Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Does Free Speech Protect Your Right to Criticize Religion? Duh!

Posted by on May. 15, 2013 at 1:55 PM
  • 17 Replies




I’m a lawyer by training. It’s one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done because now I can recognize all the things otherwise smart people get wrong about the Constitution. And, boy howdy, there are a lot of people who misunderstand the Constitution.

Take, for example, this guy, Bishop David Zubik. You don’t get to be a Catholic Church middle manager by being a dummy, but you might by being spectacularly ignorant and near-sighted.

Let me set the context. A Carnegie Mellon University art student allegedly dressed as the Pope, only with…um…no bottoms. She was charged with public nudity. OK. Fair enough. You can’t just walk around flashing your naughty bits. Nothing unconstitutional about that. But Zubik, of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, is in favor of some decidedly more stringent restrictions on free expression:

“As I have said over these last few weeks, this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race, the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality,” Zubik said.

I think this gif is the only appropriate response to such a statement.

The Nope Octopus is running away because, in fact, the Constitution guarantees exactly the opposite of what Zubik says. And it doesn’t take a legal scholar to figure this out. We know that Nazis can march in a Jewish neighborhood. It doesn’t get a lot more confrontational than that. The Westboro Baptist Church can protest basically everything because of strong First Amendment protections. Everyone else gets to criticize both Nazis and the WBC, even though the latter is a religious group because of the First Amendment.

So, you see, what Zubik said is factually inaccurate. Freedom of speech exists so you can criticize popular ideas and positions without fear of official retribution.

Of course, I have no doubt that Zubik actually thinks his definition of free speech is the correct one. After all, it would basically eliminate any critical discussion of religion. Which, let’s face it, is what he really wants. I don’t think it’s a mistake that Zubik couched that little nugget in between “disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race” and “the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality.” Those smack of racism. Nobody likes racism. Racism is bad. It’s really hard to not sound sarcastic as I type that because it’s so self-evident. (It’s self-evident, right?) Criticizing religion, in my humble opinion, does not fall in the same league. We need to criticize religion the same way we need to criticize assumptions that lead to racist attitudes and policies.

Let’s do a quick thought experiment. Ian Millhiser at Think Progress details how the mere existence of non-Catholic people are considered some kind of existential threat to Catholicism. If you are a member of religion A, and you discover that religion B believes something different, does that not arguably “dismiss or disrespect…the sacredness” of your religious belief? Sure it does, because it plants the little seedling in your brain that suggests that you might be wrong. To get rid of that threat, you need to eliminate religion B. Suddenly you have a medieval-style death match.

OK, I’m exaggerating for effect. But do you see what I mean? Think of all the things we might not have if we weren’t allowed to criticize religion. We wouldn’t be able to explain why creationism is not a valid scientific theory. We wouldn’t be on the slow but steady march toward LGBT equality. We might not be able to stop people from owning slaves! Do progressive values disrespect the sacredness of religion? Not necessarily, but maybe. And suddenly we live in some kind of dystopian epic where rights can’t be protected because of some douche canoe’s religious belief.

Of course, what Zubik and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy really desires is the inability to question Catholicism. Luckily, that is not the country we live in.


 http://www.care2.com/causes/does-free-speech-protect-your-right-to-criticize-religion-duh.html

by on May. 15, 2013 at 1:55 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
romalove
by Roma on May. 15, 2013 at 2:02 PM
4 moms liked this

First Amendment protections are needed for uncomfortable speech, for critical speech, for speech that might offend, it is not needed for fuzzy warm happy speech (although it does apply there too!).

If someone wishes to criticize someone's religious beliefs, while the person who holds those beliefs may feel insulted, it doesn't mean that the beliefs are not fair game for criticism or for First Amendment protections.

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on May. 15, 2013 at 2:11 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree 100%. Can't take criticism of what you believe? I doubt the strength of your faith. 

jehosoba84
by Jenn on May. 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

 What he should have said was: Although the first amendment protects the right to criticize or disrespect others, we should not engage in such actions.

romalove
by Roma on May. 15, 2013 at 2:19 PM
Why should we not?

Quoting jehosoba84:

 What he should have said was: Although the first amendment protects the right to criticize or disrespect others, we should not engage in such actions.

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on May. 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM
1 mom liked this

Why not? 

Jehovah's Witnesses came by the other day, preaching their brand of nutty. I debated their ban on blood transfusions and was accused of being intolerant. I ended it by saying that they can believe whatever they want but I will criticize something that is extremely dangerous. 

I will criticize the Catholic church up and down, from this world and into the next, for their ban on all forms of contraceptives and treatment of homosexuals. Those are dangerous practices and I will speak out against them. Believe whatever you want. I firmly believe in the freedom of religion and also FROM religion. You want to believe stuff? Go ahead. but I will fight tooth and nail against those who try to legislate those beliefs. 

Again, if you can't take criticism of your faith, I doubt the strength of your belief. 

Quoting jehosoba84:

 What he should have said was: Although the first amendment protects the right to criticize or disrespect others, we should not engage in such actions.

autodidact
by Platinum Member on May. 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM


why not? 

Quoting jehosoba84:

 What he should have said was: Although the first amendment protects the right to criticize or disrespect others, we should not engage in such actions.



Autodidact, Unrepentant Heathen

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on May. 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM
Bump for later.
autodidact
by Platinum Member on May. 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM


and yet the religious can disturb my peace in my own home, demanding to know where I go to church, grill me on my beliefs, and imply that I'm a bad parent. 

Quoting jehosoba84:

 What he should have said was: Although the first amendment protects the right to criticize or disrespect others, we should not engage in such actions.



Autodidact, Unrepentant Heathen

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN