by Patrick J. Buchanan – August 7, 1998
This fall, the Manhattan Theatre Club will host the latest play of three-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally. The central figure in McNally’s “Corpus Christi” is a Jesus character named Joshua who is crucified as “king of the queers.”
By The New York Times’ account, “Joshua has a long-running affair with Judas and sexual relations with the other Apostles. Only one sexual encounter, a non-explicit one with an HIV-positive street hustler, takes place in any form on stage.” (Thanks for that, Terry.)
The play ends with a taunt: “If we have offended you, so be it. He belongs to us as well as you.” That line, says syndicated columnist John Leo, “doesn’t seem to make much sense, artistically or scripturally. It seems more like politicized, in-your-face Christian baiting.”
Exactly; that’s the idea. McNally’s purpose is to insult, offend, wound and outrage Catholics and all Christians by blaspheming their Savior and mocking their moral code. In “The Last Temptation of Christ” years ago, Jesus was portrayed as a lustful wimp panting after Mary Magdalene. Puerile playwrights like McNally now must keep pushing the envelope, else no one will pay attention to them.
McNally’s play is nothing less than a hate crime of modernity directed against Christians, the moral equivalent of Nazis marching in Skokie. More interesting than the play itself was the response to angry critics of it by much of New York’s cultural elite, which immediately threw over McNally’s puddle a protective blanket of “artistic freedom.”
While that elite would never be so gauche as to say, “Good for Terry for giving those (expletive) Christian homophobes what they deserve,” it defends his bigotry on First Amendment grounds. But behind the customary claptrap about no censorship, our elite shares McNally’s hatred of Christianity, especially its teachings on sexual morality. Thus, it will reflexively rise to the defense of any Catholic-basher or Christian-baiter who cloaks his hatred in “art.”
Ask yourself: Would McNally dare to make a comedy about Auschwitz or a play about the sex life of Martin Luther King Jr.? If he did, that would be the end of the Tonys for Terry. Would our cultural elite sit still for a play making sport of AIDS patients? If a public school began issuing “Little Black Sambo” as a second-grade reader, would the elite defend it as “academic freedom”? How would TV critics respond to reruns of “Amos ‘n’ Andy”? What would our elite say if Ted Turner announced his movie channel was going to update and colorize “Birth of a Nation,” whose heroes are the men of the KKK?
McNally’s play is but part of the daily sewage of modernity. Of far greater interest is what it says about who holds moral power in society today and whom it is permissible to mock and hate.
In the 1950s, Hollywood and Broadway were in tune with the country. In films and plays, priests and ministers were depicted in friendly, respectful ways. Comic greats like Sid Caesar, Steve Allen, Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason entertained without insulting the core beliefs of a predominantly Christian country. Lenny Bruce was the underground comedian. Now, the dirty words are on the air, and it is Christian moral teachings that rile our elites. What Christ warned his disciples of has come to pass in America: “If the world hate you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”
The most sacred of Christian beliefs are today mocked, and priests and nuns are second only to Christian ministers as comic and malevolent figures on stage and screen. Big Apple mayors proudly march up Fifth Avenue in Gay Pride parades that feature the floats of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, nuns in drag and half-naked men simulating homosexual sex before St. Patrick’s.
Rarely does the nightly news focus on these revolting creatures, but let a single sign in a 100,000-person right-to-life parade call for clemency for an abortion-clinic bomber, and that will be the news.
In recent years, the inquisitors of political correctness have burned the following heretics at the stake: Jimmy the Greek, sports handicapper, for discoursing after a long lunch at D.C.’s Duke Zeibert’s on why black athletes seem superior. Marlon Brando for a single derogatory term about Jews. Jackie Mason for using a Yiddish slur for black mayor David Dinkins. Andy Rooney for simply suggesting that people with AIDS, like smokers with emphysema, may be at fault for their condition. Footballer Reggie White and Trent Lott for airing Bible-based beliefs about homosexuality.
In the dispensation of modernity, no mocker of God’s Son ever suffers a sanction so severe.