Recently, Jay Leno has been on a tear bashing the Catholic Church on the “Tonight Show.” What began in April ran right through the summer and on July 7, Leno said: “Oh, and a Catholic priest in Connecticut has been charged with stealing $1.3 million in church money and using the money for male escorts. Of course, his parish is very upset about this—except the altar boys. They’re going, huh, dodged a bullet on that one. Yeah, he spent $1.3 million on male escorts and, of course, the other priests were very confused. They said: ‘Why buy the escort when the altar boys are free?’”
He followed this up a few days later saying, “It was so hot I saw a priest stop at a kids’ lemonade stand—just got lemonade.” His shot at priests was the fifth and last in a string of jokes related to the hot weather, and it was the only one the audience shrugged off with “oohs.” There is a reason for this: it was the only joke which was mean-spirited and damning of a collectivity.
Many years ago, Leno called our office to apologize for insulting Catholics. We accepted his apology and told him why he had crossed the line. At that time, he was making fun of the Eucharist. He got the point, and the conversation ended amicably. But it is obvious that the man is insincere.
This was the seventh and eighth time this year Leno has targeted all priests as child molesters. His previous bigoted outbursts occurred on April 5, April 6, April 21, April 28, May 10, and May 14.
For the past several years, wayward priests have been fodder for his material; miscreant rabbis and imams never seem to get mentioned. Occasionally, he sticks to the culprit, but most of the time he indicts all priests.
Jay Leno’s jokes painting all priests as child abusers is not comedy. It is bigotry. He has crossed the line too many times.