Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hate Speech

Both Karl and myself have gotten our share of criticism over the years for predicting that Catholicism would one day be outlawed as hate speech or some other public disturbance. Most folks seem to think that such a scenario is ridiculous. In examining this, let's examine the recent case of Cardinal Marc Ouellet. Here's a nutshell of what he said:

Speaking at a recent pro-life conference in Quebec City, the Cardinal said that abortion is a "moral crime" and that it is unacceptable even in the case of rape. That's an extreme position by this country's standards: Only about 5% of Canadians oppose abortion in all circumstances. But, as a spokesman for the Quebec City Archdiocese later pointed out, the Cardinal wasn't saying anything new: Like many religious Christians, strictly observant Catholics typically regard all fetuses as carrying the divine spark of human life. And so they urge that the tragedy or rape should not be compounded by a second moral tragedy.

So you've got a Catholic prelate saying Catholic stuff to a group of folks who probably weren't all Catholic, but were at least an audience who were in-line with the Church's view here. What could possibly go wrong?

How about the whole government going completely ape-poop.

The National Assembly (basically the congress/parliament/whatever) adopted a resolution BY UNANIMOUS VOTE proclaiming"

That [Quebec’s] National Assembly reaffirms the right of women to free choice and to free and accessible abortion services.” It also asked the Prime Minister “to put an end to the current ambiguity on this issue,” and again “reaffirms that the fact of supporting women’s right to an abortion should not in any case be used by the federal government to cut funding to a woman’s group...

That wasn't all.

Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest told The Globe: “Today’s motion sends a clear message to the federal government on the need to protect an essential right for all women.”

“Quebec has fought and won its battles over abortion rights, he said. “That battle is over and is no turning back” (Globe, Ibid).

Pauline Maurios, leader of the provincial Bloc Quebecois, declared the Cardinal’s statement “unacceptable.”

As someone who is "openly pro-choice" (her words), federal Conservative Minister Josée Verner joined her voice to the critiquing choir.

There was equally outrageous reaction from the media.

On May 17, Patrick Lagacé from the daily La Presse compared Cardinal Ouellet to an Imam from Teheran who stated that earthquakes could be attributed to women who dressed immodestly. According to Lagacé, the Cardinal and the Imam "are both religious fundamentalists that attack women". Lagacé mentioned that the only member of the Quebec clergy who "came up to the plate to publicly denounce Quebec is (again) Raymond Gravel." Gravel is a self-excommunicated priest and former Bloc Québécois MP. Lagacé himself stated that he hopes "Cardinal Ouellet dies of a long and painful death" so that he understands why some people might want to get legal help to die.

Holy smokes people. Just look at the story. The context is a Catholic talking Catholicism to a bunch of pro-lifers. The response is action at almost every level of government to make sure that said Catholicism is put in his place, which in this case, is the back of the bus. Is outright suppression really that hard to imagine?

As for His Eminence, he's taking all this pretty well:

"Why such a big reaction? Because I am just reminding people of the teaching the Church," he said.

"The Church has to teach the truth of the Gospel and the understanding of the human being from the Gospel of Christ," he said. "And the Church has to care for the formation of conscience."

"What I see in the country is the fact that we have for 40 years legalized abortion without any restriction, it has a great effect on conscience," he said, referring to the role the law plays as teacher. There are about 30,000 abortions a year in Quebec, more than 100,000 in Canada as a whole.

Ouellet said as a bishop he had a duty to teach Catholics the moral law. The Church also has to call for justice in society, he said. "For the unborn, there is not justice. He is the weakest human being; nobody is protecting him.

"After these four decades the moral state of our culture, it has become unthinkable to revise the law, it is also symptomatic of the effect of the law on the culture," he said. "In the future we should be more prudent on what kind of laws we pass in Parliament."

"I am aware that in Canada, in Quebec in particular, you will not reform society at the moral level by teaching morals first," he said.

"It will be through a new evangelization. If you do not meet Jesus Christ, it is very difficult to accept the teaching, the moral teaching of the Church. I am aware of that, even if what we teach is coherent at the rational level."

He had one other comment, though, that really brings out a lot of the problem, even if people don't want to talk about it.

"I have no power," the archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada said in an interview. "The Church in Quebec has no power anymore."

This is equally true everywhere. Remember the days when Henry IV would walk around out in the snow doing penance until St. Gregory VII absolved him? The Church has no power anymore and the State has forsaken God. No wonder things are so crappy around the world right now. Nobody wants to bring it up because we are far too wedded to the idea of compartmentalizing the Faith away from politics. Of course, it's probably not that far off when ideas like the Social Kingship of Christ will be classed as sedition anyway.


Philip said...

Good post, Throwback.

Haskovec said...

Well the hate speech argument while I don't agree with you that will happen is a non-issue in the US since we recognize hate speech as protected speech under the first amendment, so even if someone wanted to make that claim here it isn't going anywhere.

On the other hand the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't take as much of an individual liberty approach to freedoms and is more about group freedoms so more speech can be banned under the premise of hurting the group's rights so it could be a real concern there. Additionally Europe doesn't have freedom of speech as they already outlaw hate speech, so Nazi support there is illegal as is holocaust denial. So in that setup and given how secular and hostile to religion they seem to be it could be a real problem there as well. I think what could help the church in Europe is just that it has been the traditional church of the continent so I don't think they would call anti-abortion speech hate speech, I think they would just choose to ignore the church as they do on everything else.

Throwback said...

Here's the problem I see there. The First Amendment (and the rest of the Constitution) have fluid meanings determined by the whims of the Supreme Court. So even it doesn't provide any sort of absolute protection.

Or you can just take the speech part out of it. That was just an example. History has proven that, as long as it's the right person violating the Constitution, they can get away with it and even be revered despite doing so. Lincoln is a good example of this.

Or consider the Trail of Tears. Or the mother of all such examples:

Haskovec said...

I agree that the bill of rights has often been ignored when convenient to the people of the government. Even Bush's unlawful wiretaps, but the speech issue is settled law, and it puts us in a better position than any other nation of the world. No laws no matter where written will protect people when they elect immoral people who are going to ignore the law anyway. I was just arguing that we were in a stronger position than other nations. Also there are many more religious people in the US even marginal Christians that wouldn't take kindly to religion being threatened vs Europe and Canada which are much more secular.

Throwback said...

Would you say that Korematsu s also settled law?

Roisin said...

Excellent, albeit terrifying post.