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A Jewish comedian on why religious beliefs shouldn’t be fair game for derision

Comedian Ashley Blaker is an Orthodox Jew. Despite our politically correct modern society, he’s accustomed to strangers judging him by his appearance, making assumptions about his views on Israel and the size of his family. Blaker offers his humble opinion on why religious beliefs shouldn't be fair game for derision.

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  • John Yang:

    Some call it political correctness. Others just call it decency.

    Either way, debates about how and what we can say have loomed large recently in the national conversation. But not everyone feels they are being treated with the same consideration.

    Tonight, comedian Ashley Blaker shares his Humble Opinion on why there seems to be at least one least one category that is still treated with derision.

  • Ashley Blaker:

    So, let me just get it out the way: I am Jewish. In truth, you probably realize that, because I look more like an Orthodox Jew than I do a stand-up comedian.

    In fact, most people don't believe I'm a comedian, and just assume I'm a rabbi, not least my audiences. But it's amazing how quick people are to judge a book or, in my case, a copy of the Old Testament by its cover.

    So, as a result of wearing my religion so openly, everyone I meet thinks I must be an advocate for the state of Israel, and they either berate me with shouts of "Free Palestine" or tell me that the land of Israel was given to Abraham by Elohim, and you don't give away one inch of that land.

    I say to both types that I'm incredibly flattered that they think I'm that influential, but it's really not up to me either way.

    Even worse is the assumption that anyone who looks like me is basically stuck in the 19th century, lives by a litany of bizarre practices, and has loads of children.

    OK, so I do have six children, and it's true that many in my community have a lot more than that. In fact, my wife was recently at a wedding, and a woman asked how many children we have. When she replied six, this woman said, ah, did you have fertility issues?

    In this world, we are proper underachievers. But just because I'm allowed to make jokes about my life, should everyone else?

    Let me answer in a word. No. We'd rather you didn't.

    It seems to me that, in our super politically correct age, the religious are the last group of people that it's fair game to mock, that anyone religious is a crazy fantasist who believes in made-up fairy stories to give them comfort or, even worse, uses these fantasies as an excuse to perform the most terrible atrocities.

    But why are the religious fair game? Is following your faith so much worse than having a fanatical interest in your favorite sports team? At least if you want to go to church, you don't need to spend loads of money buying a ticket from a scalper. And God is never going to let you down by heading off to the L.A. Lakers for an extra $10 million a year.

    We live in troubling times. There is so much that's worrying in the world. What's wrong with having a bit of faith in something bigger, that someone has a plan and that it's going to work out OK in the end?

    The nonbelievers will say that it is religion that has caused many of the world's biggest problems. But I say, don't judge religion by the religious. Sometimes, we all just need something to believe in.

    If it's not for you, that's OK, but please afford us the same respect we give to other minorities.

    God bless, or just bless.

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