"Pope Francis has defended freedom of expression following last week's attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo - but also stressed its limits.
The Pontiff said religions had to be treated with respect, so that people's faiths was not insulted or ridiculed.
To illustrate his point, he told journalists that his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother." (BBC report)
A reporter from our magazine "Bullshit Unlimited" visited Paddy O'Shea who presently resides in a disused trailer near the river Thames, in London. Paddy has just recently left rehab. Although he has lived in London since his teens he has not lost his rich, Dublin accent.
"Well, Paddy. What do you make of that?"
"Treat all religions with respect? Is he mad? Does that include Scientology? Freemasonry itself is a religion, isn't it? Mythic to be sure, but sanctified by blood oaths and dogma all the same."
"I mean the remark about his mother."
"Nuthin'. The man's an eejit. What if his mother was dead, would his helper still cop a papal punch?"
"Even though the woman is gone to dust and not around to take offense?"
"Then he is no better than the Islamists who take offense at silly remarks about Mohammed. He's not around either."
Paddy lit up a stub and thoughtfully dragged on it, blowing long curlicues of blue smoke into the air to watch them swirl and disappear..
After a pause, our reporter asked:
"Okay, Paddy... let's imagine the Pope's mother were alive... what then?"
"How she reacts says everything about her and nothing at all about the silly words used. A child of five can curse. Are we, who taught him how to do it, entitled to beat him up for it? Even if he doesn't understand a single word he is using? Words have only the importance you give to them. Try calling a real whore a "whore" and see what response you get. You cannot insult whores or politicians. They know well enough what they are."
"We are talking about the Pontiff's mum."
"And what would be so special about her?"
"Well, she's the Pontiff's mother... for crying out loud."
"And that makes her better than your mum, does it?"
"If the Papal assistant called his chief's mother a "whore" and she knows she isn't one, then she could, if she chose, laugh it off. No offense taken, means none has been given, right? Depending on the circumstances she may take him to court and get him to prove it. And if he called her something more nebulous like "bitch' the choice of response is still hers and nobody else's. Her response, and she has any number of responses available to her, let us not forget, is her affair, not her stupid son's. Secondly, if by "bitch" you mean tyrant, then all women are bitches and most of them know it... no proof necessary... and all men too. And who the hell is anybody anyway that they should not be offended? I am offended constantly but I don't resort to violence about it. What's the point? Calling somebody a rapist or somethin' like that is different. You run the risk of being challenged to prove your point. You are presenting something as fact that may not be true and if you cannot prove it you could be in deep shit. But, you cannot dispute the man's right to call you whatever he likes whether he can prove it or not. That is the point that is buried behind the smoke and mirrors. It is that singular liberty, above all others, that has given rise to all...and I mean all of the great literature of the world. The way things are at present a Bernard Shaw or a Brendan Behan would be a total impossibility. They'd both be in the Gulag along with Shakespeare."
"But, you could understand Francis's reaction, can't you?"
"No, I can't. He's supposed to be the friggin' Pope is he not? Besides, he is not defending or protecting his dead mother in any case. What he is defending is the idea he has of her. Nobody was calling him names were they? What happened to "turn the other cheek"? What happened to "forgive your enemies, do good to those who despise you?" And what does Jesus say about violence? Isn't that why He was crucified? Was he not crucified by violent people of the same mindset as this man Francis who claims to be acting in His name? In fact, claims to be Him, if you please. Blasphemy was the charge. Jesus was topped for what He dared to say. Topped by people who took offense at what He said, even if was the Truth. You'd think the Goddamn Pope would know that much at least! The Pharisee mob claimed He had no right to say it, and that is my point. He had every friggin' right! Or did we all miss something? Me, I say whatever I damn well please; and if we are headed towards a world where what we say is going to determine our futures then we are all sunk. Isn't it clear as dogs' balls that the rulers of this world are trying to make damn sure they and their crooked dealings are never found out by shutting you all up? And I don't mean the Muslims. They are just pawns in the game. I mean, right here in River City. The shakers and movers, the boys in control. I see them every morning on their way to their city offices with their brollies, briefcases and copies of the Financial Times under their hairy armpits. Their target is the internet, end of story; the worst thing that has ever happened to every weasel and rattlesnake this side of the Rio Grande."
"That would be hard to prove, Paddy."
"If they have their way... it will be impossible to prove... forever. Now, if you could spare an old man a quid for a cuppa coffee I'd appreciate it,... you tight- fisted, media hooker."