Where’s the line between free and offensive speech?

Posted By on March 25, 2012

Americans seem to be flirting with politically correct issue of “hateful distasteful speech” once again. After some trashy talk in the previous couple of elections, from the media notables and celebrities targeting Sarah Palin to the death threats to cartoonist for caricatures of Muhammad, popephotoRush Limbaugh is being targeted for his inappropriate comments of Sandra Fluke – link. Personally I find them all offensive and would prefer a higher level of discourse come from particularly those who have a large audience … but censorship,  well I’m NOT sure we need government’s  heavy hand on it either.

The latest in hot button offensive speech is from the National Public Radio crowd, all be it their comedy show, Wait, Wait, Don’t tell me. Still, there seem to be a line of decency being crossed when using religion and religious leaders. Is it really necessary? (transcript below)

SAGAL: Roy, it’s a right of passage these days for celebrities to release a signature scent: Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, they’re all hawking perfumes. This week, we learned of another who has joined that roster. Who?

BLOUNT: It’s a real celebrity, one of the biggest celebrities in the world. I happen to know the answer to this. It is the pope.

SAGAL: It is Pope Benedict XVI, yes.



SAGAL: Italian perfumer Silvana Casoli creates perfumes for both Madonna and Sting. So it seemed natural that she would be the one chosen to create a fragrance for another famous gay icon.


SAGAL: But unlike your average celebrity scent, this perfume is meant for the Pope’s use only. Casoli says the perfume’s infused with some of the Pontiff’s favorite things: lemon, fresh spring grass, tree blossoms and anything that covers up the smell of old guy.


SAGAL: So like I said, it’s only for his use but we’re hoping, you know, the Vatican had some trouble recently, they may need some income. Maybe he’ll sell it. Can you imagine the glossy TV ads for the pope’s perfume? A room with white billowing curtains, a gorgeous model sweeps into view, her gown swirling along her long legs. She whispers, “I’m wearing Pope.”


PIERCE: Well, the reason they can’t sell it, Peter, is the only way you can make it work is if there’s a little priest following behind you with a little thing burning.



SAGAL: Maybe he’s going to create like a pope product empire. He can sell jeans: “nothing gets between me and my Benedicts.”


SAGAL: How about breakfast cereal? Frosted Mini Popes.


SAGAL: He can be in the ad. You know, it’s like hey, let’s give this cereal to Popey, Popey condemns everything.


SAGAL: Oh look, Popey likes it.

Here’s an NPR Ombudsman article on this topic.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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