Paul, all your points are quite well taken. But in the interest of stirring up trouble (or as “we” say in academia, “critically interrogating architectures of power”), I might make a couple points:
(1) NBC’s egregious error isn’t in editing God out of VeggieTales — it’s in failing to tell Phil Vischer about their intentions, which are absolutely material to the contract at issue. In a twist that Jed is sure to love, had this controversy arisen in France, NBC might have been prohibited from violating the moral right of Vischer, the artist. The idea is that Picassos cannot be bought up, hacked into pieces, and sold a la carte. Not bad…except it’s out of sync with the whole of Anglo-American jurisprudence. But is there a duty to be contractually clear about what the buying of rights really means — particularly when it intersects with what could be conceived of as the “whole point” of the work?
(2) I’ve tried to hit Madonna — like the zombie she is — square in the head over the small matter of her parodying/not parodying the crucifixion of Christ. Like most postmoderns she can try as she might to have it both ways. And maybe her feeling of Jesus’s pain is real, or at least genuinely felt. But even if corporeal Jesus, “alive today” in corporeal form, staged his own death for the benefit of global togetherness (not joking, I swear), it does not follow that said Jesus would enact, say, any four out of five selected other things that Madge has seen fit to do…for reasons, it’s safe to say, that have about as much to do with Jesus as shotgunning a beer.