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« Skeptics' Circle #30 The RantsBen Stein Got It Right...And Then Got It So Very, Very Wrong »

Isaac Hayes: A Typical Scientologist Asshat
2006.03.16 (Thu) 22:26

Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef from Comedy Central's South Park, has decided to quit the show. Why, you ask?

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the soul legend said. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

First of all, no. No, NO, NO. Religious beliefs should not be blindly respected and honored any more than any other totally unsupported line of bullshit should be blindly respected and honored (or, for that matter, any more than any scientific theory should be blindly respected and honored — rather than constantly and consistently re-examined by scientists to confirm or refute its veracity and predictive capabilities). What should be respected is a person's right to hold a silly belief. Religion and religious beliefs themselves are not above ridicule, and, if we wish to advance any further as an intelligent species, that's exactly how it should be. How many fucking times do we have to hear this same stupid assertion? In point of fact, religion should be ridiculed more often than it is today. Ridicule is exactly what a huge heaping pile of bullshit like [insert whatever stupid religion you like here — we pick Scientology, in honor of Isaac Hayes] deserves.

But setting that unfortunately far-too-common misconception aside, let's look at Hayes' comments from just a few months ago:

In January 2006, Hayes told the New York Daily News that he loved the "humor in it, the audacity of Matt and Trey."

"Nobody is exempt from their humor," he said. "They're equal-opportunity offenders. Don't be offended by it. If you take it too seriously, you have problems."

It seems the silky-voiced crooner may have neglected to take his own advice.

Neglected to take his own advice? No shit, Sherlock. That's quite a change in perspective — to go from "you have problems if you are offended by this" to "I can't support this bigotry."

Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park, is justifiably pissed off at Hayes' line of shit:

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology," Stone told the Associated Press. "He has no problem--and he's cashed plenty of checks--with our show making fun of Christians."


Past episodes of South Park have skewered Catholics, Jews and Mormons, among others. However, according to Stone, he and Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology.

"He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin," Stone told the Associated Press.

[our emphasis]

Man, Chef's gonna be PISSED!Now look, we honestly would have had little to no problem if Hayes had come out and said "hey, I'm a Scientologist, and I don't want to support something that insults Scientology." Sure, we would have rolled our eyes at his belief in his oh-so-fucking-laughable "religion," but at least he would have been honest. Instead, he chose to go off on some line of utter bullshit about how the show shouldn't insult any religious beliefs — of course, this after doing tons of episodes that insulted or satirized every religion except his. That, folks, is just bullshit fucking hypocrisy. Like Matt says, Hayes had no problem cashing their checks when they were going after other religions, or other groups or individuals.

In fact, we really have to tip our hats to Matt and Trey — they handled the issue of Scientology about as well as they could have, given the circumstances. From a recent interview with GQ:

What took you so long to take on Scientology? Was the network worried about it?

[Trey Parker]: To be honest, what kept us from doing it before was Isaac Hayes [who does the voice of Chef]. We knew he was a Scientologist. And he's an awesome guy. We're like, Let's just avoid that for now. But we're friends with Penn Jillette, and Showtime wouldn't let him do an episode of Bullshit! on Scientology. We're going, That's fucked up. And hearing other people say, "You can't do that,"-you can only say "You can't do that" so many times to Matt and me before we're gonna do it. Finally, we just had to tell Isaac, "Dude, we totally love working with you, and this is nothing personal, it's just we're South Park, and if we don't do this, we're belittling everything else we've ripped on." So we realized we had to do it, and now that we've done it, now it's like we've sort of opened the floodgates. People will be less scared.

Okay, seriously; what is it with Scientology that gets them a fucking free pass? Showtime wouldn't let Penn & Teller do an episode of Bullshit! making fun of those fucks? Gee, what's the word for that...? Oh, yes: bullshit. We have to say that we are incredibly pissed off at Showtime for this, even though it's no doubt at least partly due to the extremely litigious nature of the Scientologists (and partly due to their stranglehold on so many prominent members of Hollywood's elite). Hell, a big corporate entity like Showtime is exactly who should be taking on asshats like the Scientologists. They have the legal staff and the deep pockets to make what would no doubt be a frivolous and ultimately baseless lawsuit go away. And as Trey says, had he and Matt continued to skirt this subject, they would have been guilty of the very sins they call onto the carpet in nearly every episode. It's just too bad that a "civil rights activist" like Hayes is too blinded by his crazy, brainwashing cult to see that.

Since Hayes persists in his assertion that his decision had "nothing to do" with the Scientology episode, let's see what he does say about the show's treatment of his pet insanity. Apparently, he tried to, um, "correct" Matt and Trey's "misconceptions" about his "tax-dodging phony religion." Oops, sorry — that last phrase didn't require irony quotes. Anyway, here's Hayes' take on the Scientology episode:

"Guys, you have it all wrong," Hayes said he told Stone and Parker. "We're not like that. I know that's your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that s--t, you know? But I understand what they're doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses, and understand what we do."

Wait — a Scientologist telling people to take some Scientology courses? No fucking way! What are the odds of that? And the problem, Isaac, isn't that people might believe the picture of Scientology that South Park portrays — the real problem is: that is Scientology, whether you feel like admitting it or not. The sad part is that you believe the insane shit that these asshats have shoveled down your throat.

By the way, we've heard that the Scientology episode of South Park may no longer be shown on Comedy Central (along with the "Bloody Mary" episode, apparently). If you want to see it, don't let the chickenshit networks stop you — mininova and a BitTorrent client will do wonders for you.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  % Media & Censorship  % Religion  ]

Comments (15)

dikkii, 2006.03.17 (Fri) 02:30 [Link] »

You wrote:

They [Showtime] have the legal staff and the deep pockets to make what would no doubt be a frivolous and ultimately baseless lawsuit go away.

I don't think that they're worried so much about lawsuits.

I think that Showtime would be more worried about the prominent 'Tologists (Proctologists?) using their crowdpulling muscle with the studios to take movies away from Showtime.

I don't think that they could care less about lawsuits.

Blondin, 2006.03.17 (Fri) 10:58 [Link] »

I suspect Isaac Hayes was probably buckling to pressure from 'head office' himself.

BigHeathenMike, 2006.03.17 (Fri) 16:21 [Link] »

I completely agree with Blondin. Hayes was most likely responding to pressure from Xenu to leave the show.

The recent article in Rolling Stone on Scientology is quite good - it doesn't shy away from the cultish behavior and weirdness of it all. It's hard to imagine grown adults believing that shit, but then again, the same can be said about any religion.

Another great rant.

Eve, 2006.03.17 (Fri) 18:50 [Link] »

I agree with dikkii on the Showtime issue, and I think their management also wants to make sure that they'll still have access to those big, important, box-office-drawing Scientologist stars for future ventures.

I wonder how many less known actors are also Scientologists? Can Showtime really be that worried that they won't be able to find good actors? Nah - it's the *stars* and star vehicles they want.

Shame, shame, shame on Hayes for whatever the exact reasons he's turning his back on the show! I have no evidence and it's just my personal opinion, but I think a lot of people first join Scientology of their own free will and then become far too afraid to leave; that organization is scary - all the more reason for powerful critical (and funny) voices like Rolling Stone and South Park to take them on.

Jeff, 2006.03.18 (Sat) 03:47 [Link] »

Also, if torrents aren't your thing, you can scroll down to the bottom of Operation Clambake where they have the episode available for download. I'm not sure how long they'll be able to get away with that, but it's been there for quite a while.

Ford, 2006.03.19 (Sun) 10:53 [Link] »

What the hell are they going to do now? Kill off chef?

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.03.19 (Sun) 20:57 [Link] »

Yeah, apparently the Scientologists wield a lot of power and influence in the entertainment industry. It's sad, really, that Showtime can't stand up to them. When we think about all of the hot-button topics that Bullshit! has taken on without fear of reprisal (be it legal or otherwise), it is astounding that Scientology is the one topic that is too taboo.

And like a few people said, we wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Hayes was bowing to the influence of the head office by leaving the show. The same power the Scientologists exercise over outside elements must be even greater when used on their own brainwashed (or too-scared-to-leave) minions. Seeing Hayes' shift in attitude from "don't be offended by the show" to 'I'm offended" certainly lends credence to such a theory.

Will they kill off Chef? Maybe, but they won't have to. They could revoice him. Sure, Hayes had a very distinctive voice, but there are probably lots of people who can do a passable Chef impression. It's also worth noting that Chef has taken on a less pervasive role over the past few years. Whatever they choose to do, we're pretty sure that South Park won't suffer for the loss.

Ford, 2006.03.22 (Wed) 19:19 [Link] »

I imagine there won't be many more fancy chef songs.

Ford, 2006.03.22 (Wed) 22:29 [Link] »

Holy fuck!! They killed him off!! They also had a message regarding the hole fiasco.

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.03.24 (Fri) 16:30 [Link] »

Okay, I admit that I didn't see that coming. It is an interesting way to handle the voice change, if nothing else.

Also, I thought they were nicer to Hayes than they had to be — after all, like Chef, Hayes chose to let the asshats speak for him.

Takaro, 2006.04.03 (Mon) 23:03 [Link] »

The thing about Showtime isn't true. Penn talked about it on his radio show a few weeks ago, and said that he made up the bit about Showtime not letting them do an episode. He says that they actually chose not to do an episode on Scientology because they figure that the vast majority of their audience already knows what a pile of crap it is, so they'd just be preaching to the converted.

The Two Percent Company, 2006.04.06 (Thu) 11:43 [Link] »

Takaro said:

The thing about Showtime isn't true. Penn talked about it on his radio show a few weeks ago, and said that he made up the bit about Showtime not letting them do an episode. He says that they actually chose not to do an episode on Scientology because they figure that the vast majority of their audience already knows what a pile of crap it is, so they'd just be preaching to the converted.

We looked for some kind of confirmation that Penn did say this, and we were unable to find it. So, as yet, this is unconfirmed. If you've got any citations for us, Takaro, please do let us know! But, for the moment, let's accept it as true regardless of citations.

The statement claims that he confessed to making up the fact that Showtime stopped him from doing a show on Scientology, and that the real reason that they didn't do a show on that topic was because Scientology is such a ridiculous concept that most of their audience already knows what a pile of crap it is. Frankly, that doesn't make a lot of sense, given some of the bullshit that they've debunked in the past. Feng shui? Ouija boards? We're willing to bet that there are way more Americans who are actually members of the Church of Scientology than there are Americans who believe in the efficacy of feng shui and Ouija boards combined. So, if the purpose of Bullshit! is to call out only those topics that are not already viewed as crap by most of their audience (an audience that is probably much more skeptical on average than the overall American population), then there was no reason to "bother" doing a fair number of their previous episodes.

In addition, the basic premise of their show (just like the basic premise of our site) is that there is value in exposing the layers of bullshit behind bullshit claims. Sure, many people probably view Scientology as ridiculous crap, but most people probably have no inkling as to all that aliens/thetans/Xenu shit. In our view, that makes Scientology a perfect episode for Bullshit!, in that the well-known crackpot "vitamins solve all medical ills" stance that Tom Cruise has been so recently famous for is just the tip of the insane iceberg.

So, if Penn really did make this comment, then we have to seriously question whether he was telling the truth. And if Penn was telling the truth, then we have to seriously question his rationale (instead of Showtime's) for not skewering Scientology on the show. It just doesn't hang together logically, if you see what we're getting at.

Bottom line: if Showtime didn't stop Penn & Teller from doing this show, then sure, our disappointment with Showtime is clearly misplaced. However, the hypothesis that Showtime did stop it for fear of Hollywood repercussions from Scientologists seems far more plausible than than the story credited to Penn above.

Takaro, 2006.04.06 (Thu) 18:41 [Link] »

I'll let Penn speak for himself then. He discusses it about 30 minutes into this episode of his radio show.

The Two Percent Company, 2006.04.06 (Thu) 21:36 [Link] »

Thanks for the link, Takaro! After listening to the segment in question (which does, in fact, start 30 minutes into the show), our take is still largely the same.

In short, what Penn said was that he doesn't remember what Showtime said about doing Scientology. He said that he might have lied about it, but he wasn't sure, and he wavered on this throughout the segment. He also said that, when Showtime read the interview with Trey and Matt, they apologized and told him that they didn't mean that he couldn't do a Scientology episode. Penn's reply to that was that they forgot what was previously said as well.

All in all, we're left with the impression that Penn had a conversation with the Showtime brass about this in which they conveyed a negative attitude toward doing a Scientology episode, but the details of the conversation are now lost. We still think that our initial assessment holds up pretty well.

In addition, we still think that our take on Penn's flawed logic is accurate as well. He talks in the radio segment about how he doesn't think that Scientology is a "big deal" and he lists a few reasons. The fact that, according to Penn, few people believe Scientology, and that most of those who do are actors, forms the basis of his opinion. In Penn's opinion, actors are stupid anyway, so why bother attacking their beliefs? He also says that more people — by a hefty margin — believe in astrology than in Scientology. We agree with his general assertions, but we don't agree that these issues render debunking Scientology a useless exercise. As we said above, while many people may not think very highly of Scientology in the abstract, we doubt that the general populace is concretely aware of the batshit insane beliefs that sit beneath the mafia-like pyramid scheme and tax dodge on the surface. Also, sure, astrology is far more widely believed than Scientology, but not so with feng shui and Ouija boards, two previous topics covered. And if it's the monetary impact of a particular piece of bullshit that Penn is concerned with, then we're absolutely positive that Scientology bilks a lot more money out of people than Ouija boards do, and we'd be willing to bet that the same goes for feng shui. In fact, Penn says as much when he talks about how Scientology "takes so much money" from people. Further, as most struggling actors in LA can tell you, Scientology can be a significant problem in the entertainment industry, and its impact on the not-so-famous can be both damaging and costly.

Put simply: in our opinion, there is a lot of good that can come from debunking Scientology, and Penn's arguments to the contrary just don't hang together.

Penn does say that he doesn't think that people who are apt to watch his show are the types who would be sucked in by Scientology. Of course we agree, but we'd say the same about a lot of their episodes (though not all of them, to be sure). To see what we mean, take a look at the episode list on Wikipedia. If we're just looking for topics that even skeptical people might be suckered in by, we can count less than half of the previous shows on that list (our own analysis is subjective, but we think you'll come to a similar conclusion if you read the list yourself). In fact, of all the episodes, we can only point to one that gave us significant information debunking a subject that we were previously unaware of, and that was the 12-stepping episode. (In the interests of full disclosure, Two Percenter Jeff already knew about 12-step program bullshit; but he has been operating under the firm belief that "pulling pud" will increase your penis size...for twenty years. He'll swear by it.) Long story short, if the topic decisions were truly made on this basis as Penn claims, there wouldn't be very many episodes at all.

As a note, Penn also says that they may do an hour long episode on Scientology next season (though he also mentions that he promises to do topics all the time and doesn't follow through). Doing an extra-long episode certainly seems somewhat incongruous after his professed lack of interest in the subject, but we'd be happy to see it anyway.

Takaro, 2006.04.06 (Thu) 22:14 [Link] »

What puts me at a disadvantage is that I live in Australia, and over here, Scientology is virtually non-existent. Other topics like Feng Shui and Ouija boards, on the other hand, show up frequently in bookstores, and I do know people who believe in them. I really don't know how different things are in the US.

It does appear to me that Scientology has been getting more publicity in the last year or so. Again, this might be just in Australia, but ever since Tom Cruise started his wacky public antics, it's been in the news a lot more. So maybe there is a better case for doing an episode on Scientology now than there was during previous seasons of Bullshit.

One last thing worth considering: Bullshit has been fairly light on straight religion topics. They've attacked Christianity a couple of times (creationism, biblical accuracy), but if they went after one religion an episode, it would get dull pretty fast. So the question is, if you're going to devote an episode to a religion, are you going to go after a big one that has fooled a lot of people, or one of the relatively tiny ones that seems to be composed of mostly stupid people anyway?

Ultimately, I'd be happy to see a Scientology episode, but I don't think it's necessary, since the South Park episode really said everything worth saying about it already.

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