(CNSNews.com) - "People have a legal right to insult my religion or somebody else's, but they don't have a moral right to do so," says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.
In an interview with Fox News's Megyn Kelly Thursday night, Donohue described the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists as "pornographers disguised as satirists. We're not talking about Mel Brooks, we're talking about functional equivalent of Larry Flynt going to print."
Donohue said people are looking at the terror attack on a Paris satirical newspaper in a one-dimensional way, saying that the only issue is the right of the cartoonists to "do whatever they want."
That's not the case, he said.
"The only people who are responsible here are the murderers, the Muslim barbarians. And they are a threat to liberty. There's no question about it. I'm simply saying there's another issue here. That is the necessity of restraint on the part of artists. And I'm sick and tired of the narcissism of the artists in this country and abroad who say the only right is my right to do whatever I want. We're talking here, by the way, not about inoffensive depictions. We're talking about --
Kelly interrupted him: "That doesn't matter," she said, referring to the offensive nature of some Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Kelly argued that the protection of offensive speech is "the bedrock of the First Amendment."
"If that's the case, why don't you show right now what they put on the scatological covers?" Donohue asked Kelly. "Nobody wants to put it in their newspaper."
"I got to go, Bill. I got to go," Kelly told him.
"I wonder why," Donohue replied.
In a statement on the Catholic League website, Donohue wrote:
Nothing justifies the killing of these people. But this is not the whole of this issue.
The cartoonists, and all those associated with Charlie Hebdo, are no champions of freedom. Quite the opposite: their obscene portrayal of religious figures -- so shocking that not a single TV station or mainstream newspaper would show them -- represents an abuse of freedom.
Freedom of speech is not an end -- it is a means to an end. For Americans, the end is nicely spelled out in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: the goal is to “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
No fair-minded reading of the Preamble suggests that it was written to facilitate the right to intentionally and persistently insult people of faith with scatological commentary. Moreover, the purpose of free speech is political discourse: it exists to protect the right of men and women to agree and disagree about the makings of the good society.
Let’s forget about legalities. As I have said countless times, everyone has a legal right to insult my religion (or the religion of others), but no one has a moral right to do so. Can we please have this conversation, along with what to do about Muslim barbarians who kill because they are offended?