On January 9, just two days after the terrorist attack on French newspaper Charlie Hebdo by Muslim extremists, I blogged about the cartoons that inspired its targeting in the first place:
“I got to see the controversial cartoons Charlie Hebdo published over the years, thus making itself a repeated and unrepentant target for Muslim extremists. And I gotta tell you, they were needlessly offensive.
“There’s the fact that Muslims don’t believe the Prophet Muhammad should be portrayed in artwork at all, so drawing cartoons of him in the first place is considered disrespectful. Which Charlie Hebdo knew very well. But the particular cartoons it drew?
“Well, check them out yourself and see what you think.
“I guess I just don’t see the point in openly mocking people’s religious beliefs. I mean, I have mine. And I genuinely believe that other religions are wrong. But that doesn’t mean I should go around deliberately offending them with no regard to their feelings.”
Then today, Pope Francis got onboard the same bandwagon. And, in his typical style, he drove it right off the road straight for a worrisome cliff. Because that’s what he does. With everything.
We shouldn’t ignore the poor… So let’s redistribute wealth!
We shouldn’t be judgmental… So let’s not call anyone’s opinion wrong!
Free speech works best when tempered with respect… So disrespectful forms of free speech should be banned!
“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri,” Francis opined, “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.”
Ummm… Actually, yeah. You can. It might not be advisable, and you might suffer the justified or over-the-top consequences, but yeah, you really can.
All Pope Francis had to do was switch one word around in that little speech. Just one word and he would have it right! If he had only said “shouldn’t” instead of “cannot,” I would support him in this. But nope, he had to take it to an extreme.
Here’s the truth: Free speech should very rarely be banned by religious or political authorities. That’s something each individual is supposed to be limiting at a personal level, using our minds and morals to hold us back from blurting out every offensive thing that pops into our heads.
So in other words, while I CAN say that Pope Francis is screwed up six ways from Sunday… I probably SHOULDN’T. ‘Cause I’m sure there’s a more respectful way of saying the same thing.