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Semiformalishmaybe

CMU, the First Amendment, and Indecent Exposure

Earlier on my G+ stream, I commented on the matter of a CMU student who protested the Catholic church's coverup of sexual abuse by dressing as the pope, partly naked. I was disappointed that President Cohon had apologised on behalf of CMU to the local Catholic Bishop and the Catholic League. Now the matter has been resolved; she was charged with indecent exposure and not charged further.

It's irritating that Bishop Zubik and Bill Donohue (the latter name you may be familiar with if you track conservative political correctness pushers) had the chutzpah to spew this garbage:

  • Zubik: "Once again, and as I have said over these last few weeks, this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone's race, the sacredness of anyone's religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone's nationality"
  • Donohue: (the University's action) "balances the need for freedom of expression with a commitment to fighting intolerance"
Rubbish. If you believe all races are beautiful, that religiousness is sacred, or ... people's nationalities are unique (whatever the fuck that means), that's your business. Don't gag others. And making fun of Catholics (or anything else) is not intolerant.

On this, I'm happy that the ACLU is pushing a decent standard; a healthy society is not always polite, and it doesn't fetishise respect.

This is not meant as a commentary on indecency laws, where I've never had much of a position, but if we are to accept such laws, it's purely an administrative matter to enforce them and doing so should not be seen or spoken of as pretending that Catholic (or any other) perspectives should not be mocked. Donohue's still even protesting the artwork "Piss Christ".

There are parts of the left and the right that still would either legally or socially try to stomp out things that offend them. Rape jokes. Black humour. Jabs at their preferred religious ideas. People not using their preferred worlds-of-terms for sex/gender/etc. It's disappointing and dangerous.

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