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Cardinal Wants Da Vinci Code Legally Suppressed:

According to Reuters,

In the latest Vatican broadside against "The Da Vinci Code", a leading cardinal says Christians should respond to the book and film with legal action because both offend Christ and the Church he founded. Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a candidate for pope last year, made his strong comments in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code -- A Masterful Deception." ...

"Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget," Arinze said in the documentary made by Rome film maker Mario Biasetti for Rome Reports, a Catholic film agency specializing in religious affairs.

"Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical. So it is not I who will tell all Christians what to do but some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others," Arinze said.

"This is one of the fundamental human rights: that we should be respected, our religious beliefs respected, and our founder Jesus Christ respected," he said, without elaborating on what legal means he had in mind....

I had hoped that the Catholic Church had learned that it's wrong to try to use legal coercion to suppress religious views that one disapproves of -- and that no religion should have a legal right to be free from criticism or disagreement (or for that matter novels it dislikes). I'm sorry to see that at least one leading cardinal takes a different view. Those of us who condemned Moslem leaders who called for legal suppression of the Mohammed cartoons (not just those who called for violence, but also those who called for government action) should condemn this Catholic leader's call as well.

Thanks to Robert Bidinotto for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The Catholic Church, the da Vinci Code, and "Censorship Envy":
  2. Cardinal Wants Da Vinci Code Legally Suppressed:
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The Catholic Church, the da Vinci Code, and "Censorship Envy":

As senior Conspirator Eugene Volokh has warned, one of the dangers of censoring "offensive" speech is "censorship envy." If one group is given the power to suppress speech offensive to it, others are likely to press harder to get the same privilege for themselves. As Eugene points out in the post linked above, many of the European Muslims who sought to suppress the Mohammed cartoons were partly motivated by the fact that many European countries ban Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic speech.

This dynamic is clearly at work in the efforts of some Catholic leaders to ban the Da Vinci Code. As Cardinal Francis Arinze, one of the chief advocates of banning The Code puts it, "[t]here are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you." The Reuters article where this quote appears notes that the Cardinal was referring to Muslim calls for censoring the Mohammed cartoons. He and at least one other cardinal "asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough [too]."

The cardinals are arguing that, if Muslims have the right to ban speech offensive to them, so too should Christians. Just as the Muslims previously made the same argument with respect to Jews! The rapid spread of "censorship envy" makes it all the more important to crush this vicious dynamic at its roots - by denying EVERY group the power to censor its critics. It is true that some of these critics are more offensive than others. Certainly, Holocaust denial is far worse than anything in the Da Vinci Code. But "censorship envy" ensures that such distinctions are unlikely to deter the spread of repression once it has begun.

Update: It is worth noting that Cardinal Arinze - the leading would-be censor of the Da Vinci Code - is not a minor fringe figure. As the Reuters piece I linked to notes, he was viewed as a serious contender for the papacy when John Paul II died last year. And he will likely be a contender again after the passing of the current pope (who is almost 80 years old).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The Catholic Church, the da Vinci Code, and "Censorship Envy":
  2. Cardinal Wants Da Vinci Code Legally Suppressed:
65 Comments