Who’d have thought that nice, avuncular old Pope Francis, of all people, would invoke the mini-skirt defence for violent abuse?
Apparently, if I’m understanding him correctly, Francis thinks that people who mock religion can expect violence, with the obvious corollary that the Charlie Hebdo victims were responsible for their own murders by provoking the passions of extremist Muslims.
In much the same way, one imagines, that women in skimpy clothes are responsible for provoking the passions of rapists, or, as Polly Toynbee observed in the Guardian, the same way mouthy wives are responsible for beatings by abusive husbands.
Religion, it seems, must be given a special place above mockery or lampooning, no matter how ludicrous its teachings, though the Pope didn’t specify which particular religions he had in mind. He didn’t say it was wrong to wind up the Satanists. Nor did he refer to the nutty Joseph Smith and his bonkers invention, Mormonism. He was silent on Scientology and dumb on dharma. He said nothing about Voodoo nor Wicca nor Druidry, but I think we get his meaning all the same.
Stay silent on the Big Five, the OPEC of obedience, and we’ll be all right. Nobody dies. Step away from the crozier.
Oddly enough, Judaism isn’t one of the Big Five, but I’m guessing he thinks Abraham is a good enough connection. In fact, being a Pope, I suppose he’s hoping the Muslims and the Jews will eventually see the light and abandon their irrational superstitions in favour of his irrational superstitions.
In a bizarre illustration of his position, Pope Francis explained that if his good friend, Dr Gasparri, says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal, he said. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.
So there you have it. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others, no matter how absurd that faith might happen to be. If you do, you can expect violence. And what is faith? The blind acceptance of absurd propositions despite the complete absence of supporting evidence. That’s what the Pope thinks we can’t ridicule, on pain of being murdered by people with a blind faith in absurd propositions without supporting evidence. Otherwise known as extremists.
Most people in this country would agree that Scientology is ridiculous. Ron Hubbard’s religious money-machine teaches that an alien lives inside your head and that the more expensive courses you attend, the closer you’ll get to releasing your inner alien.
But many of those same people see absolutely nothing ridiculous with the central teaching of Catholicism, which is that a dead man can turn into a biscuit.
I rest my case.