Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not to Badmouth the Pope’s Mother

Careful what you say
about his mother!
I have no intention of saying anything bad about the Pope’s mother. I’m sure she was a perfectly nice Argentinean woman.[1] I will say nothing bad about her. I know nothing bad about her, and it would be the sheer caddishness to invent scandal. That said, her son is dead wrong in some recent statements.

Even the Pope has jumped on the Charlie Hedbo bandwagon with an opinion.[2] The Pope feels that there should be a limitation to free speech. No criticizing religions. He compares criticizing religion to a friend speaking ill of the Pope’s mother. This is such a surprise: the leader of one of the world’s largest denominations feels that religions should be above criticism. Excuse me, your Holiness, but are you fucking kidding me?

The Pope is wrong. First, let’s look at what he said (this from NPR):
”It is true we cannot react violently,“ he told reporters today on the papal plane en route to the Philippines. ”But if Dr. [Alberto] Gasbarri here, a great friend, were to say something insulting against my mother, a punch awaits him.“

Gasbarri, the official who organizes papal trips, was standing next to the pope at the time of the comments.

”You cannot make provocations,” Francis added. “You cannot insult people’s faith.”
Wait, what? Punching someone isn’t violent? That’s news to me. The Pope has diplomatic immunity,[3] so if he were in the United States and punched me, the local authorities wouldn’t be able to arrest and prosecute him. By and large, the Pope probably has license to blithely assault people.[4] Back in the Vatican, he can probably pardon himself. “Yes, I punched that man in the United States, but I’m sincerely sorry, so I’ll let myself off with a warning, ten ‘Hail Mary’s, and twenty ‘Our Father’s.”

We can agree that if Alberto Gasbarri badmouthed the Pope’s late mother (which I will not do, despite that a sexist slur within these parentheses would make a great joke[5]) he’d be a cad. It would almost certainly damage his friendship with the Pope. It’s a bad thing to make slurs against members of people’s families. The Pope’s mother was a private person and that also gives her some protection.

The same can’t be said for Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, or Bahá’u’lláh, or for that matter, Mithras, Zeus, Baal, or Kali, or continuing on another theme, Charlemagne, George Washington,[6] or Kemal Ataturk.[7] Nor does this protection exist for institutions: the World Bank,[8] the Red Cross[9], or the UEA.[10] Religions don’t get a pass either.

It may not be fair to judge a religion by its worst elements, it’s probably also inevitable. Should Charlie Hebdo have pulled punches when referring to the international pedophilia scandal the Catholic Church has faced over the years?[11] Do we just give in when a religion tries to silence its critics or seeks special privileges? Currently the right has developed the dog whistle politics in which “religious liberty” is code for “we get to discriminate against gay people.” Since it’s based on a deeply [evil] held religious belief, should we give them a pass? No. Hell no. Fuck no.

The Pope thinks that if we don’t give them a pass, they should be able to…do what? He says that “we cannot react violently,” but then goes suggesting violence. Is he saying that the people who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo should have just beaten them up instead? Do I now have to worry that the Pope is going to try to deck me? (If you see the Pope lurking near my house, give me some warning.) I won’t say anything bad about the late Mrs. Bergolio, but her son: he’s a bit of a schmuck.

  1. Who long before her death gave up any hope that her son Jorge would give her any grandchildren.  ↩
  2. I’ll go there. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.  ↩
  3. He’s a head of state.  ↩
  4. He doesn’t strike (pun) me as the violent type, but after this, who knows?  ↩
  5. Proving my lack of fitness for the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Peut-être je ne suis pas Charlie.  ↩
  6. The whole story with the cherry tree was a lie. Just not his lie.  ↩
  7. The bastard who let Lord Elgin take away the Parthenon marbles.  ↩
  8. Nobody likes international banking.  ↩
  9. Vampires. I mean, come on, what do you think they’re doing with all that blood? Saving lives? Please. Bloodsucking leeches.  ↩
  10. The Universala Esperanto-Asocio. I haven’t anything bad to say about them, but the online magazine Libera Folio almost always does, although in Esperanto. Though they were supportive of the UEA’s statement that Russia was out of consideration for hosting the Universala Kongreso over gay rights issues. A number of Russian Esperantists disagreed with the UEA and Libera Folio over this. (I am not contractually obligated to work an Esperanto reference into everything. I just like doing it.)  ↩
  11. The cartoon shows Pope Benedict advising a cardinal to “be like Polanski — make movies.”  ↩

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