The Unsubtle Mind of Hugh Hewitt

The week after the Islamic murder of twelve Charlie Hebdo employees and several French police officers, the popular American discourse as to what qualifies as “relevant” to the event is becoming increasingly narrow. Notwithstanding the popular insistence upon a singular moral in the sad event, indeed it should be seen as a manifold, or at least a two-fold, message: a) murderers must be brought to swift and unrelenting justice, certainly, but also b) there is an important distinction between legality and morality that must not be overlooked.

The West continues to ignore the latter lesson. The public insistence upon only the first moral stems from a once-dormant, occidental sickness: a Western inability or refusal to recognize where the positive law and the natural law overlap. And where they do not. The popular resistance to remembering this long-lost distinction turns out to be something of a bette noir in American life that continues to kill our culture softly.

And as it kills our culture, it tends to engender undue controversy for some of our subtlest and most honest observers. This category of folks includes Catholic League president Bill Donohue, who drew out this unpopular distinction at his own inconvenience, and even to his own maligning, late last week.

Donohue felt the sting of popular opprobrium most sharply about his statement’s suggestion that “it is too bad that [Hebdo‘s editor, Stephan Charbonier] didn’t understand the role he played in his own tragic death.” Within 36 hours of both the Islamic mass-murder and the ensuing statement Donohue released, he defended his invocation for more publishers’ self-restraint on neoconservative Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated call-in radio program and on Fox News’ The Kelly Files with Megyn Kelly. Things there, especially on Hewitt’s program, went awry.

For the record, Donohue from the very outset stipulated his position that “killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned.” Donohue’s distinction did not appear subsequent to the statement, as a sort of cowardly “walk back,” but rather simultaneous to it. And in a follow-up piece the next day, he was even more clear: “Nothing justifies the killing of these people, but this is not the whole of this issue.”

Positive Law and Natural Law: Legality and Morality
Seeing the “whole” of the Charlie Hebdo issue requires Donohue’s message. Commenting on the ostensible goals of James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, poet Robert Frost once wrote: “Now I know—I think I know—what Madison’s dream was. It was just a dream of a new land to fulfill with people in self-control. That is all through his thinking … to fulfill this land—a new land—with people in self-control.”

I believe that Frost’s call for self-restraint—and Madison’s—is no different from Donohue’s. Thus, the plain difference between legality and morality must be arranged in its proper order. And Donohue did a phenomenal job in marking this emphasis during his heated interview with Hewitt.

Natural law is (and should be, if that matters) much more expansive than the positive, or human-made legislative, law. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “human laws do not by strict command prohibit every vicious action, just as they do not command every virtuous action.”

This means that we enjoy many more legal rights than moral rights—which itself means that true liberty requires non-legislated self-restraint. Donohue got this 100 percent correct … by saying repeatedly and unequivocally that he seeks “self-censorship” and not legislative censorship. (Through all 23 minutes, against Donohue’s straightforward protests, Hewitt consistently recurred to a feigned presumption that Donahue invoked legislative censorship.)

In brief, liberty—as understood by the scholastic tradition—describes a moral freedom oriented to the good; license or false freedom is an abuse of true liberty because it employs freedom for its own sake. And license’s false teleology renders it both amoral and indefensible, even while legal in certain cases. In the case of rightfully legal, yet licentious exercises of free speech—like Charlie Hebdo sodomy cartoons, according to Donohue—moral defensibility collapses, even as legal defensibility stands.

What does this mean in the case of Donohue’s statements?

Hewitt versus Donohue
Now, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly went after Donohue a little, but it was during the Hewitt interview that things grew very ugly very fast. Plainly, Hewitt chose to employ fishwives’ shame tactics and to the presumptively infallible popular configuration of the event, instead of an honest or at least embattling line of inquiry.

Whereas Donohue came prepared to defend his statement in a logical and genteel (at least initially) manner, Hewitt couldn’t suffer to have Donohue’s reasoning pass as anything but shameworthy. In other words, Hewitt wanted to pin a line of ipse dixit, “we already decided you are bad” shame on Donohue. Hewitt couldn’t “risk” the tempestuous sea of dialectics, and he seemed genuinely surprised that Donohue wanted to go there.

If any doubt about this was left to the listener, Hewitt sealed it by repeating four times throughout the 23-minute interview that “this is an interview, not a debate.” While implying that all reason is reserved for debates and not interviews, Hewitt’s tactic was clearly intended to deny Donohue an opportunity to engage in a reasoned dialogue over the moral limitations of freedom. By refusing to engage in a serious discussion, Hewitt conceded the weakness of his own feeble position.

Hewitt attacked Donohue with a rigorless verve that fell short of any vindication. In a genuinely artless blunder, Hewitt actually called it a “silly point” when Donohue articulated skillfully (under heavy fire) that “people have a legal right to insult … Islam or any other religion, but they have no moral right to do so … do you get that?!” Hewitt’s answer, Mr. Donohue, is that he does not get it.

One would summarize by saying that Hewitt screamed down Donohue during their unfruitful contratemps, and seemed genuinely “impervious to reason,” as Donohue remarked at one point. Beleaguered and clearly intellectually overmatched, Hewitt spent more than eight minutes of the interview “chewing clock” by insisting on Donohue’s disclosure of private Magisterial support which Donohue had already clearly stated he could not betray.

In short, for Donohue’s simple, straightforward insistence upon what I’ve called the second lesson of the Hebdo tragedy—the morality/legality distinction—Hewitt slurred him as a “shame,” a “scandal on the Church,” an “embarrassment,” and repeatedly mischaracterized the very basic premises in Donohue’s message.

Full disclosure: as of minute one of the interview, I shared in Hewitt’s aversion to Donohue’s two statements. That is, I thought that Donohue was seeking to “blame the victims” as well. But Donohue acquitted himself so excellently throughout the affair that I now defend 90 percent of his message: viz. Charlie Hebdo (and its authors) is not a “martyr,” because the magazine bore the legal but not the moral right to publish the sodomy cartoon which led to the odious Islamic violence. The cartoonized depiction of fictional sodomy is not a moral right of man. Conversely, to count among the martyrs—to earn our genuine praise—as Donohue insinuated, one’s actions must bear moral (often times, not even legal) right.

The American public—and evidently Hugh Hewitt—have got this age-old binary reversed, on their configuration of things.

Ensuing coverage of Donohue versus Hewitt was no fairer than the interview itself. Even trusty old National Review Online came to the peremptory conclusion that Hewitt “excoriated” Donohue—one no reasonable person who listened to the interview could draw.

Now, I maintain that Donohue was erroneous in averring that Charbonier contributed to his death morally. The proposition of Charbonier’s “role” or contribution cannot be discussed any more morally than it can be legally—even if the sodomy cartoon bore no moral right. The decision by these “crazed Muslims,” to borrow Donohue’s own terminology, was realized by their act alone. Nothing done by Charlie Hebdo can be said to have prompted the event, morally: each moral agent bears his own free will and constitutes what our criminal law deems a “superceding cause,” even when aggressors have been goaded or prompted to their violence.

Only in some third sense—that of rote probabilism—might something like contribution have been ascribed to Charlie Hebdo: e.g. a woman who walks nude through a prison yard takes the probability of her own consequent harm far too lightly, even though she nevertheless does not deserve ensuing harm, morally or legally. But the fact remains that speaking out against Charlie Hebdo‘s purely pornographic cartoon does not equate to any defense of Muhammad, loathsome jihad, the Qu’ran, or Islam itself.)

Islam and 2015
Therefore, the remaining aspect of all this which requires mention is: who will be honest about the Islam issue? (Honest in the difficult, meaningful way.) One remains unconvinced that outfits like Hewitt or Fox News—throughout all their abuse of Donohue, as well as their full-hearted self-congratulations for their own stance, last week—will deal with Islam in any more subtle or sophisticated a way than Donohue. In fact, based upon recent history, one intuits that Donohue may likely be the party more prepared to talk in civil, non-scatalogical, truly controversial terms (by stating unwelcome truths) about the explosive relationship between the Islamic faith and everybody else in the world.

Rather than debating the wrong approach to Islam—pornographic satire—I would have preferred to see both Donohue and Hewitt have a meaningful debate about Islam. Donohue would be further vindicated in such a debate (after declining to validate meaningless smut by Charlie Hebdo) by satisfying the expectation that his treatment of Islam would be more daring than Hewitt’s or Fox News’. Civil, not pornographic, daring is what’s needed, and it’s needed fast.

(Photo credit: AP)

Timothy J. Gordon


Timothy J. Gordon studied philosophy in Pontifical graduate schools in Europe, taught it at Southern Californian community colleges, and then went on to law school. He resides in central California with his wife and four daughters, where he writes as a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    It does not appear to have occurred to Donahue that ribald derision and scathing contempt are the morally appropriate responses to fanaticism, intolerance, superstition and ignorance.

    • Daniel P

      Contempt is not a morally appropriate response to anything. St. Francis de Sales: “One of the most evil dispositions possible is that which satirises and turns everything to ridicule. God abhors this vice, and has sometimes punished it in a marked manner. Nothing is so opposed to charity, much more to a devout spirit, as contempt and depreciation of one’s neighbour, and where satire and ridicule exist contempt must be. Therefore contempt is a grievous sin, and our spiritual doctors have well said that ridicule is the greatest sin we can commit in word against our neighbour, inasmuch as when we offend him in any other way, there may still be some respect for him in our heart, but we are sure to despise those whom we ridicule.”

      • Anglicanæ

        Is every kind of contempt against charity?

        I have a feeling a distinction is being omitted, but will note that it is true: charity generally cannot exist if we hold our neighbor in contempt.

        That said, no Christian could legitimately work for a trashy, vile satire magazine just to “make a point,” even if the point is true.

        Mockery, however, can be a virtue if it exposes evil for what it is, especially in a public forum.

        • Daniel P

          Mockery of a *view* may be appropriate. Mockery of a person — or a group of people — is never appropriate. When we mock people, we succumb to the temptation to count ourselves superior to others.

          • Anglicanæ

            People and ideas may not be so easily disentangled. A man’s worth qua man is rightly esteemed over against corruption, the imago dei never finally eradicated, but the kind of evil a free agent descends into might well command the scorn of justice.

            Personal insult, however, as our Lord taught, ought to be forgiven 70 times seven times.

            • Daniel P

              Of course it demands the scorn of justice. But no spiritual adviser would recommend his charge to consider himself “a just man”! So none of us benefit from ridiculing others, even if others deserve ridicule.
              Indeed, Francis de Sales point is about nourishing virtue in ourselves, not about giving others what they deserve. God can be counted on for that.

              • Anglicanæ

                Great point, but surely some vocations require fallible man to mete out justice in this world. Do you claim all ridicule is off limits by fallible man in every situation? And that it can never proceed from justice as if charity and justice are enemies? Truly, charity could never seek to decry justice, only maybe beg clemency.

                • Daniel P

                  From “A Man For All Seasons”:

                  Margaret More: Father, that man’s bad.

                  Sir Thomas More: There’s no law against that.

                  William Roper: There is: God’s law.

                  Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.

                  God will mock anyone who needs to be mocked. We should not think that WE have the power to take the weapons of the enemy and use them for good. Mockery is a weapon of the enemy.

                  • Anglicanæ

                    Is mockery the weapon of the enemy?

                    The enemy mocks, yes, but without justice.

                    I am asking questions because I am interested in getting to the real thing under consideration.

                    Killing is the weapon of the enemy too, but that does not mean it is not the rightful weapon of justice.

                    Stimulating discussion. Thank you for your patience.

                    • Daniel P

                      I’ve enjoyed the discussion too. My sense is this: the soldier deserves for Peter to cut his ear off, but Jesus repudiated Peter’s action. I think this case is similar.

                    • Anglicanæ

                      Peter had a penchant for obstructing the Son of Man’s mission. 🙂

                      What a man might do as an officer of the law will entail that which is unthinkable as a private individual. The Church as an institution has no carnal weapons. Only the Word, the Spirit, and faith working in love are our weapons proper.

                    • Jesus also said “get behind me, Satan”.

                  • M


                    • M

                      , Smithers.

                  • God will mock anyone who needs to be mocked. We should not think that WE have the power to take the weapons of the enemy and use them for good. Mockery is a weapon of the enemy.

                    Well now that’s interesting. You declare mockery to be evil after saying “God will mock anyone who needs to be mocked”.

            • “People and ideas may not be so easily disentangled.”

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        But, as Pascal maintains, in the eleventh of Les Provinciales, “ridicule is, in some cases, a very appropriate means of reclaiming men from their errors, and that it is accordingly an act of justice, because, as Jeremiah says, “the actions of those that err are worthy of derision, because of their vanity- vana sunt es risu digna.” And so far from its being impious to laugh at them, St. Augustine holds it to be the effect of divine wisdom: “The wise laugh at the foolish, because they are wise, not after their own wisdom, but after that divine wisdom which shall laugh at the death of the wicked” and “In short, examples of it are not wanting in the discourses of Jesus Christ Himself. St. Augustine remarks that, when He would humble Nicodemus, who deemed himself so expert in his knowledge of the law, “perceiving him to be pulled up with pride, from his rank as doctor of the Jews, He first beats down his presumption by the magnitude of his demands, and, having reduced him so low that he was unable to answer, What! Says He, you a master in Israel, and not know these things!- as if He had said, Proud ruler, confess that thou knowest nothing.” St. Chrysostom and St. Cyril likewise observe upon this that “he deserved to be ridiculed in this manner.””

        • Daniel P

          Does Augustine think we ought to mock the wicked in front of their faces? I doubt it. Do Jesus’s actions constitute mockery? Certainly not. Do any of the authors you cite encourage egregiously blaspheming false gods, in front of their adherents? No.

          As for Pascal, I wouldn’t take his advice on this matter. He is well known for his vicious mocking of Descartes, which clearly proceeds more from a delight in mockery than from a passion for the Truth.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            “He is well known for his vicious mocking of Descartes…”

            He is rather better known for his very effective mockery of Escobar, Bauny and their fellow Jesuit casuists and did much to turn public opinion against them in France

            • Daniel P

              Would that he had converted them, instead of using them as tools to move public opinion. The end does not justify the means.

        • Rock St. Elvis

          I don’t think ridicule generally is what Donahue is criticizing. It is a gratuitously insulting ridicule that insults many people of good will in addition to fanatics. Ridicule the fanatics, fine. Ridicule everyone who considers Muhammed a prophet, not fine.

          • Anglicanæ

            Which is the main point: ought government enforce the golden rule?

            • Rock St. Elvis

              I don’t see the author of this article making that case, so I’m not sure whose “main point” you are talking about.

              It seems that the “main point” of all those pronouncing the Charlie Hebdo folks as martyrs is that since it was legal for them to publish their cartoons, they were right to do it. Such a position is plainly confused.

              • Anglicanæ

                The main point, not of the article, but the underlying question.

                I actually agree with you.

            • GG

              No, but we ought not defend perversion.

              • Anglicanæ

                I agree. My only concern was to disentangle just ridicule from vicious discourse.

                • GG

                  I know. I think emotions are clouding our thinking here.

      • Kenneth Perrin

        This is one of the reasons I ‘ve stopped listening to the popular pundents, their constant name calling sounds like a kindergarten play ground. Another point I’d like to make, is that in discussions with the conventional conservatives, the Natural Law has been reduced to the nonagression principle of the libertarians. It seems that liberty and freedom, have become synomymous with license.

      • Contempt is not a morally appropriate response to anything.
        And you support this with a quote that discusses contempt for people.

    • jacobhalo

      You don’t fight fire with fire.

    • GG

      Immoral behavior is not an answer to anything.

    • michael susce

      Donahue is Catholic and therefore it is not morally appropriate to use ribald derision and scathing contempt in response to fanaticism etc. He is reflecting Pope Benedict and Saint Pope John Paul’s approach……

  • Fr Eric

    Good article. The distinction between moral & legal right is critical to discussion. Hewitt truly manifested a belligerent ignorance in the interview/debate.

    • craig

      Didn’t hear the interview, but I will say this: there is a time for everything. When a group of people are murdered for doing something they had the legal right to do, because their murderers judged them not to have the moral right to do it, it’s not appropriate to attack the dead for lacking the moral right, before their bodies are even cold.

      • GG

        Why? Are their cartoons less sinful at that point?

        • craig

          The murderers had both a specific intention (to defend the honor of Islam) and a general intention (“pour encourager les autres”). Offering that particular critique at that particular time gives the distinct appearance, however unwitting, of endorsing one or both of the murderers’ intentions.

          It’s more or less the same as someone in 1915 making the argument that sure, a black man was just lynched by a mob, but then he was seen propositioning a white woman.

          • GG

            I think his timing was perfect. It is a mistake to allow others to remain in their ignorance. Turning these people into martyrs in very wrong.

            Your example is preposterous and does not apply.

            • craig

              I don’t see how it’s preposterous. Lynchings were an exercise of street vengeance to spite the law. Lynchings, the perpetrators claimed, were done to deter and punish immorality. Lynchings enjoyed open and vehement support among a specific sub-population such that the overall society was hesitant, even afraid, to confront the perpetrators directly. Each of those characteristics also describe jihadism in the West. Especially in France, where Moslems are now approaching 10% of the population, it is impossible to say no-one condones what the Islamic barbarians did — many clearly do. That was the point of the analogy.

              • Took apart the “preposterous” charge like a cheap happy meal toy.

                • GG

                  Nah, not even close.

                  • Point by point, sorry.

              • GG

                It is preposterous because it is a flawed analogy. The lynchings were immoral. The support for lynchings was immoral. The law at the time was unjust. The excuse to lynch was contrived and based in prejudice. That is not applicable to the situation in France.

                In France we had barbarians murder people based on an evil ideology. The public does not support it. The law does not support it. Those murdered did not deserve murder, but they are not without culpability for various reasons.

                The confused masses have taken the cause of the perverse cartoonists as some type of martyr or something to admire. They are not either of those things.

                Catholic moral theology applies regardless of the politics or emotions involved.

                • craig

                  If the analogy is not applicable, then which aspect of the attacks are you defending by your objection to it: the morality of killing blasphemers, the morality of others’ support for it, the accusation itself, or the law that permits blasphemy?

                  • JohnS

                    The flaw is in your premise: that one may not point out the immorality of the cartoonist without simultaneously supporting the actions of the murderers.

                    Sorry, but it is both possible to decry the immorality of the cartoonist, and the murderer. It is also reasonable to point out that the immorality of the cartoonist contributed to the murderous reaction of the Muslims, while at the same time decrying the actions of the Muslims as immoral.

                    There is an excellent example of that in the story of the adulterous woman. Jesus never disputes the moral culpability of the woman, nor the judgement made of her, and at the end, he even affirms that judgement. He does, however, gently point out that stoning her would be wrong (an immoral response to an immoral act).

                    Or as I’m sure every mother said at one point or another: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

          • What honor?

            • St JD George

              The same that can be found movies like Scarface avenging turf and pride.

        • Even sinful cartoonists have a right not to be murdered for “blasphemy” in the personal and peculiar estimates of the practitiioners of a religion that is blasphemous in denying the Son of God and Idolatrous in elevating a mere man above the Son of God, and ridiculing God by saying the Almighty has no “need” for a Son.

          When some serial killer starts targeting prostitutes, we don’t say they are whores,so….

          • GG

            But, no one condones what the Islamic barbarians did.

            What if the same thugs killed Planned Parenthood folks. They do not deserve to be killed either. Should you go out the next day and wear a sign that says I am Planned Parenthood?

            If a serial killer killed prostitutes I would hope we would not say prostitution is a “right” and we ought to support it.

            • Paddy

              Would it be a sin to have assassinated Pol Pot in his blood-soaked heyday? we’re slipping into slopes that could curdle a soul. We all agree it was wrong to murder the debauched cartoonists. Best to leave it at that.

              • GG

                Well, as Catholics we follow just laws. We do not take the law into our own hands.

                • Paddy

                  “By the way, Doctor, I shall want your cooperation.’
                  ‘I shall be delighted.’
                  ‘You don’t mind breaking the law?’
                  ‘Not in the least.’
                  ‘Nor running a chance of arrest?’
                  ‘Not in a good cause.’
                  ‘Oh, the cause is excellent!’
                  ‘Then I am your man.’
                  ‘I was sure that I might rely on you.”
                  ― Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia

            • No not condoned, but expected. We have people on here saying offending Muslims is imprudent, as if it was the equivalent of golfing
              in a thunderstorm.

              That is exactly what Muslims (not just the terrorists, there is widespread support among ordinary Muslims for replacing the civil law of the nations they live in with Sharia-as I write this the news is about the attempt in Nigeria) want: immunity and privilege for the cult of Islam.

      • michael susce

        The Nazi concentration camps were legal…..

    • Thand

      Good point Padre

    • M

      While I think Donahue could have demonstrated more tact, given that the victims are so recently dead and that their families and friends are shocked and grieving, Hewitt really didn’t grasp Donahue’s point at all, which was that crude anti-religious satire may be immoral but should be legal, while murder is both immoral and illegal. Tragically someone who very likely did grasp Donahue’s point was Ahmed Merabet, the French Muslim policeman who was executed in cold blood by one of the terrorists while trying to protect the Charlie Hebdo victims. As a Muslim, I doubt he particularly appreciated the tone of some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, but he died defending the victims’ right to free speech. As his brother Malek said, “… don’t tar everybody with the same brush, don’t burn mosques or synagogues. You are attacking people. It won’t bring back our dead and it won’t appease the families.” #JeSuisAhmed #JeSuisMalek

      • Paddy

        I agree with you but think the Muslim cop was just walking his beat, unlike the cop who was assigned to guard the cartoonists. Regardless, may he rest in peace. Let’s hope Al Sharpton doesn’t interfere in French police matters, too. I’m sure he’ll chat with Barack before deciding.

  • Daniel P

    Excellent article, Timothy. I agree that Charlie did not contribute to the demise of its people, but that Charlie is nevertheless morally reprehensible — at least on an objective basis. Perhaps “they know not what they do”, but what they do is create trash that eats away at the fabric of human society.

    • GG

      We finally agree on something.

    • You just described much of the political ruling class in the world.

  • Don

    Interestingly many of the people who demonized Donahue for failing to praise all forms of “free speech” were the same ones who supported the arrest of the guy who made the video they blamed for inciting the attack in Benghazi.

    • Dbroussa

      Neither Hewitt nor Kelly supported that arrest. Nor did they blame the video for Benghazi.

      • don

        true – But I didn’t say they did. Having said that, your observation illustrates the oddity of this issue. Kelly has always been critical of inflamatory speech. Yet in her attack of Bill, she seems to support all vile language under that banner. Bill was clear that he did not in any way support the attack. He just indicated that the authors should have known that vile speech could incite a reaction. it is interesting to note that the left felt free to destroy the careers of anyone who suggested a gay union was not a “moral” union – but it was unacceptable for anyone to be offended by gross cartoons.

  • Vinny

    “…freedom for its own sake.” It all comes down to; me, myself and I.

    • You misunderstand. Freedom for its own sake is less a statement on its desireability, than the underdesireability of having petty tyrants. It becomes obvious when you start thinking of turned amateur dietician Michelle Obama making austere and unappealing school menus that never grace the dishes of her her two kids at Sidwell Friends,

  • Adhemarde

    Excellent, Timothy. The problem for the West is that our statutory law has deviated from natural law. This is a huge problem for a democracy, or even a republic. We cannot discern what is right and what is wrong by taking an opinion poll. Some Protestant churches have taken this tack, having their conventions periodically review their doctrine to see if it needs to be changed to match current societal trends. I need hardly mention abortion, same-sex unions, and so forth. It is clear to most that the killing of the Charlie Hebdo folks was wrong, but why was it wrong? Why is the killing of millions of innocent babies morally legitimate while this killing was not? The West needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the cold, harsh light of eternal truth.

    • Anglicanæ

      Excellent comment. We must be prepared to denounce those evils freedom permits but never approves. We’ve mistaken license for liberty.

      • GG

        And that is the key. We mistakenly think freedom means doing what we want.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.” – Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 26 August 1789

          • GG

            I will stick with Leo XIII on Liberty. Thanks.

          • Who determines what constitutes harm?

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              “These limits can only be determined by law… Law is the expression of the general will…”

              • “General will” must be one of those vaccuous constructs European lawyers comfort themselves with as the erect an ever more pretentious, burdensome and invasive state apparatus.

                • Paddy

                  …and throw citizens into prison for disagreeing with them.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    That is what liberty requires.

                    “In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; [ce qui ne signifie autre chose sinon qu’on le forcera d’être libre] for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.” [Rousseau, Social Contract I, 7]

                    • Rousseau was a monster.


                      Paul Johnson offers more commentary in his book Intellectuals.

                      Must you keep inflicting this man upon us?

                      It would be better if he were forgotten. His ideas only survive due to his dedicated votaries.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      I remain of Hilaire Belloc’s opinion, “Nevertheless, if it be closely read the Contrat Social will be discovered to say all that can be said of the moral basis of democracy. Our ignorance of the historical basis of the State is presumed in the very opening lines of it. The logical priority of the family to the State is the next statement. The ridiculous and shameful argument that strength is the basis of authority—which has never had standing save among the uninstructed or the superficial—is contemptuously dismissed in a very simple proof which forms the third chapter, and that chapter is not a page of a book in length. It is with the fifth chapter that the powerful argument begins, and the logical precedence of human association to any particular form of government is the foundation stone of that analysis. It is this indeed which gives its title to the book: the moral authority of men in community arises from conscious association; or, as an exact phraseology would have it, a “social contract.” All the business of democracy as based upon the only moral authority in a State follows from this first principle, and is developed in Rousseau’s extraordinary achievement which, much more than any other writing not religious, has affected the destiny of mankind.”

                      Belloc is clearly right, when he says that “What English readers rarely hear is that the triumph of Rousseau depended not only on the first element in persuasion, which is vision, but also upon the second of the two co-related instruments by which a man may influence his fellows—to wit, style. It was his choice of French words and the order in which he arranged them, that gave him his enormous ascendancy over the generation which was young when he was old.”

                    • More Francophilia and in this case with the addition of Anglophobia and this is in part why I’m not part of the cult of Belloc, despite the apparent thought on the part of some that he was a doctor of the Church, or speaking ex Cathedra.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Francophilia? Hardly, considering Rousseau was Swiss and his picture of democracy is coloured by images of the Forest Cantons and the Landesgemeinde. As Lord Acton (another Catholic historian) notes, “The idea was that the grown men met in the market-place, like the peasants of Glarus under their trees, to manage their affairs, making and unmaking officials, conferring and revoking powers. They were equal, because every man had exactly the same right to defend his interest by the guarantee of his vote. The welfare of all was safe in the hands of all, for they had not the separate interests that are bred by the egotism of wealth, nor the exclusive views that come from a distorted education.”

                    • Rousseau was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death.

          • mary

            Now onward to the Vendee!

          • Florentius

            And we know how the French Revolution turned out, right?

            • Situational

              lmao @ tradcats
              reactionaries pls go

          • JohnS

            Very good!

            But in this quote “liberty” is “political liberty.” There is a kind of “talking past each other” thing going on here due the accidental false equivalence between mere political liberty, and the fullness of liberty.

    • bosco49

      Excellent presentation. I would differ with one of your points, however:

      “…I maintain that Donahue was erroneous in averring that Charbonier contributed to his death morally.”

      If Charbonier published his cartoons, knowing the near certainty of violence in consequence, he acted with depraved/callous/reckless indifference to human life (both his own and others) and therefore have been morally culpability in his own death as of others.

      I agree with Donahue.

      • JRDF

        I agree….

        Does one go swimming in shark-infested waters after setting out chum?

        • Your analogy fails. Sharks are not moral actors. There’s a difference between exhibiting contempt for the forces of nature where the cause and effect is the inalterable and predictable result of laws of nature and taking an action which may or may inflame the passions of another human being, who then makes a moral decision that he or she is culpable for making.

          • St JD George

            I’m sure the omission was just an accidental oversight due to his lack of familiarity with anything related other than the phrase “brother’s keeper” which he says over and over again, or “GD America” which he heard over and over again.

          • JRDF

            DE-173 — as usual, you make excellent points. Would a better analogy be: urinating on Hitler’s portrait while being Jewish at a Nazi rally?

            Anyway, a Pretext? yes. Contrived? yes.
            But also calculated and strategic. They didn’t attack some random convenience store — such an act would not gain the “sympathy” of potential recruits. Their contrived pretext for indignation provides/allows for a rational / justification for potential recruits. Once critical mass is acquired; contrived pretext is less (or no longer) necessary. (ex. Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 v/s Anschluss of 1938)
            A religion of God or an idolatry of the Prophet Mohammed? How many insults to God have the Islamists taken vengence?
            [In the context of America — a calculated, strategic, contrived pretext = modus operandi of liberal elites. ex Ferguson, Mo.]


            DE-173 — Operation Torch or Pacific Theater?

            • So shall I conclude you see the error of your shark analogy?

              • JRDF

                but I really wasn’t going for an in-depth philosophical analogy; more of a tongue-n-cheek analogy.

                If I may ask —- Operation Torch and/or Pacific?

                • Are you asking about an evaluation of effectiveness, personal preference or making some analogy from WWII to the present situation? If it’s the latter, I’m not getting it.

                  • JRDF

                    Destroyer Escort Eldridge (DE-173) commissioned in 1943. Convoy escort across the Mediterranean to Casablanca, Bizerte, and Oran, then service in the Pacific (Saipan, Okinawa)
                    Your call sign (DE-173) & Photo?

                    • The reason I chose the call sign was unrelated to those campaigns, but due to the purported involvement of the ship in something called “Project Rainbow”, or “The Philadelphia Experiment”.
                      The story is that there was an attempt to attain radar invisibility using a massive electromagnetic field. The account is that the ship not only acheived radar, but optical invisibility and did so by the displacement through space and time. The account maintains that upon its return, crewmembers were sick, disoriented and fused ino the ships superstructure.
                      The tale enjoys a rabid cult following, despite the lack of a naval record of the ship being in Philadelphia in 1943, or any explanation as to the mere possibility of this occurring by any known principle of physics.
                      Its a caution for me not to get to dedicated to disposing of the fact free zones that surround people seduced by things like socialism and distributism.

          • GG

            Not buying that moral calculus at all. These cartoonists are not invincibly ignorant. They knew that serious violence could happen as the result of their actions.

            That knowledge produces culpability.

            • JohnS

              Moral culpability, yes, but not legal.

              And certainly not culpability that deserved a death sentence.

        • St JD George

          Could that be considered a teaching moment to push them in afterwards and then giving them encouragement in learning to swim?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Charb knew perfectly well the risk he was running but, as he himself put it, « Je n’ai pas de gosses, pas de femme, pas de voiture, pas de crédit. C’est peut-être un peu pompeux ce que je vais dire, mais je préfère mourir debout que vivre à genoux. » (I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. What I am going to say may sound a bit pompous, but I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.)

        Some people feel like that about freedom.

        • bosco49

          They may indeed feel that way, clouded as that understanding is. God is the Author of life. Life is His gift to us. We play God when we recklessly put the life He gave us and our fellows unnecessarily at risk. To do so is to make oneself God.

        • GG

          He did not know what authentic freedom was.

        • blkequus

          that’s fine for him, but he didn’t die alone. He put a lot of other people at risk. But the real moral crime lies with the people who financially supported his magazine, the subscribers and advertisers. They lost the art of real satire and sunk to the level of pornography to try and make a point.

          • Paddy

            The punishment didn’t fit the crime. Murder is always wrong, but bracing a cartoonist for debauching society is no different than throwing a rotten, disruptive drunk out of a saloon in the USA or a salon in Gay Paree.

            • JohnS

              And the equivalent to that in this case would be to boycott Charlie Hebdo, which by definition, I’m already doing. 🙂

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            “The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves -— or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” — Sophie Scholl

    • St JD George

      Indeed, ALL LIVES MATTER, not just certain ones for the sake of a T-Shirt slogan or a PC movement. I don’t see the west taking a look at itself until something profoundly unsettling happens, perhaps even a phoenix rebirth like moment. It may have existed for a day or two after 9/11 before the finger pointing resumed again. Having said that, and I recognize that it’s mostly a reflection of the groups I tend to associate myself with, but I get a sense that there is a growing unease in the false utopian ideals that the statist overlords keep promising they can deliver with more of our money. Some at least are growing disenfranchised with the deceit and self enrichment and are at starting the first steps towards questioning things which also looks to be the first steps to opening their eyes and hearts to Christ. Only time will tell what is God’s will that will be done.

      • Paddy

        Jellyfish have more backbone than the average Catholic these days. Each cardinal should be called Jellyfish Cardinal What’s His Name, to remind us how feminized our Church has devolved. It’ll take centuries to recover with tens of millions of souls lost to weakness.

        • St JD George

          In fairness, I think there are one or two who I wouldn’t identify with that title.

          • Paddy

            Name them! ( since Burke’s demotion, he literally doesn’t count)

    • michael susce

      Excellent point. Is there any difference between ISIS decapitating the heads of children who refuse to reject Christ and abortion on demand? The atheistic secular philosophy of Charles Hebdo justifies the violence that it professes to protest against.
      The only weakness of this article is the assumption that Islam is the only problem i.e. “who will be honest about the Islam issue”. No, Atheistic secularism is in need of honest examination. These two extremes remind me of the distinction between fascism and communism. The former retained a false religion while the later was atheistic.

      • St JD George

        I would argue atheistic secularism, or whatever you want to call it, is also a false religion. It is in effect a belief system after all with a group of adherents to principles. I think there are important technical differences between the two, but I do get your point … both at least are depraved.

        • Paddy

          Remember when Walter Mondale proudly announced he was a secular humanist? I had to look it up to find out he was proud to be an atheist…as he sailed to defeat while Western Civilization was still standing. It’s gone now, of course.

          • St JD George

            Walter who? Teddy who? Fading memories soon to be forgotten, and totally unknown to generations who came after. Praise God.

            • Paddy

              They birthed the Marxist Democratic Machine, didn’t they?

              • St JD George

                Birth I’m not sure, but they were definitely in the bath water.

              • Situational

                “lol i will use the word marxist randomly in my sentences that will make me sound smart!!!!!!!” – you

          • michael susce

            The word “humanist” always confuses me. Is that the humanism of Stalin or Mother Theresa?

        • michael susce

          You are correct. In philosophical terms it is call Naturalism which is a religion (which means to restrain in latin). I use the term atheistic secularism because it is more recognizable to most readers and more explicit. Thanks

          • St JD George

            Wise old GK had them pegged too as true believers … “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything”.

    • Paddy

      “Catholic” colleges don’t know what the natural law is. If a few sobbing girls say they need birth control, or a Catholic hospital’s union says so, it happens. We look the other way, like the weaklings we’ve become. 30 pieces of silver is a tidy sum of cash.

    • Boner

      “The problem for the West is that our statutory law has deviated from natural law.”

      So it should be illegal to take God’s name in vain/be a glutton/have impure thoughts about women? I believe that poster’s assertion here is equally misguided flipside of Megyn Kelly’s utter failure to grasp Donohue’s point that what is legal is not necessarily what is moral (and vice versa)… Something seems to be ubiquitously awry in peoples’ grasp of both: 1) what ought to be legislated; and 2) what private actors ought to do.

      • JohnS

        The limits of the institutions of a free civil society:

        Government must, to make valid law, base it on a true and moral philosophy. However, that law must be limited to the public morality, and that public morality limited to that which has an objective, natural basis.

        Case in point: marriage licensing. The correct definition (by the above) of marriage for the purposes of law making has been discarded in favor of a theocratic one.

      • Adhemarde

        Your reply is what is known as an argumentum ad absurdum, which you might want to research a bit to educate yourself. Nobody said anything about making overeating illegal, or any of your other absurd assertions. The point is that there are statutory laws, and must be for society to operate, so those laws should be in conformity with the natural law. Period.

  • Dbroussa

    Mr. Donahue may have been proven right…except that the attack on Charlie Hebdo had almost nothing to do with the cartoons themselves. Did the patrons of the Kosher Deli pen any cartoons? No, they did not. This attack was meant to chill the media from any criticism of Islam by attempting to show that any criticism, in their eyes, could be met with death. Lawrence O’Donnell said that he was comfortable criticizing Mormons and not Muslims because he didn’t fear that the Mormons would kill him.
    Mr. Donahue’s problem came from two areas. One was in ascribing blame to the editor less than a day after he was killed…especially when it was later shown that the cartoons were not the primary justification. The second was in failing to recognize that while we may disagree with Charlie Hebdo’s words, they had every right to say them. While Mr. Donahue paid lip service to the idea of Freedom of Expression, he was unable to answer the question about whom would force Charlie Hebdo to stop printing those cartoons? His implication is that a good citizen would simply choose not to do so…but failing that…what agency would step in an stop the publication? Obviously he is not OK with the murders…but would be OK with a gov’t board at some level that would censor the content? That is troubling.
    Lastly it was an interview not a debate. In an interview Mr. Donoahue had ample time to defend his view points he simply chose not to. He tried to hide behind the concept that multiple Bishops and Cardinals supported his statements and provided only one name that, as of last night, had not returned any emails or calls. If I represent myself as a spokesperson for an influential Catholic organization then I need to be ready to show that I have their support when I say something controversial, or I need to walk it back and say that it was just my personal view.
    I would encourage you to contact Mr. Hewitt and ask to either interview or debate him. I would love to listen to you interview him on the air where you ask him to defend his views. It would be illuminating.

    • Daniel P

      Why is censorship of pornography troubling to you?

      • Dbroussa

        Because it isn’t pornography that is being discussed. Having looked at some of the “offensive” images, there are a small number that might be considered risque, bit none pornonographic. For example the image of the naked Islamic woman running away from the Imam with her burqua from her barisque.saying that she will wear her burqua on the inside was not pornographic even if it was risque. Absent ANY of those images the terrorists would have attacked them because, in their view, ANY image of Mohammed is apostasy.

        • Daniel P

          Of course it’s pornography. I looked at the most recent issue of Charlie before the attacks, and there is a pornographic image on the cover. What is your definition of pornography, on the basis of which you deny Charlie to be in the porn business?

          • Dbroussa

            Most importantly pornography is a local standards issue. I was shocked as a preteen when I was in Spain and saw magazine covers depicting all sort.of things that would not be printed in the US. One example was of a man sitting on the toilet reading a paper. Shocking to be sure, pornographic by some local standards in the US, but not by the standards of Madrid in 1978.

            The reason that pornographic is by local standards is because otherwise we would have to use the most restrictive standard. That is, in effect, what you are arguing here. Islamists are offended therefore Charlie Hebdo must be censored.

            Want to argue they are in poor taste? Sure, its your opinion and I support your right to have it. Want to censor speech that you find offensive? You can at a very local level, but nowhere else.

            Want to encourage people to turn away from vitriol and hate? Great, your doing it the wrong way by blaming the victim of a terrorist attack

            • Daniel P

              Your notion that nothing is objectively obscene is simply false. Let me propose a minimal standard: a published illustration or photograph of human genitals in contact with one another is obscene.

              By that minimal standard, Charle is a cesspool of obscenity.

              • Dbroussa

                No, there are many times that such would be art or science. A human sexuality class would require such a photo, and art has often been erotic in nature and yet not pornographic.

                Pornography requires a prurient element in which it is purely for titillation or sexual gratification. These images are neither and thus can be seen as political commentary or art.

                • GG

                  Your position goes to the heart of democracy. It only works well when those in authority assent to moral truth. To use the standards you give us, relativistic secular laws, give us what we have today. Nihilism, perversion, and a culture of death.

                  • Dbroussa

                    Not entirely…secular law can reflect natural law and often does. It breaks down when advocates of natural law cannot effectively argue their position vis a vis constitutional protections. To whit, free speech allows for sexually explicit images that can only be censored if the community agrees that they are detrimental to the community. Where this breaks down is when the arguments made in favor of natural law are not persuasive or based on solely religious views. In the case of the first, people don’t support them, in the second they are ignored and denigrated by a large portion of our society that doesn’t understand establishment.

                    • GG

                      Nope. It breaks down when silly judges and lawyers do not accept the truth. The arguments are not bad. It is that people refuse to be convinced for various reasons.

                      “So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing,
                      whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an
                      advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is
                      the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power
                      perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object.
                      But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option.
                      These remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than
                      nature itself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will
                      chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native
                      fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of
                      corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not
                      rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less
                      sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.”

                      IMMORTALE DEI

                    • Situational

                      wow! great argument dude!

                      I really do not trust the state(even if it was a catholic one) to censor things

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    In a democracy, “those in authority” are the people. Now, as Jacques Maritain said, “we do not call upon the people to decide because we are aware of our ignorance of what is the good, but because we know this truth, and this good, that the people have a right to self-government.”

                    • GG

                      This is what is happening also at the level of
                      politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is
                      questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one
                      part of the people-even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a
                      relativism which reigns unopposed: the “right” ceases to be such,
                      because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person,
                      but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy,
                      contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of
                      totalitarianism. The State is no longer the “common home” where all
                      can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is
                      transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose
                      of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child
                      to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but
                      the interest of one part. The appearance of the strictest respect for legality
                      is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are
                      the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules
                      of democracy.”

                      EVANGELIUM VITAE

                    • “In a democracy, “those in authority” are the people. ”
                      I’m sorry but that control has been lost to imperious judiciaries, a vast and unaccountable administrative superstate and an unlimited, inequitable, arbitrary and capricious tax system that is used to favor friends, punish enemies and breed dependency.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      The people can change their form of government any time they wish. As Talleyrand observed, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the nearest lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people”

                      Within a single long lifetime (1791-1870), France saw the First Republic, the Directory, the Consulate, the First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, the Citizen King, Louis-Philippe, the Second Republic, the Second Empire and the Third Republic (It is currently on the 5th)

                    • We have a new form of feudalism. The tools of control are deep and insidious.

                  • Democracy, like other forms of temporal governance never “works well”, in that it is subject to mass passion, and the detractions of those that study the art of bread and circuses. It simply is the best of the worst because it provides for change, but it appears, increasingly that it is evaporating away as actual lawmaking is increasingly consigned to a massive bureaucracy that is as exacting and obsessive as it is unaccountable. There are literally thousands of Lois Lerners acting with impunity.

                    • GG

                      Right, well the people who compose the democracy are to blame. The rule of law requires just rulers. The rules come from us. If we are perverts then we get perverts interpreting the law.

                      If the garbage from Charlie Hebdo is seen as simply satire and farce as in just bad taste then we as a culture are more than doomed. We ought to be careful in what we choose to defend.

                      Pretty much all agree the Islamo-fascists are wrong but today we see too many saying I am Charlie as if that is a badge of honor.

                    • I can see people saying “I’m Charlie”, not because of any particular endorsement of the publication, but to indicate that they know they might be next.

                      Perhaps you should offer them an alternative. I am Theo Van Gogh?

                    • GG

                      Then they are confused. If they want to support freedom then supporting license is no answer.

                • Daniel P

                  “A human sexuality class would require such a photo…”
                  Seriously? You appear to have no understanding of either mystery nor the needs of public health.

            • GG

              You are not clearly defining terms and mixing up “standards” with objective truth.

          • “What is your definition of pornography, on the basis of which you deny Charlie to be in the porn business?”

            I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.

            Since I have no interest in viewing Charlie, I won’t judge it either way.

        • GG

          Go to the article published on this site a few days ago about Germany. In that thread someone posted a cartoon from the group in question. It is blasphemous and pornographic.

          • Dbroussa

            Blasphemy isn’t a crime, nor should it be a death sentence. Pornography is a subjective measure that differed per locality, you cannot and should not impose your community standard on others who have chosen a different one.

            And note that it is Islam (not all, but a sizable percentage) that considers blasphemy a capital offense. A recent poll showed that large majorities in many Muslim countries support the death penalty for those that convert to other religions. Catholicism used to be that way…we have changed. Islam now needs to do the same. President Al Sisi called for just that reform in Cairo on January 1st or this year.

            • GG

              Your first paragraph is simple moral relativism. First, no one says blasphemy should require a death sentence. That is a straw-man.

              Secondly, Pornography is intrinsically evil everywhere and always. So-called community standards that contradict right reason and moral truth are no standard at all.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                “no one says blasphemy should require a death sentence”

                Many Islamic jurists are saying exactly that and reasoning about it will get you nowhere. A chain of reasoning hangs loose at both ends, for all its premises are assumed and all its conclusions are abstract.

                • GG

                  That is not the issue. The people here agreeing with Donahue do not endorse death sentences by the Islamic nuts.

                • More to the point, many Muslims believe anything that offends them and can be construed as “blasphemy” warrants summary execution, without a trial, without witnesses, cross examination….

              • Dbroussa

                Actually it is the Islamists like the four that attacked Paris last week (and a substantial portion of the Muslim world) that consider blasphemy a capital offense. That is almost exactly Mr. Donahue’s point…that the editor was responsible for his death because he blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad.

                As to the relativism of community standards, that is the price of a Liberal Democracy in a plural society. I’m not saying that we cannot oppose pornography, but we should not advocate its censorship. Instead point out its effects and the evil it promotes.

          • I viewed the image you referred to- It is blasphemous, offensive, aberrant, puerile and obscene. Since the normal definition of pornography is material that foments sexual desire, I don’t consider it pornography.

            • GG

              Call it a tree it is still evil.

  • Vonda Zimmerman

    I heard the interview and had to turn it off, Hewitt’s ego was so obnoxious that I felt he really cared nothing about the subject he was arguing about! The gutter point being he had just been to confession and Mass–I thought wow–go back again Hewitt! I thought Donahue’s points would have been better made if he had taken a MUCH calmer TONE. I understood the points he was making and found Hewitt’s reasoning VACANT as I find most popular discourse. I really appreciated the article I have read by David Warren on this topic.This is an excellent article too. Thank you.

    • GaudeteMan

      In the age of the image it is easy to see why Donahue was condemned without being tried justly on his arguments. He pounded the facts but pounding the table didn’t help his case.

      • Anglicanæ

        Donahue is a hot head. Even being 100% he undermined his case on presentation alone. Oh would that the Orators of old, those complete men of character and philosophical insight and rhetorical skill, be revived.

        • michael susce

          When you experience the hatred that he has over the many years of defending the Faith….then and only then can you understand the frustration that he may exhibit on occasion. I wish Jesus would not have been such a hot head when He cleared the Temple or when he told Peter to “get behind me Satan”. The modern equivalent of God telling you to go f*** yourself.

          • Anglicanæ

            Mr. Donahue had valid arguments. His vehemence was a lack of control, and the fellows were talking over each other. It was a train wreck of a discussion.

            By the way, our Lord had no proclivities for flying off the handle, and to suggest his reaction to the money changers was no different in kind than that of Mr. Donahue’s borders on the irreverent.

    • Dan

      Agreed. I somewhat cringed when Hewitt mentioned he had gone to confession and Mass. Donahue made a good effort, but he it seems he lacks skills in presenting arguments.

  • Interesting article, but I don’t think one needs to appeal to probabilism to describe imprudence, nor does the author seem to take into account the moral culpability involved in intentionally providing a clear occasion for sin – which is not a trivial matter here. Frankly, Donahue’s simple assertion that Charbonier contributed to his own demise is something of an understatement – he contributed to the deaths of the others as well, along with any and all mayhem that reverberates out from this tragedy.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      A perfect description of the heckler’s veto.

      Charlie Hebdo will be published tomorrow, it will have a cartoon of Mohammed on its front cover. On Sunday, two million people took to the streets of Paris in defence of their right to do so and the President of the Republic has put 50,000 troops on the streets of France to ensure that right is so is respected.

      • GG

        They were victims, not martyrs.

      • Heckler’s veto? So is the general prohibition against yelling “fire” in the proverbial crowded theater… your point?

  • FrankW

    Thanks for posting this article; it is very well written, and reminds me of the John Adams quote: “Our constitution was written for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the governance of any other.”

    I listened live to Hewitt and Donohue go after each other on the radio the other night, and the author is correct; Hewitt had no intention of listening to anything Donohue had to say about his stance. Hewitt’s resorting to “This is an interview, not a debate” was pathetic.

    That said, Donohue’s quote “Charbonier didn’t understand the role he played in his own tragic death” is very problematic. This quote, when taken by itself, seems to offer justification for harming anyone who gravely insults another’s faith. I know that’s not what Donohue is trying to say, but it comes across that way nonetheless.

    Perhaps the real problem is this: How do we as a society enforce moral censorship without using the legal system, and how do we determine what constitutes an insult to any religion (and what should be morally censored)? There will always be bomb-throwers in the media who love to insult traditional religion of all denominations, and there will always be customers who buy into this tripe for no other reason they enjoy reading such material. Shaming these people may help reduce occurrences of these insults, but it is not going to stop them. I don’t like that, but it is reality.

    I understand Donohue’s point about the danger of tempting fate by willingly insulting Islam. But by lending credence to that view, he is allowing the Islamic extremists to define what an insult is, and is essentially suggesting that anyone who says anything controversial about Islam had better watch their backs.

    • JourneyForTruth

      ” Islamic extremists to define what an insult is,” excellent point. That’s the danger Donohue presents, if you have everyone killing because they felt insulted what would this world be like?

      • “That’s the danger Donohue presents, if you have everyone killing because they felt insulted what would this world be like?”

        Dar Al Islam.

        • JourneyForTruth

          You re-posted the question with out an answer. What would this world be like if everyone just acted violently on their emotions? Answer…

          • Paddy

            Let’s make dueling legal again and find out! I know a place in Weehawken…

          • Corrected.

    • GG

      One way to fight it is to post essays like this more often. We educate people to grasp a deeper understanding of the issue rather than the superficial grasp too many have today.

    • michael susce

      Atheistic secularism defines what is human and is essentially suggesting that anyone born into this world in modern western civilization had better watch there backs. I hate to be repetitive, but Hebdo’s philosophy is the same as the Islamists who they hate. You cant murder me for insulting your religion but it is allowable to destroy a human who has done nothing but come into existence. Which is the greater evil?

      • GG

        Both ideologies of evil.

      • Situational

        > Communism (Hebdo)

        he was a middle class leftist reformist lmao
        hardly a commie
        the commenters on this site are as bad as fox news.

    • “I understand Donohue’s point about the danger of tempting fate by willingly insulting Islam.”

      That’s not a point, it is a concession to Dhimmitude. Donahue should know better.

      • michael susce

        True, they don’t yell “Charlie”, they yell “I am pro choice!” when they commit mass murder.

        • And yet the Muslims do nothing about abortion. That’s how we can tell their indignation is contrived and inauthentic.

    • JohnS

      “Perhaps the real problem is this: How do we as a society enforce moral censorship without using the legal system, and how do we determine what constitutes an insult to any religion (and what should be morally censored)?”


      I’m boycotting Dan Brown’s work, for instance, and I said why in an Amazon review.

  • GG

    Thanks for a great article. Well written and timely.
    The subtlety of the issue is not only lost on Hewitt, but on many other Catholics as well. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to post the perverted cartoons these people did regarding the Catholic faith? That shows they are not people of good will but really have a deep sense of perversion. The world wants to make them martyrs now. Did they deserve death? No, of course not. Were there morally culpable for other serious offenses? Obviously yes.

    • JourneyForTruth

      perverted cartoons? there are many and many offensive ones, are you suggesting all these publishers be morally culpable? and who defines morally right? for if the puritans were here today they would be condemning the world.

      • GG

        Yes, perverted. Have you seen many of these things they published? Outrageous and sick.

        Are the publishers culpable? For making these sick things? Sure, we would they not be?

        Who defines morally right? How about starting with reason and prudence? Do you think cartoons about sodomy are moral?

        Puritans? Ha, I hardly think not being against perversion is Puritanical. Only in post modern mind numbed America would anyone think such a thing.

        • Anglicanæ

          The Puritans get such a bad rap. Besides, as CS Lewis noted, Puritanism had less to do with a greater devotion to sanctity and more to do with non-conformity to the Church of England. They would rather avoid a bishop before avoidin a beer, as it was once put.

          • GG

            And would Catholics today think this is Puritanical?:

            “If when men discuss the question of liberty they were
            careful to grasp its true and legitimate meaning, such as reason and
            reasoning have just explained, they would never
            venture to affix such a calumny on the Church as to assert that she is
            the foe of individual and public liberty. But many there are who follow
            in the footsteps of Lucifer, and adopt as their own his rebellious cry,
            “I will not serve”; and consequently substitute for true liberty what is
            sheer and most foolish license. Such, for instance, are the men
            belonging to that widely spread and powerful organization, who, usurping
            the name of liberty, style themselves liberals.”

            Leo XIII – Libertas

          • St JD George

            We should have more beer-bishop conferences, you know “beer summits” to make amends and break down barriers inhibiting communication. Egad, did I let that one out.

        • JourneyForTruth

          I was talking about other American publishers, no they are not in your local bookstore. You need to open your world view as to what is out there. If the Puritans were defining morality today would they not kill the world? From their perspective there would be a lot of offensive free speech going on.

          • GG

            I am not following your point. Do you think simply because something can be done it is right to do it? Do you think censoring perversion is Puritanical?

            • JourneyForTruth

              No I am arguing against that, I feel we are cherry picking on Charlie Hebdo and in doing so protecting the Muslims sensitivity but we don’t equally go after other publishers (producing sick comics). Muslims have done some pretty awful things in the name of their religion or at least they don’t fight against those Imans who are doing such warping of Islam.

              • Agreed. Christians aren’t waking into the offices of Hollywood movie studios and massacring those who offend us.

                • St JD George

                  Nope, just simply refusing to walk into their box offices or turn on their programming.

              • GG

                But, no one is cherry picking or defending Islam. We are defending reason and morality. Condemn murder and condemn perversion.

                The cartoonists are victims not martyrs.

                • JourneyForTruth

                  He is a Martyr for free speech the idea of presenting an alternative viewpoint even if you feel it’s wrong. I just watched History channel program called Bible Secrets Revealed The Forbidden Scriptures wrong but it’s their story and they get to present it. If you kill the History channel they become Martyrs for free speech.

                  • Daniel P

                    Martyr for free speech? Is free speech a god now?

                  • GG

                    No, he was no such thing. He marketed in perversion and decadence. If you think that constitutes “free speech” you do not know what freedom is.

                    • JourneyForTruth

                      I did just a search for “smut magazine” they seem to be perversion and decadence, I don’t see you complaining about that magazine? They do you restrict Charlie? Does not he have the same right? See you can not cherry pick the immoral people you want.

                    • Daniel P

                      I’m sure GG opposes obscenity wherever it may be found.

                    • GG

                      Is this your argument? Catholics are against all vice. These other magazines you refer to are not in question. Of course, they are bad but what has that to do with are topic?

                    • JourneyForTruth

                      You said, “He marketed in perversion and
                      decadence” lots of people do that. What I am trying to say is you can not
                      say Charlie Hebdo is not allowed to exercise free speech and not also go after
                      others who lie, deceive and promote lewd material. Charlie Hebdo is a martyr for free speech.
                      That’s my point you don’t need to bow down to people who don’t want to hear it.

                    • GG

                      But, we are against those area things as well. It is just that no one is celebrating them as some righteous endeavor.

        • “Do you think cartoons about sodomy are moral?”

          Probably not, especially if they are explicit or approving. On the other hand, what do you think its more immoral, some sophomoric cretin making cartoons, or some politician or chattering class member telling you ithe most genteel way that sodomy is to be respected as a benign variation of human behavior?

          • GG

            But, why arbitrarily compare those two items? The publication in question has a long record of filth. I see no reason to minimize it or explain it away through comparisons.

            • But, why arbitrarily compare those two items?

              It’s not arbitrary.

      • Anglicanæ

        Justice proceeds from morality, no?

      • M

        If people have the right to publish offensive cartoons, then certainly those offended have the right to express their disapproval. It’s how they handle their hurt/outrage that matters. I don’t think anyone is suggesting censorship. Certainly nobody is suggesting murderous terrorist attacks are an acceptable response. It’s just that free speech cuts both ways. If I find the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” mean-spirited and cynical, I may certainly say so while still asserting their right to have their parade (although I think it best to say nothing and not to feed their need for attention.) I think Donahue’s timing is tone deaf, but he has a point and as much right to make it as the next person.

  • JourneyForTruth

    Donahue better be careful in his thinking because he could justify more attacks based on the concept of being morally right or naturally right superseding legal law. There are plenty of lewd and hurtful writing in the media to various people and this could encourage them to follow suit. We need to be tolerant or we need to have such censorship equal like in the 60’s where we took a lot of what we felt lewd programming off the air.

    • GG

      Is this not the same logic you accuse Donahue of?

      • JourneyForTruth

        Donahue says in his opening remarks freedom for the purpose of making a good society. Who defines what a good society is? Do we not have plenty of offensive and hurtful magazines even against our Christian God yet no one condemns these publishers. If Donahue wants that viewpoint he better be pointing more fingers.

        • Anglicanæ

          Indeed, if there are no objective standards to measure a better or worse society, then you have no basis to gripe other than it makes you feel a certain way.

        • GG

          If we cannot define a good society then the Islamists are just as right as you.

          • JourneyForTruth

            we have stopped defining a good society in America a long time ago. If you want to say what Charlie had done was wrong you need to keep pointing fingers. Another words it’s not just Charlie and if you just make one exception that he needed to change his behavior but don’t say the same to others you are a hypocrite. We have nude bike rides in Portland is that morally wrong?

          • JourneyForTruth

            We define a good society by lobbing for laws, petitions to congressman, writing letters to editor. We do not define a good society by individual groups whether the NAACP, UAW, KKK, communist party and so on. You can not have the Islamist political party define what is a good society. France allows pornography material on TV, bill boards, the Charlie Hebdo comics so he has a right by law to exist and if you don’t like tough; look the other way or write you legislator.

        • RufusChoate

          Our Christian God? God is God. The implication of naming God as a Christian implied validity and equality with a Muslim God, Arian God, Pelagian god or a pantheist god or pagan god.

          A Christian understanding of God is probably a better term or maybe just the Faith.

    • michael susce

      The justification for attacks are already there. If one can kill a child in the womb for convenience sake, then one can kill for disagreeing with him. Remember, the one you kill for offending you is “just a bunch of cells”. As John Paul II and Mother Theresa warned, a society that kills the most innocent cannot stand because it is a culture of death.

  • St JD George

    I think you have a well thought out perspective Timothy. Let me add my own two cents. I think we as a culture have lost the art of debate and ability to dialog. In our world today of information overload and 24 hour news, etc., if you don’t make your point in the sound bite time frame of 60 sec or less most people start to tune out. Unfortunately most complicated subjects can’t be discussed that way and furthermore most people aren’t gifted in the art of clear, concise articulation to get their points across that quickly. In this case too as with so many others, when raw emotions are ratcheted up nobody is listening any more. Both had valid points to discuss, but I thought Hugh acted like an ass and Bill wasn’t particularly sharp either. Of course Charlie had the right, but rights also come with responsibility and if you know that your actions are guaranteed to bring violence in retaliation (and to others beyond yourself) then maybe being a little more wise in finding a different approach to express yourself should be considered. Some may feel that’s showing cowardliness and I get that, but in this case I think it’s more about not being juvenile. We strongly rebuke those that yell “fire” falsely in crowded venues as well and cause panic. I don’t like hornets either and wonder why God put them on this earth, however, I don’t go poking a stick in their nest and wondering what’s going to happen next either. Instead, I exterminate them from afar.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    I found Donahue’s comments repulsive. I am well aware of Charlie Hebdo’s obscenely anti-Catholic cartoons – they mean as much to me as the 3rd century Alexamenos Grafitto scrawled on a wall in Rome that shows a crucified donkey with the notation “Alexemenos Worships His God”. The matter at hand is the worldwide WAR with Islam. Donahue is SO ‘Vichy’ and sensible and forever getting the ‘vapors’ like a Victorian belle.

    • GG

      Common on now. His point is valid. You saw the cartoon on this site in the thread about Germany and Islam? That is one example of the perversion they give us. It is a mistake to make them martyrs for “free press”. They should not have been killed but what they were doing was wrong. Why is it hard to understand both concepts?

      • “Common on now”

        • GG

          Donahue’s points were not repulsive. When a person is right I will defend him. When he is wrong I say he is wrong.

          • To be explicit:

            What does ther phrase “Common on now” mean?

            • GG

              A colloquial expression as in stop the drama.

              • GG

                Sorry, come on now. Fixed it.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        In 1939 before WWII the Polish intelligence and police arrested hundreds of German nationals and Poles of German ancestry. Many were mistreated, held illegally and so forth. All this is given in detail in a thick ‘White Paper’ published by the German Consulate in New York 1940 for distribution in the U.S.

        Poor Nazis…. what else could they do but invade Poland! Actually, much of what is in the white paper DID happen but if you start with the Nazis and ‘give both sides’ you end up being a ‘useful idiot’ for evil.

        • GG

          How is this relevant? It is not about both sides as in exactly equal. It is about not praising so called “free press” as martyrs who basically purveyed filth.

  • LHJ

    Being a fan of Bill and Hugh and Megyn this is very painful. I can’t help thinking of the statement: “I do not agree with what you are saying but I will defend to the death your right to say it!” So I have to ask myself am I really willing to defend to the death the right to draw pornographic cartoons? Is it possible to condemn the murderers without defending the cartoons? Drawing cartoons is not deserving of the death penalty. Does defending to the death the right of people to say something presuppuse they have something worthwhile to say? Do I need to defend to the death people who act and speak irresponsibly? Will we defend to the death Mr. Donahue’s right to speak his mind or will he and his good organization be destroyed? I am not convinced that the person who spoke those words originally had pornographic cartoons in mind.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “the person who spoke those words originally” was Voltaire. I do not believe he would have objected to any attack on superstition and ignorance, whatever form it took.

      Appropriatel;y enough, Sunday’s march took place along bd Voltaire that links the Place de la République and the Place de la Nation.

      • michael susce

        Voltaire did not object to investing in slavery as a profitable venture either. Voltaire will defend your right to free speech but not your right to be free from enslavement for profit. Cool….

    • michael susce

      As has been documented in this site, speaking out against homosexual marriage at Marquette and other universities will cause expulsion and loss of job. An article needs to be written about the lack of free speech on our college campuses in order to take advantage of this recent appeal to free speech. The reality is that free speech is only allotted to those who are politically correct i.e. those that profess the state religion. Everyone else will expose themselves to loss of property and employment.

      • Anglicanæ

        This is a sad truth. Free Speech has become leftist code for, “We will let you know what you can say.”

        • Paddy

          Perhaps the Archbishop of Milwaukee will find the moral courage to see his diocese needs to be in compliance with Church Doctrine?

  • gfazzari

    Hewitt’s friend and competitor Mike Gallagher made the same point that Donahue made on his talk show. Gallagher may have more the “style” that Hewitt would listen to.

  • nel

    Who is Bette Noir?

    • RufusChoate

      bêtes noires
      Full Definition of BÊTE NOIRE
      : a person or thing strongly detested or avoided : bugbear

    • mary

      “black beast”

  • End Times

    No one is suggesting “Charlie” was a martyr in the true, Catholic sense of the word, are they? Metaphorically he was a martyr, a martyr for secularism. Secularism, or Modernism, does have its “martyrs.” Both secularism, or Modernism, and Islam are heresies of Catholicism, so it is no surprise that there are positive truths to be uncovered in both, however twisted, and criticisms to be made of both, from the Catholic point of view, from the point of view of the truth.

    Rather than posture as the victim of unfair debate, Donahue could remove the log from his own eye. It seems it could have been more generous towards “Charlie,” the individuals involved with the satirical paper, as well as more courageous in the face of the secular/Modernist heresy, to say that these journalists were acting in integrity with their heresy, just as the terrorists were acting in integrity with theirs, but precisely that they were both acting “in integrity” with heresies, if such an expression can be used, not with the truth. Donahue seem to be criticizing “Charlie” as if these individuals were fellow Catholics, the universality of “Natural Law” not withstanding. But this is both uncharitable and ignores the reality that these journalists were operating from a heretical, secular framework.

  • RufusChoate

    A good and reasonable article, but I would question the prudence and standing of Donahue in raising his supposedly nuanced opinion at the time he did and the manner, so effectively Hewitt is clearly correct in his opinion (I don’t care about the tone which is irrelevant we are talking about adult males here not wispy little girls).

    After Donahue’s completely craven capitulation at the behest of Cardinal Dolan to the inclusion of homosexual marchers in the Saint Patrick’s day parade he is a tainted and corrupt vessel for any truth telling and should have kept his mouth shut.

    Charlie Hebdo is/was a vile and blasphemous Leftist inspired open sewer of filth that has attacked Catholicism for decades with far more ardor than it ever exhibited to Islam but we in the West no longer have laws against Blasphemy and the fractured opinions about what constitutes Blasphemy obscures even that. The French Church has failed repeatedly to win a legal judgement against Charlie Hebdo.

    That was the only legal and moral venue to procure justice in France. Mass murder of people for tendentiously perceived insults to Islamic sensibilities in a Capital of a Western Democracy is profoundly illegal and antithetical to every principle of western civilization because it both violates the natural law and is redress for an insult that the majority of Christians don’t share. Succinctly stated being portraying a blasphemous creed blasphemously in their view is meaningless.

    Christian who understand Islam realize that Mohammed is nothing more than a murderous heretical barbarian. Respecting him is on the same level as enshrining the apotheosis of Attila or Genghis Khan or Stalin or Hitler or Mussolini.

    Simply stated, the showing of respect and deference for a creed that has been the perennial enemy of Christendom and the West that is more intellectually incoherent than anything Charlie Hebdo produced in lampooning them.

    It is also odd that some in the institutional church along with the Left seem committed to removing the Death Penalty seems comfortable with providing faint justification for insulted Muslims to murder at will because of ink on paper configured to illicit a reaction among humorless Leftist dregs.

    • Anglicanæ

      There are layers of principles here at work:

      (1) Privately, a Christian is not free to willy-nilly insult his neighbor, Pagan or otherwise, even if the religion is objectively ridiculous (i.e., deserving of ridicule). Context determines the strength and use of language, and charity ought to inform everything we do.

      (2) Publicly, our laws and freedoms prefer to tolerate outrageous speech that truly good speech may be equally preserved from the whims of those who feel threatened thereby. We are duty-bound on some level to uphold these rights, even if it means it results in transgressions of taste or moral sensibilities.

      (3) The larger question of what should be done when a country mass-imports (make no mistake, this was a deliberate importing) people who hail from lands and world views at root opposed to the philosophy of the societies helping them.

      Seems like different opinions are correct given the right context.

      • RufusChoate

        1. Granted but people who are not Christian, in our unfortunately pluralistic society, who do insult a creed antithetical or heretical to Christianity should not be evaluated in the same measure and assigned greater appropriation as an insult to Christianity.

        It is an insult but not blasphemy.

        2. Yes.

        3. Yes, Charlie Hebdo described itself as rabidly Leftist, Anti-Racist pro-immigrant political magazine so the Muslim immigrants, they placed so much faith in to undermine the Christian Culture of France obviously do not appreciate their efforts.

        • Anglicanæ

          Agreed on all points.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          “the Muslim immigrants…obviously do not appreciate their efforts.”

          Some do – Mustapha Ourrad, their copy editor killed in the attack and their columnist Zineb El Rhazoui, who has a piece in tomorrow’s edition, are examples that spring to mind.

          • RufusChoate

            Islam has a penchant for murdering its own with the same alacrity as Infidels. I am sure they were apostates in much the same fashion as our Cafeteria Catholics.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              “Islam has a penchant for murdering its own with the same alacrity as Infidels”

              Again, that is true of some Muslims. Fadela Amara, herself a Muslim, when she was Secretary of State for Urban Policies, described this sort of violent Islam as clung to by some Muslims through ignorance and isolation in ghetto communities that will vanish away when they are given better opportunities of intellectual enlightenment and of acquiring elementary knowledge in history and the sciences. She emphasised the rôle of education, free, obligatory and lay [laïque]

              Not a few Muslims, and especially Muslim women, are manifesting their confidence in the Republic and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

              • RufusChoate

                It is interesting that Progressives have the same panaceas to offer for every problem: education. Will it be the education that the Islamist supporters define as Islamic or actual education?

                It is not an accident that the leaders of the Islamic revanchist movements are the upper middle class who are the best educated in the Western Education and yet they are intolerant of the Western values.

                Maybe education is the problem especially if it is done by the Left . In every age the Muslims have managed to reassert their expansionist and intolerant agenda by the recruitment of the most barbarous outliers of the Islamic culture.

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  “Will it be the education that the Islamist supporters define as Islamic or actual education? “

                  Absolutely not – that is what she means by “lay” [laïque] or secular.

                  Another Muslim woman, Rachida Dati, as Minister of Justice (garde des Sceaux) vigorously defended the ban on the hijab: “the laïcité of state schools is not restricted, in the case of pupils, to respect for their freedom of conscience: it imposes a duty of restraint on pupils in their behaviour, since they find themselves in a place pertaining to the public sphere. Pupils’ freedom of conscience, which is an internal freedom, in no way gives them ‘the right to express and manifest their religious beliefs’ in educational institutions, for that involves external acts which improperly introduce religion into the public domain of the school.”

                  • RufusChoate

                    I am sorry but trusting the Left be honest brokers and protectors of the gift of Western Christian Civilization is a little too much for me. They don’t see any conflict in allowing Islamic Prayer rooms in Public Schools in America while denying Christians the right to pray the most generic and innocuous of Christian Prayers. Hugo “Klansman” Black’s contribution to the US Constitution: Separation of Church and State is exclusively anti-Christian.

        • Situational

          >Charlie Hebdo described itself as rabidly Leftist, Anti-Racist pro-immigrant politica
          oh my! How horrifying!

          • RufusChoate

            So the Irony that they died at the hands of the same people they vociferously fought to include in French polity for electoral gain for the “tolerant” Left is lost on you?

            N’est-ce pas?

      • Florentius

        It is well to recall that as recently as 1957, the US Supreme Court held that Freedom of Speech as defined by the first amendment did not apply to obscenity of the type Charlie Hebdo publishes. Here is an excerpt from Roth v. The United States (1957):

        “All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests. But implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance.”

        The definition of “Free Speech” that guys like Hugh Hewett and (sadly) most others defend is a concept that has only emerged since the 1960s, from the mouths of such paragons of civic discourse as Larry Flynt.

        • Paddy

          Communists like Frankfurter twisted the law and removed morality from it with evident glee.

        • Anglicanæ

          Here’s the problem (not that I disagree with you necessarily):

          What society deems “obscene” now is far more limited than what it was in 1957. We all recognize there is some kind of limit on speech (calling the police and lying about a burglary is not protected, for example).

          Now the “offense” clause is utilized by the destroyers of civilization, like the “gay” lobby and its advocates. England is a great and sad example of this.

          We have to ask if the shifting sands of public morality doesn’t impact the meaning of words like “obscene”. We Christians have an objective standard; the fallen West has closed her eyes to it by and large.

  • David Kenny

    As a serious practicing Catholic I feel that we are all missing the important point that a cornerstone of democracy as practiced in the Western European, American, Canadian, Australian and new Zealand nations is free speech and without which there cannot be a democracy. Once an agency of society has the power to define limits on free speech such as a hate speech law there is a limit on democracy and the serious question is,” Who defines those limits and for what motive? “. Self censorship has the same effect and the question is, ” Why is self censorship being practiced i.e. what situation is forcing persons to limit their free speech?”. In all of these countries there is a heritage of English Common Law including libel laws of long standing, which are quite adequate to force the speaker to justify what he/she says in public. Is the self censorship being practiced because of a fear of violent reprisal as has happened with Charlie Hebdo and as has happened in a number of cases involving perceived insults to Islam? Or is the self censorship being recommended because Islam is perceived as a religion and therefore automatically deserves the respect of not being ridiculed in public? For the first question violent reprisal is not an acceptable reason for self censorship as it abrogates our basic democracy and every citizens freedom. For the second the question must be asked, ” is Islam a religion?”. And the answer is that it is not a religion but a totalitarian political system like fascism or communism. This can be concluded on reading the Koran word for word and from several serious analyses of Islam available in English.
    Therefore, we should not be according Islam the respect of a religion and it should certainly be the subject of public analysis including ridicule particularly because it advocates the destruction or erosion of our democratic systems including free expression. Also, religions, which advocate the killing of non-adherents and non-proportional violence against women and those who commit criminal acts, do not rate the same respect as other religions, which advocate peaceful measures for criminal punishment and the conversion of non-adherents by persuasion and example particularly expressing agape love for fellow humans.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “is the self censorship being recommended because Islam is perceived as a religion and therefore automatically deserves the respect of not being ridiculed in public?”

      France is defined in the Constitution of the 5th Republic as a secular [laïque] Republic. Under the Law of 9 December 1905, the state does not recognize any religion. The laws against blasphemy, sodomy and witchcraft were abolished on 26 September 1791. Religion enjoys no protection from ridicule.

      • michael susce

        but many French were executed for blaspheming the newly constructed secular state. Go figure. Paraphrasing Father John Neuhaus, removing one religion is replaced by another, that of the secular state. And the result of this non recognition and substitution of the practical atheistic state? Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

        • Statism is the goofiest and most dangerous of idolatries.

          • Anglicanæ

            Indeed. Something Huxleyan and Orwellian about the growing acceptance of marijuana, the over-sexualization of the culture by preaching that pleasure trumps principle, and a creeping ubiquitous micromanagement against all dissent by the tools of network technology.

  • maineman

    I would go further and point out the practical implications of this worthy distinction, which is that our failure to consider it must necessarily prompt an escalation of the war being waged against us, which will evidently continue until the secularists are somehow diminished enough to allow the real, underlying conflict to emerge.

    By “standing up for” what amounts to licentiousness, the West — i.e. what has become of Christendom — demonstrates to the rest of the world, Islam in particular, that it has no real values and will fight on behalf of Nothing. That is, the sin of Charlie Hebdo was/is that it has been a nihilistic enterprise, an effort to tear to shreds the cultural foundation built by thousands of years of coherent tradition.

    Hewitt unwittingly invites unrestrained reprisal by the Islamist nihilists who are affirmed in their assessment that the now-secularist west is largely composed of cowards who worship only the will and are, because of a lack of moral stature, helpless against them.

    Eventually, though, it will almost certainly be back to the future: Christ vs. Mohammad.

    • RufusChoate

      Great points but historically Islam has always had contempt for Christianity and desire for predominance. It is useful to recall that the Islamic concept of moral decadence is not the same as Christian. The pederasty, sexual slavery and depravity of the Ottoman court was irrelevant and proper for the majority of Muslims for all of its history but the American educated Egyptian who founded the Muslim Brotherhood was outraged by the decadence and moral depravity of the America of the 1940’s. Muslim armies have a tradition of kidnapping and raping woman and children in their invaded lands and on several occasions murdering all captives before a decisive battle. (Siege of Delhi by Timur the Lame)

      The 9/11 Hijackers drank alcohol and visited strip clubs before embarking on their mission of mass murder.

      It has more to do with a desire to destroy the West than any valid critique of moral disorder.

      • Dbroussa

        Yes, read The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright to understand the genesis of modern Islamic Taqferi extremism.

        • RufusChoate

          Yes, I’ve read it.

      • Meanwhile, we have folks on here telling us that because we know there’s buillies on the third floor, anybody who goes up there is responsible for their own bloody nose.

        • RufusChoate

          I think you hit upon the biggest weakness in Donahue’s equivocation. Cowardice in the face of intolerance. We are too weak to defend our truths and too weak not to affirm Islam’s right to their truths.

          Islam teaches that Christ isn’t the Son of God and Abraham isn’t a Jew so obviously for many weak people there must be some middle ground for accommodation because we are all Abrahamic except for that a little trouble with Abraham not being Jewish but a Muslim.

          • Anglicanæ

            I can’t say the Catechism of the Catholic Church (in contradistinction to that beautiful Baltimore Catechism of yore) helps this either. The Cotton Candy Clergy and their eager hippie cadre have latched onto the language, and is used to shout down anyone remotely suspected of Feeneyism.

            The religion of Marcus Arelius or Socrates has more affinity to the God of the Burning Bush. Simply borrowing significantly from other religions does not mean the deity is *really* the same.

            • RufusChoate

              Yes and the use of Feeneyism as a cudgel to silence valid critiques of other inimical creeds is interesting for a faith whose founder and Son of God said “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

              It is at its core a lack of faith and uncertainty couple with the slavish desire to be loved by people who loathe everything you believe.

      • maineman

        All of what you say is true. Islam has always been parasitic on Christianity and, for that matter, Judaism in that it has essentially existed to oppose it/them. I would argue, though, that the Islamists now conflate Christianity and secularism, which is itself derivative of and therefore parasitic on its Judeo-Christian heritage.

        At any rate, the nihilists are right now having at each other, and I think that is what the skirmish in France is about. As a follower of Christ, I don’t really have a dog in this fight, as much as my heart and prayers go out to the casualties. I am of European stock, so the apparent demise of Europe saddens me, and I am an American so am also saddened by the state of my country. But Americanism is a heresy, and that is probably Hugh Hewitt’s problem.

        This is the semifinals, in a way, since both the secular-humanists and Islamists seek global dominance. As I said, I don’t think modernity/secularism has what it takes to overcome the Muslims. That would mean that it will eventually come down to how the Church will be the victor. I somehow think a new military Crusade is less likely than the conversion of the Muslim world, which there are suggestions may already be underway.

    • GG

      Excellent point.

    • Daniel P

      ‘By “standing up for” what amounts to licentiousness, the West — i.e. what has become of Christendom — demonstrates to the rest of the world, Islam in particular, that it has no real values and will fight on behalf of Nothing.’


  • Ciarán Ó Coigligh

    Thank you for drawing attention to Bill Donohue’s though-provoking intervention in a crucial debate. Mr Donohue’s contribution to public debate on a range of controversial issues is one for which Catholics worldwide should be truly grateful.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    POINT HERE: What, exactly, was the sex life of the Prophet Muhammad; and how has that tutored the theology of Islam, the trajectory of the history of Islam, and the mores and behavior of Islamic societies?

    Or, are we not permitted to investigate and ask? (See links below.)

    But first . . .

    Thanks for reentering into the discussion that lost point of Natural Law.

    Paid close attention to the commentary as these events unfolded. Was on the lookout for the Catholic take on things, noticed little. (Have my thoughts on why.) So yours is appreciated, though I come away diverging from several of your subsidiary points. No one article can address all the “issues” this sad event as surfaced – granted, yet to ignore them is not to address the whole of it.

    POINT #1: This tragedy played itself out in France with its curious and conflicting history with Catholicism since the French Revolution. That cannot be factored out. The aggressive secularization of the French state – more or less finalized in the early 1900s – is the stage upon which this event scripted itself. Except, we are talking about Islam! A state or culture as secularized a these murdered cartoonists wished it to be is not in the position to either understand or counter Islam.

    Disclosure: Have sympathy but little patience with French Catholicism of the 19th Century. In many ways In short, it picked up the wrong ( or lesser) lessons from its decimation in the French Revolution. Still, bracketing off last week from the history of the secularization of France does little in understanding the massive outpouring of (confused & conflicting) reaction from all quarters.

    POINT #3: Islam does not share our (presently tattered) understanding of BEING and personhood. Nor does Islam – in spite of its “conservative” appearance – view sex as the West does (even in our horribly, sad disregard it its Natural Laws)l. Islam is totally other from the West in its worldview.

    To say that, as Catholics, we can sympathize with Islam’s (I never use the term Muslim) hostility over the Muhammad cartoons (their pornographic imagery, etc) is to say something true about ourselves, when such cartoons are published about Christ and His Church – but that is all. Islam will snatch that sympathy and use it for its own ends. Islam does not, in any way, accept our regard as a true understanding of its offense and anger towards these cartoons.

    It all comes down to two things: 1) sex – that is, Islamic sex; and, 2) blasphemy – that is, Islamic blasphemy. It is a wrenching mistake to think that Islam and Christianity even shares the same language upon which to initiate a conversation regarding either.

    Islam does not hold (even near to) the same view of sex, means that Islam and Western Christians understand the implied insult of the Muhammad cartoons very differently. What is that difference: it sources, its consequences upon sexual mores and behavior? Islam does not hold (even near to) the same view of blasphemy: again the same questions.

    Regarding the latter, In Islam there is a blasphemy greater (more worthy of punishment) than depicting Muhammad in a act of sodomy. That is a stubborn, vocal belief in the Trinity. The media wouldn’t pay it any attention (for there’s no sex in it), but if I (and I am an artist) drew a series of cartoons illustrated the Prophet Muhammad’s submission to the doctrine of the Trinity would the likes of Donahue come after me? Take my word for it, the world of Islam – from Dearborn, MI to Karachi, Pakistan – would rise up in hot anger at my pictorial dare, that if Muhammad wanted entry into paradise he must confess the truth of the Trinity. ISIS may even dispatch assassins!

    So, you see, the subtle quiet glee various (Catholic) Christians have felt over the deaths of these pornographic, irreligious cartoonists is, first of all, misinformed and misplaced, let alone downright vulgar. But, then, I am one who would have stood shoulder to shoulder, nose to nose, with Captain Dreyfus!

    Islam is not our ally. They don’t wish to hear it, but orthodox Christians have more in common with Western secularists (even French ones) than they do with Islam. Islam cam only dialogued with after it has been defeated. Except to say, that if Western secularist keep pulverishing their Western foundations – that is, all things Hebrew,k Greek, Latin & Christian, and, in particular the centrality of Natural Law, they will cease to be either Western or secularists; they will be primed for submission to Islam’s totalitarian oneness.

    POINT #3: Magazine cartoonists were not the only ones who were murdered. Four Jews were killed n a kosher store down t street and around the corner. By different assailants, though they knew each other. Little Cath9olic co9mmentary has been made about this . It was no second act, sideshow to the main event. Both acts were murderously cut from the same Islamic cloth. The jubilee over both events in the Islamic world – from Ramallah, to Karachi, to Dearborn, MI – was unabashedly visible. To Islam, both events in Paris was a one act drama, one of piece. To Islam there is no difference – no necessary distinction warranted – between the death of a vulgar cartoonist and the death of a Jew in a raided Kosher store. To Islam, a Jew, dead or not, is just as pornographic as a cartoonish prophet taking up sodomy. Not to see that is to be blind. Our (Catholic) refusal to see Islam;s whole-cloth look upon things we have not understand what truly happened in Paris. It will come to haunt us, if not to bloody us up. The progress of Islam rolls over a carpet of human debris. The week before 2,000 Christians were massacred in a small town in Nigeria, their bodies scattered across the street as so much dog food. Hardly a Catholic protesting peep.

    POINT #4: Now we come to the sex life of the Prophet Muhammad. OK, I get it. It is crude and rude, an distracts from more pertinent concerns, to publish cartoons exhibiting Muhammad in an act of sodomy. But, it is not rude – and it is certainly pertinent – ask questions – the ones we did above. What was the sex life of the Prophet Muhammad? What was its consequences in the constructing of Islam’s theology, its worldview, and its molding of sexual mores and behavior in all past and present Islamic societies?

    Did Muhammad engage in homosexual acts? What does the record say? Does Islam hold conflicting attitudes towards homosexuality? The answer to that is yes, which should warm the sheets of every leftist homophile.

    Did Muhammad have sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old girl? The answer to that is, likewise, yes; a behavior of Muhammad’s which has had enormous repercussions, both within the Islamic world and without.

    One could go on.

    The point being, one cannot avoid raising such questions. We have a duty to do so. Those vulgar cartoonists made the (moral) error in picturing-out the urgent questions.

    “Muhammad, the Sexual Superman”, Raymond Ibrahim (FrontPage). READ THIS FIRST! God, who was this man?
    See cleric justify the Prophet’s pedophilia, Raymond Ibrahim (Jihad Watch)
    “Islamic ‘Death Sex’ in Context”, Raymond Ibrahim (FrontPage). The Prophet sexually penetrated, had intercourse (and such) with a dead woman.
    Muhammad’s Sex Life (Religion of Peace)
    Muhammad’s Sex Life (Islam Watch)
    “Stories not Told Before”, Mohammad Asghar (Free Thinkers)
    “The Sex Life of the Prophet” (Religion of Peace)
    Father Botros on “The perverse sexual habits of the Prophet, Part I”, Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch)
    Father Botros on ‘The perverse sexual habits of the Prophet, Part 2″, Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch).
    Islam’s Scourge Returns (FrontPage)
    Child Marriage in Islam — on The Glazov Gang(FrontPage) The case of Mohammed and Aisha in Islamic texts
    The Case of Mohammed and Aisha — on The Glazov Gang (FrontPage) Scholar of Islam Louis Lionheart dissects one of the most controversial chapters in the Islamic narrative.

    [One more, from the BANKRUPT Diocese of Stockton]

  • JP

    Christians, if they were given the chance communicate with the local Imans (where ever they exist) in relations to Charlie Hebdo, might have said, “Look, we’ve been subject to everything from the scorn of comedians to the “art work” of Mapplethorpe, Get used to it.”

    Donohue’s points are well taken. But, this isn’t the first time such attacks have occurred. Ask the Jews; ask the Israelis. Ask the relatives of Theo Van Gogh. Heck, ask Pope Beneditct about Islam’s reaction to his Regensburg speech. Riots from Pakistan to Indonesia broke out, and many Churches from the Levant to Turkey were attacked.

    What makes this attack so different is that it was directed against the Press. The West and Christendom already practice a form of self-censorship and Political Correctness that takes great pains not to mention Islam, Muslims on Allah. You won’t see that kind of deference directed at Christians, Hindi, or even the Dali Lama. And the reasons I thought were rather obvious. It”s just that no one wishes to admit it. It’s fear.

    • “Christians, if they were given the chance communicate with the local Imans (where ever they exist) in relations to Charlie Hebdo, ”

      That’s clearly a hypothetical.

      You know the difference between Christianity and Islam?

      Muslims will surreptitiously enter a Cathedral to post an invitation without permission to the women of the Parish for a “discussion” about Jesus (in the Koran, as I recall it), in a brazen attempt to get some weak-minded relativist or xenophile to apostasize.

      And yes this happened, in Pennsylvania.

      • JP

        Yes, I did pose a hypothetical.

  • JP

    The problem for France as I see it, is that few if any of the French are willing to lay down their lives for the right of a satirical magazine to insult. But, Muslims are more than willing to lay down their lives to protect the good name of Allah.

    This reminds me of President Bush’s exhortations to Americans on 9/12/2011. He didn’t tell them to ready themselves for a long struggle with Islam; no, he told us all to go shopping. His concern was more for our short term economic health than for our long term political, social or spiritual existence as a society and a nation. It was at that time that I began to doubt whether we would in fact win this struggle in the long term.

  • michael susce

    Confession time: I did not mail in my monthly donation to Crisis in January justifying that I have sent enough. With articles like this defending people like Mr. Donahue who is so hated has poured guilt on me. I am resuming my measly contribution…


    Before we get into a what-does-it-all-mean discourse here let’s state a few facts.

    1) Muslims don’t like it when you insult their religion, especially their prophet Mohammed.

    2) History – especially recent history – has shown us that when they get insulted or whatever they tend to kill those people whom they consider responsible. As far as I can tell this is part of their overall thing, and this tends to scare people into not insulting them.

    3) Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical publication that takes great (exquisitely Gallic) delight in insulting anyone and everyone and the angrier their target gets the more they like it.

    Let the discourse begin.

    • GG

      Hebdo is a sewer not simply satire.

      • So that means we remain indifferent when we they are killed?

        • Paddy

          Of course not. Murder is always wrong, but how would a Catholic in Southie react to a pornographic depiction of the Virgin Mary in 1952? No one has to enter into a suicide pact to allow their civilization to be destroyed by a few wiseguy cartoonists or judges.

          • We don’t have to ask how a Catholic would react in 1952, it’s not a matter of speculation, we know-it’s a matter of record.

            • Paddy

              Catholics are more afraid of their shadows now than explaining to the Lord why we let Him be mocked,and in so doing, participated in the destruction of Western Civilization. We better be lawyered up when approaching Judgment Day.

        • GG

          It means we place things in proper perspective. We do not glorify pornographers as martyrs.

          • I don’t read the thing, so I can’t attest to whether or not it is pornography.

            As for this distinction of whether the MURDERED are martyrs or victims, I see no hagiography of them.

            In any case, the proper perspective is that one group of people took it upon themselves to KILL. I don’t know how long Charlie has been around but I’m guessing the obsenity of Islamic violence is far more lasting, durable and problematic than than “Charlie”.

            They’ll only become martyrs when their victimhood is denied or diminished by people who claim some justification for their demise.

            • GG

              From the article here:

              “In brief, liberty—as understood by the scholastic
              tradition—describes a moral freedom oriented to the good; license or
              false freedom is an abuse of true liberty because it employs freedom for
              its own sake. And license’s false teleology renders it both amoral and
              indefensible, even while legal in certain cases. In the case of rightfully legal, yet licentious exercises of free speech—like Charlie Hebdo sodomy cartoons, according to Donohue—moral defensibility collapses, even as legal defensibility stands.”

    • Paddy

      Over the last few generations, Hebdo & Co. have so debauched Western civilization that there are no moral standards. They, pornographers, Marxist professors and Democratic machine politicians seem proud of this accomplishment. Would there have been an NEA financed crucifix in piss or sodomy cartoons of the Prophet before Western Civilization was deflowered by these fiends? A half century ago, a Catholic would have just punched the “artist” in the nose, while Muslims murder. Regardless, the message would have been effectively delivered when there was still decency in the now debauched “West”.
      30 days in the can can be morally justified for punching out iconoclasts.

  • phranthie

    What a thoroughly ignorant, blustering and abusive man is Hugh Hewitt! Bill Donohue is a brave man to withstand such public abuse from this man for so long.

    • Paddy

      i suspect Hewitt needed some ratings to keep his gig going.

      • St JD George

        And you don’t get ratings these days unless you adopt some Jerry Springer like qualities in your programming.

        • Paddy

          Exactly. It was a failed ambush.

  • Patricia

    Kudos to Bill Donohue. HE clearly possesses the superior intellect and reason and right moral compass. I never was impressed with Hugh Hewitt, his opinions or exaltation of the Catholic Church and her teachings.

  • Patricia

    Kudos to Mr. Bill Donohue of The Catholic League. He clearly possesses the superior intellect, reason and right moral compass. No so with Hugh Hewitt who never impressed me with his opinions and lack of holding high the Catholic Church or her teachings.

  • Stilbelieve

    One of the many differences between Christianity and Islam – Jesus teaches to turn the other check when insulted; Islam teaches murder the s. o. bs.

    • Paddy

      Christ has been transformed into a feminized version of Himself. The gospels show He exhibited anger and even violence when confronted with hypocrisy or cowardice. Christianity used to be strong and its members suffered no radicals aiming to overturn our civilization. It was the rare communist who wasn’t punched out by a Catholic 80 years ago when he climbed up on a crate and asked that we overturn our Republic. He suddenly had to visit the dentist and the neighbor cop gave him a nasty look, too. Seems like only yesterday.

  • Paddy

    We always seem to come back to Evil triumphing when “good” men and women do nothing. Had a Catholic or Jew had the fortitude to confront these misanthropes when they were viciously mocking our religions, they might be alive today. Their noses might point more to one side or the other, but they’d be happy street sweepers or garbage collectors. Instead, they mocked Catholics and Jews and nothing happened. So, they went into deeper waters. Because we were weak and did nothing, we could be morally culpable in allowing them to proceed to the murderee level, decreed by the Prophet.

  • Steve Roberts

    VERY well stated! Parallel: It is legal in some countries to stone a woman to death for committing adultery. It is also legal to sell an 8 year old girl to a middle aged man to take as a wife. Just because it is legal doesn’t make it MORAL…!!

  • Florentius

    Excellent article that mirrors my own feelings about Bill Donohue’s stance. As you say, he is about 94% correct. But let’s not forget that so-called “conservatives” like Hugh Hewitt who find martyrs in obnoxious pornographers, are the same people who regularly shill for the Know-Nothing establishment wing of the Republican party–folks (ie, Mitt Romney) who are just as happy as Obama to legislate against the Church.

  • James Scott

    I might dispute the remaining 10% but let us as gentlemen agree to disagree.

    Well done Mr. Gordon.

  • Howard

    Natural law and morality are not the same thing, as the author seems to think.

  • Brother McPatrick

    Superb reasoning, Timothy. In a similar fashion, I have also opined on this matter in the following way:

    A provocation to anything does not establish a moral equivalence between the provocation and the act that is provoked in much the same way that a temptation to do X harm is not as sinful as actually doing X harm. Wearing noticeable expensive jewelry while walking alone at night in a crime-infested neighborhood can be a provocation to being robbed, etc., but it does not excuse the robbery or establish a moral equivalence between the robbery and the unwise wearing of jewelry and walking alone in a crime-infested neighborhood. It has to do with prudence, and it would be imprudent for the person to wear such jewelry, etc. in such a neighborhood even though such actions do not excuse or provide a moral equivalence between the wearer of the jewelry and those who robbed the wearer.

    Donohue has not made a moral equivalence claim regarding the terrorists and the cartoonists, but many people who want to attack Donohue are twisting his actual
    argument into a straw man caricature to claim that is what he has done.

    The only way there is any moral equivalence is if a person claims the murders are justified because of the provocation. You will find such claims made by various imams, but not
    by Donohue.

    Now consider the following scenario thought experiment to further drive home the point:

    Let’s say a jihadi holds a gun to Megyn Kelly’s head and tells Kelly to go ahead and keep
    insulting him and his religion. Do you think that Kelly will act all high and mighty about the first amendment and free speech at that time and continue her insults, or would she perhaps consider the situation and act with more prudence? Kelly certainly has a right to keep on insulting the jihadi, but would it be wise for her to do so under the circumstances?

    It is well understood that the jihadi is despicably wrong to so threaten Kelly, but
    in the real world, such things happen.

    Let’s assume that Kelly decides to keep yapping. The jihadi then blows her away. The jihadi is guilty of murder pure and simple, but would anybody claim that Kelly acted wisely under the circumstances? Is it not the case that Kelly played a role in her own demise in this scenario? Playing such a role does not excuse the murderer or establish a moral equivalence between Kelly and the jihadi, but it demonstrates a reality: if you act imprudently in various circumstances even though you have the freedom and the right to do so, you may end up being harmed in part because of your imprudence. You play a role (even though you are innocent of any intentional wrongdoing that may be visited upon you) by placing yourself in a position of harm’s way.

  • richado

    Freedom in the West means license. Do what you feel. Or as Aleister Crowley put it,”Do what you will shall be the whole of the law.” The liberal screed.

    Just look at the lifestyles of celebrities,especially the Hollywood elites. Our true freedom, our free will is not an end but a means to an end- salvation and eternal life. The notion of telos has been lost in our so-called liberal, carpe diem, live for the moment, pleasure seeking so-called culture.

  • hombre111

    You put it very, very well. The anything goes approach by some satirists is as corrosive as acid. NOTHING can justify murder, but please, excuse those of us who feel a little dirty and dishonored because we viewed some of the satire involved. But when you talk natural law, eyes glaze. Maybe the best response within whatever is left of our culture was given to Senator McCarthy: Have you no decency, sir?

    • If you had decency, you’d have honored your public promise to take leave of us.

  • Austin Ruse

    Of course, Hewitt understood all of Donohue’s points, particularly about legal vs. moral right. Hewitt ain’t no dummy.

    But Donohue made a huge blunder in taking that moment to attack the victims in the same breath he attacked the murderers. I have absolutely no doubt that Hewitt and Kelly would have utterly agreed with such a condemnation of Charlie Hebdo if it had come last month. As it was, it came when the bodies were still warm.

    Put simply, now was not the time for Donohue or anyone else to say such things. It was bad manners, very bad manners.

  • The(Real)7Sticks

    I’m a bit perplexed by how these cartoons can be “pornographic”? I always thought by definition that pornography was seen as images or words designed for sexual arousal. I can’t understand what’s so sexually arousing of a cartoon of Mohammed being sodomized? It seems more shocking than sexually arousing if you ask me.

    • GG

      Pope JPII gave Wednesday talks that have come to be called TOB. In those talks her makes a distinction between pornovision and pornography. Pornovision is what you refer to as photos or films and pornography as the written word.

      The distinction is really not important in our context. No matter what terms you prefer the cartoons in question are evil. They are not consistent with goodness.

      • The(Real)7Sticks

        I disagree. A lot of good can come out of scatological drawings. For example, the late Paul Conrad’s cartoon of Nixon attempting to rape the Statue of Liberty has a very profound message of how unscrupulous politicians can abuse their power to take away the rights we so routinely take for granted nowadays. It takes a visual representation like that that makes us uncomfortable at first, but then allows us to understand certain concepts that otherwise would go over our heads through discourse that wouldn’t have the same engaging effect. The messages that Charb and Cabu were trying to illustrate in their scatological drawings is that all organized religions have no moral authority over us if they themselves engage in the depravity they claim to condemn, whether it’s the Catholic Church’s coverup of priests as pedophiles or Islam’s immoral actions of fear and tyranny against the rest of the civilized world.

        • GG

          The ends never justify the means.

  • The(Real)7Sticks

    I should also add that I think this obsession with trying to stop scatological humor is what’s really destroying western civilization. I believe showing restraint robs us satirists of what makes our artistry special. We have a proud tradition of using scatological humor in trying to fight against these artificial constructs like organized religion, political correctness and fighting corruption of the highest level. The fall of the criminal Boss Tweed would not have been possible without the cartoons of the great Thomas Nast. We wouldn’t have exposed Richard Nixon for what he was without the works of Paul Conrad and Garry Trudeau. The underground comics of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman freed us from the milqtoast comics presented by the Comics Code Authority. And now that tradition of irreverence and scatology continues on shows like South Park and Family Guy. The problem isn’t a lack of restraint; its a lack of a sense of humor. And frankly, I feel sorry for anyone who can’t enjoy laughing at a little toilet humor every now and then because they let these artificial constraints like organized religion or political correctness drain their spirit out of them.

  • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

    Very sad as I so love Hewit and am surprised he would go legalistic, but then again he is an attorney so it is an occupational hazard. Great article, yes abortion is our best example of how a legal right is a moral wrong. Liberty is abused, life is abused, and a generation of entitlement takers is upon us. Our Lady of Sorrows, ora pro nobis.

    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

      Too much focus on the satirist’s use of pornography to score points., An exercise: bracket out the pornography (if that is what it strictly was, by definition) and reevaqlute the events of last week. Substitute the images of Muhammad in pornographic position with = let’s see – Muhammad doing homage to the doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation (you know, like those of Santa Claus kneeling at the manager of God in the Flesh). [Note my comment in prior post, below.] For Islam this is far more blasphemous than what Charlie was depicting – thought the leftist media would have yawned.

      If 12 journalists were murdered in Paris or Sacramento for publishing – vividly illustrated – the dare that Muhammad lost out because he did accept the Trinity, for, in fact, slaughtering and subjected untold acreage of Mesopotamia and North Africa for harboring people who believed that God came in the Flesh, would Mr. Donahue had taken a different tack.

      I am an artist. If I should exhibit a series of drawings and paintings showing Muhammad submitting to the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation would Mr. Donahue charge me with acts of sacrilege and blasphemy? Would Mr. Donahue withdraw my calling to evangelize the Gospel in that manner? In fact I once made such an suggestion, a portfolio of paintings showing Islam eventual subjection to the Gospel, and received my own little fatwa from an outfit in London – with parts highlighted in red, no less!

      Believe me, Islam thinks so utterly differently about things sexual (let alone, scatological) that it take some effort to truly understand where the offensive lies n the Islamic mind. For one to proclaim – and illustrate – that, at the end of time, Muhammad will fall down to God in the Flesh – and declare God Three-in-One – is far more blasphemous and offensive then images of Muhammad bending over. In that, even Western Leftists – many who congregated in central {Parish this week – would agree!

      Mr. Donahue, please do not share Islam’s offense. It’s not worthy of you.

  • Ruth Rocker

    One of the biggest victims of the current islamic assault is speaking the truth. Everyone, everywhere is expected to toe the “party line” when it comes to talking about these “poor, misunderstood” people. Excuse me??!! I don’t believe it’s possible to misunderstand their position. They believe that if you are an unbeliever, your life is forfeit. Everywhere, every time. It’s in their instruction book – if any of the current round of talking heads would only bother to look.

    And the West in general is a bad instructor in what is moral, considering all the abortions that are legally sanctioned but morally abhorrent! Freedom and liberty have become synonymous with license to do whatever-stupid-thing comes into one’s mind because I’m ok, you’re ok. Bleh!!

  • Stephen

    You said, “Now, I maintain that Donohue was erroneous in averring that Charbonier contributed to his death morally.”
    Donohue never claimed that Charbonier contributed to his death morally. He merely stated that Charbonier had a role in his own death. Donohue never speaks of this role having moral implications. Donohue was merely stating the obvious. For example, if I write an insulting letter to someone and that person comes and beats me up, or worse, it is true to say that I played a role in the events. That is just a statement of fact.

    • “Donohue never claimed that Charbonier contributed to his death morally. He merely stated that Charbonier had a role in his own death. Donohue never speaks of this role having moral implications.”He merely stated that Charbonier had a role in his own death.”

      A distinction that obscures the major problem with the statement. The problem is that he would only be right if one accepts that Muslim retribution is a natural consequence of the action of inanimate forces. Accepting this notion means that one needs to expect and accept this retribution-and therefore take caution not to insult the religion of “perpetual indignation”.
      The implication is that criticizing Islam carries with it perils as predictable as playing with matches or using electric appliances while bathing.
      The proximate cause and the moral culpability lie ONLY with the Muslims.

  • I_M_Forman

    Excellent article. Liberty is not license. Rights mean nothing if we do not understand that we are accountable for our wrongs. The distinction between what is legal and what is moral was well referred to.

  • Bogdan Szczurek

    How about: “’For me everything is permissible’; maybe, but not everything does good.“ in this context?

  • Beth

    Did Pope Francis basically say the same thing?

  • Paul

    I think that Bill Donohue’s statement (the one sentence that Hewitt kept repeating) could have been phrased better. But on the whole, I agree with Donohue. I sometimes like listening to Hugh Hewitt, but this segment made him look very bad, in my opinion. All he did was constantly try to shame Donohue, without ever closing his mouth long enough to hear to what Donohue had to say.

  • paridell

    Donohue was right and Hewitt was wrong. He was clearly under-prepared, and to boot he couldn’t see past the First Amendment issue, which after all is applicable only in the United States. But it was probably a little early for Donohue to draw the distinction between a legal right to offend and the moral right to do so. The bodies of the Charlie Hebdo staff were barely cold, and as Hewitt pointed out, the attacks might even have been ongoing at that point. And so they were. The Montrouge shooting happened on the very day of the interview, and there was a further orgy of slaughter at the kosher deli the following day.

    Hewitt repeatedly demanded that Donohue should name one senior cleric who agreed with him. Clearly he wasn’t expecting to hear from the Pope himself, but that is just what happened seven days later: “You cannot insult other people’s faith,” Francis said. Like Donohue’s statement, it was an implicit reproach to the dead, but at least Francis waited for a reasonable interval before coming out with it.

    By the by, I can’t see what’s wrong with saying that Hewitt excoriated Donohue. “Excoriate” doesn’t mean “refute” or “defeat”. It simply means “criticise severely”, and that is just what Hewitt did, calling Donohue “a scandal on the Church” and accusing him of siding with terrorists. One hopes he’s cooled off by now.

  • itypethereforeiam

    Lame jab at fox. Otherwise good.

  • TJ

    Talk show hosts , by their very nature, like to create more “heat than light”. They always have to be aware of the ratings number game. Injecting common sense does not always help the numbers game. Donohue;s position was the correct one

  • GrahamUSA

    I read the Wall Street Journal every day but its editorial page insists that on immigration, any questions concerning rule of law, legitimate process, and the violent conditions on our southern border reflect bigotry and xenophobia. It’s just the way things are now. Everybody has an agenda, Only orthodox Catholics are honest about the nature of true religion. Everyone else just wants to be loved.