The Daily Donohue

williamdonohue1.jpg Columbia Spectator

DONOHUE: Look, just hold on here. You had your time. Look, the kid's a phony and here's why. I dealt with him earlier today on an MSNBC show, and I said we could hypothesize that there'd be a Columbia University ping-pong team made of Asians, and somebody goes out there and says "All gooks go home." So I -- I asked him about my gook joke. And guess what? Andy's -- Andy's sense of humor just collapsed. He found that offensive. You see what you are? You're a phony. You're a typical Ivy League little brat who thinks it's OK to dump on Catholics, but you don't like my gook joke. Now, what's wrong with a gook joke?

DONOHUE: Yes, like the gook joke!


DONAHUE: ... "like an altar boy."

DONOHUE: What about the gook jokes? I want to know, why don't you have a sense of humor about gook jokes?

DONAHUE: Columbia University's marching band crossed the line when a half-time joke alluded to the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. And their opponents, a Catholic college, were not laughing.

Joining me now is the Columbia University student who wrote the joke, sophomore Andy Hao, and Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

HAO: When you tell -- when you're telling jokes, people are bound to get hurt. I mean, I'm not going to write my jokes, I'm not going to say what I say to cater to every group to make sure everybody isn't going to get hurt. I mean, humor is like this. You look at late-night TV, you look everywhere, jokes sometimes offend people, but that doesn't mean it isn't funny. I mean, honestly, I think the Catholic League, other organizations, some students at Fordham, some students at Columbia, some students in the general population just don't get the humor. They're taking it too much.


HAO: And you know, even if it hurts people, I mean, if people get offended, there's still a freedom to speak.

DONAHUE: Yes. That's true. Would you draw the line on vulgarities like the "N" word or, you know, using racial slurs?

↓ Story continues below ↓

HAO: Depends on what context. I mean, if it fits the joke, you know, I mean, you might see it at the next game.

WILLIAM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Look, the kid's a phony, and he proved that to me...

DONAHUE: Well, don't start calling names on me right out the box!

DONOHUE: Well, no, no, no, no! I will demonstrate -- I will demonstrate that the kid's a phony.

HAO: All right, let's do it.

DONOHUE: I dealt with that...

HAO: Bring it on.

DONOHUE: Look, just hold on here. You had your time. Look, the kid's a phony and here's why. I dealt with him earlier today on an MSNBC show, and I said we could hypothesize that there'd be a Columbia University ping-pong team made of Asians, and somebody goes out there and says "All gooks go home." So I -- I asked him about my gook joke. And guess what? Andy's -- Andy's sense of humor just collapsed. He found that offensive. You see what you are? You're a phony. You're a typical Ivy League little brat who thinks it's OK to dump on Catholics, but you don't like my gook joke. Now, what's wrong with a gook joke?

HAO: Can I respond?


HAO: All right. Here's the thing. I mean, first of all, it's completely a false analogy.

DONOHUE: No, it isn't! You attacked my religion!


HAO: I would like to speak.

DONAHUE: Bill, Bill, let's behave like Catholics here.


HAO: I mean, the gook joke's completely irrelevant, while the Catholic joke is a satire of an event that's going on. The gook joke's just throwing on racial slurs. I mean...

DONOHUE: Oh, let me tell you something...


DONOHUE: No, let me tell you something. We can go right down the line. You want to talk about Asians? We can do it with Jews. We can do it with African-Americans.

DONAHUE: All right, let's...

DONOHUE: Everybody knows the dirty laundry in every other group. And all I'm saying is this: Civility should rule. You ought to know that. You go to a fancy school. All I'd ask for you is show the same degree of respect for Catholics as would you for Asians. You don't like the gook jokes, I don't like them, either. So just wise up.

HAO: So what I'm asking is, though, I mean, behind your argument, are you stating that if a joke offends somebody, it shouldn't be said?

DONOHUE: No, let me tell you what happened...

HAO: I mean, where do we draw the line?


DONOHUE: Here's the example. Five years ago, at Stanford University...

HAO: Right, and...


HAO: ... and when can you not?

DONOHUE: There was an anti-Catholic incident between Stanford and Notre Dame at a football game -- your alma mater. And what did the president do, the past president, Gerhardt Caspar (ph)? He did the right thing. He apologized. The athletic director apologized. The band apologized. He wouldn't let the band participate in Notre Dame games for the next three years. And in fact, he had the punitive actions against the students.

Now, it seems to me, all we have here is a private apology by Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, nothing public, no sanctions against -- by the way, this is scripted. Katherine Webster is an administrator who approved the anti-Catholic joke. Now, what if they threw in gay priests? Oh, my God! Then all hell would break loose! Do you see?

DONAHUE: Well...

DONOHUE: If it's just...


HAO: I can see the point of doing that, but...

DONOHUE: Well, I hope you'll learn...

HAO: ... behind the argument...


HAO: Behind the argument in your joke, you're saying that if it offends somebody or here -- you call it uncivil. It shouldn't be said. But where do we draw the line? I mean, if it offends somebody, should it not be said?

DONOHUE: Common sense and...

HAO: How many people should it offend?

DONOHUE: ... and common decency should know that you don't generalize from the individual to the collective. We know there's a problem in the Catholic Church. We know there's a problem in a lot of...

HAO: Well, that...

DONOHUE: ... demographic groups and institutions. What is wrong is when you generalize from one group to the other. I used to be a professor. I'd like to teach you, kid. You might learn something.

DONAHUE: You know, I tell you what...

HAO: Nothing good from you.

DONOHUE: Oh, you'd learn a lot. You'd learn about virtue.

HAO: For Catholics.

DONAHUE: You know, you're being very patronizing to the young man.

HAO: That's exactly right.

DONAHUE: And I don't think we're going to -- you know, he doesn't have to do a perp walk here. He's not going to jail for this.

DONOHUE: Nor should he. I never asked for that.

DONAHUE: And you know, I think if you just relax, move on -- we can't expect our culture not to -- there's a thousand jokes that are stemming from the Catholic Church scandal.

DONOHUE: Let me -- let me tell you something, Phil. Phil, I watch you all the time because you're so good. You really are. I want to tell you something. Two nights ago, you had Reverend Jesse Jackson on. He's complaining and gets excised for DVDs.

DONAHUE: True. "Barbershop," the movie.

DONOHUE: "Barbershop." Exactly.


DONOHUE: Now, you -- you raised the issue of censorship.


DONOHUE: But you -- see, because you're sensitive to African-Americans more than you are to Roman Catholics, and that's certainly true of this guy.


DONAHUE: I'll tell him when he comes in.


DONAHUE: We'll be back in just a moment.

ANNOUNCER: Catholic-bashing or freedom of speech? The debate continues in just a few minutes on Donahue.

And tomorrow: From Super Bowl star to homeless transient, the tragic story of the late Mike Webster with some of his closest teammates.


DONAHUE: We're talking to Andy Hao and Bill Donohue about the controversial half-time joke told during a college football game between Columbia University and Fordham University.

I'm going to get this in before this ends here. This was the Liberty Bowl.

HAO: Liberty Cup, yes.

DONAHUE: Liberty Cup. Columbia won the very close game on a last-second field goal, 13 to 11, so it was an exciting game. Your reference to oral sex and the Catholic Church scandal in your -- as the poet laureate, made people crazy. Here's what...

HAO: Made some people laugh too.

DONAHUE: Made -- you make...

DONOHUE: A lot of bigots laughed at it.

DONAHUE: Well...


DONAHUE: Don't embarrass me.


DONAHUE: Lauren Marshall, the president -- Columbia University spokesman -- "The remark made was insensitive and inappropriate" -- Andy Hao -- although I'm saying that, he didn't, "and the university is sorry for the pain it caused. The comment was not made by a university announcer, but by a student member of the band. The university sincerely regrets that the remark offended any religious group or innocent victims of child abuse. Fordham felt the apology was heartfelt and accepted it."

So end of story, except that Bill Donohue wants this young man to know that it was totally inappropriate. You've already called him names.

DONOHUE: Well, first of all, Fordham has not accepted it. The president of the university is not the totality for Fordham University. The alumni are upset about it. A lot of the students are upset about it, and a lot of area Catholics who never went to Fordham are upset about it. My uncle Johnny, who went to Fordham, is upset of it. A lot of people have said...

HAO: A lot of students don't care.


HAO: ... you don't have a sense of humor.

DONOHUE: There's a certain selective interest here when it comes to politically correct speech. I mean, the fact of the matter is, why is it that we wouldn't tolerate these kind of jokes made about gays, or gay priests, even, but it's OK about all priests?

HAO: I mean, this is the regular agenda with what he has about free speech. What I'm trying to get...

DONOHUE: Oh, my agenda...


DONAHUE: Let him make his point, please.

HAO: What I'm trying to get from you is that -- are you saying that if a speech given offends somebody, it should be restricted, it should not be allowed to be said? Yes or no.

DONOHUE: I would say that any college administrator at any college or university in this country who would allow the filthy, lousy joke that you told...

DONAHUE: You know...

DONOHUE: ... about my religion should have been nixed, and she should be out.

DONAHUE: Yes. Todd from Kentucky, I'm glad you called. Are you there?

CALLER: Yes. I want to say that it's taken the Catholic Church sometimes hundreds of years to apologize for its atrocities.

HAO: Right. I mean, the world was flat for a while.


DONAHUE: Come on, don't be...

DONOHUE: You guys are making my point!

DONAHUE: Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!


DONAHUE: The Catholic Church is a human institution.


DONAHUE: Hold on a second.

DONOHUE: But we're supposed to take it! I'm not going to be a punching bag...

DONAHUE: Bill...

DONOHUE: ... for some little bigot...

DONAHUE: Bill...

DONOHUE: ... from Columbia University...

DONAHUE: Bill...

DONOHUE: ... just because the Catholic Church has messed up!

HAO: And I'm not going to...

DONAHUE: In behalf of...


DONAHUE: On behalf of the respected name Donahue, let's see if we can bring some civility -- you don't see me waving my arms and things.

DONOHUE: Because you're not upset about it.

DONAHUE: Well...

DONOHUE: That's why. You think it's humorous!

DONAHUE: Listen, let me just tell you what I think. I think the Catholic Church has been getting away for 2,000 years with the notion that everything it does is divinely inspired. Not true. It's a human institution. It's as subject to error as any other human institution.

DONOHUE: How -- how -- how did we get...

DONAHUE: And also, it shouldn't be so -- treated with such deference and reverence. Let's join the human race.

DONOHUE: Phil! Phil! If you want to get into...

DONAHUE: The Catholic Church will survive Andy Hao!

DONOHUE: Of course they will!

DONAHUE: I'm not sure about its sex scandal, though.

DONOHUE: The theological differences that you may have can be argued in a civil way.

DONAHUE: Well, but...

DONOHUE: But you can't use that to justify bigotry.

DONAHUE: Well, I mean, "justify"...

DONOHUE: This kid's a bigot!

DONAHUE: I don't want to send him to jail.

DONOHUE: And you shouldn't justify bigotry!


HAO: ... put your attention on the sexual harassment and the molestation that's going on? I mean, why attack me? Why not deal with the priests?

DONOHUE: As a matter of fact, I've been dealing for a long time...


DONOHUE: Maybe if you weren't so busy bashing Catholics, you would have seen me on TV complaining about those monster priests who've been abusing kids.

HAO: Well, I've seen your Web site. It's not as good as ours.

DONAHUE: You've already checked his Web site.

HAO: Yes.


DONAHUE: How are you instructed by this, Andrew? Did you have any idea that this kind of -- you know, it is a dormitory joke, and you brought it right out there in front of Mom, Dad. You may have had some grandmothers there.

HAO: I think it's a joke that should be out there. I mean, people have to have a sense of humor. And every joke you bring out, some people aren't going to get it.

DONOHUE: Yes, like the gook joke!


DONAHUE: If you joined us late, you're not -- you don't know what we're talking about, one of the references in -- as he announced to the whole crowd at the football game, who's tuition is going down?

HAO: Fordham.

DONAHUE: "Fordham's tuition is going down"...

HAO: "Like an altar boy."

DONAHUE: ... "like an altar boy."

DONOHUE: What about the gook jokes? I want to know, why don't you have a sense of humor about gook jokes?

HAO: I mean, I -- what I'm saying is...


DONOHUE: Why don't you lighten up a little!

DONAHUE: Just let him make his case. Go ahead, Andy.

HAO: I mean, it could be funny, but what you don't seem to get...

DONOHUE: Could be funny?


DONAHUE: Please! Come on!

HAO: ... about the altar boy is relative and a satire of current events. Where are gooks relevant in current events, except throwing out racial slurs and trying to get some Columbia student mad?

DONAHUE: You -- what is -- what's your major?

HAO: I'm an intended philosophy major.

DONAHUE: You're a philosophy major. You're a sophomore?

HAO: Yes.

DONAHUE: Are you going to teach or what...

HAO: Oh, hopefully go to grad school and teach.

DONAHUE: You don't make any money as a philosopher, do you?

HAO: Oh, we'll see.

DONAHUE: Well, you may be the one to make the change. Andy, I'm impressed. I mean it. You walked into the storm here. You're taking your hits. Nobody's going to accuse you of running away from a fire.

DONOHUE: No, he's unrepentant. That's all!

DONAHUE: Now we're going to...

HAO: Well, you're not going to get a confession out of me!

DONAHUE: ... Chris Matthews, who plays HARDBALL with House minority leader -- House majority leader Dick Armey, and he's on his college tour right now, live from George Mason University. Go get 'em, Chris Matthews!

LOAD-DATE: July 9, 2003


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.