BCCSA dismisses 'blasphemous' joke claim

2012-07-05 10:34

Johannesburg - The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) has dismissed a complaint that a joke by comedian Nik Rabinowitz was blasphemous, it said on Thursday.

"... The joke did not advocate hatred or constitute incitement to cause harm. In the result, the complaint is not upheld," said BCCSA chairperson Prof Jacobus van Rooyen.

In a broadcast over the Easter period on the Redi Tlhabi show on Talk Radio 702, Rabinowitz said "a pastor had a potato stuck up his backside and that it was not holy communion".

This prompted two complaints.

One person, identified only as "Maroun", said he thought Rabinowitz had "overstepped the line" with the holy communion comment.

"I am a Catholic and holy communion is one of the most important sacraments in my religion and I was offended and I am sure all members of the church were," he submitted.

Shocking and offensive

He was referring to the ritual of eating a wafer and sipping wine in remembrance of Christ being crucified.

A second person, "Naude", complained that some of Rabinowitz's utterances were considered blasphemous and he did not think they should be publicly broadcast.

"Specific references, such as a queer Jesus for the gay community, were made," Naude said.

In its response, Talk Radio 702 said it failed to see how the complaint applied to clause 4.2(c) of the Broadcasting Code, which deals with hate speech.

The comments did not in any way support or plead for action against Catholics or instil or provoke ill-will or violence against Catholics.

The BCCSA tribunal found that there was "no doubt" that the joke was shocking and offensive, and in the days of the Publications Act of 1974, a finding of offensiveness to religious convictions or feelings would probably have been made.

However, the legal requirements for blasphemy would not have been met because they required that the remarks be calculated to slander God, and for Christians this would include Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Freedom of religion was guaranteed and protected in the Constitution and the Broadcasting Code, Van Rooyen said.

Did not advocate hatred

Advocacy of hatred based on religion, which amounted to incitement to cause harm, was not permitted.

Blasphemy also had to be understood in terms of Section 39 of the Constitution, which provided that when developing the common law, every court, tribunal or forum promote the spirit, purport and objectives of the Bill of Rights.

It was now Constitutionally limited to hate speech, as prohibited by the Constitution and also by the Broadcasting Code.

"Thus, insofar as the second complainant has referred to blasphemy, the complaint must also be dealt with by testing the joke in question against the requirements of hate speech, as defined in Section 16 of the Constitution," Van Rooyen said.

"... I have no doubt that the harm element has been satisfied, in the sense that the complainants were clearly severely shocked as, we believe, Christians in general would be shocked by the joke," he said.

But the joke did not advocate hatred or cause incitement to cause harm, so the complaint was not upheld.

The commissioners working with Van Rooyen were Victoria Bronstein, Nana Makaula and Brian Makaketa.


  • fsteed1 - 2012-07-05 10:42

    why do they always put the Catholic faith in a bad light in jokes, movies, adverts- saying our priests molest young boys, etc????

      bj.pieman - 2012-07-05 10:56

      beacuase that's what priests do?

      Seducect - 2012-07-05 10:57

      Because it is all the GOSPEL TRUTH!

      JohncarlosBiza - 2012-07-05 11:00

      Reputation is often earned

      lydonmcg - 2012-07-05 11:03

      And a large number of South Africans rape and murder, but that doesn't make all of us rapists and murderers does it?

      rbphiri - 2012-07-05 11:34

      Ag there is a minority group of over sensitive idiots in South Africa, crying over spelt milk, worst of all these are adults. His a comedian first of all, obviously this should ring a couple of bells in that empty over sensitive cranium cavity of yours that it is purely a JOKE and nothing to be taken seriously. It's as if you vultures wait on every opportunity that comes to prey on satire. GET A LIFE PLEASE!!! THERE ARE FAR MORE PRESSING ISSUES THAT YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

      wendy.craig.9655 - 2012-07-05 11:59

      It is fair comment especially as the Catholic church hid the truth and protected the very men who committed these acts for YEARS!!

      koo.doyle - 2012-07-05 12:04

      The Catholic church is a sitting duck. Its an act of moral laziness and military cowardice to attack or take the piss out of it, because you simply cannot fail.

      celeste.hayes.56 - 2012-07-06 09:39

      It's not they that put the Catholic Church into shame it's the Catholic Church itself - which is the church I was brought up in and wouldn't put my foot in to again. Would you like them to just not say anything about the children being raped by the priests and then it's all OK??????!!!!!! If you think like that you are also fu..ed in the head just like those priests.

  • JohncarlosBiza - 2012-07-05 10:47

    Give a warning beforehand about the nature of the programming ahead. Simple. Those who want to, will listen. The rest will not get offended

  • Dylan Dario Sciarappa - 2012-07-05 10:54

    People need to get over themselves

  • Mike Mason - 2012-07-05 10:54

    Religion should Not be made fun of at all...so its funny if Nik Rabinowitz pokes fun at the christians or muslims,but as soon as someone make fun of the Jewish faith which he belongs to,then that person is called anti-semetic, racist, or holocaust denier...Now thats a joke

      jeffrey.jones.357 - 2012-07-05 11:09

      There are many Jewish comedians and writers who make fun of some of the foibles of themselves.

      jeffrey.jones.357 - 2012-07-05 11:11

      Why shouldn't religion be made fun of? Religion itself, in my opinion, is one sick joke.

      nick.l.wallace - 2012-07-05 11:46

      agree jeffrey. people in religion should just all start laughing at themselves. i cant wait for the day they actually tell me they were joking and they dont really believe in silly sky fairies and raising the dead

  • john.turner.58760608 - 2012-07-05 10:55

    Amazing that the BCCSA should even consider this complaint. Of all the people who heard this comment, 2 morons who hide behind psuedonyms complain.

  • peter.ndamase - 2012-07-05 10:56

    Can't they simply understand it was said by a comedian? Nothing that comes out of a comedian's mouth ever materialise. Another easily bruised citizen. When you have "strong" faith at what you believe in, you wouldn't go around protecting it.

  • kellyn.ohher - 2012-07-05 11:04

    People choose to be offended. They can also choose to listen or not to. They choose to write complaints or take a joke for what it is- A joke. Some also choose to cower behind pseudo names. We are the sum of our choices.

  • david.a.meyer.925 - 2012-07-05 11:10

    I don't get the joke...

  • Cassandra Eileen Olivier - 2012-07-05 11:11

    Good for them the Muslims have more respect for there faith then christine people

  • stretch.lawrence - 2012-07-05 11:38

    the clue is in the name

  • Erna - 2012-07-05 11:41

    If you don't like Nik Rabinowitz's humour, don't listen. He makes a fool of everyone and like Zapiro is topical and spot on.

  • brent.peacock.14 - 2012-07-05 11:49

    Not Blasphemous is one thing but, I do not think that Nik Rabinowitz is remotely funny. I wish Redi would drop the " Comedian " bit of her show. Her fake laugh is most annoying and stupid.

      cypro.mailula - 2012-07-05 12:12

      Maybe you should just take the advice that has been given by Redi so many times on the show and on some comments here, if you don't like it, don't listen - simple as that. We love Nick's jokes and enjoy the show so we will continue to listen. I can't wait for Nick to make a follow up joke on the show tomorrow and poke fun at people like you.

  • errol.wagner - 2012-07-05 11:51

    It is time we Christians grew up. We should not be shocked by the comments of unbelievers - in some cases their comments are justified by the actions of 'Christians' and the 'Church'. Often our hypocrisy is being held up to ridulce, which it should be. But even if they say offensive things about true believers, that should not concern us - for we are preaching a message that is offensive to the world. . So Christians, stop complaining - what are we going to do when we are really mocked and even persecuted?

  • FirstSeed - 2012-07-05 11:55

    Comedians have to be controversial sometimes.It is part of their job description

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-07-05 12:16

    Wonder if this bloke would be so brave about making jokes about the Muslim faith?

      cassandra.e.olivier - 2012-07-05 12:52

      I doubt it.

  • douglas.j.reid123 - 2012-07-05 13:37

    The cornerstone of christianity is the need for forgivness. If you cannot forgive others, then you cannot expect to be forgiven. Without sounding like I am judging them.... one would think that the complainants should perhaps practise their beliefs and forgive Nik, rather than make a big hoohah about the joke. I did not know about the joke, but through their efforts I now too want to hear the joke and see Nik's show

  • tandylee.marinus - 2012-07-05 16:04

    Religion once again involves itself in too many politics.People need to accept and realise religion is not perfect.Just because you "believe" doesnt make you immune to a joke.if you feel offended and the faith of your god is so strong then you should have nothing to worry about.

  • Seducect - 2012-07-05 16:09

    Voltaire said:"God is a comedian playing to an audience who is too afraid to laugh"

  • pages:
  • 1