Leno Joke Controversy Snowballs: Now the British Parliament Is Involved

Jan 26, 2012  •  Post A Comment

What was apparently meant as a throwaway gag on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has snowballed into one of the biggest TV controversies of 2012, sparking global protests, cross-cultural tensions, at least one lawsuit and a response from the U.S. government.

Now another government has become involved, with the British Parliament taking up a motion in response to the bit, Deadline.com reports.

The joke was meant to be at Mitt Romney’s expense, showing a picture of the Golden Temple in Amritsar and calling it Romney’s “summer home.” But the use of the image of a shrine that is holy to Sikhs worldwide caused some to be offended.

The story reports: “On Tuesday, Leno and NBC were sued for libel in California over the matter, and now British Labour Party lawmakers Virendra Shrama and John McDonnell are seeking an apology from Leno and NBC to all Sikhs ‘for this disrespectful depiction of the Golden Temple.’ The MPs are also calling for Prime Minister David Cameron’s government to ‘make representations to the U.S. government that while recognising principles of freedom of speech there should be more understanding and respect shown to the Sikh faith.”

The original gag, which aired Thursday, Jan. 19, can be seen by clicking here.


  1. If you don’t want people to use the image of your building as an example of “very impressive,” then don’t make it so impressive.

  2. If you don’t want people to use the image of your building as an example of “very impressive,” then don’t make it so impressive.

  3. You mean like posting twice?

  4. The Whitehouse was blown up in several movies, the Washington monument and lots of other “American treasures” have been the subject of less than flattering depiction. If the point is religious significance, the Vatican is a regular in flicks and almost got blown away in a couple. Likewise other significant religious “shrines” have been the subject of art, humor and images that might not please everyone who knows about the depiction.
    It is obvious to everyone (except those complaining – maybe) that satire was and is the point and that the satirical humor was at the expense of the person named. With all the turmoil from this it appears that a religious group that is not very well known in the western world has used this momentary broadcast of an image of their religious shrine to gain some attention. That they won’t let it go also suggests that they like the attention.
    Would it not have been better if this was used as an opportunity to educate westerners about a religion and culture rather than yell, complain and file lawsuits? The opportunity was squandered.
    There is an enormous amount of intolerance in the world and some groups quickly fan the flames of intolerance into hatred. To escalate this innocent moment into an international issue reflects very poorly on the group of people fanning the flames!

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