So, Jay Leno told a joke about Mitt Romney, and now we have half of India in a sulk, and the State Department spokeswoman defending Leno's Constitutional right to perform satire? Lighten up, people.
State Department Defends Leno After Joke Offends Sikhs:
Though most comedians hope that their material stands on its own, some additional support from their country now and then doesn’t hurt either: The State Department stood up for Jay Leno after the “Tonight Show” host offended some Indian Sikhs with a joke that implied that a holy shrine in India was a home owned by Mitt Romney.
Previously, Vayalar Ravi, India’s Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, said he planned to speak with the State Department about a comedic bit that he called “quite unfortunate and quite objectionable.” The segment, during Mr. Leno’s monologue on Thursday night, showed the homes of various Republican presidential hopefuls, but when Mr. Romney’s summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee was mentioned the screen showed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which is holy to Sikhs as well as to members of other Indian faiths.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, told BBC News that though United States and Indian officials had not communicated about the issue, the United States Constitution protected Mr. Leno’s freedom of speech. Ms. Nuland said she hoped that Mr. Leno would “be appreciative if we make the point that his comments are constitutionally protected in the United States under free speech, and frankly, they appeared to be satirical in nature.” She added that “Sikh Americans have contributed greatly to the United States” and noted that President Obama celebrated the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, at the White House.
Neither Mr. Leno nor representatives for “The Tonight Show” have commented on the matter.