bullshit” on, but if we don’t, we can depart from that model. 
Are there any groups you won’t go after? We haven’t tackled Scientology because Showtime doesn’t want us to. Maybe they have deals with individual Scientologists—I’m not sure. And we haven’t tackled Islam because we have families. 
Meaning, you won’t attack Islam because you’re afraid it’ll attack back Right, and I think the worst thing you can say about a group in a free society is that you’re afraid to talk about it—I can’t think of anything more horrific. 
Of course, it might please some Islamic fundamentalists to hear you say that you won’t talk about them because you’re afraidIt might, but you have to say what you believe, even it if pleases somebody you disagree with—that issue comes up all the time in moral discourse. 
You do go after Christians, thoughTeller and I have been brutal to Christians, and their response shows that they’re good fucking Americans who believe in freedom of speech. We attack them all the time, and we still get letters that say, “We appreciate your passion. Sincerely yours, in Christ.” Christians come to our show at the Rio and give us Bibles all the time. They’re incredibly kind to us. Sure, there are a couple of them who live in garages, give themselves titles and send out death threats to me and Bill Maher and Trey Parker. But the vast majority are polite, open-minded people, and I respect them for that.

This was of course more than four years before the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

An interesting side story is that the interview was picked up by some anti-Islam bloggers and websites at the time including Jihad Watch and Bare Naked Islam. (both of which are favorably linked to by Mahound's Paradise). Interestingly they were both critical of Jillette: "Cowardice", proclaimed Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. "Self-Censorship", cried Bare Naked Islam.

I don't see it that way.

(As much as I respect the sources.)

Come on guys, lighten up. And accept a good thing, so to speak, when you get it. Not critical of Islam? What was said in this public interview was one of the most damning condemnations of Islam by any high-profile "mainstream" celebrity in recent memory.

And according to the text, it was "Islam", not "extremist Islam" or "radical Islam" or any other watered-down version of it.

The other takeaway is how favorable this atheist was towards Christians.

You're a good man, Mr. Jillette. May God bless and protect you and your family.

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