Tolerance is key in the wake of tragedy

“Tolerance is key in the wake of tragedy”, published in China.org.cn on April 2, 2015

Everyone has their own ideas about religion. Everyone has their own ideas about what is offensive or blasphemous. No one should be forced to live under the rules of a religion that they don’t believe in. Charlie Hebdo brutally mocked Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, not to mention many political issues, but they didn’t deserve to die or be censored for doing so.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the murder of 12 people in and outside of the magazine’s offices, some fundamentalist religious activists are trying to exploit this tragedy with calls for the public to observe fundamentalist religious laws. It’s not just Islamic extremists. In America, radical Catholic fundamentalist Bill Donahue doesn’t want you saying anything about Christianity that he disagrees with. In fact, he even called on non-Catholics to convert to Catholicism.

On the day of the massacre, Donahue, through his organization the Catholic League, released a statement that said: “It is too bad that he [Publisher Stephane Charbonnier] didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death.…Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.”

While Donahue has a long track record of uttering hateful statements, this must be one of his most disgusting – blaming the victims before their bodies were buried. One might even feel tempted to joke, “I bet Bill Donahue would blame the altar boys (and girls), too.” In fact, it’s not a joke. In 2011, his organization ran an ad in the New York Times that stated, “Let’s get it straight – they weren’t children and they weren’t raped.”

He has made a career out of attacking media figures whenever they joke about, or make political commentary critical of, Christianity. In 2009, he said, “Mocking the heart of any religion always crosses the line.” Now he says, “Muslims are right to be angry.”

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