“Black Jesus”: Disingenuous, Dishonest and Discriminatory

2012-06-10 06:58

I refer to the question in the Voting Booth on News24 Website: What do you think of the black Jesus cartoon? (9 June 2012). About 8634 votes were cast in total as at Sunday, 10 June 2012. Of these, 3744 (43%) voted that the cartoon is offensive.

I can clearly understand why the Christian community and other conscience driven people are upset with a controversial animation depicting a “black Jesus” attempting to commit suicide after his doctor “diagnoses” him as a Shangaan.

In this regard, I support the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Reverend Kenneth Meshoe’s analysis that the cartoon is offensive to both Shangaans and the Christian faith.

The YouTube cartoon production by Mdu Comics should be condemned in the strongest possible terms as it is a dishonest and a disingenuous animated illustrate that pokes fun at Jesus or Isa (PBUH) as he is known to Muslims. It also discriminates against the Shangaans who are part of the human family and also have feelings. To mock individuals, communities and people because of their ethnicity, class, race, gender or religion is truly pusillanimous.

Furthermore, in recent years suicide attempts are increasing and are becoming a public health problem across the globe. Suicide is not an option for any human being and is a horrible destiny for anyone. Nothing in our lives could be so out of control to the extent of considering ending our lives. Jesus is revered by Christians and Muslims all over the globe and by portraying him as attempting to commit suicide is definitely unacceptable. What message is the company trying to send to the viewers? Jesus was honoured with many great qualities like divine knowledge, wisdom, he was given the power to cure the leper and the blind, guide the misled, help the oppressed and comfort the grieved, and was able to bring back to life those who had already died.

It is absolutely painful to note that so many young men and women’s lives have been destroyed by narrow-mindedness, prejudices and hate but I cannot understand how this production or cartoon will help in solving or remedying these unconstructive and harmful factors. We do need to talk and dialogue in order to heal from our racists past, stereotypes, socialisation and other harmful lived realities, but we cannot use religious symbols in an animated film as a tool to achieve that.

One can never condone any article, film, book, caricature, or a statement, which hurts someone else’s religion or cultural belief and sentiments. After all, religion is based on faith and something that is very dear and close to people’s hearts. Religious symbols, divine scriptures and feelings of any community should not be insulted or adulterated.

Writings and cartoons that ridicule and insult some of the most exalted personalities, who graced this earth, really demean the importance of our right to freedom of expression or freedom of speech. The essence of freedom of speech is the unbiased examination of factual claims.

The hallmark of civilization is to have mutual respect and courtesy for our diverse cultures, traditions and religions.

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