Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The other medieval religion

Pope Francis, who increasingly looks like the biggest mistake the Catholic Church has made since, ooh, about 1600, yesterday said, in effect, 'you talka da trash about my mama, I breaka yo face'. The actual words were:
[I]f Dr. (Alberto) Gasbarri, a great friend, says a swear word against my mother, then he is going to get a punch
...and pooh to all the 'meek shall inherit' and 'turn the other cheek stuff'; he's a Catholic, and the Bible is merely a set of suggestions. This was all in the context of allowing that while those naughty boys in Paris shouldn't killed all those journalists, Charlie Hebdo pretty much had it coming.
The pope said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” like freedom of religion, but one that must be exercised “without giving offense.”
It goes without saying is a freedom to say only what doesn't offend is no freedom at all...not that the Catholic Church has ever had much time for freedom anyway. Let me don my classical liberal cap, and instruct the Holy Father. As Oliver Wendell Holmes put it:
[I]f there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate
Louis Brandeis (whom the Argentinian prelate probably would regard as one of the gang who killed Christ) put it far more eloquently:
To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
In other words, the solution to speech you hate is not the violence Pope Francis recommends, it's contrary speech. This is what marks us (some of us) as civilzed 21st century human beings, not medieval savages.

Fortunately, for me, Catholicism was a disability I outgrew with puberty. But if I were Catholic, I'd be feverishly scanning Canon Law for the phrase "recall election". Because every time this guy opens his mouth, it seems, something stupid pops out.

No comments:

Post a Comment