Not Charlie: Pope Francis Declares That There Must Be “Limits” To Free Speech In Criticizing Religion

120px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013_(cropped)707192-une-charlie-png.jpgAs many on this blog know, I am a great fan of Pope Francis who has brought an inspiring leadership to the Church that has drawn millions back to the faith. Given that admiration, I was disheartened to read the Pope’s comment on free speech today. I ran a column last weekend on how world leaders are failing over themselves to “Stand With Charlie” after the massacre of editors and staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine. However, the West has been rolling back on free speech rights, including some of these very leaders. Pope Francis added his view this week to those insisting that free speech must have limits when it comes to insulting people about their religion. It is a disappointing observation, particularly when coupled with a rather poor analogy.

On the papal plane, Pope Francis spoke beside Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips. He used his aide in this analogy: “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Of course, people can insult the faith of others. It is called free speech and you are not allowed to punch someone (or in the most recent case, massacre people) out of a sense of legitimate outrage. Clearly, Pope Francis was not condoning the massacre. He remains a leading voice for Peace and tolerance. However, the discussion of limits on free speech in the West has spawned a trend toward greater criminalization and prosecution for unpopular writers and speakers, including a crackdown in France after the march in support of free speech.

Pope Francis added that people who make fun of religion “are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.” Presumably, the victims are Charlie Hebdo would be considered such “provocateurs,” precisely the image advanced by Muslim extremists insisting that they were incited to violence.

I still admire the Pope but he is less inspirational on free speech, particularly anti-religious speech, in making these comments. Ironically, free speech is the greatest protection of the free exercise of religion. It is the right that allows people of faith (as well as people who are agnostic and atheist) to speak out about their values and beliefs. That freedom comes with a certain covenant of faith in free speech: that we all can speak our mind without fear of prosecution or retaliation.

Source: Yahoo

180 thoughts on “Not Charlie: Pope Francis Declares That There Must Be “Limits” To Free Speech In Criticizing Religion”

  1. Let’s replace radical Islam with Nazism. If it had been a group of black cartoonists (or even white cartoonists) who had been making fun of Nazis and Hitler (which is done all the time, as no one worries about Nazis attacking them today), and then a group of Nazis went and slaughtered these cartoonists, does anyone think people would actually be saying, “You can’t mock someone’s ideology. All ways of thinking deserve respect. You cannot make fun of someone else’s ways of thinking. If you mock my mother, expect a punch in the nose” and/or that the cartoonists, “Brought it on themselves. They were mocking NAZIs, for crying out loud. It is known that Nazis are highly intolerant of anyone of a different skin color or anyone who deviates even slightly from their way of thinking.”

    Anyone who said such a thing would be just shy of tarred and feathered. The attitude would be that the Nazis need to be tried, convicted, and thrown in prison. No one would be suggesting that we have to walk on eggshells as a society because saying anything offensive to Nazis is causing them to launch terrorist attacks everywhere and anywhere.

    As for those who might say, “Nazism isn’t a religion,” well that depends. Yes, it isn’t a religion in terms of having a god to worship, but it is very close. It was a cult, in particular a death cult, not a whole lot different from how radical Islam is in terms of its treatment of others.

    Humans are notorious for wanting to slaughter other humans over differences in the following:

    Skin color
    Culture
    Religion
    Political ideology

    Humans also will slaughter other humans who mock them over their skin color, culture, religion, or political ideology. So that Nazism isn’t a religion I don’t think undermines the comparison.

  2. Nick,
    I enjoy many (not all) of the various characters in this blog and it’s those I don’t that I will effort to ignore.

  3. Olly, I am like the character actors I just professed my love for on another thread. I can make intelligent, heartfelt, informed, comments. And, I can be sophomoric. When I said, “Including mine” I acknowledged that. I have the full range, and I’m proud of it. This ain’t a college classroom, this is a blog w/ all types of posts, from the serious to the sublime. I can play many roles, and enjoy being a character actor on this blog.

  4. seems to me the pope should be one of the last people to pontificate about free speech.. can anyone say the inquisation ?

  5. “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” was playing in my head as I read the late night neediness.

  6. I agree with the Republicans here. It sounds to me as if the Pope is crazy on the moonshine and he’s ready to take a swing at someone. He was probably carrying drugs as well. . .up his ass, not because it’s necessary since cops never search the Pope, but because he likes it since he’s a Liberal.

    Has anyone ever actually seen the Pope’s birth certificate, anyway? I doubt it. We don’t even know who we’re dealing with here, and that just leaves too many open questions.

  7. And the Oath is with one hand on the Bible, then given again with one hand on the Koran, then again with one hand on the statue of Lord Bhudda. The left arm is in the lie detector machine. If they wont swear and they don’t pass the lie detector test then deport them or perhaps lock them up if more is known. We don’t need no pedophile priests who got kicked out of France either.

  8. First thing we should do when we get into office is “round up all the usual suspects”. By that I suggest that all law enforcement be tasked with rounding up every alien in this country and question his/her credentials to be here. Each should be required to make an oath: to obey, protect, defend the Constittution of the United States and its laws and the International Human Rights Laws. Further, to disavow any allegiance to any political entity elsewhere and to listen to Prophets and Cardinals et al on matters of faith and not politics. Those who wont swear, under oath and on video, will be deported. If they don’t have a place we do. Gitmo. This is Cannon I of the BarkinDog Doctrine.

  9. Being Catholic is a matter of choice, or should be.

    To be a Catholic or a Muslim requires an act of faith.

    Muslims, to the Pope, are using the same means to arrive at God’s Truth: faith. Both put the faith chip on their shoulder and dare anyone to knock off.

    The hornets in their nest are minding their own business, don’t stir them up. We’re the Muslims minding their own business and enforcing anti-blasphemy laws in their own country … If they would stay in the nest … No one would care. It is when they want to establish a new nest near me that I get out the insecticide.

    Faith is not a legitimate means to acquire knowledge. Or else both Christianity and Islam are equally true.

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