A poll on The Orlando Sentinel’s website has 46 percent of people saying that Bill Maher should be canned for his comments on the Pope last week. I have heard an uproarious outcry about Maher, who in his apology for calling the Pope a Nazi, said, “The main point I was making was that if the pope, instead of a religious figure, was the CEO of a chain of nationwide day care centers who had thousands of employees who had been caught molesting children and then covering it up, he would have been in jail.”
Let me remind that 46 percent of something that too many people are eager to ignore these day: once, long ago, in the forests and hills of this shining land, men tread with grim determination and rifles in their hands determined to secure the rights that they felt were “inalienable”. They fought with purpose, with the strength of the ideal that no oligarchy, no Establishment, and no King should be able to limit the God-given right to voice one’s thoughts, and no one organization should be able to crucify those who with different opinions. Evidently, this noble ideal is a fleeting one that can be shredded with nary a thought as soon as someone gets offended.
Maher has been thrown off of TV before, once in 2002 when ABC bowed to pressure and decided not to renew “Politically Incorrect” because of his comments about the 9/11 hijackers. If you watch his show (which I do religiously), then you’ll know that he is fond of incendiary commentary meant to disrupt and anger the general public. I don’t always agree with him.
But let me ask– is he lying? If the Pope was indeed a CEO, and that many members of his company were not only convicted of molesting children, but also of shuffling locations so as to avoid indictment, would he not be arrested? Or at least forced to step down? Is this such a reach to think that it would be possible?
As to the “Pope is a Nazi” comment, I think we all know that being as Benedict was a child when he was in the Hitler youth, this is more of a potshot than a concrete truth; Maher knows this. Let me remind you that the man is a comedian by trade, not a news anchor; he is trying for laughs.
Regardless, my point here is not to argue Maher’s ideals- he does a fine job at doing that himself. What I am arguing is the power of certain organizations to silence the valid opinion of a known critic of all that is Powerful. I am arguing the innate right that we all have of believing in our own Gods, following our own politics, and criticizing those who exercise their power at will, and many times carelessly as the Catholic Church does.
Freedom of speech is a precious thing, perhaps the most precious of things. It can slip away in the fragile breeze of oppression, and can be annihilated completely if we as Americans do not constantly watch its back for the wicked daggers of those who refuse to accept alternative viewpoints.
Now, the Great Evil is someone who spoke out against the Church; next, it’s someone who speaks out against the party in power; it is a slippery slope. Do not be caught up in the burning of Galileo’s that we should have done away with centuries ago; doing so is willingly disgracing the tombs of every patriot who has bled the ground red on the slopes of Bunker Hill, in the woods of Gettysburg, on the banks of the Marne, and in the frozen woodlands of the Ardennes Forest. If you are a true American, you will, as Voltaire said, not defend Maher himself, but defend to the death his right to say it.