Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Common Sense Makes Little Sense to Some

So, it seems like the pope agrees with the Catholic League.

Two weeks ago, Catholic League President Bill Donohue reacted to the radical Islamic attack on Charlie Hebdo by first condemning the murders but then also making the point that Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, also has been guilty of blaspheming other religions in the past.

Critics cried that Donohue was trying to justify in some way the attack upon the French satirical magazine.

He was doing nothing of the sort but instead trying to make a reasonable point that might have been too subtle to capture in a headline or tabloid coverage.

Speaking with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Donohue compared the situation to a woman who has been beaten for years by her husband and then kills him.

“I think we’re going to say she’s a murderer and we ought to try her,” explained Donohue. “On the other hand, any sensible person would say why don’t we look at the whole issue here.”

When Pope Francis hurdled into the controversy, his words were closer to Donohue’s than others. The pope pointed out that there are limits to freedom of speech. In the same way that you can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded movie theater, the pope says: “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith.”

The pope is not justifying killing someone who insults one’s faith but he is saying that no one has the right to insult another’s religion and if they do so, they are going to provoke a reaction.

“One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, that is, in the name of God,” said the pope.

In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the Islamic terrorists went too far. The end did not justify the means.

The pope is making the simple point that people are going to be offended by hurtful remarks, so we should put limits on what we say and how we say it.

“I am obviously delighted that the pope has taken the same position I have on this issue,” reacted Donohue.

In the wake of the murders in Paris, people around the world proclaimed, “Je suis Charlie!” “I am Charlie!” This was their way of showing solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack.

Sorry, but we are not Charlie. We feel for the victims and their families. But we should not go so far as to lock arms with satirists who do not know when to stop their offensive words and depictions. Charlie has produced some nasty stuff, lampooning not only the Prophet Muhammad but also the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Charlie is no friend, but its employees surely did not deserve to be killed.

The latest edition of Charlie has sold millions of copies because of an attempt to side with the magazine that was victimized by terrorists. Perhaps we should be a bit more discriminating when jumping on board a bandwagon. Let’s make sure we’re supporting people and actions that we definitely want to support.

Or as Donohue said: “What the pope said, and how he said it, is not hard to understand. He was simply stating the obvious: when we intentionally and needlessly insult people, don’t be shocked when it triggers a strong response. That’s common sense, a property that is not at all common these days.”

One thought on “Common Sense Makes Little Sense to Some

  1. I think that people have lost sight of the fact that we have to take responsibility for our actions and should remember there are consequences to these actions whether its positive or negative. Both parties are accountable.