This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", February 24, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Veteran CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney is under tremendous fire for what he said about Mel Gibson and his new movie, "The Passion of Christ," which opens tomorrow, in his Sunday night commentary.
And Rooney said God was speaking through him and called Gibson a nutcase and a wacko. So what is it about the new movie that has some people outraged?
And by the way, I wonder if he ever saw the film?
Joining us now, radio talk show host Janet Parshall, and she, of course, the host of the syndicated "Janet Parshall's America." And Rabbi Marvin Hier is with us, the founder of the Simon Weisenthal Center.
Thank you both for being with us.
Janet, I've got to tell you. This is nothing short, in my estimation of mocking of someone's religion. And I felt religious bigotry against both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson.
Am I misinterpreting this?
JANET PARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, not at all. In fact, bigotry is the operative word.
It's also a high school debate class 101. If you don't have anything important to say about the ideas, you do argument ad hominum.
I mean, for Andy Rooney to call someone a wacko and a nutcase tells me that he really didn't have anything substantive to say so he went after Mel Gibson.
But I have a funny feeling that Mel Gibson is probably ruminating on some of the verses that he did include in the film. And that is you learn to understand that if you're going to follow Jesus Christ, we were given a written guarantee that we would be persecuted if we publicly aligned ourselves with him.
Mel understands that. Those of us who know and love Jesus understand that.
Rabbi, when I hear he was basically mocking the idea or the notion that Christians believe that God is in your heart or you spirit and can work through you or whatever, she's really mocking Christianity, I felt.
Did you see that?
MARVIN HIER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: Well, first let me say that -- that is not my issue with the film, as you very well know.
HANNITY: Well, I'm not asking you about that. I'm asking about -- I'm asking about when you hear somebody mock someone else's religion like that, whether or not you agree with Mel Gibson and the movie or whatever, isn't that wrong for Andy Rooney to mock people's deeply held religious views?
HIER: Well, I would be opposed in general to anyone mocking somebody else's religion.
And my -- I would tell you however, very straight, that if somebody asked me does -- as a Jew, does God -- do I believe that God calls me up one day and talks to me directly, I would say absolutely not. I would not believe that for one moment, as a Jew. But that's my point of view.
HANNITY: Would you make fun of somebody who did?
HIER: No, I wouldn't make fun of another person. But I do not believe God talks to people in that direct way. I believe that God acts in history, but not directly calling somebody up in the morning and saying this is what you're going to do this afternoon.
COLMES: Rabbi -- welcome Janet, welcome. It's Alan in New York.
Janet, I don't believe that what Andy did was mocking someone's religion. You and I perhaps see it a little differently. I think he was doing satire.
And I think maybe he used words like wacko that you found offensive. But I honestly don't think that he was meaning to mock Christianity or mock one's personal belief in God. I don't see it that way.
I think what Andy Rooney did, like him or not, was satire and humor, the same thing he does every week on that show.
PARSHALL: Well, satire stops being satire when you vivisect someone with a pointed tongue. You know, this is not CBS' finest hour.
I'd like to point out that CBS is also the network that gave us Janet Jackson exposure at the Super Bowl. And now when you have Andy Rooney, who really doesn't say anything substantive.
And by the way, I'll tell you, it's -- it's more than just argument ad hominum. He bordered on being blasphemous, by the way. And I think that needs to be pointed out, as well.
PARSHALL: He did vivisect someone for their personal religion beliefs. You, Alan, should be the first person to say, "Wait a minute. In this pluralistic, inclusive, diverse society, we don't stand for that."
COLMES: If I thought that's what Andy Rooney was doing, I would be the first to do it.
Rabbi, let me go back to you. I think the issue with this movie is, is it historically accurate? Is Mel Gibson historically portraying the Gospel and properly attributing in his movie blame for the death of Christ?
HIER: No, his film is inaccurate, because of its unfair portrayal of all the Jews who are opposed to Jesus.
In this film, a Jew who is opposed to Jesus doesn't have an intelligent line, besides mantras of "Crucify him" and "punish him," whereas Pontius Pilate comes off as timid and reasonable.
So it looks to the audience that it was all the Jews, and this is a very unfair characterization.
COLMES: Janet Parshall with us, Rabbi Marvin Hier.
Rabbi Hier, I want to get back to this issue. Do you believe the film, yes or no, is anti-Semitic?
HIER: No, I don't think the film is anti-Semitic. I think, however, it can inspire anti-Semitism around the world, by people who will view it and don't have a proper context.
COLMES: But don't you think most people -- you know, people have read the Gospel, people have their own beliefs, they have a context? Is this film going to create feelings in people they don't already have?
HIER: I absolutely believe it will. Because first of all, most people are not ministers that are going to watch this film. Millions of people around the world, particularly in Europe, where anti-Semitism is ripe.
And the characterization of the Jews and the fact that the Romans are portrayed, that is the Roman authorities, as not involved.
HANNITY: Rabbi, let me go back to this issue. I want to make sure we're perfectly clear on something.
I'm not talking about satire of Andy Rooney here. He called Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson wacko. Because -- and you say I'm not talking about people believing God phones -- telephone calls them in the morning.
But Christians believe that they can have an intimate personal relationship with God in their heart. Is it right for somebody to impugn that, mock that, and ridicule that on national TV?
HIER: Well, look, a Christian has a right to believe that God speaks to him. And I myself would not impugn any Christian for believing that, though I myself do not believe that.
HANNITY: That's fair.
All right. Janet, real quickly. We're almost out of time.
PARSHALL: Well, I do believe that God speaks to people, and I believe Moses got a pretty direct communication, if I read the scriptures.
Look, the film is not anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is a real and present problem. It is not in this film.
Nobody killed Jesus. He came to die for your sins and for mine.
COLMES: Janet, thank you very much. Rabbi...
HIER: But we're not Moses.
COLMES: We thank you very much, Rabbi.
And Janet, we thank you.
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