The pope’s mamma has four legs, eight nipples, and a waggily tail*



“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others… There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.” —Pope Francis

Can you imagine an eight-year-old ghetto kid standing in court beside an 80-year-old Vicar of Christ because both imagine that a “Yo mamma…” insult necessitates a violent response? Such is the shallowness of ghetto, Catholic—and Islamic—morality, yet they all agree that, as an atheist, I cannot be a moral person.

Religious people from one religion tend to hate those from other religions, yet they share an interest in censoring anyone who shows disrespect for any religion. That those who regard religion as a force for evil feel don’t feel such respect, or that religious people don't reciprocate the respect that they demand, is considered irrelevant because, as religious people see it, religious values come from God, and secular values from Satan. In his remarks, the pope did say that violence in the name of God is an aberration, but given his words about there being “a limit” to what one can say before an assault becomes necessary, along with his personal threat to assault anyone who curses his mother—much less his religion—it appears to be an aberration that he shares.

“One of Charlie Hebdo’s founding members blamed the slain editor for being murdered, calling him a “blockhead” and saying, “I really hold it against you.” —The Telegraph

If this “founding member” is consistent, I can but assume that he blames rape on women who wear short skirts, burglary on people who buy new stereos, and pedophilia on toddlers who kiss priests because, god knows, if the victims aren’t to blame, who is, their assailants bearing no responsibility?

The common ground to both of these news items is that people had damn well better back-off when it comes to criticizing religion because if they don’t, they can expect to come to a violent end, and it will be their own fault. Where does this leave me? I often criticize religion in ways that would get me fined, killed, or imprisoned in the 44% of the world’s countries that have laws against the defamation of religion. So, what do you think? If I should come to such an end, would you say that it was a travesty of justice by a people that despise free speech, or would you say I have no one to blame but myself?

When I hear about the latest Islamic atrocity, I often recall the centuries during which Christianity was no better, and I wonder if the world might not see a return to those times. When I heard the pope's latest stupid remark, I reflected that he and Islam are a lot closer than he and I when it comes to the ease with which they rationalize violence as a reasonable recompense for opinion.


*If you want to send your own message to the pope, here's the link: http://vatican.com/contact#

20 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

While I deplore the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, I wasn't surprised. If you have an arguably mad dog wandering around that you know bites, that has growled often and you poke it and poke it and poke it in an area which you know (and indeed hope) will make it hurt, it isn't surprising that it bites.
And when you add the prospect of martyrdom and going to a better place it is even less surprising.

Snowbrush said...

"If you have an arguably mad dog wandering around that you know bites, that has growled often and you poke it and poke it and poke it in an area which you know (and indeed hope) will make it hurt, it isn't surprising that it bites.”

It doesn’t matter that many Moslems are dangerous. What matters is free speech, so if a person says, “Well, I’ll criticize these people because they’re not dangerous, but I won’t criticize those people because they are, he or she might as well run and ad saying, "I’ll do what you want if you threaten to hurt me." Likewise, those (and I don’t mean you) who say that the people who published Charlie Hebdo should have known better, imply that they were clueless that they lives were at risk, which is simply asinine when you look at the threats they received and the violence that has befallen other critics of Islam. Now, the pope has said that it is understandable for people to resort to violence when their religion is criticized, and, in my mind, it’s not too great a leap from saying something is understandable to saying that it is justified, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if we now start seeing Catholic violence. I had imagined that, however great his faults, this pope was at least less nutty than most of them, but now he has taken the cake for childish irresponsibility.

BBC said...

I pretty much hate all religions equally. Da pope is a dope...

Snowbrush said...

"I pretty much hate all religions equally."

When I consider the harm that Islam does to millions of people every hour of every day, I can't see my way to NOT put it at the top of my list of dangerous religions.

"Da pope is a dope...

I agree. His playground rhetoric completely destroyed my confidence is his leadership.

Elephant's Child said...

Agreed. I think, and I am still wrestling with it, that this is cementing my feeling that free speech carries responsibilities. It has the power to hurt as well as heal and I do try and think about the likely impact before I open my mouth. What will it achieve? What do I want it to achieve?
No easy answers here because I would resent anyone else (Government or religion) trying to dictate what I can and cannot say. And personal responsibility seems to be an alien concept to many.
PS: I don't think I agree with you that many Moslems are dangerous (or no more than any other body of people). On a percentage basis I suspect that isn't true.

Snowbrush said...

“this is cementing my feeling that free speech carries responsibilities. It has the power to hurt as well as heal…”

When religious people (this hardly include you) say that free speech carries responsibilities, I think what they mean is that no one has right to say anything that pisses them off. My problem with ANY talk of responsibility is that once those who have power—whether its the government or the terrorists—label certain cartoons, books, plays, etc. as “irresponsible,” they then feel justified in censoring or killing those who publish them. My opinion is that responsibility be damned. People either have a right to free speech or they don’t, and this means that they shouldn’t have to justify what they publish to ANYONE unless they’re advocating violence. I would really be challenged to think of a principal that I feel more strongly about, and I’m bristling over Peggy’s request that I watch what I say about Islam. On the one hand, what I say might put her at risk, but on the other, I am ready to wage my own kind of war regarding their dumbass belief that they’re justified in killing anyone who hurts their poor little feelings. Once people think that they’re taking orders from God, all reason and restraint is out the window, and that’s exactly where Islam is, and I don’t think there are any moderate Moslems when it comes to freedom of speech.

Elephant's Child said...

As soon as people religious or not tell me what is acceptable the freedom is gone. I suspect that sort of censorship often drives things underground - where it gains power. Festers and grows.
However, on a personal level, I do exercise some self-censorship. Some things I don't say and some things I say only to a specific audience. Which goes back to 'what do I want to achieve'. As I said, I can't see any easy answers...

Snowbrush said...

"I do exercise some self-censorship."

It's the only kind that passes my acceptability standard. Mainly, I try to avoid wasting my readers' time with things that I myself don't feel passionate about.

Stephen Hayes said...

At first I was disappointed in the Pope's comments, but after thinking about it I believe he was tackling the subject in two ways, practical and moral. There are limits when it comes to criticizing anyone's religious beliefs because it can cause you harm and spread discord, but morally it's an insult to God to kill anyone in His name. As a practical matter, I don't go out of my way to point out the flaws in religions, but I respect the right of others to do so.

BBC said...

My mother tired to raise me a catlick, it didn't stick.

Just because I don't like all those nuts and their beliefs it doesn't mean I'm in the mood to start killing them. Don't need to, they've been doing a pretty good job of killing each other for thousands of years.

And it looks like the religious wars are heating up but I'll stay out of the way the best I can.

Joe Pereira said...

This pope is more concerned with being popular than Kim Kardashian. He's trying to be modern but is failing miserably, and by endorsing violent actions in some cases he is nothing less than just another deluded religious extremist.

Snowbrush said...

"At first I was disappointed in the Pope's comments, but after thinking about it I believe he was tackling the subject in two ways, practical and moral.”

"You cannot insult the faith of others,” can only mean that the pope wants those who “insult the faith of others” to be punished. Otherwise, insults to the faith of others will most surely continue, as they deservedly should. Imagine NOT insulting a religion that stands for the oppression of women, or a church that has for centuries has been a refuge and supermarket for pedophiles. What the pope demands isn’t respect that is earned through rationality and goodness, but respect based upon the simple fact that an institution claims to have knowledge of God, no matter how fantastic that claim is or how much evil that institution does.

"it looks like the religious wars are heating up but I'll stay out of the way the best I can.”

I want to say my piece about them.

"by endorsing violent actions in some cases he is nothing less than just another deluded religious extremist.”

And to think that he defends violence against something so childish as when another man insults his mother, a woman they didn’t even know. It was bad enough that he lyingly defended the Catholic Church’s “openness" regarding the disclosure of information about pedophilic priests. Now, he insists on having respect! No one can have respect by demanding it; they can only have the silence that comes from making people too afraid to speak out.

lotta joy said...

And so the phrase "your mom wears army boots" dies. I was invited to a neighbor's home to meet her mama. I was also begged to not mention any number of subject matters due to her sensitivity.

I told her that I had other ways of wasting my time and coddling her mom wasn't one of them.

There's just too many rules and too many people sticking their bare feet into a crowded room so they can get righteously indignant if someone steps on their toes.

kylie said...

when people point out the hypocrisies and faults of the church I would mostly have to agree with them but when they are just derogatory and disrespectful i feel personally disrespected.it's all about attitude.i wouldnt become violent about it, in any case.

anyways, i dont have much intelligent to say here but i wanted you to know i am still hanging about reading

PhilipH said...

ALL religion is a fantasy that is a comfort to billions on this planet.

This fantasy is hyped to these poor people by those at the top of the various religious hierarchies, the pope and his ilk is an example of this. There are others and there have been thousands in the last few thousand years, many of which are now recognised as just fables or similar stories.

The Vatican is a rich place which grew over hundreds of years under some of the worst examples of humanity, poisoners, fornicating murderers, power-hungry scum.

It proves that power corrupts etc., and this applies to ALL such fantastic organisations.

And this word 'blasphemy' is one of their most heinous inventions. It is a meaningless. How can you disrespect a fantasy?

And WHY are the followers of some mystical being so scared of insulting such an all powerful yet invisible 'god'? If he/it is so powerful how can he/it be knocked off his heavenly throne. It would seem impossible.

This religious nonsense in the western world is rapidly losing millions of 'believers' and this will continue as people look into the night sky and see thousands of other planets/stars/galaxies and realise that no one thing is in charge of it all.

Sadly, Islam is still in the dark ages and hold onto followers more by threats and fear.

This is dangerous, not just for the west but even for faithful Islamists who dare not leave their religion for fear of death, or so I understand.



Snowbrush said...

"when people point out the hypocrisies and faults of the church I would mostly have to agree with them”

Maybe their list extends beyond your’s or else you wouldn’t be a Christian and them something else.

"when they are just derogatory and disrespectful i feel personally disrespected”

Nonbelievers tend to become exasperated in their conversations with believers because they don’t understand how seemingly sane and intelligent people can claim that something is true when, from the nonbeliever’s standpoint, it is illogical from the get-go, has zero evidence to support it, and contains what appear to be numerous internal contradictions (for example, how a fair and loving God managed to create an unfair and unloving world). I share these perceptions, but I also understand the emotional draw of religion, something that a lot of nonbelievers truly don’t experience, and tend to attribute to weakness, mainly the fear of death. As a nonbeliever, my problems with trying to relate to believers include being dismissed as immoral, insensitive, in denial of the fact that I really do believe, blinded by Satan, overly rationalistic, and prey to the sin of arrogance. I don’t even try to talk to believers in terms of asking them why they believe as they do, because I long ago gave up hope of hearing anything new.

"This fantasy is hyped to these poor people by those at the top of the various religious hierarchies…”

That is true, but it is also true that millions of people who have no allegiance to any given religious organization and don’t give a rip what the pope or any other religious leader says, still believe. I know there has been speculation that there is a genetic component to belief, and I think this is probably true because, as I see it, religion doesn’t make rational sense. If it did, people would be in agreement about it, but they’re not, yet most of them still believe. Some believers would no doubt claim that there’s a way of knowing that goes beyond rationality, but if this is true, why is there such a diversity of belief? I am, as ever, at loss as to understand why people believe. All I know is there is clearly something far deeper than the reasons they offer.

kylie said...

i'm a Christian because it adds a dimension to my life, but that is irrelevant to the point i was making and that is that i think it is possible to raise questions about a religion without acting like everyone belonging to that religion is an idiot.

i will never be able to answer your questions but i continue to engage on the topic because i do feel that you have some respect. there are other blogs where i gave up on any reasonable discussion of religion long ago

Snowbrush said...

"i'm a Christian because it adds a dimension to my life…"

That’s not the same as saying that you believe in Christ, but it’s exactly why I went to that church. I really enjoyed the “energy” of the high mass, and I enjoyed the book group, but it’s hard when you’re an atheist and know that being accepted depends upon keeping your atheism to yourself. I really don’t know why it should matter because if church people love everyone, how can they exclude anyone? I think the answer is that church is like a tribe, and to belong to that tribe, you have to accept certain beliefs, and if you don’t accept those beliefs, you’re seen as a threat. This means that their claim to loving everyone is simply window-dressing. Belief can be interpreted as what you think is true about a given proposition, but it can also mean that which you put your heart into. I can put much of my heart into church, but I can’t give intellectual assent to specific dogmas.

"i think it is possible to raise questions about a religion without acting like everyone belonging to that religion is an idiot.”

No one should try to paint believers as idiots. However, when the reasons they give for their belief make no sense to someone like myself, there’s nowhere to go with the discussion. That’s why it’s so exasperating. I feel incredulous, my thought being that, surely there’s more to it than THAT! But, of course, there isn’t, which is why some theologians (Kierkegaard being the most notable example) say that it’s silly for believers to even try to offer rational reasons for their belief. I think this is true, but it’s also meaningless to a person like myself who needs things to make sense and be backed by evidence in order to give intellectual assent. I’m actually so incredulous that people can really give such assent to church dogmas, that it’s very hard for me to believe that they’re being honest when they say they do.

"i continue to engage on the topic because i do feel that you have some respect.”

I like you, you know, and I respect the fact that you come here, and I respect your work in detention centers and as a doula. I also try to be as honest as I can, and I really never know but what you might feel insulted, although it’s not my intention to be insulting.

All Consuming said...

I agree with both you and Philip completely. Whether it was wise or for the cartoons to be drawn is not a reason to kill over the matter. We have to fight for the freedom to be dickheads or clever sods without fear of being killed because it's one hell of a slippery slope if you give in or think it's all 'for the best' to not aggravate people, what with them trying to impose their will upon anyone else who disagrees with them or pokes fun by murdering them. End of for me. The pope has just shown himself to be an arse too, but I'm hardly suprised there either. So much for turning the other cheek.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

This pope is usually right on the money IMO... but this was the biggest lunk-headed remark ever!