Asshole Catholic League President Warns Rabbi to Keep His Jew Nose Out of Birth Control Debate

Illustration for article titled Asshole Catholic League President Warns Rabbi to Keep His Jew Nose Out of Birth Control Debate

Every time perpetually apoplectic Catholic League President Bill Donohue does something batshit like send a hilariously impotent comic book villianesque letter to, say, Kraft foods urging them to stop advertising on The Daily Show because Bill Donohue is personally mad about a graphic that appeared in the background of a news story on a satirical comedy program, I assume that's the moment that he's completely lost his marbles. But, turns out I've seriously underestimated how many more marbles Bill Donohue had to lose. Case in point: a recent email exchange between Donohue and Philadelphia-area rabbi Arthur Waskow wherein he told the vocal birth control supporter to keep his nose where it belongs, because birth control is already free at Planned Parenthood and Jews like Rabbi Waskow can't afford to not be nice to the few Catholics who like them. Oy vey.


The trouble started when the progressive rabbi Waskow's op-ed criticizing the Church's hardline (uncool) stance against rebel (cool) nuns and traditional (backward) stance against the Affordable Care Act's preventative care mandate that would have required Catholic institutions that receive federal funds to give female employees the option to use their employer provided insurance benefits to contraceptivize themselves (awesome). Filled with piping hot rage (well, more rage than is typical for Bill Donohue's overstressed and underhugged heart), Donohue wrote an irate email to Waskow wherein he recited the now-familiar refrain that it's not a contraception issue; it's a constitution issue. And further since Waskow is a Jewy Jew McJew, by commenting on the Catholic Church's birth control stance, Donohue told Waskow that he had "stuck his nose in where you don't belong." Always good for the President of one anti-defamation league to use statements that could be construed as defamatory in emails to a member of another occasionally defamed group.

Waskow responded by thoroughly thrashing Donohue's rhetorical ass, writing, among other things, that thousands of non-Catholic women work at Catholic-run universities and hospitals, that the Obama administration has given these institutions an "out" so contraception is paid for by insurance companies, not the institutions themselves, and that women have a right to make health decisions based on their own consciences rather than the demands of an institution out of step with many of its faithful.

Here is where my nose is, and where it belongs:

Tens of thousands of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu women work for or study at various Catholic-sponsored universities and hospitals that involve and hire them — and that receive my/ our tax money. (They are quite different from fully religious Catholic institutions, like churches, dioceses, or the NCCB, that do NOT receive tax money.)

Many many of those women who are hired by or are students of these tax-supported non-religious institutions need contraception, but can't afford it without insurance.

Those women are my business. All of them, including the Catholic women who in shaping their own religious consciences (did you know that women are capable of doing that?) have concluded that contraception is ethical and moral.

Would you also suggest I keep my long Jewish nose out of some Catholic priests' rape of Catholic children and some Catholic bishops' protection of those priests from the law, because I'm not a Catholic? Perhaps you would.

Oh no he didn't. Donohue responded by turning gradually redder and redder until his head transformed into a teapot and steam shot out of his ears while a comical closing whistle type sound effect played. Everyone who works at a Catholic university or hospital is free to leave whenever they want, he wrote. And besides, birth control is free if these non-Catholics would just get their asses down to Planned Parenthood (where does Bill Donohue think that Planned Parenthood gets the money to give away birth control for free? Does he think Planned Parenthood, like, bakes birth control in their kitchens with a secret family recipe?) And— AND! — Waskow had better focus his attention more on sex abuse in Orthodox Jewish communities (actually, he referred to it as "an explosion of child rape," which is a sort of unfortunate way to put it) and if he wants a rape-free future, he better follow "the reforms of the Catholic Church." Donohue concluded his screed with a bizarre warning —

Ed Koch, my friend, once said that Jews had better not make enemies of their Catholic friends since they have so few of them. Think about that the next time you feel compelled to attack my religion.

Donohue closed his letter by signing it with a familiar "Bill," and then added a WTF post script for the ages — "I do not have a long nose." Looks like the Catholic League President has both anger management and reading comprehension issues.

The whole beautifully kooky exchange was sent to Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray, who published the emails in their entirety. The whole thing's worth a read.


In the meantime, I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon planning the inaugural meeting for a group I'm calling "Former Devout Catholics Embarrassed by the Catholic League (FCECL)." Everyone with a goofy confirmation name is welcome to join. There will be cake and pie.



A Small Turnip

To what extent do ordinary Catholics in the US feel that the Catholic League represents their interests? I may be a frankly embarrassing naïf, but I cannot believe that a majority of Catholics (or even fractional minority, really) actually feel swelled with righteous, head-nodding agreement when Bill Donohue opens his mouth. I can't. It's not possible. He's a joke. He surely must make virtually all American Catholics feel as depressed and embarrassed as feminists feel when Camille Paglia decides to tub-thump about her latest bête noire.

Right? Right? Please, please tell me I'm right about this one. This man and his organisation can't be representative of his people.