The Passion of Howard Stern - Rob Felt

Drawing a comparison between shock radio specialist Howard Stern and Jesus Christ requires an amount of dexterity I wouldn't trust to my fellow columnists, so I will make the twists and bends myself.

This uncomfortable parallel was brought to my attention by my grandmother in a letter I received earlier this week. She didn't intend the parity, but there it was. Commenting on the level of violence in the film, my grandmother had some words for the critics. "If they don't like it they should just stay home," she wrote.

Agreed. The position is one of civil liberty, freedom of speech and free market support as the judge of good taste. Right?

Why then, don't we grant the same standards to all media content? Why did ClearChannel pull Howard Stern from the air on its stations during the same week that one of the most blood-soaked movies in American history sold out theaters across the country?

As Christians flock to see The Passion of the Christ its brutal depictions of torture are defended on a daily basis. No one is forcing them to go see it. In their opinion the violence is justified. The result has been on of the highest grossing movies of all time, and it may very well continue to capture the top spot.

Would these same free speech Christian movie fans support a graphic rendition of the Muslim Ashoura Day, where devout Shiites slice gashes into their heads and the heads of their children, spilling blood down their faces? Does that count as spiritually justified gore?

Do they defend Howard Stern's parade of strippers and porn stars, midget jokes and defamatory remarks about minorities and the mentally handicapped?

The answers would be no, no and of course not.

The argument is for freedom and personal choice in what you watch, is it? The actual goal is to place a higher standard on one group's tolerances than another's.

In his review of "The Passion," Roger Ebert noted: "If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic."

When did the Federal Communications Commission and the Motion Picture Association of America officially decide that secular sex is in bad taste but religious violence is acceptable?

Howard Stern has become a martyr for free speech and no one is paying attention. Selective freedoms – is this the mysterious way that God works?

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.