If you ask me, “Should Kyle Sandilands apologise?” I would answer unequivocally in the affirmative. There are so many reasons Kyle Sandilands should apologise. For his grating voice, for his even more grating personality, for his history of sexism, abusiveness and general cruelty. For his terrible radio show and his long succession of even more terrible TV shows, culminating in his latest in which he cosplays as Judge Judy. For helping his ex-girlfriend record a version of “Ooh Ah I Lost My Bra”. Yes, Kyle owes the entire nation many, many apologies.
So it’s pretty ironic and not a little annoying that after a career of refusing to apologise for being the unlanced boil on Australian media’s festering buttock, the thing he actually has apologised for is something for which he owed no apology whatsoever.
If you haven’t heard, Sandilands’s latest sin was joking about the Virgin Mary. Last week on his KIIS FM show, he said, “I thought Mary was his girlfriend, but apparently it was the mother, And the mother lied obviously and told everyone, ‘Nah I got pregnant by a magical ghost. Bullshit.” He went on to describe people who “believe everything that was written down 2000 years ago” as “dumb as dog shit”.
Not surprisingly, this caused a lot of anger among that segment of the community that does indeed believe everything that was written down 2000 years ago, and who are convinced that Mary really did get pregnant by a magic ghost. And that anger, in turn, chastened Kyle, who this week took eight minutes – eight minutes – to apologise profusely for his tasteless japery.
And that really sucks. Because all he was doing was making fun of religion, and making fun of religion is not only harmless, it’s a positive contribution to our society. Quite apart from the fact that Kyle was obviously joking – and by the way, lip-pursers, a joke doesn’t stop being a joke just because you put “joke” in quotation marks – there is no reason why those who don’t believe in a particular religion shouldn’t be able to say that the beliefs of that religion are stupid, if that’s what they think.
Over the course of human history, it’s pretty obvious that more damage has been caused by being excessively respectful of religious beliefs, than by openly mocking them. Not just religious beliefs, of course – a bit more disrespect and mockery of all kinds of ideologies could do the world of good. And let’s be honest: there are a lot of us out there who think that Kyle’s assessment was pretty bang on. Even if it wasn’t, big deal – it was a joke, nobody got hurt, and your radio has a tuning knob.
Was it offensive? Of course it was offensive. Many people were offended by it, and they have every right to be. It’s always offensive when someone disrespects your deeply held beliefs. Like, for example, I have a deeply held belief that getting your panties in a bunch over some jokes on the radio makes you look like a big up-yourself crybaby. And I will be VERY offended if you disagree.
On the other hand, if you are of a religious persuasion – and I mean any religious persuasion: this time it’s Christians, but the principle applies to any faith – and you find yourself upset by a joke, you have the option of doing as the rest of us do when that happens: suck it up, princess. Believe me, you’ll be happier in the long run.