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Bill Donohue's sin of omission not reported by FOX

Reported by Chrish - March 30, 2007 -

What started out as a tiny report on FOXNews.com's Entertainment page last Tuesday was picked up by the notoriously thin-skinned Bill Donohue, frequently seen playing the indignant victim on Fox News Channel.

Donohue whipped up outrage amongst his followers at the Catholic League about the proposed art display, a six-foot high anatomically correct sculpture of Christ made of milk chocolate. Artist Cosimo Cavallaro titles his work “My Sweet Lord.” It was to have been exhibited at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan's Roger Smith Hotel.

Donohue was particularly incensed at the lack of the traditional loincloth and alleged in one of his missives that the artist had invited people to lick and eat the statue at the end of its planned run, Easter Sunday. Donohue said the hotel's president was

"lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended—otherwise they may have more than their heads cut off. James Knowles, President and CEO of the Roger Smith Hotel (interestingly, he also calls himself Artist-in-Residence), should be especially grateful."

Letters calling the display "hate speech" and "a direct in-your-face assault on Christians" were sent to "hundreds of organizations" urging a boycott of the hotel:

“The Roger Smith Hotel is morally bankrupt. It is the goal of the Catholic League to make it financially bankrupt as well. Being mailed out today are hundreds of letters, complete with the news release I wrote a few hours ago, calling for a boycott of the hotel. These organizations represent millions of Americans across religious lines, as well as those who belong to non-sectarian groups. All of them can be counted on to never hold a conference at the hotel. And more—they will let all of their allies know about this incident.

“The Roger Smith Hotel will rue the day it sought to declare war on Christian sensibilities."

This directly resulted in the hotel being flooded with angry phone calls and emails, including death threats. The hotel ultimately responded with an announcement of its own, saying

"Your response to the exhibit at the Lab Gallery is crystal clear and has brought to our attention the unintended reaction of you and other conscientious friends of ours to the exhibition of Cosimo Cavallaro.

We have caused the cancellation of the exhibition and wish to affirm the dignity and responsibility of the Hotel in all its affairs. "

The cancellation prompted the resignation of artistic director Matt Semler, who called the action a "Catholic fatwa" and said the 200 pound sculpture was the victim of

"a strong-arming from people who haven't seen the show, seen what we're doing... They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions."

"I saw it as meditation on all those issues: the fact that it's chocolate, the fact that it's nude, that the chocolate is black," Semler said.

Bill Donohue is claiming victory, but relatively quietly.

“While we are delighted with the outcome, we are not pleased with the comments of the gallery’s creative director, Matt Semler. For him to say that our objection to this outrageous display constitutes hate speech and is the equivalent of a fatwa shows how deliriously irresponsible this man is.

“Because we did not like the way the Roger Smith Hotel handled the decision to drop the display, we have no intention of contacting the 500 organizations that we alerted to this assault on Christian sensibilities to inform them that the exhibition has been cancelled.”

Where's that Christian forgiveness?

FOXNews.com quoted Donohue:

Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever."

On Friday, Donohue said he was "delighted with the outcome" after hearing of the cancellation. But Donohue was still angry with Semler for describing his criticism of the sculpture as "a Catholic fatwa."

"He had no business saying my letter of protest was hate speech," Donohue said. "It just goes to show the guy is out of his mind."

FOX didn't see fit to note that Donohue's "fatwa" continues and he is dishonestly allowing "millions of Americans across religious lines, as well as those who belong to non-sectarian groups" to remain under the impression the art show will go on as planned.

Donohue will find something else to offend him and his followers soon, because there is an unending supply of offensive material and behavior in the world. He can start here or here, or he can go after Tom Waits.

Also notable about all this is the lack of outcry from FOX about the Catholic League's rallying of supporters to affect change. When MoveOn.org and Brave New Films urged supporters to call or contact the Nevada Democratic Party about the proposed (cancelled) presidential debates, FOX News personalities railed against the groups, the "far-left" members, major funders, and the cause itself. Yet let the religious right flex its muscle to get an art exhibit cancelled and they get an "attaboy" and a cover-up of their most egregious language and intentions.

And no, I am not personally offended by the naked chocolate Jesus but I know people who would be, some slightly, some deeply. I wouldn't suggest they go see it but I also wouldn't tell anyone they couldn't see it and have whatever personal reaction occurred to them. And as usual, I do NOT speak for my partners here at News Hounds.