I've heard so many people ask the question. Why was this show so damn controversial? Well, controversy is relative.
The real question we should be asking ourselves about the cancellation of "The Book of Daniel" is: Why do we allow right wing bullies who are no better than the al-Qaedas in the world to hijack our society? We've got a real problem in this country. So many people get so pissed off about things like this; on both sides of the issue. The difference between those of us who enjoyed the show and craved more and those people who couldn't see past their desire to cover up their own faults and personal misdemeanors is that we are perfectly willing to take it lying on our backs.
It's not fair. When I found out that the show was canceled, I went on a tirade around my house. Stomping, screaming, throwing things around, and having a heated bitch-fest toward a phantom AFA representative. How can one group of bullies have so much power over what I watch on television? How can one group of bullies be in this much control of my life?
We let them.
Nobody ever stands up to the religious right in this country. Not for long anyway. We always seem to lose the argument against them because they have the audacity to play the God card. They preach this sort of religiosity in all deeds that's somehow able to transcend the human experience and is, quite frankly, impossible to reach and a load of horse crap. When it comes right down to it, they are religious fundamentalists who are so afraid of change and growth in society that they're willing to destroy the progress of that society for their own agenda.
Islamic fundamentalism isn't one-of-a-kind. We have our very own al-Qaeda in America and it's called the American Families Association.
Quite frankly (and possibly naively), I think the bigger threat to life in America is our own religious right. Groups like the AFA have too much say about the way that other people live their lives. They have the gumption to go around divining that the Founding Fathers would have wanted it their way when clearly their way was what the Founding Fathers were trying to prevent. Read the Constitution.
There's this little thing in America called the First Amendment, which protects the right of every person in this country to say what they want to say. Forcing NBC to pull this show (or any network to pull any show), whether or not it was good, based on religious and so-called moral objections to the show's content flies directly in the face of the spirit of the law. I'm not a constitutional lawyer so I couldn't say whether or not it's legal but I'm an American and I know that it's wrong and immoral. I also know that anyone who supported the AFA and groups like them in their campaign to eradicate "The Book of Daniel" from the face of television is fascist, wrong, afraid, and a bully.
Television shows should not be canceled because of the religious right's objections to the content of the show; they should be canceled because of low ratings or poor writing or bad actors or some combination of those things. This show was only the victim of low ratings and I for one believe that it's as much the network's fault for putting it in the Friday night at 10pm slot as it is the AFA getting advertisers to pull their support. The fact of the matter is that everything that happened on the show happens in real life every day. And things that are worse! People like to pretend that the corrupt days of the Borgia Pope are gone. And while it's true that there are no longer orgies in the Vatican, (to quote the musical "Brooklyn") "we've got priests raping little boys, third graders going to school with crayons in one hand and an AK-47 in the other." We've got ministers embezzling money from their congregations to buy yachts, pastors covering up for the likes of organized crime, and the entire institution of Christianity turning a blind eye to the real evils of the world.
My own family is peppered with relationships and incidents similar to the likes of those the show presented. And I guarantee you that I'm not the only one. My grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher. He was a man of God. He cheated on my grandmother and there are God only knows how many other families out there that he started. My mother and her sisters were molested by one of their "God-fearing" and "good Christian" brothers. He went to prison for molesting them and other children and my grandmother has since forgiven him for his sins against her daughters and the sons and daughters of others. Half of my cousins, who are all "good Christians" have been drug users and convicts at some point in their lives. It's not unreasonable for me to assume that mine isn't the only family out there like this. The Websters were certainly not.
I so often hear people say that they want to be a "good Christian". I so often hear people of power in this country say that they do something because it's the "Christian" thing to do. Well, I'm sorry but doesn't the Bible have something pretty explicit to say about killing? I seem to remember a commandment along the lines of "Thou shalt not kill." Granted I'm by no means a religious scholar or even by any standards familiar with Christianity but I know that one. Nobody seems to have a problem when we go to war with a country on the other side of the world on false evidence and kill thousands of people in the process. And the people in the US are jaded to murder. It happens every day but no one seems to care. And all of these wars predicated on mistakes and stupidity and killings predicated on greed and jealousy still seem to be acceptable in the eyes of "good Christians". "Good Christians" accept these evils of the world and other evils (bigotry, homophobia, rape... the list goes on and on) as long as they don't directly affront their own values or lives. The same "good Christians" by the way that got the show pulled.
The AFA needs to grow up. They need to start focusing on the real problems in the world and not some television show. There's so much worse going on in the world than someone telling the truth about what an American family looks like. We are not perfect yet the AFA and similar groups only want to watch television that tells lies about life and who people are. They don't like to see the truth because, quite frankly, the truth tends to have a shade of ugliness to it that's not unlike the color of puce people turn when they're throwing up. But it's what we need.
We need people to stop sugar-coating real life and lying to us outright about what the real world looks like. There are no families in the world like the Camdens of "7th Heaven". None. But every family in the world can relate to some part of the Webster family. Jack Kenny did a noble and courageous thing by telling the truth about who we are and the feeble-minded and frightened religious right stifled that truth because it struck a nerve.
Nobody seems to complain about the broader content of entertainment except for the AFA and their compatriots. Sure groups like the NAACP and GLAAD have had their share of problems with the way characters of their respective minorities have been portrayed, but for the most part they don't see anything wrong with someone expressing a point of view. And they certainly don't get entire shows pulled off the air because it offends them.
My advice to the AFA and to anyone out there who had a problem with this show truthfully representing this family that happened to be at the center of their religious community is to shut up and move on. How are we supposed to have a free society when everything about our society is censored by this minority group? And why does this minority group get to control all the rest? Maybe God ordained it.
If you've got a problem with a show, don't watch it. It's why God made the remote.