When Free Expression Isn’t Free: Pope Francis and the Western Tradition


There he goes again. Pope Francis is confusing the point.

He condemned religious violence in response to the attack in Paris. Westerners tend to applaud the condemnation of religious violence. All well and good.

But the New York Daily News believes that Francis made “a rare rhetorical misstep.”

But then the Pope confused the point by saying, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

While the sentiment is understandable coming from a man of the cloth, it conflicts with Western traditions of free expression, while enabling repressive religious zealots around the world to claim the Pope is in their corner.

Continue reading

Influence, Affluence, and the First Amendment

Played Dungeons & Dragons in high school.  Picked on by jocks.


The Court’s ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case was the right decision. At issue was whether or not Americans have a right to spend as much of their own money as they see fit to support favored political candidates and parties. In a 5 to 4 decision the Supreme Court found that Americans do have that right under the First Amendment.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, federal law placed two types of restrictions on Americans. The first restriction limits how much you can give directly to political candidates and political parties. The restriction is based on the idea that no individual should have excessive influence with any particular candidate or party. The idea is to prevent a single donor from bankrolling an entire campaign. This restriction is still federal law and was not immediately impacted by the McCutcheon case.

Continue reading