Walter Olson messaged me Thursday afternoon with a link to this article, which he said was “worse than Bill Donohue.” I shudder at the thought that someone could actually be worse than Donohue, but he was right. The author, who uses the name Modestinus, is a Catholic blogger who thinks there should be no protection for “blasphemy.” Whatever he thinks that is.
If CH deserves to be shut down (and it does), it is because of its numerous acts of blasphemy against God and His Holy Church. Of course, there may be other good reasons to curtail CH’s falsely sacrosanct right to “free expression.” Public order, especially in a country with the largest Muslim population in Europe, might call for putting a clamp on inflammatory speech, especially when such speech is devoid of artistic and/or intellectual merit. (Determining merit, I admit, is sometimes a fraught task, though not, as American courts of law would have it, impossible.) However, that responsibility fell to French officials and they failed. CH, for its part, was simply “playing by the rules” of a secular-liberal society, and not a single cartoon or story it ran in any way, shape, or form justifies yesterday’s appalling violence.
That hasn’t stopped some from trying, or at least coming up to the line of victim blaming. Matthew Schmitz, writing over at the First Things web-log, observes a couple of instances of this happening online. Shame on them. Shame on Schmitz, too, for suggesting that “[o]ur principles will be tested in defense of unsympathetic victims” if by “our principles” he means “Catholic principles.” For there is no principle, that is to say there is no right, to commit blasphemy, which is exactly what CH did in those instances when it tastelessly mocked Christianity. “Our principles,” that is to say, “Catholic principles” do not hold either the right of CH or any other publication to print whatever it feels like, either. Defending the “unsympathetic victims” of the CH attack is defending their right to not have their lives arbitrarily taken away by murderers in service to a false religion, not their “right” to “free speech.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the Catholic Taliban.