Bill Donahue, Blasphemy, and Charlie Hebdo

Bill Donahue is in trouble again. (Big shock, right?)

The problem is that he’s trying to advocate civility in the public square (in a surprisingly gentle manner, for him!) on a day when people don’t want to hear it (or only want to hear it in a whiny liberal way, if they’re liberals).

Basically, the whole thrust of his time heading the Catholic League has been to oppose people telling anti-Catholic lies, and to speak up against people saying blasphemous stuff.

OTOH, he has not been trying to pass blasphemy laws or other PC regulations preventing people from exercising their freedom of speech or religion, nor has he been advocating violence. He has been fighting expression with more expression.

So it’s totally in character for him to say that he always thought the Charlie Hebdo style of satire was tasteless and a bad use of expression, and that Muslims had a right to dislike stuff done against Islamic subjects, just as he himself disliked stuff they did against Catholicism. But yeah, it looks bad to do it over the victims’ bodies.

OTOH, this does settle one’s curiosity over where his branch of the Donahues stand on the fraught Irish wake question:

— Talk about the deceased person warts and all, pray for their souls, and have a really good party for seeing them off?

— Or go all lace curtain Irish and quiet, pretend the person is heading instantly for heaven, and don’t pray or have any fun?

I think that subconsciously, Mr. Donahue is assuming that the murdered cartoonists are mostly Catholics or participants in something of France’s Catholic culture, and hence will be totally okay with somebody moralizing for the good of others who mourn them. (I may be full of Irish bs on this point.)

What I want is to have it all: a relatively polite civic culture and murderers being afraid of the rest of us.

Right now, I’m afraid we have a savage popular culture that requires a lot of shocking imagery to make any point at all, or which pretends to be shocked by simple normal things; and then, very little actual action against jihad unless it’s in some country ending in -stan.

This can’t go on, so I can understand Donahue’s frustration; and I hope it goes okay for him. But sheesh… the man makes me look like a social genius.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Bill Donahue, Blasphemy, and Charlie Hebdo

  1. It’s not so much the tacky of saying that they were offensive, it’s the saying that their tackiness should not be tolerated.

    The guy talks for a living. He should pay attention to what the words he chooses actually mean, and “not tolerated” does not mean “are disapproved of,” or “are disagreed with,” it means “are interfered with.” Over the bodies that resulted from such an interference, well…..

    • Oh, it’s absolutely tacky. It’s the idea that if you don’t say what you think and everything you think, you’re a “whited sepulchre.” As for what Donahue thinks “toleration” means this week, it’s anybody’s guess.

      To be fair, though, a lot of older Catholics have heard a certain amount of the idea that “error has no rights,” which is true but misses the point that “people in error do have rights.” So either these people will believe the first part and ignore the second, or strive to avoid the first part and end up going so far that they violate the second.

      • Funny you should mention about error having no rights, I just finished coming to the conclusion and suggesting that very point may have been mangled in the latest miniscandal with the Pope.

        Rights in the religious sense is quite a bit different than “stuff that the government can effectively ensure.”

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