Bill Donohue publicly blames Charlie Hebdo editor for his own death

Catholic fanatic believes that no-one has the 'moral right' to insult religion.

Catholic fanatic says that no-one has the ‘moral right’ to insult religion

This week, religious lunatics in France murdered a total of seventeen people over the course of a three day rampage that started with an attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The only appropriate response to this, as should be obvious to any sentient person, is unequivocal condemnation of the attack, a ruthless manhunt for those responsible, and a mass reprinting of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons by every publication in the world that cares about free expression, the freedom to be offensive and the freedom to satirise and criticise religion.

Such a move isn’t an endorsement of the content of the cartoons, so much as an affirmation of the principle that people cannot be murdered or threatened with violence for publishing cartoons.

Beyond proving a point, this sort of solidarity spreads the very real physical risk around among a large number of people, making it futile for censorious barbarians to threaten or attack any of those involved.

While most of the discussion in the wake of the attacks has been reasonably intelligent and mercifully nuanced, there have been notable exceptions. To wit, as David Bernstein has pointed out, Glenn Greenwald seems to think this week’s primary take away is that we all need to criticise Israel more, because the alleged ‘taboo’ against such criticism is just as bad as deranged fanatics going on a shooting spree – or something.

Greenwald’s fellow inhabitant of the kooky, allegedly libertarian fringe, former Presidential candidate Ron Paul also proved his reliability as a crank by being one of the only people to say the attacks were all a result of interventionist French foreign policy.

In a strong field though, the worst response to the attack so far has come from professional religious censor and provocateur Bill Donohue. Mr. Donohue has made a contemptible career out of being loudly ‘offended’ any time anyone makes fun of or – gasp! – insults Catholicism.

His most notable contributions to public life include a December 2004 appearance on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, during which he defended Mel Gibson’s sadomasochistic and unmistakably anti-Semitic snuff film The Passion of the Christ.

He did so by attributing accusations of anti-Semitism in the film to Hollywood’s being “controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular…it’s about the truth. It’s about the messiah.’

Donohue is also a noted combatant in what he imagines to be the ‘war against Christmas,’ regularly taking aim at such atrocities as White House greeting cards that say ‘Holiday Season’ instead of Christmas and at atheist billboards that compare Jesus to Santa.

Donohue though, probably deserves to be best known for his infamous responses to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. In 2011, for example, he took out a nearly 3,000 word ad in the New York Times entitled ‘Straight Talk About The Catholic Church‘.

Relying on a report which was commissioned and funded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Donohue claims the victims of sexually abusive priests, “weren’t children and they weren’t raped.” In the same paragraph he argues that because most of the victims in report he cites were post-pubescent, “the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.”

Elsewhere in the ad, Donohue strongly implies that many, if not most of the victims of priestly sexual abuse who have come forward are simply greedy fraudsters. Indeed the ad is so far beyond the pale and so obviously self-discrediting that it need not be replied to, but simply underlined.

This brings us to the latest pearls of wisdom Mr. Donohue has bestowed upon us. In a statement on his website Wednesday, with the blood not yet dry in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, he first writes that the attacks must be “unequivocally condemned”.

However, in the very next sentence, Mr. Donohue does a good deal more than equivocate; he informs us that “neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction”.

In other words, Mr. Donohue shares the murderers’ ends, though he doesn’t condone their means. Later in the statement, Donohue singles out Charlie Hebdo publisher Stephane Charbonnier as particularly deserving of his bloody, bullet-riddled end for daring to “deliberately insult Muslims by trashing [Mohammed]”.

As it happens, Mr. Donohue’s ceaseless gay-bashing, Jew-baiting and trivialisation of clerical child molesting, causes me a great deal of offence. To take one hypothetical though, I would never effectively justify his assassination by victims of priestly sexual assault by saying Mr. Donohue had “provoked” it with his apologia for the Catholic Church.

If I were going to comment on his deplorable record in such a scenario, I’d like to think I’d at least have the decency to wait until he was in the ground before doing so.

When his original statement succeeded in its goal of getting Donohue invited on Fox News to be smacked around by Megyn Kelly, he proceeded to enlarge upon his original slander of the cartoonists, comparing them to a husband who has beaten his wife for 20 years and is then murdered by her.

He went on to concede that while people may have a legal right to insult religion, “no one has a moral right to do so”.

It’s remarkable this has to be said in 2015, to highly educated people who are the heirs of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution, but it clearly does: religion, like all other ideologies and ideas is not and must never be immune to satire, insult, or criticism.

That we are burdened with a large number of disgusting and occasionally violent anti-Muslim bigots does not exempt Islam from criticism or make satirising it ‘Islamophobic’ (a word that is often used to insidiously conflate criticisms of various doctrines and beliefs associated with Islam with bigotry toward Muslims).

Nor does the publishing of ‘provocative’ or ‘offensive’ cartoons mean that the publishers or cartoonists are, in any sense, asking for trouble. Anyone who says otherwise is making excuses for murderous, totalitarian theocrats.

Moreover, we do our Muslim brothers and sisters (who constitute almost all of the victims of this theocratic barbarism) no favours by agreeing with the murderers that their religion must be immune from criticism and satire.

From Morocco to Pakistan and from Syria to Nigeria, sane, decent, intelligent, and in many cases heroic Muslims are literally fighting for their lives at this very moment, against exactly the sort of totalitarian head-choppers who attacked France.

It’s tempting to conclude that the reason that religious fanatics like Mr. Donohue and the murderous lunatics in France want religion to be out of bounds for criticism and mockery isn’t just their hurt feelings. Rather, their religions are simply too big a target.

If your deeply held beliefs are so fragile they can’t withstand the odd cartoon, regardless of how vulgar, perhaps it’s time to think about trading them in for some new ones. Likewise, if your beliefs are so absolute that they necessitate the murder of anyone who dares to mock them, you are likely a member of a totalitarian cult – religious or otherwise – and should immediately get help to be deprogrammed.

In the meantime, those of us who care about free expression and living in a civilised society will continue to say exactly what we think of Mr. Donohue, murderous Jihadis and the ridiculous tripe they both espouse.

Evan Helmuth is a freelance writer who covers the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter

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30 Responses to “Bill Donohue publicly blames Charlie Hebdo editor for his own death”

  1. swat

    Bigot. The more these fundamentalists protest, the more we should attack their bigotry.

  2. AlanGiles

    Religious nutcases of whatever religion are such hypocrites. They are thin-skinned and can’t bear to have their religion “insulted”, yet they themselves insult people of whom they don’t approve of their lifestyle

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    Why are you focused on religion?

    *Any* faith – hardcore football fans, randroids, vulgar libertarians, austerterians, etc.

  4. David Lindsay

    But you people do only disapprove of sex between men and teenage boys (practically the whole of the Catholic child abuse scandals) when the men are Catholic priests.

    That is not the position of the Catholic Church, but it is of Her detractors, who otherwise glorify such behaviour culturally and campaign in favour of its legalisation politically.

    It is a specific offence under Canon Law for a priest to have sex with anyone under 18, regardless of any lower age of consent in the country in question.

    Whereas Peter Tatchell has campaigned for decades to lower the age of consent to 14 (under which almost all of Catholic priests’ offences would have been legal), and everyone is supposed to coo over the genius and the impending nuptials of Stephen Fry, the author of two novels glorifying sex between men and underage boys.

  5. damon

    He’s obviously completely mad, so I wouldn’t worry about what he says too much.

  6. robertcp

    I agree.

  7. JoeDM

    Religion + Politics = Social Poison

  8. CGR

    All ritual superstition and religious myths should be mocked regularly

  9. Just Visiting

    yes. What a pointless article.

    Almost as if Evan wanted to distract everyone from the main issue ?

  10. satta

    We ignore the causal relationship between radical Islam and decades of Western foreign policy at our own peril.

  11. Asteri


    You really are searching hard to find ideological opponents aren’t you?

  12. madasafish

    I watched the Life of Brian in 1980. that made Islamic cartoons look tame…..Most religions have nutters on the extremes.. as do many political parties…

  13. rgwes

    weirdo nuter in being a weirdo nutter shock

  14. Kevin Barry

    As far as I can see it Bill Donohue speaks only for Bill Donohue. When questioned by the conservative Catholic radio host Hugh Hewitt (, Donohue’s reasoning soon unravelled.
    The French Jesuit magazine ‘Études’ has published a selection of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-Catholic cartoons, which I have found not particularly offensive – and not particularly funny to be honest.
    I look forward to the day when the secular British print media takes the decision to print the ‘offensive’ cartoons – but I’m not holding my breath, as it would require growing a pair first.

  15. Matthew Blott

    Well he’s a religious bigot. What’s the excuse of the tosspots running the Guardian for commissioning no end of victim blaming bollocks these past few days?

  16. uglyfatbloke

    Attacking power based on the myths of bronze age nomads is n’t a right…it’s a duty.

  17. Guest

    Keep attacking all theists, trying to deny people views based on your own bigotry – extremists are the social poison, and you’ve stood up to be counted.

  18. Guest

    And your beloved capitalism…oh wait, no that’s mainstream there.

  19. Guest

    Of course, I routinely mock your capitalist nonsense.

  20. Guest

    So you see attacking theists as a duty, got it.

  21. uglyfatbloke

    Nope; only power that derives from collusion etc among deists. Bishops in the HoL would be an example…there again I object to power being handed out to old pals, so I’m opposed to the HoL too.

  22. ForeignRedTory

    True, but only in reverse:

    The only correct response for Western Foreign Policy is a firm commitment to decades of WAR upon the proponents of radical Islam ( aka Islamofascism ) in the firm resolve to wipe aforemenioned proponents of radical Islan from the face of the Earth, and deal with the utmost severity with anyone who raises objections.

  23. ForeignRedTory

    I dunno. He does me a favour. I am a Catholic, but I was wholly unaware that there was a Catholic League after the one in the 16th century. When I say favour I am not being sarcastic. It does a body good to be occasionally told, quite respectfully, that he has tosspots on his own side. And Mr Donohue appears to be just a bit of a tosser.

  24. ForeignRedTory

    Cuz Alan is a an athiest fundamentalist.

  25. ForeignRedTory

    Got it. Its a duty to attack deists when they do something you don’t like. Basically, you are just another Fascist.

  26. uglyfatbloke

    it would help the conversation if you read what was written rather than inferring something that is n’t there. I could n’t care less which set of legends people choose to believe in so long as A) they don’t get to impose their will or inflict damage on those around them and B) they don’t get special privileges….such as membership of the house of lords or not having to pay property taxes on their clubhouses.
    I know very decent and honourable men and women who are steadfast in their respective faiths (some of them are my close relatives and one was by business partner for years and years) I just don’t think that they or their organisations should get special treatment…most of them don’t think so either.

  27. madasafish

    As usual your retorts are irrelevant to the subject .

  28. ForeignRedTory

    If woud help even more if athiests simply kept to their own kind in their own little ghettos – such as the ever-peaceful Ukraine.Failing that, they could stick in the basements of their parents.

  29. uglyfatbloke

    Just as soon as we have done away with special treatment and privileges for people who have chosen to believe in the myths of bronze age nomads and tales of ancient magic tricks. If you want to believe in such things feel free to do so, but here’s no excuse for having them in our schools or for having representatives of religious groups given a reserved role in our system of government.

  30. Ryan Boyle

    Not at all, you can be religious and simply believe that it has no place in politics, in Scotland my home country where protestant and catholic tensions have ripped the western edge appart for years has driven a large secular movement (with many members being extremely religious, they just see that its unfair to force their beliefs on others and that their religion tends to favour there own over others

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