01.15.2015 07:49 AM

The Pope agrees with me, naturally

Free speech, but not without limits. In other words, say whatever you want, but don’t expect to never, ever get a reaction that isn’t somehow wrathful (not homicidal).

But that’s not why I posted this. That’s not the best part. The best part? The notion of priestly fisticuffs. Classic.

By way of example, [the Pope] referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane. “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

24 Comments


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    Phil says:

    I guess “turn the other cheek” has gone out of fashion.


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      Justin says:

      Apparently so, it seems all you have to do is scream ‘I’m offended’ and that’s enough to stifle debate in this country. Remember all pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others.


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        sezme says:

        When I hold my tongue and don’t let fly with insults or provocation, it’s not because I’m worried about causing offence. It’s because I don’t want to be an asshole.


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        King Prick says:

        By pigs, do you mean the police? Just curious. There might be a lawsuit. Don’t want to offend anyone.


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    Lance says:

    Everyone has a right to be offended. But that doesn’t mean it should interfere with people’s right to free speech.


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    King Prick says:

    To be fair; the bible and every other religious document attacks the faith of others. I just had dinner with a monsignor of the catholic church who explained why the bible was ‘re-worked” to be more favourable or less critical of the Jews. Whatever. I couldn’t give a shit because personally, I find religion offensive but let me just add this; every religion makes attempts to convert people. It’s what religions do. It’s in their mandate. Having Jehova Witnesses appear on my doorstep is, to me, an insult to my beliefs and, nobody is currently crowing, has ever been crowing or will be crowing about stifling their right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Why can’t I attack them verballly with any choice of words I like. They’re standing on my doorstep, invading my privacy? Why should I have to shut up?

    So which is more important? Freedom of religion or freedom of speech? My answer is: Freedom of speech.

    If you and your faith have a mandate to enlist me into your church or religion or whatever, then I have a right to make fun of you and your god. If you’re religion can place ads that I and others like me find offensive on television, radio or in print; you’re fair game. A church/religion is a corporation. Let’s get that through our heads first. They’re no better than a union. The guys at the top call the shots, make the most money and get away with the most criminality. Let’s get over this “free speech with limits” idea. Believe me, if I didn’t think someone would come after me or this website’s owner, I’d be making jokes about the prophet and a million other things, all day and all night. AND THAT’S WHAT FREE SPEECH WITH LIMITS GETS US—-a person too scared to speak for fear of attack on his person or that of another. I say, shut up and let them talk. We’ll be a better planet.

    If we would have had free speech “with limits,” Martin Luther King, Malocolm X, Marcus Garvey, Muhammed Ali may never have come our way—–These are just a few; and of those, two were murdered for their speech. All of them offended people, religions and governments. Thank our lucky stars for them.

    The Charter basically says that speech cannot promote bad feelings about any identifiable group… So, what’s next? I can’t ask if the PM and his government are”godless douchebags?” Government is an identifiable group. How about the police? i can’t refer to cops as “thuggish, violent frat boys?” Cops are identifiable. What happens to freedom of assembly or the right to protest? If people are assembling or protesting, they’re likely doing it to speak out against some identifiable group. People make paedophile jokes about priests and the catholic church all the time. Should that be illegal too? Maybe we should outlaw stand up comics because they insult women, children, religion, minorities, the handicapped, sexuality, government and everyone’s mom. All identifiable groups.

    Speech with limits is so out of control that a UK newspaper was trying to get a Scottish comic arrested for making a joke about the queen. Freedom of speech shouldn’t be left for people marching in solidarity in front of the Arch or in Trafalgar Square. Freedom of speech should be practised and promoted where we most need it—on our streets, in our papers, on our front lawns and most importantly in The House of Commons. No limits.


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      doconnor says:

      “They’re no better than a union. The guys at the top call the shots, make the most money and get away with the most criminality.”

      To me, that sounds more like a corporation. Certainly corporate leaders make many times more then union leaders.

      “The Charter basically says that speech cannot promote bad feelings about any identifiable group”

      The hate speech law actually says you cannot promote hate about an identifiable group which is defined as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Your examples wouldn’t apply.

      To be allowed by the Charter this limitation on free expression is “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” So you examples would be excluded by the Charter because they are justified in a free and democratic society. It’s up to the supreme court to define where the line is drawn.


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        King Prick says:

        Mr. O’conner, I must then ask; “why on earth don we have libel and slander laws?” Personally, I think all of these so called “identifiable” groups need to grow a spine. Voltaire said: “I may not like what you have to say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” He was a far wiser man than any modern day politician and he was right. When people can speak openly, we have civil discourse. When people can’t we have subversive discourse and that leads to the disenfranchised doing things like shooting up parliament or a third rate magazine’s offices. Shutting people up is the most cowardly thing to do to a democracy. It’s shameful.


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          Darwin O'Connor says:

          A few years ago the Toronto Police Association tried to sue The Star for libel, but was rejected because libel laws only apply to individuals, not groups.

          I don’t necessarily agree with our hate speech law. I was just pointing out that they couldn’t be used the way you suggested.

          I don’t see how government censorship in any way caused these terrorist attacks.


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    Lance says:

    Our parish priest was a brandy drinking, chain smoking, scared Irishman. He was far from the perfect seeming priest, but he was the only reason I kept going to church for as long as I did.

    This pope will do alright. 🙂


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    patrick says:

    No, you should be able to make fun of faith, dogma, institutions, because being unable too renders faith, dogma and institutions unquestionable tyrants. Unless, of course, you wish to be told what to do by doddering fanatics in funny hats.


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    The Stig says:

    The pope is wrong. There is no justification for violence.

    People have rights. Opinions do not and I don’t see why religion should be elevated above opinion.


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    Peter says:

    OK, we were all horrified and the impulse to resist and defy was overwhelming, but I hope there are at least some who are second-guessing their having so unthinkingly and viscerally proclaimed solidarity with offensive cartoons they wouldn’t normally have applauded or approved of. And are perhaps a little more inquisitive about how that must have looked to one million Muslim-Canadians, no matter how strong their faith. Muslim activism in the West, including Canada, can be quite assertive and there are times when they have to be stared down resolutely with a firm no, but the growing propensity to attack and mock symbols of their faith, culture and lifestyles is worrisome in a country with so much cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity.


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    Nicole says:

    This veers toward justifying blasphemy with violence, which is not the same as hate speech. Threatening a religious group with violence is not the same as saying their religion is silly or dumb. While I am not surprised that the pope thinks you shouldn’t be able to insult his religion, normally this pope is a little better than that.


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    Patrice Boivin says:

    eeesh I had a comment but I deleted it.

    Sometimes opinions based on reality offend people.

    Not sure what to do now: my conclusions (not beliefs) might offend the Pope!


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    cgh says:

    Yes, this is where the central hypocrisy of the “Je suis Charlie” starts. Eveyyone loves free speech as long as it’s not their particular ox getting gored.
    Rex Murphy summed this up superbly here:
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/10/rex-murphy-we-are-not-charlie-hebdo/

    The limits of free speech are prescribed in law under various things like slander, libel and incitement. What the Pope is doing is pleading for a special exemption. And every time one of these is granted, the right of free speech is diminished. Obvious that he’s a Franciscan, despite his feeble joke about punching. Jesuits are made of tougher stuff.


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    lance mclean says:

    More of a question, since this discussion all started with the attack on a French magazine that showed cartoons and drawings of the “Prophet” has anyone since looked at all their cartoons. Were they really mocking Islam/ a faith or were they mocking the terrorist faction of Islam? I don’t know as I have not looked at all of their cartoons, has any one here? I am crious more than anything.


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      doconnor says:

      Drawing the prophet offends many more Muslims then just terrorists, which suggests they where mocking the whole faith.


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        lance mclean says:

        I am just curious if the cartoons were specifically drawn to mock terrorist type activities or were they just poor taste cartoons of the”prophet”. I understand they can offend others, I just wanted to know what their content tended to be, I cannot speak french so looking at cartoons in another language does not do much for me if I can’t understant what the text is.


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    lichtik says:

    You’re not often completely wrong but this time: wrong Wrong WRONG!


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    Domenico says:

    I think I will defer to noted jurist Jonathan Turley here:

    “I still admire the Pope but he is less inspirational on free speech, particularly anti-religious speech, in making these comments. Ironically, free speech is the greatest protection of the free exercise of religion. It is the right that allows people of faith (as well as people who are agnostic and atheist) to speak out about their values and beliefs. That freedom comes with a certain covenant of faith in free speech: that we all can speak our mind without fear of prosecution or retaliation.”

    Full article here/

    http://jonathanturley.org/2015/01/15/not-charlie-pope-francis-declares-that-there-must-be-limits-to-free-speech-in-criticizing-religion/


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    davie says:

    The Pope says that you are infallible.


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      Warren says:

      On that, he is not fallible.

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