Church sacrificed on altar of CBC

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The Article

If there’s anything more bizarre than some of the shows the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation chooses to make on the Christian religion, it’s the explanation it often offers for making them.

Take, for instance, The Altar Boy Gang.

A 30-minute pilot on this effort was produced by Sienna Films of Toronto with $600,000 provided from the Canadian Television Fund, a cash pool created by the government, to which the cable companies are forced to contribute.

The fund is used to create Canadian programming.

Much of it is donated without conditions to the CBC, which used part of it to bankroll The Altar Boy Gang.

In the show, the teen-aged males do what is presumed to be typical altar-boy things—they do drugs, they use the communion wafers as snack food, and they lace some of them with LSD—that kind of stuff.

All of this goes on under the nose of the hapless Father Sand, standing in as a representative of the Catholic hierarchy.

Now, the Catholic Civil Rights League saw the pilot and was unenthused about it.

In fact, they described it as “blasphemous” of the Catholic communion rite, and are taking their complaint to Robert Rabinovitch, the CBC’s president.

Just how, they will ask, does the CBC reconcile its jovially cavalier attitude towards the sacred rituals of the Catholic church with the fact they appointed a special Muslim consultant last year to make sure Muslim sacred things were not offended in any way in the series Little Mosque on the Prairie.

However, long before president Rabinovitch’s PR people need concoct the upper management’s explanation for this sophomoric absurdity, it fell on lower management to do some explaining first—lower management as represented by CBC “spokesperson” Jeff Keay.

His observations, as quoted in the media, are revealing:

“Part of trying to produce compelling programming is to not be afraid of images that someone could find disturbing.”

Now, that’s certainly true.

And it’s truer still that the CBC needs to find something, anything, to air that’s compelling, since most of what they have been running has increasingly compelled viewers to look to other channels.

But then why was this to-hell-with-sensitivities dictum not invoked for Little Mosque?

Wasn’t the consultant there to make absolutely certain nothing in the show could possibly disturb Muslims?

Mr. Keay’s central task was to answer that question.

He didn’t; he evaded it.

“While some people could have found it [Altar Boys] offensive, it falls within the realm of the reasonable.”

By this, he must mean the circumstance presented in the show was not beyond belief.

It required no venture into the improbable.

The spectacle of an altar boys’ guild becoming a blasphemy-prone drug cult is the sort of thing one might encounter at any local Catholic Church anywhere in Canada.

And while it’s true some people might find this rather unusual, the vast majority of viewers would accept such a situation as entirely credible.

That’s what he implies by “reasonable.”

“We certainly intend no disrespect of the Catholic Church, or any other religious organization.”

Consider the proposition here.

The CBC depicts a group of adolescents helping to administer what the Catholic Church believes to be “in essence” the body of Jesus Christ.

It presents them as sneering at these sacred things, as using them as poker chips, as infecting them with drugs to poison the faithful people who receive them, and finally as conducting a criminal activity from the sanctuary of the church.

However, spokesperson Keay assures us, by doing all this the CBC “intends no disrespect” towards the church.

You have to wonder, what else could they possibly do if they did intend disrespect?

If he expects any Canadian to actually believe what he’s saying, then either he considers Canadians to be morons, or he must be a moron himself.

One inclines to the former possibility, and we can only conclude the CBC has much the same contempt for Canadians generally as it has for the Catholic Church.

Three things are indicated.

The CBC should find some other kind of programming.

Canada should find some other kind of national broadcasting system, or at a minimum, sell the one it’s got.

And finally, Jeffrey Keay should find some other kind of job.

Ted Byfield
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