Here’s the headline from India Express: “US does it again.” Actually, it wasn’t the entire US, it was just NBC again. The publication is talking about an unfortunate reference to the Hindu religion, but at least on NBC’s part, the tastelessness was confined to one market and was online, not over the air.
NBC’s Jay Leno was already in hot water with India, to the extent that the nation’s foreign service and the US Department of State got involved. That was over a joke that didn’t sit well with members of the Sikh religion. It didn’t help that the Sikhs considered Leno to be a repeat offender.
This time, the problem came in a hockey report about a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators that was posted on the site of NBC Channel 5 WMAQ in Chicago.
The Blackhawks lost the game 3-1, and the Blackhawk’s were said to have been “…swallowing up space like some weird Hindu god.”
According to India Express, Rajan Zed, a Hindu community leader residing in Nevada said that there are about a billion practitioners of the religion worldwide who do not appreciate having their religion so labeled.
We checked out two stories about the game posted on the WMAQ site, and there were no references to any religions whatsoever.
Zed confirmed that the offensive material had been taken down. And thanked NBC for showing “…responsibility and maturity for taking quick action and for having an understanding for the hurt feelings of Hindu community.” Zed added, “It was a step in the right direction.”
Zed has noted that the media needs to exercise restraint, since like religion it can be veryu powerful. In a release, he said, “Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be irrelevantly branded as ‘weird’ while commenting on an ice hockey game. These deities were highly revered in Hinduism and inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.”
RBR-TVBR observation: At the very least, NBC seems to be trending in the right direction. We’ll know that to be the case if the network’s next religious indiscretion takes place in a smaller market as part of a direct mail campaign, scaling down the reach one more notch from Leno’s peak national network profile. However, if NBC reverses and escalates the damage, we could be talking about UN involvement.
By the way, in case anybody is wondering, this observation is intended to be a joke.