Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Catholic League vs. Freedom of Speech

As you may have gathered from previous posts, I am a Roman Catholic. A practicing one, too, which comes as something of a surprise to me and to anyone else who has read my personal ad, where I describe myself as a "Jesuit-trained semi-agnostic lapsed Catholic." I've never really lapsed in practice, only in my heart. And I've come back, because I believe if the Catholic Church is going to be salvaged it will be from within, not from without.

There's a group called the Catholic League. I have no idea who they are, and I don't really have much desire to find out. From what I've read today they're a conservative action group with about 35,000 members and are not a part of the structure of the Catholic Church, so they don't have much formal relevance to Catholics or Catholicism in general. They no more represent or speak for Catholics than Al Qaeda represents and speaks for the worldwide Muslim community, or the Westboro Baptist Church represents and speaks for Protestants everywhere. Which is to say, not at all.

The Catholic League is in the news today. Seems that the John Edwards campaign has hired a couple of these freakishly opinionated and outspoken creatures known as "bloggers." And in the past, prior to their association with the Edwards campaign, these bloggers have, as is apparently the wont of their accursed kind, written opinions on websites and have posted them to places where other people could see them. And some of these opinions run counter to what the Catholic League finds acceptable. And for that, Catholic League President (hey! when was the election? I don't remember voting for this guy!) William Donohue has declared, John Edwards "has no choice but to fire them immediately."

Well, guess what, little man? Yes, he does have a choice. Welcome to America.

What are some of the terms this Free-Speech hating anti-American blowhard finds objectionable? From two articles on CNN's website:

...Donohue cited posts that the women made on blogs in the past several months in which they criticized the pope and the church for its opposition to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, sometimes using profanty.

"The Catholic church is not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics," Marcotte wrote on the blog Pandagon on December 26, in an excerpt cited by Donohue.

Among the McEwan posts that Donohue listed was one she posted on February 21, 2006, on her site, Shakespeare's Sister. She questioned what religious conservatives don't understand about "keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?"

...In his complaints, Donohue pointed to a Marcotte blog on her Pandagon site regarding the church's opposition to birth control, which she said forces women "to bear more tithing Catholics." Donohue also objected to another entry titled "Pope and Fascists."

Donohue also criticized a post by McEwen that refers to President Bush's "wingnut Christofacist base" on the Shakespeare's Sister blog.

The Catholic League president called the language "incendiary" and "inflammatory." "It's scurrilous and has no place being part of someone's resume who's going to work for a potential presidential contender," he said.

Mr. Donohue, wake up and smell the blogosphere. Most of us see worse than that while checking the morning blogs over breakfast. And as someone who's been called a "moonbat" by someone I thought (up until that point) was above childish namecalling, I can tell you that there's an awful lot of harsh language getting tossed around on this series of tubes known as the Internet. If you're going to disqualify every person who's used words like "moonbat" or "wingnut", "Islamofascist" or "Christofascist" from participating in the campaign of a potential Presidential candidate, you're going to be disqualifying an awful lot of people.

Only you're not going to be doing that, Mr. Donohue. Not you, nor your phony "Catholic" organization.

What's that, punk? Who's gonna stop you? Glad you asked.

See, it's not just me. I know people. I remember things. Like how, about a year ago, there was some furor over some cartoons that had actually been published several months earlier in a Danish newspaper. Now, whether the cartoons were specifically intended to offend Muslims or to be incendiary - well, a whole lot of people said that wasn't relevant, that wasn't the point. The point, they said, was that this is a free speech issue. And nothing is more important than Freedom of Speech. These folks, bloggers and their allies, believed in it so strongly that they were willing to band together and lurk behind the anonymity of their pen names and their blog addresses and publish these cartoons themselves and declare "Islamofascists, bring it on! We reproduce these cartoons in the name of FREEDOM OF SPEECH!"

Yes, those folks are the ones who will stand against you, Mr. Donohue. People who believe in Freedom of Speech so strongly that they will gladly hide behind their blogs and metaphorically stick their fingers in their neighbors' eyes, just because they know it will piss them off.

If they were willing to do this over the right to print cartoons that had languished unnoticed for four months, what more will they be willing to do to defend the freedom of speech of their fellow bloggers?

You have made a harsh enemy today, Mr. Donohue. The members of the blogging community that believe in Freedom of Speech are morally obligated to stand up to you. Who can stand against us?


whimsicalnbrainpan said...



*falls off chair laughing*

Jennifer said...

A tad off topic here, but I read this part of the articly you quoted: "The Catholic church is not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics," Marcotte wrote on the blog Pandagon on December 26, in an excerpt cited by Donohue."

It wade me think of the comments a certain bishop made when announcing plans to consolidate Catholic schools in part of NEPA. Atone point during the news conference, he outlined his reasoning. I'm paraphrasing here, but the basic gist of it was that consolidation will create a stronger, more concentrated community of Catholics who will, shall we say, get together in pairs to create more Catholics.

And, then, I think, they will take over the world.

D.B. Echo said...

Dammit, why wasn't the bishop steering Catholic schoolgirls my way when I was actually IN Catholic school?