Viacom CEO defends slam on Mother Theresa, Catholic League calls response ‘arrogant’

The CEO of media giant Viacom has defended the airing of a T.V. special which attacks Mother Theresa and the Catholic Church saying that the episode is an example of the organization’s commitment to “artistic freedom.”

In May, the New York-based Catholic League launched a campaign against the CBS subsidiary, over program, “Holier than thou”, starring magician entertainers Penn and Teller, who paint Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity as “cruel, exploitative, self-serving nun[s] who ripped off the poor.”

Donahue said, “we mobilized Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, religious and lay persons to protest.  And not without success: the vile episode of ‘Penn and Teller’ that we objected to, ‘Holier Than Thou,’ will never air again.”

Recently however, a hand-delivered letter from Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone has sparked renewed conflict.

“Redstone’s letter”, Donahue said, “reeks with arrogance.  Showtime, he says, ‘frequently airs programs with controversial, differing points of view.’  So we are supposed to believe that calling nuns ‘f---ing c---s’ is just a ‘differing point of view.’  When he says that ‘we as an organization are committed to artistic freedom,’ Redstone is being deceitful.”

The letter also noted that ‘it is tolerance for that which may be uncomfortable, unpopular and perhaps even offensive to some that defines and protects the liberties that all of our society enjoys.” 

“In other words,” Donahue said, “Viacom’s intolerance of Catholics is really a demonstration of its commitment to tolerance.  And by beating up on Mother Teresa and the Catholic Church, Viacom is defending the liberties of all Americans.  Just like the Marines.”

The Catholic League also pointed out what they see as a double standard in Viacom’s policies. Noting a new gay and lesbian channel that the company has launched, Donahue said, “Now if only Viacom treated Catholics the way it treats gays, we could all enjoy ‘differing points of view,’ ‘artistic freedom’ and ‘tolerance’ without ever being the target of its hate speech.”

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