Friday, January 16, 2015

Some Catholics Confused Over The Charlie Hebdo Massacre

I'm sure by now we've all heard that in Paris last week, Islamic terrorists massacred a large part of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine for mocking the Islamic faith.  To be accurate, many of their cartoons are offensive, and yes, the Catholic faith has been the target of their work that is often pornographic.

What troubles me (besides the obvious vicious murders) is that some faithful Catholics are stating that they are ambivalent regarding the murders precisely because of Hebdo's Catholic-bashing.  Let me state that I believe two issues are being conflated, with gross disservice being done to truth.

The two issues being inappropriately intertwined are 1) the indecent output of the magazine and 2) the brutal murders of the magazine employees. Number 1 does not have anything to do with number 2, and certainly does not justify murder in the slightest. When we mention the two in the same breath, we can give the impression that we condone the murders out of "offended religious sensibilities" or at least we think the guilt of the murders is mitigated by "hurt religious sensibilities".

Some attitudes of faithful Catholics are evidenced in a post by A Blog For Dallas Area Catholics, with whom I usually agree.  Unfortunately he seems to put the Charlie Hebdo staff on the same moral par as their jihadists.  Later in the article "Tantem Bloggo" opines that "our modern culture likes to pretend that freedom of speech is a sacred right" and that "error has no rights".  Well, error may have no rights, but erroneous people do, and while "freedom of speech being a "sacred right" may well be debatable, I'd hope he can agree that freedom of speech is a civil right.  Else, how can he and I be confident that we can both write our blogs without governmental molestation?

I've seen other Catholic sites calling into question "unfettered" freedom of speech.  If I can find them again, I'll post links.  Anyway, if they call into question such speech, how do they suggest such speech be controlled?  Who would they suggest should do such controlling?  Do they understand precisely why such a cure might be far worse than the disease?

Pope Francis regrettably falls into that error.  On his way from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, the pope gave another in-flight interview.  I really dread these, and especially this one as it is a "double-header", but the the second part will be its own post.  I link to the NBC article that has the text and video of the interview.  He said "one cannot insult other people's faith" and that if a friend "utters a curse word against my mother, then a punch awaits him".  I find that crack from the Vicar of Christ utterly lamentable and disgraceful to Our Lord.

Of course the Vatican Press Office flew right into "damage control mode" (they get a lot of practice these days), saying the pope was "speaking in a friendly intimate manner among colleagues and friends".  Odd!  When I do that, we are not shoving microphones and cameras into each others' faces!  I could pick this thing apart in a million pieces but I'd veer too far from my main points.

Do we see here how the pope condones the murderous impulses, if not acts, of the jihadists?   The White House contradicted the pope here, saying "no act of public expression justifies violence".  Never in ten million years did I think there would come a day when I would have to side with the White House - particularly this White House - over the Vatican.  I suppose stranger things have happend, but as the saying goes, "the broken clock is correct at least twice a day".

The pope also stated that "every religion has its dignity".  Well, no.  Islam. because it is a murderous
ideology, has no dignity whatsoever.  What the Islamic terrorists did in Paris to the Charlie Hebdo staff is simply typical for them.  No amount of curtailment of free speech will prevent them from carrying out "jihad" or whatever they call their rampages.  To the right are more victims of Islamic violence - these from Nigeria.  Now did any of them engage in satiric speech against Islam and/or Christianity?  Maybe they did, maybe they didn't.  Either way, it doesn't matter - not for these Nigerian victims, not for the Charlie Hebdo victims.  My fellow Catholics - will you please stop conflating the two issues as outlined in the third paragraph in this post?  To continue in this confusion will only aid and abet the terrorists as they seek to silence and destroy us all.


  1. Sorry, I have to go with "Tantumblogo" on this one....Louie Verrecchio also nails it here:

  2. Mr. Frisbee, thank you for your comment. I trust you realize that you and I are free in this country to write as we do precisely because of the First Amendment that guarantees that our GOD-GIVEN right to free speech will not be abridged by the government. There has been much discussion of "Americanism" on these blogs and elsewhere in connection with the Paris massacre, particularly in terms of decrying "unlimited freedom of speech" as being detrimental to faith and morals. I think a careful study of Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae by Pope Leo XIII might be in order. Here is a copy of the document.

    The third paragraph from the bottom is where Pope Leo defined "Americanism". Note that he unambiguously stated that the heresy does NOT include "the political condition and the laws and customs by which (we) are governed". Rather, the term appears to pertain to "cherry-picking" which teachings will be applied to one's own life and relations with those close to him/her.

    This situation is not the first in which I've seen the First Amendment, etc denounced by some Catholics as heretical. It always strikes me as somewhat ironic that these people denounce in rather direct terms these features of American life with the greatest ease and no fear whatsoever of retribution from the government. In other words, their very denunciation of the First Amendment is protected by - the First Amendment! Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

  3. If this is a repeat from what I just sent, I apologize. I wasn't logged in and I'm not certain my comment went through once I logged in...

    After reading your blog and then bopping over to Louie V.'s, I believe there is a portion of a comment that speaks to something you seem to overlook, and I will insert it here: "... I’m sick of the abuse of the word “free”…the real word is LICENSE. Freedom isn’t “I will do and say whatever I want…good, evil doesn’t matter”…THAT is license and we do not have the RIGHT to do so. True freedom is knowing the difference between right and wrong and being able to do what is right. And per the ridiculous crap that these two authors wrote..."

    Our veering from decency does tend to shed a different light upon such a civil right...what they were doing lacked civility. How they were stopped was deplorable. That is my take on it. Personally, C.H. and his group should not have been allowed to continue as long as they did and are. They out and out strip man of something much more precious than a First Amendment gone wrong...they strip all of their dignity (and I base this on what has been done to our Triune God by these men). That being said, they did not deserve to be murdered.

    1. "They should not have been allowed"? Well, who should be in charge of this "allowing" and "disallowing"? Do we want a governmental agency to have that kind of authority over our speech and ultimately our thoughts? I think this cure would be far worse than the disease.

  4. I think two issues are being conflated here....that somehow standing with Charlie Hebdo is essential to protecting our free speech and that doing so also strikes blow against Militant Islam. Freedom of speech is already being curtailed....look at the "pro-life " bubble zones around abortion clinics, the IRS censoring the Tea Party through withholding of tax exempt status, etc. Note that "secular" free speech is always sacrosanct, religious / conservative speech, not so much. You are playing the other guys' game here, and that is a sure way to continue to lose what remains of the "culture war." Not all speech rises to the type the founders sought to protect - you still can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater. de Tocqueville said our system of government is geared for a moral people (which implies some self restraint); however, we ceased being that a few decades ago.
    Of course, if you believe Charlie Hebdo's speech is worthy of protection, you should probably post their "Holy Trinity sodomy" magazine cover for the next week or so on your blog as a sign of solidarity .....otherwise the terrorists win.

    1. I too believe two issues are being conflated; I said so much in my second and third paragraphs. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law.." That's it. You mentioned speech "worthy of protection"; who decides what's worthy? You and I might have our ideas, but our ideas won't decide what's allowed into the public arena. Who should have that authority to decide? The Founding Fathers foresaw what might happen should that control be centralized in federal government. So who/what do you think should be the entity entrusted with that authority and responsibility? All I hear is bewailing of "free speech" but no real thought as to what might be the logical outcome to such emotional shortsightedness.
      Another reason I deplore the mixing of the two issues is the unspoken assumption that somehow the Hebdo staff brought about their own murders. That's called "blaming the victim" and the pope contributed horribly to that mindset. How did these two themes come to be intertwined? I am beginning to have dark suspicions about that.

  5. My first reaction was just like yours: Freedom of expression is a right and should have no limit. Until I saw what this vile pornographic magazine has been publishing against the Catholic Church. [Have you seen those anti-Catholic cartoons? Look them up, you might change your mind.]

    Then I saw where the limit should be: At the point where the insulted party can't take it anymore.

    A site I don't recommend explains it this way:

    " I will never understand why when people choose to piss off someone, they get all surprised when someone actually does get pissed off. Well duh.

    "The general scripts seems to go like this:

    "Perpetrator: "Hey! I have an idea! Let's go piss someone off!"

    "Target: (gets pissed and reacts.)

    "Perpetrator: "OH MY GOD, they got pissed! How dare they get pissed! What an intolerant jerk!"

    "--Curtain Falls--

    "Really? If you value maturity and rational thinking, then why do you do things that are immature and provoke an irrational response? That makes no sense. Obviously if you want people to be more rational, you appeal to their humanity and intelligence rather than being a self-absorbed jackass.

    Problem is, Jihadists have no humanity and intelligence.



    1. " the point where the insulted can't take it anymore." But that makes "the insulted" the arbiter of free speech rights. IMHO, that kind of tyranny is unacceptable.

  6. "Number 1 does not have anything to do with number 2"....seriously? You are in denial....the killers specifically targeted the magazine for that reason. To acknowledge a connection does not equate to justifying the action.
    I am less worried about the U.S. Republic (which is swirling down the toilet as we speak) than Catholics believeing they have to "link arms" with Charlie Hebdo to save our form of govenrment. Here is just another example of why you're playing a loser's game: Apparently the secularists don't share your qualms about supressing speech. By the way, still waiting for you to post the Hebdo cover.

    1. If Charlie Hebdo et al don't have free speech rights, then none of us (including you!) don't. Our free speech rights should not be dependent on who occupies high places in government. Since when is respecting the rights of all considered "linking arms" with anyone? I know the secular folks don't respect free speech; that is deplorable - but since when does one wrong justify another?
      You had suggested posting the Hebdo cover if I think their speech is worthy of protection. My friend, what entity should be ascribed authority to determine what speech is worthy of protection? The answer to that makes all the difference in the world.
      I won't post the Hebdo picture for I do not agree with it. However, I don't think anyone has any right to ban them from publishing their picture on their own forums. And I certainly don't hold them responsible for their own murders.


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