This Pope Isn't Turning the Other Cheek

Quoting Pope Francis from an article on today, titled Pope on Charlie Hebdo: There are limits to free expression:
"'If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,' Francis said, throwing a pretend punch his way. 'It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.' … 'There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,' he said. 'They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.'"
This Pope has had a public image campaign of unifying people who are divided by political, economic, and religious schisms since he took the "throne", but if this is any sign of the unity he's offering, I'd just assume stay divided.  Not being a Catholic, I pesosnally don't really elevate the words of the Pope to any significant extent.  In fact, being what is historically referred to as a "Quartodecimani", a "Sabbatarian", and a "Judaizer", and knowing the violent history of the Bishops of Rome, who are the various Popes' pre-Nicene forebearers, and eventually the Popes themselves towards those who were pegged with such titles, I'm apt to put him into the category of ignorable, at least in these modern times of relative religious liberty when one can ignore religious figures with visions of statesmanship without being subsequently taxed the coin of his life.  And I would do just that were it not for his huge sphere of influence.  One can personally ignore his edicts, but among a large segment of the public, they carry some real weight, and many of those are voters and statesmen themselves.  Let me be clear here: this Pope certainly should be warning against using angry and provocative words, and should be teaching that everyone should choose their words carefully and respectfully, but he should NOT be justifying violent responses when these words don't fit that criteria.

Aside from the obvious problem of a sitting Pope in a modern society handing out justifications of bloody violence through theoretical anecdotes about insults directed to his mother, he hasn't properly analyzed what the implementation of his limitations would mean to the concept of Freedom of Speech.  I posit that if his limitations ever become commonly accepted in the West, Freedom of Speech will be a right and a value which will no longer exist.  Salman Rushdie, an author who knows a thing or two about both the importance of preserving this value and the dangers that can be faced if it is not stringently protected, had this to say about the subject: "What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."

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