Journalists and cartoonists that were gunned down in Paris were victims of barbarous and brutal violence, but they are not heroes. Our Holy Father Pope Francis in an interview en route to the Philippines renewed his condemnation the terrorist attacks in Paris, and of all violence, but added that there are there are limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.
Acknowledging that both freedom of expression and freedom of speech are fundamental freedoms, Pope Francis said neither is absolute. As Pope Francis said, killing in the name of God “is an aberration,” and “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
Society as a whole and nations struggle to balance freedoms. In our own country, freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which is the constitutional basis for both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, have been limited for the common good by decisions of the Supreme Court, which continues to be called upon to rule on issues of freedom of speech and religion.
The satirical journalism of Charlie Hebdo in no way justified the vicious and deadly attack, but satire is not humor.It may seem humorous to some, but not to those that are its target. Satire is inherently cruel and those who practice it have placed themselves outside of the mainstream of civility and society. They also set themselves up for retaliation. As the Pope said, if you insult somebody’s mother, you can expect a punch in the nose, “it’s normal.”
Jesus put it this way: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets’ (Matthew 7:12)
Image Credit: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters
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