Pope Francis engages in some yes-buttery with regard to the Charlie Hebdo murders:
Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.
Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good.
But he said there were limits.
By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane.
“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
The law, at least in the States, recognizes the “fighting words doctrine,” which holds that some speech is so inflammatory that it is not covered by the first amendment. Insulting someone’s mother to their face might qualify as fighting words.
But there’s no reasonable way to extend that doctrine to a publication no one is forced to read. The Pope apparently thinks that anything insulting to the faith of others, regardless of the venue, counts as a provocation. Mind you, you cannot even make fun of someone’s faith.
The article continues:
Many people around the world have defended the right of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in the wake of the massacre by Islamic extremists at its Paris offices and subsequent attack on a kosher supermarket in which three gunmen killed 17 people.
But recently the Vatican and four prominent French imams issued a joint declaration that denounced the attacks but also urged the media to treat religions with respect.
Francis, who has urged Muslim leaders in particular to speak out against Islamic extremism, went a step further when asked by a French journalist about whether there were limits when freedom of expression meets freedom of religion.
Francis insisted that it was an “aberration” to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence.
But he said there was a limit to free speech when it concerned offending someone’s religious beliefs.
“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,” he said. “They 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.”
What is the Pope trying to say here? Why would you hedge in your condemnation of religious violence? Why do you respond to a vile terrorist attack by warning everyone to be respectful of religion? To me it sure seems like he’s saying the terrorists were justified in their rage, they just overreacted a little.
That’s the real face of religion. One minute they’re telling you they are God’s emissaries on earth, uniquely qualified to hold forth on morality and the nature of reality, the next they are so touchy that the slightest insult is considered a provocation worthy of violence. The Pope says it’s a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good. But what if a major threat to the common good is coming from self-proclaimed religious authorities?
Charlie Hebdo is acting to promote the common good. I don’t know what the Pope is doing.