The Pope’s Words – Close But Wide Of The Mark
Pope Francis spoke yesterday about the tragedies at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher market. His common sense message was quite simple… if you insult someone else, don’t be surprised if the other person smacks you in the nose… The Pope’s words were meant to ease the tension while still condemning the murders that took place. The Pope emphasized that killing anyone in god’s name was simply wrong. Hmmm.
The Charlie Hedbo incident is far more complex than one might think. Most everyone would find fault in the use of deadly force to rectify an insult… but to many, especially those from tribal communities, honor killings are an accepted part of life. It’s not so long ago that such events took place in the US too. Remember Arron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?
But Charlie Hebdo is much more the righting an honor grievance. This incident exposes what constitutes free speech. In America, most anything goes in public discourse. In Europe, however, many countries have enacted “hate speech” laws which make it illegal to “incite” racial hatred. Recognizing Europe’s past, one can understand why they might choose to limit free speech.
The publication, Charlie Hebdo, has no sacred cows, all religions, governments, and political parties are subject to cartoons when they acted hypocritically. So is calling a group out for hypocrisy an insult or just treatment?
Holding the Koran or Allah as unmentionable when some people committing terroristic or just plain sadistic acts do so under the false justification that the Koran or Allah, himself, welcome these acts, is just plain ridiculous. Depicting this hypocrisy seems quite in order.
Charlie also has lambasted Israel and Judaism. The conduct of the Palestinian-Israel conflict has provided many opportunities to call into question Israel’s real intents, ample material for cartoons. Consider this recent event. While many of the world’s leaders were marching arm in arm in Paris this week, the inspirational photo got a little touch up in an orthodox Israeli newspaper. The picture the rest of the world saw which included who were actual in the march was “photo-shopped” and all women, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were removed. The Israeli newspaper published an all male picture.
The Pope and the catholic church have found themselves in number of hypocritical situations. The church’s death grip man made rules (they call dogma) acts as if these policies were divine in origin. This dysfunctional behavior has set up many contradictions. Women, homosexuals, and all too often those who are not catholic have been set up situation which deserved to be called out for obvious hypocrisy.
We should remember that there are in each generation anarchistic behavior. ISIS, al Qaeda, and those responsible for the recent murders in Paris were principally anarchists. Their goal has its foundation on overthrow of the established order. Nothing more, nothing less.
Free speech, however, is a far more important principle than the Pope’s remarks would indicate. All major religions, if sheltered from free speech criticism would head rapidly back to the dark ages. They would seek conditions which ensured their control over enough people to maintain their bureaucratic structure.
Free speech has other enemies too. Just think about what life would be like if the George W Bush Administration had been able to suppress the facts surround the invasion and occupation of Iraq, for example. If Bush (or Dick Cheney) had been able to write the Iraq war history without a secular free press, what do you think the public would be told?
Free speech comes with responsibilities too. Slander, incitement to riot, and use of surrogate targets (like ridiculing a politicians uninvolved family in order to attack the politician) are generally out of bounds and inconsistent with free speech.
The Pope’s words suggested the free press, like Charlie Hebdo, should lay off criticizing Islam (and by extension, Judaism, Christianity, etc).
I think the Pope was wide of the mark.