Catholics denounce comedian Jon Stewart

Bill Donohue, the leader of the Catholic League, among others object to the use of an image of a nude woman juxtaposed with a Nativity scene manger.

A lewd picture on “The Daily Show” that placed a Nativity scene manger ornament between a naked woman's spread legs provoked heavy criticism and the threat of a boycott from Catholics.

“What Jon Stewart did ranks with the most vulgar expression of hate speech ever aired on television. His incivility cannot go unanswered,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said on April 19, calling for a boycott of the show's sponsors.

On the April 16 episode of the Comedy Central cable channel’s satirical newscast “The Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart criticized Fox News commentators’ and reporters’ treatment of the “war on women” political catchphrase. He juxtaposed their comments with other Fox News coverage, including the many past “war on Christmas” controversies about the role of the holiday in public life.

After showing a clip of Fox News commentator Steve Doocy objecting to an elementary school that barred poinsettias on the grounds they might offend non-Christians, Stewart said:

“What can women do to generate the same sense of outrage from Fox as the removal of decorative slightly poisonous holiday plants? Perhaps they could play into the theme? Maybe women could protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions with vagina mangers.”

The show then displayed an image of a naked woman on a table. Covering her genitals was a manger with the Christ child.

“I –I had not seen that picture,” Stewart said, laughing. “That really could be anything.”

Donohue observed in an initial statement Wednesday that although the segment was done “to protest Fox’s alleged indifference to the 'war on women,'” it ultimately made not only “a vulgar attack on Christians” but served to objectify women.

The Catholic League president also criticized what he said was a media “cover-up” of the offensive scene. “The Daily Show” episode drew news coverage from outlets like Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, MSNBC.com, Yahoo! Movies, the Los Angeles Times blogs, Gawker, Huffington Post, and others, but these outlets did not report the scene involving the manger.

Media Research Center head L. Brent Bozell called the show a “grotesque stunt” that displayed a Nativity scene “in a vulgar manner.”

He questioned whether Stewart would be “equally brave” to offend Muslims and Jews and dared Stewart to do something similarly offensive to them, CNSNews.com reported.

Donohue said that Stewart has refused to apologize for the incident, which Donohue deemed an “unprecedented assault on Christian sensibilities.”

The Catholic League has launched an effort to receive an apology from Stewart and is asking the regular sponsors of “The Daily Show” to pull their advertising and threatening a boycott of their products

The organization is contacting Kraft Foods, Inc., whose product MiO Energy was among the advertising sponsors during the objectionable episode. It is contacting religious leaders and organizations to rally support.

The board members and senior management of Comedy Central owner Viacom will also be contacted about the image.

“We will take out ads in newspapers,” Donohue said. “We are not going away.

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