Pope Drops F-Bomb in Weekly Sermon

If you clicked on this post, then you most definitely fell for a trick of the trade. Let me explain … It’s called getting hits. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is using a rather catchy headline that doesn’t always tell the whole story.

When it comes to this topic, I certainly wasn’t alone in trying to grab viewer’s attention. The Independent ran this headline:

“He said what?! Pope Francis lets slip the F-word during Vatican address”

 The Week went this route, suggesting there’s a video to accompany the outrageous topic.

“Watch Pope Francis say the F-word (in Italian)”

Headlines and Global News even mentions the reactions others had in its headline.

“Pope Francis Utters the F-Word in Weekly Sermon, Baffles People”

Turns out the story isn’t as crazy as these headlines make it out to seem. Pope Francis apparently made a pretty common mistake. He mispronounced the Italian word for “case” (caso) with the much more explicit cazzo. In Italian that word literally means male genitalia. It’s used with the same context American’s use when they say the F-word. Clearly, those headlines made you think it was all on purpose.

Check it out for yourself.

The Pope is the last person you would expect to hear a curse word from. As posed as possible, you can see in the video how quickly he corrects his mistake. In all honesty it’s not hard to see why the Pope slipped up. The words are fairly similar, especially for someone who isn’t as familiar with the language.

The video has certainly made its way across social media. Most have forgiven the Pope for being human. Some, though, did point out the ironic nature of the Pope saying the f-word.


Looks like accidents really do happen, even by those who we’d least expect. Also, a case where the media can twist things in just a way that keeps viewers on their feet.

US Media Coverage of the Sochi Games is Simply Embarrassing

PHOTO: Anton Denisov/RIA Novosti

The Western media coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics has been about everything but the Olympics.

From unprepared hotels, to killing stray dogs, to the countrys’ stance on gay rights, Western media has consistently viewed the Winter Games in a negative light, and pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In fact, only nine out of 38 countries have positive views of Russia as the Olympic host (Pew Research Center, 2014). Not to mention that when The Washington Post, and ABC asked Americans if they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of Putin, 58 percent answered unfavorable.

PHOTO: Steve Rosenberg/BBC/AP

It is true that Russia banned promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality last year, which makes it illegal to provide information on homosexuality to the youth.

But why simply ignore Putin’s welcome to homosexuals at the games, where he explained to the media, “We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality.”

Why ignore the statement from the mayor of Sochi, who also welcomed homosexuals, simply stressing that they “respect Russian law” and “don’t impose their habits on others” (BBC News, 2014)?

While Western media is consistently pointing the finger at Putin, journalists fail to realize that the upper and lower houses of Russia’s parliament, passed the ban with votes of 137 to 0 and 436 to 0 respectively.

Maybe the American journalists missed those key points as they were live tweeting about side-by-side toilets.

It can not be ignored that thousands of media personnel and athletes were welcomed to Sochi with limited hotel space, and mediocre conditions.

But the photo of dirty water that Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair tweeted from her hotel room in Sochi is just “cultural misunderstandings borne out of sheltered ignorance,” as Sarah Kaufman wrote.

Kaufman went on to explain that only around half of Russians had access to reasonable drinking water that met reasonable health standards in 2002. And the situation hasn’t changed even 12 years later, with Putin himself admitting last May that he has dirty water running from his sink. (PolicyMic, 2014)

But these facts go unreported in Western coverage of the games.

What happened to American journalists upholding the ethics of journalism, and reporting information objectively? I’ve never met a journalism professor who instructed his students to take their country’s social norms, and force them to fit other countries.

There is a line between criticism and journalism, and many American journalists in Sochi are publicizing which side they walk.

Instead of harassing gay Russians to see how Putin’s ban affects their club life, I would have liked to read about the twelve new sports added to the Winter Games, or German ski jumper Gianina Ernst who is the youngest athlete competing in Sochi, at 15.

Americans’ dislike towards Russia and her President is not what the Winter Games are about.

It’s about athletes from 88 nations —more than any other in the history of the Winter Games— competing for their country with dignity.

It’s about Olympic spirit: the essence that is not just seen on the podium, as medals are handed out, but the spirit that exudes from each athlete present.

PHOTO: Todd Korol/Getty Images

Calling (almost) all Responses to Hebdo (Warning: Explicit Content)

Leave it to the French Charlie Hebdo to stir the pot during this time of worldwide tension. Just one year ago the weekly journal published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed which led to their studio being caught on fire. And if you think they’ve learned their lesson, guess again. It seems that Charlie Hebdo, a liberal, French satirical newspaper,  just can’t help but come back for more.

Charlie Hebdo has, metaphorically speaking, added fury to last year’s fire with an even more offensive cartoons this year. When the U.S. ambassador to Lybia and three other Americans were shot in response to the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims, people near and far were ringing in to voice their opinions about the situation. One such response came from by Charlie Hebdo. It arrived in the form of a series of cartoons, which mocked the Muslim extremists, once again depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a crude and blasphemous manner.

The issue of Charlie Hebdo containing the chariactures of Mohammed was released, conveniently, one week after the angry protests in Lybia of the movie Innocence of Muslims led to the deaths of four Americans.  Charlie Hebdo must have thought the increasingly violent situation was an opportune time to practice their freedom of speech drawing, which is protected in the French constitution.

(Warning: Explicit Content) This YouTube video is a slide show of the various
cartoons issued by Charlie Hebdo along with approximate English translations

If  a reaction was what Charlie Hebdo was seeking by publishing the mockery of Prophet Mohammed, that’s exactly what it got.

Many people called Charlie Hebdo’s actions irresponsible. Why would they publish something that could potentially ignite a violent reaction from those in French. Since France has the highest population of any western European country, the journal seems to be asking for trouble. And with violence already breaking out after the killings in Lybia, why would they do something that could potentially provoke more violence?

The French government was actually so fearful of violence that they shut down 20 French Embassies during the Islamic day of prayer as a preventative measure and had the Charlie Hebdo property  guarded by police.

One American had his own opinion about why the police stepped in. “THE MOVE on the part of French officials to pre-emptively outlaw demonstrations against such racist caricatures shows that the key issues here have nothing to do with free speech or a defense of enlightenment values against reactionary extremism–and everything to do with the increasing prevalence of racism and Islamophobia, in France as well as in Europe more generally.”

-American Jonah Birch of Socialistworker.org

Still yet, other French citizens sang the praises of Charlie Hebdo for fearlessly practicing the right to of freedom of expression.

Some cartoon artists even responded with their own drawing to counter those of Charlie Hebdo.


This cartoon, which I found from a link in a tweet about Hebdo, says on top, “After the Charlie Hebdo fuss, the salafis are boiling.” The quote bubble reads, ” We also want to feel!”

A cartoon that criticizes that “Freedom of Speech” is being used in France as a cover up for Islamophobia.

This cartoon, also a response to Hebdo’s depictions of Mohammed shows religious leaders of Judaism, Christianity and Islam saying, “We must veil Hebdo!”















Regardless of the numerous opinions presented on the subject, I noticed that I was actually unable to find the response of the group that I was looking for: French, Muslims. And then I got to thinking, isn’t it ironic that the free speech debate sparked by Charlie Hebdo is summoning the opinions of multiple French perspectives in the media, but excluding those in the potentially offended party? In fact, the only media reporting that I could find that interviewed muslims in France about their reactions to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons was done by a non-French news source and thus the language was incomprehensible to me.

I personally felt very irritated about the lack of Muslim voice in French reports over the Charlie Hebdo conflict. From an outsider’s perspective it just seems so blatantly obvious to me that the group of people whose opinion we should be seeking is the group that is being insulted. Is it that Muslims in France are denied a voice, or are they choosing not to respond?

While I was unable to dig up any responses from the muslim community in France, there was a global response by Muslims that perhaps reflects the attitude of some of the Muslim population in France. On twitter a hash tag was started,  #MuslimRage, as a platform for Muslims to speak out about what actually makes them mad, in a humorous manner. This non-violent reaction by Muslims is the way in which mainstream Islam is peacefully standing up, both against Islamophobia and religious extremism.

I will leave you now, with some of those tweets:


  • “I’m having such a good hair day. No one even knows.#MuslimRage” — Hend (retweeted 2900 times).
  • Lost your kid Jihad at the airport. Can’t yell for him.#MuslimRage — Leila (retweeted 1000 times).
  • “When you realize that if you have a 5 o’clock shadow it can be deemed a security threat.” — Taufiq Rahim.
  • #muslimrage when you order halal chicken and find out the chef cooked it in alcohol!” — Hassan Sultan.
  • “You go to a football watch party and all these is to eat is pepperoni pizza and beer battered chicken wings#MuslimRage” — Waliya.
  • “i dont feel any rage….does that mean i am not muslim?#someonegetmeadrink #MuslimRage ” — Ramah Kudaimi.


Relevant Links:

Muslim Rage Explodes on Twitter: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/17/161315765/muslim-rage-explodes-on-twitter-but-in-a-funny-way-yes-really

The Charlie Hebdo Affair: :Laughing at Blasphemy: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/09/the-charlie-hebdo-affair-laughing-at-blasphemy.html

U.S. Ambassador Killed: http://rt.com/news/us-ambassador-libya-killed-946/



Naked Rugby Grows in Europe

Like many other countries, Germany enjoys indulging itself in the excitement and action of sports.  Everyone knows Europe is famous for its wild affection for soccer.  How could you possibly beat the fun of a such a classic recreational activity?  Just like with America’s obsession with football though, some people are getting bored with the normal and turning to something, let’s say, a bit more untraditional.

In the last couple of years, sports that take certain aspects down a twisted and beaten path, have gained a cult following.  Since about the 1980’s, people all over the globe have been searching for something strange and different to grab and keep their attention.  Most of these abnormal sports stem from somewhere in America and slowly gain popularity across the ocean after their foundation.

Sports like Sheep Rodeo, “Octopush,” Naked Rugby, Segway Polo, and Cardboard Tube Fighting have all made their way around Western Europe in the past two decades.  Sheep rodeo is a sport for young “mutton busters” (generally ages 2-6 or so) in which kids get on top of sheep and try to hold on as long as possible until they absolutely can’t anymore.  It’s a sport strictly for children (riders must be under 60 pounds) and it has caused a bit of a stir within socially liberal circles, claiming that it is bad for both the rider and animal.  However, the spectacle of it all continues to draw attention.

Octopush is a game founded in 1945 by Alan Blake for his Southsea diving club to stay entertained during the winter.  It is a team sport in which eight members use a small stick to get a puck into a goal.  In so many ways, it is nearly exactly like underwater hockey.  It is most often played in Britain and areas in northern Europe.  The rule-book is long and extensive, leaving no ends left untied.

Naked Rugby, by nature of being so… naked, is a sport originating, not in the United States, but instead in New Zealand. It has become such a widely watched and played sport that there are even World Master Games between, for example,  The UK and Spain.

The first game of Segway polo was played in 2004 on July 11th during halftime of a Minnesota Vikings game.  It founded the Bay Area segway polo club, which continued to grow in strength across America and into Europe.  The sport was deemed official and rules were created.  Once the sport had gained enough teams, the WOZ bowl was founded, named after Steve Wozniak, an avid segway polo player and Apple founder.  Outside of the USA, teams exist in New Zealand, Germany, Barbados, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Reminiscent of the Gladiator ages, Cardboard Tube Fighting is another strange sport that has caught on among young children, primarily boys, reminiscing about the history of weapons in one of the most untraditional ways possible. Many children have picked up a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll some time in their life and bonked a friend or sibling on the head.  Some people have taken this to the next level, creating a Cardboard Tube Fighting League.  The league sets distinct rules and offers set competitions for all people interested.  Having started in Washington, USA, the sport has spread out across the states and has started to catch interest of children and adults abroad in Europe and Japan.

The future of strange sports is open to the imagination!  What could catch on next?

Assi TV – Germany’s Jersey Shore

Bad Girls Club?  No way.  It's "Böse Mädchen" for Germany.Rethink your classy connotations of society, its time to bring on EuroTrash. Welcome to RTL, Germany’s quasi-copy-cat-less-relevant version of VH1 minus all the “Behind the Music” substance.  We’re looking at straight daytime television here, folks and all predictions point to trash.

RTL is infamous throughout Germany, France, Luxembourg, England and most Western European countries for it’ mixture of talkshows, reality TV, but most importantly, what the Germans fondly term, “Assi Fernsehen.”  Don’t know what Assi means?  Let’s get you the basics.

Assi is a combination of what Germans coined “Asozial,” directly translating to Anti-Social.  However, Germans (notorious for their love of word play and dubious double meanings) play up the spelling of this abbreviation, toying with the word “ass.”  Which literally translates… to ass.  And the vulgarity only goes deeper.

So, let me spell this one out for you just one more time to be certain you get it.

Get it?  Good.

Okay?  Okay.  Moving forward…

Now, there are many subcategories of Assi TV.  Just like on that American boob tube, you’ll find your overly dramatic, life changing talk-show,  your typical video-cameras-in-the-faces-of-dysfunctional-families-who-need-counseling documentaries, and the famous German-termed “Doku-Soap” (the bottom of the abyss where documentation and soap operas swirl ominously).

So,  Let’s discuss.

Overly Dramatic, Life Changing Talkshow

In this category, any daytime television watching German will immediately tell you, you need to watch BrittBritt is a talkshow so kindly self-termed a “comedy show” by its makers at SAT.1.  However, after watching a few episodes, your average American viewer will start to notice some running similarities that sets a little bell ringing in the back of your head.  That bell… is called the Jerry Springer bell.  With show titles spanning the range from “Du Bitch” to “DNA Test- Passen wir wirklich zusammen?” Britt is very Springer, indeed.  More of a Maury fan in the first place? No problem.  See for yourself.

Video-Cameras-in-the-Faces-of-Dysfunctional-Families-who-Need-Counseling Documentaries

This is a category also hideously well-known to the average American television connoisseur.  We’re running much more along the lines of Jersey Shore here.  The top Assi show in Germany that falls under this sub-category is without a doubt Familien im BrennpunktFamilien im Brennpunkt shows every day during the week at 4PM in Germany on RTL (Germany’s pseudo-VH1) and supposedly  “begleitet im Stil einer Doku Konflikte unter deutschen Daechern, die Anwaelte und Gerichte beschaeftigen: Scheidungsdramen, Sorgerechtsstreitigkeiten,Probleme rund um die Anerkennung der Vaterschaft oder Probleme mit Aemtern und Behoerden.”  Whew.  Let’s break it down now y’all.  Basically, what RTL is trying to say, is this show covers (with STYLE!) complaints that generally require lawyers and pertain to common law.  You know.  Things like mega-divorce, Fist fights, Problems with and questions about paternity,  general wanting to stick it to the man, 13 year olds with babies and children who won’t poop on the toilet.  Each show revolves around a different set of dysfunctional people doing hideously dysfunctional things. Typical Trash TV gold.


Finally, the best for last–The “Doku-Soap.”  Be it following people with a “love” (ahem) for animals or a 50 year old woman with an Ultra-Crush on the boyband, Tokio Hotel, the DokuSoap Mitten im Leben has it all.  Mitten im Leben has been termed the purest of the pure when it comes to Assi Television in Germany.   Each episode is an hour of premium filth, the clearest of embarassment to humanity.  Descriptions do not do it justice.

Albeit the extreme lack of English language throughout the clips provided, it remains extraordinarily evident, trash TV is a banal human desire.  We need it.  Its global, universal and in a way connects us all.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Barbeque… On The Radio?


Mmmmmmmm.... Burger. Photo © 2010 Patrick T. Fallon

In Paris, the sounds of summer fill the air, the sizzle of chicken and vegetables on the barbeque.

Yet, there is not a BBQ in sight, just a radio tuned to television and radio personality Laurent Mariotte’s program on France Info.

With chef Alain Ducasse, a three star Michelin Guide chef, Mariotte has “orchestrated the barbecue on the airwaves” – installing a grill for the program outside of the radio studio among the buildings and parking lots of the city.

Teasing the listener’s taste buds, the program draws its audience into a friendly and appetizing atmosphere.
It discusses the flavors and tastes inspired by the grilled marinated chicken and seasonal veggies, inspires one to bring friends over and grill at home tonight.

Hearing the sounds and talk of the flavors and tastes is a twist on the traditional Television cooking program, where you can see the food. Just hearing the cooking allows you to think about and imagine how it looks and tastes – putting your mind to work to think of a meal to create on your own.

In France, like most of Europe, meals are not the quick grab and scarf event that Americans have created. They are an extended social event, discussing food, culture and life. This program emphasizes that aspect of food – even if you can’t actually eat any of it yourself – why not relax a little bit and enjoy the experience of cooking and eating?

En français with Paris March. Listen to Laurent Mariotte avec Alain Ducasse on France Info.

The Following Is Not a Test.

You know how it goes. You’re watching your favorite program and bam it happens: a commercial that seems harmless comes on. Then you find yourself singing the product jingle in the shower, on the bus, or at work. It’s there to stay!  In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken extensive measures to prevent this problem for French viewers:

As of Jan. 5, after 8:00 p.m. there are now no commercials on public television in France and commercials will be phased out entirely by the year 2011.


According to www.guardian.co.uk, Sarkozy introduced the ban idea to public stations, Television France 2 and France 3, in 2008 in an attempt to improve the quality of public television and compete with the BBC model. According to online.wsj.com, the loss in advertisements would be made up in a balancing scale, rearranging taxes for others:

The government has pledged to make up the resulting budget shortfall — which it estimates at €450 million in 2009 — with a new tax on Internet-service providers and mobile-phone operators, plus a levy on the ad revenues of private TV channels

However, some critics think Sarkozy is less concerned about upping quality of France’s public television and more about upping the money in the pocket of his friend Martin Bouygues owner of private channel, Television France 1:

…the only sector to benefit from the advertising ban would be private stations like France’s most watched TV channel TF1, which would face less competition for advertising revenue.

Not only will Sarkozy be controlling the advertisements on France television, he will also be controlling the content. After approval from The National Assembly, the head of France Television will no longer be selected by an independent party, but will instead be the choice of Sarkozy.

Responses from the media included strikes,  the possibility of television as political propaganda, and a book analyzing the mass effects of Sarkozy’s move with French television.

Sarkozy had this to say of his reasoning in a February of last year:

If we keep commercials we are subjecting ourselves to the tyranny of audience ratings. And this always means the worst programming dumbed down to lowest levels.


Almost two years later as Sarkozy’s plan starts to come into action in French programming, with no effective rebuttals, one has to look at the validity of his efforts. How far is too far? Should his son make it into office, would he agree with the policies? Does Sarkozy’s plan take away the people’s voice?

Would this work in America?

Print no evil in Germany

DomskyIslamA certain degree of censorship is generally accepted in Germany. But when a media outlet takes it to a whole new level by self-censoring, the outrage becomes personal.

A Düsseldorf publisher backed out of printing a murder mystery because of fears that the subject matter of the book – an honor killing – would put its employees at risk of an Islamic retaliation, according to news magazine Der Speigel.

The Droste Verlag was supposed to release Wem Ehre Gebührt, or “To Whom Honor is Due” on the shelves this September. However, shortly before it went to print, the publisher removed it from its list because author Gabriele Brinkmann – who writes under the pseudonym W.W. Domsky – refused to tone down certain phrases.

Speigel reported that Brinkmann refused to change a line of dialogue from “You can shove your Koran up…” to “You can shove your honor up…” She reportedly told Bild am Sonntag that she was outraged by the decision, saying that it’s “a scandal for a publisher to tuck its tail between its legs” and that it was an act of “anticipatory obedience”.

The story has attracted media attention, with German papers, pundits and bloggers accusing the publisher of self-censorship and bowing to intimidation from extremists, Deutche Welle reported.

Company executive Felix Droste reportedly had asked an expert on Islamic society to review the manuscript for things that might cause extremists to want to harm his family or his business. The expert had suggested changing that line.

“After the Mohammed caricatures, one knows that one cannot publish words or drawings that defame Islam without incurring a security risk” to his staff or family, Droste told Spiegel.

A spokeswoman for Dusseldorf-based Droste said that the company has a tradition of publishing controversial books, but would not publish those that insulted religions – whether Islam, Christianity or others.

A Israeli-German news site said that willingness to self-censor in this context could work two ways: That it might “please” the feelings of Muslims, but it will once again prove that Westerners are “whimps” who aren’t willing to defend their own ideals.

“Und die Islamisten können sich darin bestätigt fühlen, dass es sich bei diesen Westlern ja doch ganz überwiegend um Weicheier handelt, die nicht einmal ihre eigenen Ideale zu verteidigen bereit sind.”

An American pundit called the publisher’s actions “cowardly” and its reasoning a “lame excuse”.


While Germany, like America, has constitution that guarantees freedom of speech (it also has a very established freedom of the press), it does have some harsh censorship laws, some of which seem entrenched in the history of the country.

Wikipedia writes: Membership in a Nazi party, incitement of hatred against a segment of the population, or Volksverhetzung, and Holocaust denial are illegal in Germany. Publishing, television, public correspondence (including lectures), and music are censored accordingly, with harsh legal consequences, including jail time.

The country also takes measures to protect its youth from violence or ideology that the government thinks might be harmful. The BPjM, or Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, censored popular American game Command and Conquer Generals and Zero Hero, citing that it idea of war in the game was too real. Its creators got around the censors eventually by changing human characters in the game to look like cyborgs.

In this case, author Brinkmann is not budging. A forum user on thelocal.de wrote: “I could almost understand if the book was printed and then removed due to controversy, but to not even release the book for fear is simply cowardice.”

Was the German publisher being too paranoid? Do you think this book would have been published in the US? Is it fair to ask authors and producers to alter their works to met censorship guidelines?

Facebook Follies


By Asia Jones

The impact of popular social networking sites in the media shows up in France also.

In this article, a man pursued a female from the Facebook Web site and lured her with false pretenses, as a professional photographer, to molest her at his “studio.” Though the offenses are different, this is similar to the 2007 Myspace charade that lead to the death of a young female in Missouri.

This story, like others, brings to the forefront how permeated in popular culture Facebook has become. Not only is it embraced by a wide range of age groups, but it is also a new target for the media outlets. These outlets go on to point out the need for privacy and the use of social networking sites such as Facebook. Media also uses the popularity of Facebook to address political issues, including the incident with newly appointed head of Britain’s Spy Agency, Sir John Sawers covered by France 24 when his wife uploaded personal family information about who the family vacations with and their relatives.

A common question raised by the media after such incidents is how safe is the Internet. However, maybe another question should be how safe is the internet from the media? Irnoically enough, they cover the above stories by focusing on the need for privacy and its importance but use the lapse of said privacy to make prime time news coverage.

Food For Thought: Even the wording is used to get a certain response out of the audience. In the young girl’s case, the word “victim” may be a tool used to take away the personal responsibility of the person. The responses to Sawer’s incident that the media outlet chose to use in the story also served a purpose in how the media thought the general population should respond to the incident.

Maybe we should give equal consideration to what information is given and who is giving it to us.