Pope Francis vs. Free Expression???

Pope Francis

Pope Francis isn’t a Communist, but he isn’t a libertarian, either. From TheFederalist.com: “Why Pope Francis Is Wrong About Free Expression” Excerpt: “… he [Francis] argued that there should be limits on freedom of expression and limits on mocking faith.” . . . . . . . . . .

Click here to read what Francis said.

One might wonder if Francis holds a grudge against Charlie Hebdo because of this:
Charlie Hebdo criticizes Pope

One might wonder if the publisher of Charlie Hebdo had a premonition about what Francis would say:
Charlie Hebdo critics

Does Francis have a valid point, or is he merely trying to insulate himself and the Roman Catholic Church from criticism?

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  • Paul Hooson

    I think the pope was only expressing the deep regard that many have for religion. There’s a story from a few years ago that during a controversial porn movie shooting, some actors and film crew walked off the set when the scene involved an offensive antireligious scene. So, even on a porn set, many persons were offended by an attack on religion Respect for religion is that deep among many persons….Jokes about religion need to tread lightly compared to jokes about almost anything else. People have strong feelings about religion…

  • Walter_Cronanty

    He’s an Argentinian steeped in leftism. While not an open advocate of “liberation theology,” he is a proponent of “social justice”: “Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor.” [ http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/papabile-day-men-who-could-be-pope-13%5D

    Thus, it’s not surprising that a leftist would be anti-free speech.

    I find the article, and the Pope’s statements somewhat confusing. If he is talking about personal morality/conduct, I would agree somewhat. There’s not much to be gained by gratuitously insulting someone or something one believes [except, of course for Bruce and Chico].

    If he is talking about the need for governments to enact laws – which seems to be the tenor of his statements – then we part ways. While some might believe he is infallible when speaking on matters of Catholic theology, he’s certainly not infallible on matters of civil legislation.

    On the other hand, if he is resurrecting the doctrine of “fighting words” [“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” says Francis. “It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke….”] I have some sympathy, but he goes too far.

    • Brett Buck

      I think the last is a good assessment. The problem is (and more-or-less has always been) is that “fighting words” can vary wildly from culture to culture and person-to-person.

      That’s while it would be a good idea to write the rules down and come to some general agreement on the topic:


      and just stick to that, as opposed to responding to the lunatics no matter how sincerely they might feel about it, or what they want to do.

      If the Pope and a fair fraction of the world don’t agree, then fine for them, they can live at the mercy of whatever nuts come along, lone, or organized.

      It is clearly established that criticizing religious beliefs, even severely and in the crudest possible manner, is protected. We even have taxpayers dollars going to those who take religious icons and soak them in urine, stuff like that. Sorry, Frank.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        The “fighting words” doctrine is well understood, and has been around since 1942 – Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. “words which by their very utterance are likely to inflict harm on or provoke a breach of the peace by the average person to whom they are directed” http://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/fighting-words.html. Note that the words have to be directed to an individual and be likely to provoke an immediate, violent response – Cohen v. California. Thus, the cartoons of Mohammed would not be considered “fighting words” and Wiki notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine any written words falling under the category of “fighting words.”

        Your point re: what the “world” believes vs. what the US law is, is very important given current trends. see, “Supreme Court citing more foreign cases.” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-07-07-foreign-usat_x.htm

        Couple that with the recent thoughts typified by the Pope and written in execrable essays by Tanya Cohen on why we should have laws proscribing “hate speech” [because those oh so wise other countries have them [ http://thoughtcatalog.com/tanya-cohen/2015/01/why-do-americans-reject-human-rights-when-the-whole-world-embraces-them/ ] and you have a recipe for disemboweling the First Amendment.

        • jim_m

          Pretty much the only words that would qualify under “fighting words” are ones of personal insult and/or threat. Mostly the latter.

    • Commander_Chico

      The religious will always stick together against secular freedom.

      Religion is getting its ass kicked in Europe especially and to some extent in the USA because of free thought.

      Just remember, they hanged a guy in Scotland in 1697 because he called the Bible “Ezra’s fables” and Jesus “a magician.”

      • Yeah, because NOTHING in the world has changed since 1697.

        • Commander_Chico

          That’s my point – things have changed. Since they stopped hanging guys for blasphemy, religion’s been going downhill.

          It’s tough for Ezra’s Fables to compete in a free world.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        While I believe in divine truths, I don’t believe in divine individuals – and Europe is none the better for discarding its heritage, religion included.

        • Commander_Chico

          Maybe not, but that puts you on the same side as the Pope in this case.

          It’s an interesting question.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            It does not put me on the side of the Pope – can you read? One can believe in a particular religion without believing that his government should punish those who mock his belief.

          • Commander_Chico

            True, but the inevitable consequence is decline of belief among the people around you.

  • MartinLandauCalrissian

    Looks to me like the commie pope came out in support of violence. When he essentially said that you’ll deserve “a punch” for saying something, looks like he’s siding with the terrorists. Siding with the terrorists both with violence and scaling back free speech. So, this commie pope is really piling up the anti-western ideas more every month! This jerk is a disaster for Catholics.

  • Par4Course

    Like many others, the Pope fails to make key distinctions. No one says it is polite to insult other people’s religious beliefs. But that does not mean that insults to religion or religious figures should be outlawed, result in a “punch” or, more topically, justify a burst of automatic gun fire. Believing that Charlie Hedbo has the right to publish anything is not to say that everything it publishes is good, true or appropriate. Freedom of expression means nothing if it means being permitted to say or write only those things that have the papal imprimatur.

  • jim_m

    What the various victim classes need to recognize is that while they are correct that insulting religion isn’t something that a person with tact does, it is not a legal requirement that everyone act toward and treat each other with tact.

    While we should encourage civility it is not something that can be had by threat of government force.

  • Brucehenry

    Did the pope make these comments in English? Italian? Spanish? Seems to me he could be mistranslated or mistranslating. I sincerely don’t know.