Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of speech, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.
Uh pope? What happens when your faith and religious expression ridicules and insults my *rational* scientific, philosophical views?
Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good. But he said there were limits. By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane. “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said half-jokingly, throwing a mock punch his way. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”
If someone curses you, you are free to curse them back. You are not free to punch them, i.e., to initate force against them. The answer to bad speech is good speech. Not violence. To sanction such violence in principle is to sanction the murder of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo.
Yes those limits are where the speech causes physically injury. Punching causes physically injury. Spewing curses does not. Quoting Thomas Jefferson:
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. … Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.”