Count this as a big score for Team Coco: Jay Leno has courted the wrath of the country of India for a joke he made at Mitt Romney's expense last week. In a jab at Romney's widely reported wealth, which seems to be increasingly a hindrance as he tries to secure the GOP nomination for presidential candidate, Leno used an image of the Golden Temple in Amritsar and called it Romney's summer home. (Uh… hilarious "joke," I guess. Aren't you all laughing yourself to tears right now? Nailed it again, Leno.)
Unfortunately, that happens to be the most sacred shrine in the Sikh religion, and I guess some people aren't happy to see it flippantly referred to as some American politician's vacation house. Not only does the temple house holy items and serve as a pilgrimage destination for adherents, but it was also the site of a violent altercation between Sikhs and the Indian military in the 1980s. Apparently people can be kind of touchy when it comes to such places! And the offended parties are serious, even getting the government involved in the matter:
The Press Trust of India reports that the Indian Embassy will contact the U.S. State Department over the joke.
“This is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display,” Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said to the BBC.
An online petition started by U.S. Sikhs said that the First Amendment does not protect Leno’s remarks as they spread hate. It also accuses Leno of a history of derogatory comments about the Sikh religion.
Let's hope this little matter can be smoothed out, because do you really want to find yourself in forty years explaining to your grandchildren that the great war between the U.S. and India was started over by a hacky late-night talk-show host? I didn't think so.