I was disturbed to read that Bishop David Zubik is demanding punishment of a CMU student who, in his opinion, mocked the Catholic Church. Since I read that, I have expressed my displeasure in a variety of ways.
I posted on Facebook, I spoke to friends. I discussed it at the dinner table. I used strong words like "halfwit," "embarrassment" and "cretinous medieval boob." I did not, however, contact the Vatican to demand that Bishop Zubik be punished.
I did not do that because I believe, like Justice Holmes, in "the free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market."
I did not do this because I believe, like Justice Brandeis, that, "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."
These are not dusty legal formulations. They are principles by which Americans live and on which our constant discourse is founded. To demand the suppression of an opposing view, rather than advancing a better idea, is the most fundamentally anti-American act in which one can engage.
I hope that, with reflection, Bishop Zubik will recognize that the price he pays for the right to profess his faith without fear of reprisal is the danger that he will occasionally hear opinions with which he disagrees, and rescind his demands for punishment.