Action Alert: Pornographic Sacrilege and anti-Catholicism in The Onion

The Onion satirical newspaper had a sacrilegious, anti-Catholic, pornographic headline? You don’t say? Not exactly a man-bites-dog story is it?

Anti-Catholic, porn film themed headline, taken today on N Carroll St near Capitol Square. I blurred the last part of the headline as it goes beyond what I would show on my blog even to illustrate what I am referring to

Anti-Catholic, porn-film-themed headline from the satirical Onion, taken today on N Carroll St near Capitol Square. I blurred the last part of the headline as it goes beyond what I would show on my blog even to illustrate what kind of vileness I am referring to.

I’m not laughing, and after seeing the latest horrendous headline (which was VERY FAR from being the first such) I decided today to get up and do something. I also prayed, particularly at Mass this evening.

I wrote a letter, printed a bunch of copies, and spent part of my afternoon walking around the Capitol Building, down State Street, delivering it anywhere The Onion was being distributed free inside a business or public space. The Governor and Attorney General got copies since The Onion was being distributed in some government offices, so did many State Street businesses, though I did notice there were places I know it used to be, but is not anymore. The University Library and Memorial Union got my letter too.

Now I’d like to ask your help contacting their advertisers. With school out in Madison this was a thin issue with a limited number of advertisers (I’ve listed every one of them, I think), but it would also be a fine idea to look in other issues of The Onion and contact those advertisers too. I am busy tomorrow so please help, friends, though if contacting by phone Monday would be a good idea. I have mostly copied this info from their Onion advertisements and do not have time right at the moment to put together mailing or email addresses. if you have time to gather those, then post them in the comments. Some are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Then, contact The Onion [email protected] and the Madison local sales person [email protected] to let them know that you contacted their advertisers, and why, and you could let them know I took the time to visit a number of places in Madison that distribute The Onion, to give them a letter complaining about the publication. I will also contact them I just do not think I have time today or tomorrow. [update: I am adding a contact form you can use to send a message to The Onion, at the bottom of this post. I beg if you have time please also contact advertisers.]

Indeed one of my letter recipients advised me to contact the advertisers, the very nice Laurie, owner of Fair Trade Coffeehouse, who actually sat down at a table with me, and stated she would call the Onion and speak with them about it. She told me that a few years ago, when The Onion was still based in Madison (it has since moved its editorial offices to New York City), The Onion took a picture of one of her employees, then used it later with an article about masturbation; it was upsetting and he seemed to have no recourse. When they tried to take her picture on another occasion, she knew better!

Here’s the letter I gave to all the businesses I could find that carried The Onion, and some government and university offices:

Dear Business Owner or Manager,

Peace to you. My name is Elizabeth Durack and I am a 34 year old Madison woman who lives here in the central downtown neighborhood. This week I saw on the front cover of the Jan 3 edition of The Onion satirical weekly newspaper one of the most deeply offensive  articles they have ever run, though there have been many other Onion articles with likewise sacrilegious, anti-Catholic, and/or pornographic themes. I’m not even going to cite the headline, because it was so foul and sick. The Onion used to be funny, but it’s gotten far filthier and nastier than it used to be, not shy about being over-the-top sacrilegious, and it no longer deserves to be distributed on the premises of your business.

I am taking this letter around to various places within walking distance today (for instance, State Street), Friday afternoon Jan 4 2013, asking you to stop allowing The Onion to be distributed at your establishment, because of offensive content and headlines.

I hope you will join me in objecting to the increasing pervasiveness of porn culture, in this practical way. It is a real misery to have to endure nasty porn references when simply shopping or going about my business. Although I am writing as an individual, I’m sure not alone in being disgusted, I think most women and men, people in our community of all religious beliefs or none, would concur. The headline that led me to write this letter is even more offensive to Catholics, and as a believing and practicing Catholic, I also object with the greatest vehemence to sacrilegious “humor” that is really an attack on Jesus Christ, His Church, our beloved Holy Father the Pope, our bishops and priests, religious sisters and nuns, and our moral and doctrinal beliefs–attacks against any of these fall on me, too. I oppose other religions being targeted as well, and the whole sick trend toward pushing the envelope on public offensiveness. We don’t need to abridge free speech rights: individuals, and individual businesses can choose to say “no” and uphold basic human values and decency.

I am writing to you because in all likelihood your own sense of decency is far greater than that of the writers of The Onion, and in all likelihood you share some of my concerns. Please consider kicking The Onion off your property and not advertising with them.

Have a blessed New Year, and thank you for reading my letter in the neighborly spirit in which I write it,

Elizabeth Durack
(my email address)


9 Responses to Action Alert: Pornographic Sacrilege and anti-Catholicism in The Onion

  1. You go! About 10 years ago when my children were in a Catholic elementary school, I picked up a copy of a free parenting magazine they had out by the office. There was a full-page ad for an ob/gyn who offered a sterilization procedure (it had a trendy name but it was hot water oblation, which scars the inside of the uterus — I have a friend who had it done because of severe endometriosis; it’s an alternative to a hysterectomy). The ad was part of a national campaign that was running on television and everything — the campaign showed healthy moms deciding that they could give MORE attention to their children if they didn’t have any more! I wrote numerous letters, including one to the editor in which I said that it was a very strange thing for a parenting magazine to run ads saying, in essence, that children were a lot of trouble and you’d be better off not having them. I got a snippy letter back… but they stopped running the ad.

    • Wow, GOOD for you Gail! Thank you for inspiring us to action!

  2. […] is a link to a fellow a catholic blogger’s post on an article in the “satirical” paper, The […]

  3. Dear Elizabeth,

    What a horror! I am sick! Thank you for sharing this-I will do all I can to encourage others to write letters to the advertisers of the Onion as well as write my own. More than that, I will beg Jesus for mercy and offer acts of reparation for this grave offense.

    Thank you for all that you do and God bless you.


  4. Excellent job again, Elizabeth.
    U.S. Cellular will hear from me.
    Overture Center-I have never been in the building and they hosted a10 year anniversary celebration for Jamie Thompson’s human embryonic stem cell research a few years ago so not surprised. The Madison Diocese has held a reception in the Overture Center for that choir from Europe’s event in 2012. Madison Diocese should hear about this Onion filth.

  5. Off to a great start in the New Year, Liz, with this excellent post criticizing The Onion and the advertisers who support it.

    I will be emailing The Onion and at least one advertiser I notice who is receiving PUBLIC FUNDING from Madison tax payers: The Overture Center!

    We should turn the tables on them and use the words “bigot” in our rebuttals.

  6. Addendum: Since the Overture Center for the Arts receives tax payer funding, we should also alert the Mayor and the City Council!

  7. I just emailed Mayor Soglin, the Common Council and the President/CEO of the Overture Center ([email protected]) because the Overture Center receives around $800,000 from the Madison tax payers! Now going to email The Onion – not that that will do anything. BUT the tax payer funding may. $$$ talks.

    FYI, The Onion’s corporate Hqs is located in Chicago according to their contact page.

  8. […] is a link to a fellow a catholic blogger’s post on an article in the “satirical” paper, The […]


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