The Pope has waded into the controversy around the Charlie Hebdo murders by telling us it’s wrong to kill in the name of God and that there needs to be limits on insulting other religions.

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” Francis said on the flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Manila.

Emphasis mine.

My response to the Pope: Bullshit. Insults and comedy are part of the natural critique for any faith/belief system/philosophy. The marketplace of ideas is harmed without the full width and breadth of nonviolent critique.

I make fun of religions because I find them foolish. I make jokes of their inconsistencies. I fully expect others to make jokes about atheists.

Here’s where it comes to limits and limits. More to the point, moral limits and legal limits.

If the Pope is calling for moral limits on expression, then that’s fine. He’s the moral leader for millions of people and they expect him to tell them his interpretation of Big Sky Daddy’s will. Breaking the moral limit may get someone excluded from Thanksgiving dinner, but not get thrown in jail.

On the other hand, we’re going to have a problem if he’s calling for legal limits on expression, that becomes dangerous for a society. The problem is that what is offensive is highly subjective, and legally limiting speech becomes a tyranny of the most sensitive. Improvements in science and philosophy are lost because thinkers are not allowed pathways due to “offense”.

Limits and limits.