Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pope Militant?

I was interested to hear of the Holy Father's recent comments on so-called 'freedom of speech', and his intimation that hearing someone or something you love and care about insulted does provoke a certain desire to thump the perpetrator. While most of us are unlikely to act out such thoughts, I am sure that most of us from time to time feel like landing a well-aimed punch at some obnoxious character who is being deliberately offensive for effect.

pope francis fist
"Insult my mother, and get some of this"

At the same time, I would suggest that very few of us would immediately think of committing multiple murders in these circumstances.

The key point is' how far is acceptable?'

It is not acceptable to deliberately insult and be offensive about a person's religion, even if you believe it to be a false one (I see the Bones has written a good piece on this). After all, at least here in the UK, were you to be similarly offensive about someone's race, sexuality, disability, etc., you would be very likely to find yourself in court). Kudos to the Holy Father for speaking out on this!

Of course, equally, there is also no way in which excessive reactions to insults can be justified. No way is it acceptable, for example, to murder someone because they specialise in publishing cartoons which aim to offend any and every group they can (as this post by Fr. Blake and this one by the Bones show).

It seems we now live in an age of sometimes inconsistent extremes, where to even breathe a word on certain subjects is seen as a sort of secular anathema, while to show righteous indignation is 'restricting freedom of speech'; where some are too scared to react to anything while others go way beyond extreme, and commit atrocities.

I am put in mind of the final lines of  this old song by the Dubliners, from an era when Ireland was rather less settled than today, and which tells of some of the earthier aspects of Irish life: the line goes like this -

'We used to solve our differences by a digging match and a jar,

But now we're all playing 'Bang-Bang'. That's going too bleeding far!'

Perhaps it was easier when you could settle a score by inviting him outside for a bout of fisticuffs, and then, crucially, when the matter is settled, having a drink with him to show there was no lasting grudge. I don't know. I do wonder if, during the short period in his earlier life when he worked as a club 'bouncer', the Holy Father ever saw disagreements settled like this.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Post, Matthaeus. Thank You.

    One wonders whether it is infinitely preferable to consider entering a Trappist Monastery.

    No verbal insults ('cos there ain''t no talking).
    No aggravation or personal abuse ('cos one's intent on Adoring God).
    No Knuckle-Sandwich to your Confrere ('cos Confession follows. Big Time).

    Man's injustice to Man.
    Except in a Trappist Monastery, of course.

    in Domino.


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