You knew something like this was coming. Mike Pence was asked Wednesday for his reaction to Joy Behar suggesting his Christian faith was a sign of “mental illness.” Pence replied, “It’s just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance. We’re better than that.” Today, the View addressed the controversy in an awkward segment in which the only person who apologized was Meghan McCain.
The segment opened with Whoopi Goldberg playing clips of Pence’s comments followed by a clip of Joy Behar’s comments about Pence. Goldberg then turned to Behar and asked, “Do you think Christians are mentally ill?”
“Well, I mean, that would make me mentally ill since I’m a Christian myself,” Behar replied. She continued, “That would make my mother mentally ill, my father, my aunts, my daughter, this girl here, you, you, I mean, of course not. I don’t mean to offend people but apparently, I keep doing it.”
Behar added, “It was a joke. Comedians are in danger these days.”
Goldberg then defended the View saying it was a show that had good relationships with people of different faiths. “Now, to call us intolerant or to call out ABC, let’s get rid of that because ABC we know is tolerant of everyone,” she said.
“I’m a Christian. I give money to the church, you know I actually help Christians with my pocketbook,” Behar interjected.
At this point Meghan McCain thanked Behar for acknowledging that people were upset. “I’ve had a very hard time over the last two days with this,” McCain said. “My in-laws are evangelical. My entire family are devoutly Christian,” she added.
“As a Republican, I feel like sometimes liberals say ‘We need to be tolerant of everyone, we need to be tolerant of everyone’ except pro-lifers, except Trump supporters, except gun-owners, except for everyone in the red in the middle of the country.”
Goldberg then cut McCain off. “I’m going to stop you because that’s not, that’s not actually true and I don’t want to…I’m stopping you for a reason because we don’t want to talk about liberals and what they’re doing just cause I’m trying to get out of this—this is what they’ve asked me to do,” she said, looking down at her notes for the segment. Apparently, Goldberg was asked to handle this by ABC and having a real discussion about it was not part of the plan. “So if you could do it, sort of quickly,” Goldberg implored.
“Yes, I would like to move forward. I think we would all like to collectively move forward. I am a great admirer of Mike Pence and his family. I would like to apologize to him and his family in particular,” McCain said.
I’m actually quite sympathetic to the idea that “comedians are in danger these days.” The problem isn’t that Behar made a joke at the expense of the Vice President, that’s allowed in America. The problem is that her joke seemed to implicitly bash a whole group of people. That’s allowed too, but if the extent of your joke is the claim that Christians are cray-cray you should probably expect some people to be put off by this.
The other problem, which Meghan McCain tried to bring up, is the inherent hypocrisy. ABC would never tolerate this kind of broad brush against any other religious group. Again, no one is saying Behar’s comments should be off limits. She can say what she wants but if she tried this with other faith groups I doubt ABC would let it pass with one awkward non-apology. I also doubt the good liberals on The View would go easy on someone who made a joke like this about any other faith.