Monday, November 30th, 2009

It always perplexed me to hear that anti-Semites would Jew-bait by calling someone a Christ-killer. If they truly believed us capable of deicide, did they really want to get on our bad side?

But seriously.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a bigoted taunt or too, but never the dreaded messianic murder libel. I did, however, hear about the pain it caused a relative as a young child to be excluded from a birthday party by Catholic kids who used that epithet. Imagine taking a bum murder rap with no resources to hire Alan Dershowitz.

Mel Gibson’s 2004 “Passion of the Christ” rode the deicide parade all the way to the bank, raking in a cool half-billion for the man whose denials of anti-Semitism would later be undermined by his rantings on the way to the Hollywood drunk tank. It’s evidently a relic of that stale controversy that’s still on sale on the edgy Web site Jewlicious, which offers you the opportunity to brand yourself a “christ killer” by buying one of their t-shirts.

You can rest easy while offending both Jews and Christians because, according to the Web site’s disclaimer, the message it sends is:

“Don’t go hating anyone for being a “Christ Killer” since according to Christianity everyone who believes in Jesus is in fact a “christ killer.” Still offended? Read the following interview in Jewsweek which was republished on the Taglit-birthright israel Web site. If after all that, you still don’t get it then clearly, you sir are a moron.” (Links evidently expired.)

Moron might better apply to anyone who thinks casual beholders of this t-shirt will get the joke and understand the nuanced explanation above, or that they’ll think you are cool and trendy for wearing it.

Here’s what the ADL said when I asked for a reaction:

“The t-shirts are certainly in poor taste, and we can understand why they are offensive to some. But it is a free country, and in this country one can make it their business to be offensive. Jewlicious Apparel has a right to sell them. The consumer also has a right to make a choice, to either buy and wear the shirt, or to reject its message.

“We hope that people of good sense will do the latter.”