Thursday, January 15, 2015

Free Speech and that's that

I am for free speech and that's that. Pope Francis today stood on the side of critical religious speech restraint lest it offend. The Pope used his mother as a simile. He said one should expect a punch if anyone criticizes or insults her. I might direct the Pope (whom I rather like) to Saturday Night Live's early days where Father Guido Sarducci's "Find the Pope in the Pizza" was hilarious. How about Andres Serrano work at a Mapplethorpe exhibit which was of a photograph of a Christian symbol submerged in what I will not say lest I offend? The art work was attacked. What about the film "The Graduate?" In the end of the film the two heroic love birds (the bride and Dustin Hoffman) ran from her wedding. He snatched her from the pulpit before she could say I do, left the wood-be-groom in the dust and used a large crucifix placed horizontally in the door of the church so people in the church could not get out lest they try to stop them. I thought that symbolic of religion's penchant for imprisoning its subjects and that love should, in the final analysis, conquer all. Perhaps the Pope would not think as I which is his right.

Too bad, though this time, Pope Francis, I ever so respectfully disagree with you. If I insult your mother and you strike me that is assault and battery. One could go to jail for that. You should not punch me or anyone even if they offended your mama. Who knows maybe one has good reason for insulting her the substance of which the Pope does not know.

 I love Bill Maher's views on religion and support him 100%. It is our right to say that in organized religion, as the late Christopher Hitchen's brilliant book alluded, God is not necessarily good. I wish Hitchens were here to have this self-censorship debate.

If one thinks organized religion (emphasis on organized) is a scam that profits madly off frightened people who often cannot afford its hefty price but do anyway then it is our right to be able to say so any way we choose. If we think religion is so irrational and impossible to believe without denying science then it is one's right to say so any way one wants.

It says something, I think, about the weakness of religion that its faith is so tenuous a silly cartoon can ruin its day. Religion is and probably always has been political and like all politics it is up for debate even angry debate because those it oppresses and even kills are so numerous.

I took a course once in rabbinic Judaism and the rabbi who taught it said he saw a car with a bumper sticker. The sticker said "God made Adam and Eve and that's that." Our rabbi instructor said that he knew those in the car were not Jewish. You may ask why. Because, he said, Jews never say God did this or God did that and that's that. It never is the end of the story because religion gives us a plethora of ammunition to debate it by any verbal means necessary and we should!

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