The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue had a few comments – well, let’s be honest: episodes of madness – relating to the Charlie Hebdo murders, saying on Tuesday that the editor of Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, died because he was a narcissist.
Which is bad enough coming from a narcissist.
But it did not end there. Clearly, Charlie derangement was going to substitute for clear-thinking on the right.
On Thursday, Donohue had a surprising run-in with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, where, in a break from what Cenk Uygur described as a “vat of ignorance, fear, and hatred” on that network, she took him to task on the issue of free speech.
This was after he called the staff at Charlie Hebdo “pornographers.” She reminded him that the Supreme Court ruled Larry Flynt had constitutional rights as well, and that free speech was not just a means to an end, but an end in itself, a difference Donohue cannot grasp. Freedom of speech that is only a means to an end is a greatly diminished freedom of speech.
And all this is, of course, despite the loads of pornography in Donohue’s Bible. Apparently secular pornography is evil while religious pornography is a blessing. You know, where it’s known as “the Good News.”
Yesterday, Donohue, who says non-religious people are insane, descended a step further into his personal land of crazy (and he thinks all this is going to make us want to become Catholic): After claiming on Thursday that people were looking at what happened in a “unidimensional way” – in other words, one dimensional – he suggested on Friday that artists and Muslims respond in a unidimensional way by all becoming Catholics.
He claimed, in “Muslims and Artists Must Change,” that if everybody would just become Catholic, all this religious violence could be avoided.
Which is a jaw-droppingly stupid thing to say, because we tried that once, after the fall of Rome. And what did the Church do then? What did the Church do when everybody was Catholic (after, that is, it had violently repressed all those who were not Catholic)?
The Catholic Church ran around killing and torturing people it didn’t think were Catholic enough. It wasn’t run by guys like Pope Francis. And especially not by guys like Jesus. No, as recently as Pope Benedict XVI we were being told that Catholic Truth trumps religious tolerance.
The fact is, in Bill’s world, it would have been the Inquisition’s storm troopers instead of Islamic terrorists rampaging through Charlie Hebdo’s offices.
But let’s take a look at his proposal, since he does get air time to vent his narcissistic intentions and a lot of right wing crazies (though maybe not Megyn Kelly, and don’t give her too much credit since she thinks Jesus was white) seem to care what he says:
In an ideal world, Muslims who interpret the Koran to justify violence would convert to Catholicism, and artists who think they have an absolute right to insult people of faith would follow suit. If both did, we would have peace and civility.
Right. Because only Bill Donohue and his church have an absolute right to insult people. Donohue is about as uncivil as a person can be.
And then there is the fact that artists would only be able to portray what the Church says it is okay to portray. You know, like in Medieval Europe where, if you stepped beyond the lines, you got repressed. Repressed hard. Ask Galileo about the price of thinking about the universe in a non-optimal fashion. Ask all the people the church burned alive in the name of “peace and civility.”
Catholicism teaches that it is immoral to intentionally kill innocent persons, beginning with life in the womb. It is not a pacifistic religion—it believes in just wars—though it naturally inclines towards non-violence.
Which explains all that religious oppression after the fall of Rome, when all those nasty Gnostics and others had make like Pagans and convert or die. Explains the Inquisition too, and the Crusades.
It most certainly does not counsel violence as a right remedy to insolent behavior. Muslims who say it is morally justified to kill obscene artists, citing the Koran as their impetus, would do us all a favor if they converted to Catholicism.
Where they could then counsel women that they have no legal rights to their own bodies, and that if they think they do, they’re going to hell with all the gays and lesbians, and other people who don’t believe the right thing. You know, those pesky heretics who always need oppressing.
Catholicism teaches that freedom is the right to do what you ought to do. As such, it is always tied to duty, and to individual responsibility. Once that understanding breaks down—as it has in the West—trouble follows.
Right. Bolshevism once decried “selfish individualism” as well. What an attractive model you have chosen, Bill.
This is a stab at the Enlightenment, I suppose. I’ll just point to all the bloody religious wars to which the Enlightenment put an end. Europe could not have endured much more “individual responsibility” enforced by Pope, cardinals, and bishops. And let’s face it: the church didn’t change willingly but because it had to adopt or die itself, and it is still dealing with the consequences of its long history of intolerance.
Unfortunately, many artists interpret their rights as a solo exercise, disconnected from duty or responsibility.
Ah yes, duty to Holy Mother Church. Because we are just ants and have no right at all to think about individual human rights. There are no individual human rights in the Bible, of course. They were a gift of the hated Enlightenment, and you can feel the centuries of resentment simmering in Donohue’s words.
But autonomy can never be a sturdy guide to morality: it devolves into relativism and to a wholesale disrespect for the rights of others. Narcissistic artists who associate obscenity with creativity would do us all a favor if they converted to Catholicism.
The central problem with Muslim extremists and irresponsible artists is that neither embodies the virtue of restraint. If they did, they would not act as the barbarians and libertines that they are. Catholicism is the answer.
The Catholic Church has bred a lot of “barbarians and libertines” so I don’t think Catholicism is the answer to the world’s problems. It also bred Bill Donohue. Which, in a day and age in which we should all know better, is even worse.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.