I have given little thought to the Catholic League over the years. Mostly I’ve heard of it when someone slags the Church and then its leader, Bill Donohue, issues a news release.
Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt had Donohue on his radio show to give him hell for his brain-dead column on the Charlie Habdo massacre. As I mentioned in my previous post, a statement of principle cannot be qualified. One cannot with true intellectual honesty say “Killing some for a cartoon is inexucusable” and then proceed to say “But those cartoons were really offensive and no one should be surprised if they get killed.”
I paraphrase of course. Here are Donohue’s actual words:
Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be universally condemned.
But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction. [Emphasis added]
What was I saying about the tell-tale "but"?
During the course of the interview, Donohue never actually spelled out what this lack of tolerance would mean. Legal action? Societal shunning? No public funeral after the inevitable assassination?
Hewitt rightly hammers the guy – particularly when Donohue plays coy about whether any cardinals or bishops endorse his view.
This is a key point. We are dealing with religion and ethics. What does it say about the clergy that they would keep their private feelings hidden from the public on a matter this important?
Donohue fancies himself a good Catholic, but he’s done more to trash the Church in his column and this interview than a warehouse full of blasphemous artwork.
One thing I wish Hewitt has brought up is that this whole concept of protecting the Church from blasphemy is misguided and a betrayal of the Church’s history. If you are Catholic (as I am) then you accept that the Church is eternal. The satire offered by bunch of French cartoonists is beneath notice.
If, on the other hand, your faith and in fact your entire religion can be brought to its knees by caricatures, then your faith is weak and your religion is pathetic.
I’d love to ask Donohue if he thought the Church would have been stronger if she had no martyrs, no saints, endured no suffering and no persecution. Maybe instead of mocking Him on the cross, the Romans could have gently chided Jesus and thrown pillows at him while He settled into a cozy bath.
The Church is a rock, not a soft-boiled egg to be handled with extra padding.
I think there is some virtue in documenting people who heap abuse on it and also on warning people about sucker-punch movies that look like they will respect faith but then insult it. That’s a good use of free speech.
Demanding that people shut up is a poor use of it and if he had any self-awareness Donohue would quit his day job – or at least stop using the “Catholic” label.
To claim that a Church that endured the fall of Rome, the Black Death, and centuries of war and suffering now needs to be protected from naughty words is an insult to every believer.
I didn't even know about Charlie Hebdo, but the question is no longer whether their art is in good taste, blasphemous or even funny.
Just as with the Mohammed cartoons, all defenders of free speech must raise their voices in defiance. For too long the burden of free speech has fallen on the few. The Posse will do its part to ensure that these insults do not fade in the face of fear and indimidation:
It is time for the West to take a stand.