- Russell Blackford
- Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).
Saturday, March 21, 2009
No respect for Ratzingerbag
Here is Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, whining about the disrespectful treatment of poor Pope Ratzingerbag in a British newspaper. I've helpfully provided a copy of the cartoon that the Cardinal is carping about.
Sir, I was appalled at the tasteless cartoon depicting Pope Benedict XVI. No newspaper should show such disrespect to a person who is held in high esteem by a large proportion of Christians in the world. To pillory the Pope in this way is totally unacceptable. As to what Pope Benedict said, it would be wiser for people to look at the issues that he was raising in his remarks. It is certainly true that the widespread distribution of condoms can run the risk of greater promiscuity and that the best way to combat the Aids epidemic is by healthcare, education and fidelity in married life. Even if people do not accept the Church’s teaching in this matter, it is a well-known fact that the greatest contribution to health care for those living with Aids in Africa is given by the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
Archbishop of Westminster
As it happens, I support Ratzingerbag's freedom of speech. For example, I do not want him jailed for a crime against humanity for urging that condoms not be used in Africa to combat the AIDS crisis. Still, I can damn sure see the argument, given the enormous loss of life that may follow if the Pope's idiotic advice is actually taken seriously.
No, I defend freedom of speech consistently, partly on the basis that there are many ways to respond to bad speech other than by simply suppressing it. One such way is by treating it - and its perpetrators - to much-deserved ridicule. There are other ways, too, such as (in this case) pressing for renewed efforts to provide condoms in Africa. All in all, though, the ridicule of ridiculous doctrines is one very good response to them.
Murphy-O'Connor should be grateful that he lives in a liberal democracy where free speech is protected, and that free speech still has some acceptance as an international norm, despite the best efforts of the Vatican to undermine it. If free speech didn't have so much acceptance, we might be asking more pointedly just how much damage Ratzingerbag's utterances might do, and whether this kind of speech really might be best regarded as a crime against humanity. Well, enough of that. The hierarchs of the Cult of Misery can say what they like ... and we can treat them with the contempt that is warranted.
And for the rest, I am of the opinion that we must destroy the entire "defamation of religion" campaign.