Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 19:28:53 -0400
Subject: AANEWS for Wednesday, August 21, 2002
To: getgod 

A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S #1050 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 8/21/02

A Service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS "Leading The Way For Atheist Civil Rights And The Separation Of Church And State"

In This Issue... * Catholic League at it again -- censorship, Big Bro over Shock Duo * Michael Newdow tomorrow night, Silicon Valley Atheists event * NYC Atheists picnic this Sunday * Resources * About this list...


Some insist that they are tasteless, offensive, vulgar and profane.

They are described as "Bad Boys" of radio, and "Unholy Jerk Jocks" of the microphone.

And the Catholic League for Civil Rights is demanding that they be sentenced to radio limbo following a contest advocating sex in public places led to the arrest of a couple for "getting it on" in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

"They" are the popular duo of Opie and Anthony -- their real names are Anthony Cumia and Gregg Hughes -- carried on WNEW, New York, the flagship station of the nationwide Infinity Broadcasting empire. The pair is known for pushing limits, pulling stunts and succeeding to the throne once held by previous "shocks jocks" like Howard Stern and Don Imus. The self-described "two average Joes" were performing their antics live weekday afternoons, at least prior to Monday when the program was yanked by Infinity management, then replaced by rebroadcasted episodes.

Meanwhile, a couple from Virginia has been arrested by New York's finest for allegedly having sexual intercourse in St. Pats just a few feet away from unsuspecting worshippers, a form of "public lewdness." They were back in court yesterday with their attorney, Miranda Fritz, who told the judge that it was all a joke and that her clients were only simulating sex. Paul Mercurio, a producer for the "Opie and Anthony Show" who called in to the program on his cell phone was also charged by police with acting in concert.

It was all too much, though, for William Donohue, head of the Catholic League.

"Nothing would make us happier than for WNEW's license to be revoked," he told reporters earlier this week.

Donohue added that the League was mobilizing its 350,000 members to demand that the FCC impose fine and take other action to punish the station and the nefarious "Opie and Anthony."

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps quickly complied, saying that he had received "hundreds of outraged phone calls and e-mails," and adding that the complaints were "on the fast track" for FCC punitive action.

The allegations, said Copps, if true would require "this commission (to) consider the strongest enforcement action possible against this station, up to and including revocation."

Civil Liberties, Questionable Taste And Religious Correctness

Both critics and defenders of the program say that Opie and Anthony are indeed often outrageous.

Three years ago, they were fired from a Boston radio station after announcing on April Fool's Day that the Mayor had been killed in an auto crash. Last year's ads for their popular program were pulled from buses in Westchester County, NY after officials said that their "WOW" logo was a secret code encouraging women to go topless. Their web site shamelessly carries promotions such as an "embarrassing moments" contest showing drunk people falling down, flubbed "Best Man Speeches" and "Anything else that made the wedding a living hell."

The romping couple in St. Patrick's Cathedral were trying to win a contest called "Sex For Sam."

Infinity Broadcasting, meanwhile, was fined $21,000 bythe FCC after three "indecent" bits were mentioned on Opie and Anthony in November, 2000 and January 2001.

The "shock jock" format is nothing new, however. Radio commentator Corey Deitz notes that Program Directors and General Managers often encourage outrageous stunts and pranks in hopes of driving their stations to higher ratings, and attracting more ad revenue. WNEW, for instance, aired tamer fare for nearly three decades, from the Beetles and Rolling Stones to Bruce Springsteen. The audience share, that all important barometer of listenership, declined steadily until station management brought in teams of talk personalities. "The most controversial were Opie and Anthony," observed Chauncee Hayden in a piece profiling the duo in Penthouse Magazine.

The two were often compared to Howard Stern "without the trappings of success -- the limousine driver, the million-dollar penthouse apartment, the bodyguards, or the movie, book and television deals," said Hayden. They attracted a huge audience thogh, using the tried-and-true format with "loads of sex talk, strippers, porn stars, lesbians having sex, not to mention spontaneous rifts with celebs and management that have sparked controversy," and generated hot wire copy and headlines.

William Donohue and the Catholic League may be helping, albeit unwittingly.

"This isn't about standards of 'good taste' or 'obscenity,' " observed Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists. Her group has monitored the Catholic League for several years, and Johnson escribes an "unhealthy and chronic preoccupation by the League to call for censorship and other government retribution" anytime its sensibilities are offended.

"They are as bad as Islamic fundamentalists when it comes to 'taking offense' and demanding Big Brother shield their religion from criticism, satire and even a bad joke," said Johnson.

There is more to the Catholic League complaint, though, than simulated sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral -- a venue for the celebration of ritual cannibalism in the form of the Mass.

"We (the League) have transcribed a copy of the tape (from the show) and what we found mirrors almost exactly the kind of hate-filled response directed at the Catholic League on our web site's feedback section," grumbled Donohue in a statement Monday to media. "In both instances, slanderous and obscene comments were made about Catholic priests. The dialogue on the 'Opie and Anthony' show demonstrates that the sex stunt was deliberately designed to offend Catholics."

Donohue also denounced the station for "incredible arrogance and (a) pattern of irresponsibility," and even suggested that the stunt "meets the requirement of a hate crime."

Opie and Anthony are reportedly mostly mum about the whole incident, although according to one AP report, they "chuckled about the arrests." WNEW management has "apologized," all the while perhaps waiting to bring back the profane pair with their penchant for bar humor, bathroom sounds and lesbian fantasies. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese told reporters that the matter should be left to the FCC, adding, "I'm doing whatever I can not give these two individuals any more free publicity."

For further information: (Theater company stands up to Catholic League...," 5/30/98) ("City, religious groups locked in battle with museum over 'blasphemous' art," 9/30/99) ("It's sleazy, it's of questionable value -- and you have a right to see it," 5/27/98) (Taking the First: Free Speech and its Discontents," opinion piece by Conrad Goeringer) ("Their Name Was Legion." Before the Catholic League and the Christian Coalition, civil liberties were under assault from the powerful Legion of Decency.) (Censorship and Islamic religious correctness -- the Rushdie incident.)



Michael Newdow, the courageous Atheist whose suit aroused national interest last June when the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, will be the guest tomorrow evening -- Thursday, August 22 -- at a special event hosted by Atheists of Silicon Valley.

This gathering, dubbed "The Conversation Mother Warned You About!" will be held at the Le Petit Trianon Theater at 72 N. 5th Street in San Jose, California beginning at 7:30 PM

For further information, visit the ASV web site at

WHAT: "The Conversation Mother Warned You About!"

WHO: Dr. Michael Newdow

WHEN: Thursday, August 22, 7:30 PM

WHERE: The Le Petit Trianon Theater in San Jose, California




Get together with friends at the New York City Atheists picnic in Central Park this Sunday, August 25, 2002 beginning at 11 AM. The venue is Central Park, near West 72nd. St.

Bring snacks/food for yourself plus at least one more person. Make sure that nothing requires cooking, since the park forbids grilling. There are several delis near the 72nd St. intersection where you can pick up something. NYC Atheists will supply sodas, ice and paper/plasticware. For more info, contact Josh Karpf at 212-330-6794 or, or visit

WHAT: Sunday Picnic sponsored by New York City Atheists

WHEN: This Sunday, August 25 beginning at 11 AM

WHAT TO BRING: Yourself, a dish for one other person

WHERE: Central Park near West 72nd St.

MORE INFO: Call Josh at 212-330-6794 or visit, or send e-mail to



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