Remember when Victoria Jackson was funny?

USED TO BE FUNNY | Victoria Jackson speaks during a tea party rally in Buffalo, last year (David Duprey/Associated Press)

Well she isn’t anymore, and she definitely isn’t as ‘Christian’ as she claims to be, either

HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left

I am older than I think — at least that is what I found out when I made the comment that I remembered Victoria Jackson when she was funny. My companions at lunch looked at me blankly and said, “Who?”

Years ago Jackson was the comedienne who “killed” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show when she did handstands and recited poetry. She was the personification of the blond airhead doing what might have passed as “talent” in a beauty pageant.

She was very funny then, and it launched her career, which included a gig on Saturday Night Live for several years.

Lately, Ms. Jackson has gained notoriety by her rants denouncing the romantic kiss between actors Chris Colfer and Darren Criss on Glee.

Her diatribe against homosexuality, delivered in her trademark squeaky voice, sounds almost like a joke — until you find out that she claims to be a devout Christian.

So, I have no problem with her saying whatever she wants about fictional characters on Glee, or for that matter expressing her views on what is right and what is wrong in general.

My problem is her declaration that she is a devout Christian.

As someone who calls himself a Christian, I figure I have a little skin in this game, and frankly, I am sick and tired of the hijacking of one of the world’s great religions by a bunch of loud-mouthed bigots.

The Fred Phelps and Victoria Jacksons of this world have given my religion a really bad name. Heck, I even have a straight friend who has stopped calling himself Christian and now prefers “follower of Jesus,” since that makes clear the distinction between him and the hate-filled voices that dominate the media.

Victoria Jackson is just the latest person that somehow figures that the collection of books and stories that we have come to call the Bible were handed down from on high, written in 17th century English prose.

They claim to take every word as the literal word of God, and as such, the scripture for them is a handy rulebook to gaining a seat in heaven.
Jackson herself says, “Basically, the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.”

Though the word “homosexuality” was unknown until the 19th century, Jackson like so many of her ilk indeed re-interpret the “literal word of God.” They selectively twist it to their own ends.

While wearing her acrylic and cotton blend fabrics, and most likely eating pork and shellfish, she forgets other verses that would declare her an abomination, no interpretation needed.

Now, I am not a theologian — far from it — but I do understand a few basic truths about trying to condemn people you don’t like using Bible verses. It’s dangerous and, quite frankly, about as close to blasphemy as I can imagine.

To try to take the feeble words of people who tried to wrestle onto paper something so great they could not even speak its name, and to then say that those few words were the end-all-and-be-all of the divine? Well, that belittles both the scriptures and God.

It is equally silly to just dismiss humankind’s struggle to find the meaning of existence as merely superstition and myth. Just because a story isn’t literally true doesn’t mean there isn’t an abundance of truth beneath the words.

Who can’t see the lessons behind the fables of Aesop or the poetry of Homer? That same truth exists in the parables of Jesus and the stories of the Patriarchs.

For that matter it exists in the recitations of the Prophet Mohammed, in the tales of the Gita.

So, let me just make myself clear. I am a Christian; I am gay; I am politically liberal and sexually more than a bit kinky.

Why am I telling you this? Because I don’t want people like Victoria Jackson to be defining what it means to be a Christian.

Let this be my personal witness, and you can take it or leave it. But I really prefer you consider it. Think about what you believe; don’t just mouth the words.

Rabbi Hillel, one of Judaism’s great teachers, who lived around 30 BCE, was asked to give his full understanding of the Torah while standing on one foot. He is quoted as saying, “Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do unto you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.”

Sounds like something another Rabbi named Jesus said, doesn’t it?

In one recent interview Victoria Jackson stated, “This culture is affecting our children and making them run away from Jesus Christ.”

I say no, Ms. Jackson. Our culture is not the reason. It is the intolerance and bigotry of people like you claiming to be Christian that is making children run away from Jesus.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

An inconvenient woman

Rivers leaves no turn unstoned in frank, funny but standard-issue doc

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

JOAN DARK | Rivers does wrestle with demons; she just turns them into jokes in her act.

3 out of 5 Stars
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK
Joan Rivers. Rated R. 90 mins. Opens today at the
Magnolia Theater and the
Angelika Film Center Plano.

Joan Rivers is both an enigma and exactly what she seems: A foul-mouthed comedian who has made a career pushing buttons and causing controversy without consideration for decorum. But then again, what drives her to “be that guy”? Is there something deeper, other than the quest for immortality and applause and approval?

We never quite learn the answer to that in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a documentary culled from following Rivers around for a year or so around the time she won Celebrity Apprentice. Sure, we learn of the pain of her rift with Johnny Carson and the suicide of her husband and her fragile ego and her feelings about never being a critics’ darling.

But how did she make the leap to her brand of truth-telling? Does she have limits? Like getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop, we may never know.

What we do know from the documentary, though, can be fabulously entertaining. Rivers is upfront about her addiction to plastic surgery (although she avoids talking about her now-catlike appearance); she walks us through her joke file (and shares crass ones about Michelle Obama and Nazis); she tells us what current comedians she considers “brilliant” (Maher, Shandling, Tomlin); explains why she loves anal; and how she gives Kathy competition as champion of the gays. (“What’s the gay community like here?” she asks a cabbie in rural Wisconsin. “I don’t know,” responds her driver suspiciously. “Ask your wife’s brother,” she snaps back.)

There’s also the curiosity of seeing classic video of Rivers doing standup 40 years ago … and realizing that what was considered racy then seems Disney Channel tame by today’s standards.

Yet Joan remains endlessly fascinating. She’s a money, fame and attention whore who shouts down hecklers and takes no prisoners. “Can we talk?” she used to ask rhetorically.

I don’t know about “we.” But can she ever.

This article appeared in the National Pride edition in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010

—  Dallasvoice