Friday's piece on the Pope's punch brought the Pope a lot more consternation than it did me. Whew! Apparently, I went too easy on the guy.
"How dare he say that it's OK to slug someone if you don't like what he says?" "How dare he think he has the right to put limits on free speech?" And the number one how-dare-he: "How dare he blame those dead journalists for the massacre at Charlie Hebdo?"
All good questions. I guess even the Pope can't get away with that kind of thing. I'm going to mea culpa right now, I don't know how I missed all that.
Of course it wasn't cool for the Pope to say that he would punch his friend, Dr. Gasparri for slandering his (the Pope's) mother. You don't get to lash out at everyone who offends your sensibilities. It's not only un-Christian, it's uncouth.
The implication is that it's OK to behead, shoot or otherwise murder anyone who offends your religious beliefs, either in words or in actions. It's not.
A blogger in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to ten years in prison and ONE THOUSAND LASHES for suggesting improvements in the practice of Islam.
Most people seemed to feel that the spiritual leader of a billion Catholics should be setting a better example for his flock. Why is the shepard inciting a riot among his sheep? Why isn't he condemning-unconditionally-the perpetrators of the massacre and those who support it?
Here in America, where we like to fool ourselves into thinking that there's an impermeable barrier between church and state, we don't think a religious leader-any religious leader-should be telling us what we can and can't say.
That's a fair point. It's also a fair point-one that they will never get-that Muslim fanatics in Yemen have no right to impose their twisted views on people living in America, France or anywhere else.
We don't care how they live. They can pray 20 times a day and beat their wives senseless once a week. When they start trying to shape our lives to conform to their beliefs with random acts of violence, we have to draw a line.
It would be great if we could draw that line on the other side of the wife-beating thing, but that would be a stretch. Make no mistake, though. It has been the goal since the beginning of Islam and it is the goal now to squeeze the world into the tiny mindset of fundamental Islam.
The difference between then and now is that now they have the manpower and they have the means.
Islam has a tradition prohibiting the depiction of Muhammad to prevent the creation and worship of idols. Jews, too are prohibited from worshiping idols-Billy excluded. No Jews, however have been killed since biblical times for worshiping at the temple of materialism, nor have they killed anyone else for paganism.
If Jews acted on that false god thing the way Muslims do, they'd have wiped out the Kardashians by now.
For me, the real problem, though is that Jorge-what I call the Pope when he misbehaves-is creating a rationalization for a completely irrational act. You can't condone that stuff in any way, shape or form. It can not be justified, rationalized or condoned.
Now that we've taken Jorge out behind the shed and beat the snot out of him, maybe we should put him on probation and see how things go. It's tough out there and there's no easy choices. These wackos have complicated every aspect of our lives and our beliefs.
How do you differentiate between free speech that can get someone else killed and free speech that can get you killed? It's a fine line.
It's probably sensible not to incite the crazies. You don't poke a stick into a hornet's nest and you don't try to take a bone from a pit bull. That's just self-preservation. Then again, if you leave those animals alone, they won't bother you, no matter what you say or draw.
When groups like Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (JTI) stir up a bunch of illiterate fanatics in Yemen to make their point, that's where the lines get blurred. And I'm not talking about Robin Thicke's video , either.
To keep up with my posts, just type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. You will NEVER get anything else from me (no SPAM!), and you can opt out at any time. Please feel free to let me know what you're thinking: RJ@bobabrams.net