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‘Hannity’ Panel Clashes Over Pope’s Charlie Hebdo Comments

On Thursday’s “Hannity,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue, Fox News Contributor Father Jonathan Morris, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity clashed over comments by Pope Francis regarding the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Donohue doubled down on previous remarks he made about Charlie Hebdo’s head, stating “had he not insulted, had they not gone out of their way to insult Muslims, they would still be alive,” which he said was an “explanation” not a “justification.” He also blasted USA Today‘s “lunatics” for thinking he would be for anti-blasphemy laws.

Morris jumped in to support Donohue, stating “I think the point, which is a valid one, that Bill’s trying to make is the fact that you have a legal right to do something, like for example, Charlie Hebdo had a legal right that I would defend to death to be able to publish something that’s offensive…doesn’t mean it’s morally right.” Although he did add that it wasn’t wise to talk about potential causes of the Charlie Hebdo attack and that we should say “evil is evil,” which he maintained the pope did, but said that the pope’s use of somebody punching another person who made derogatory comments about their mother was a bad analogy that could sound like victim-blaming.

Powers disagreed, arguing that “first of all, we not only can, we should criticize religions. Religions are extremely powerful, theologies, often ideologies, that have enormous influence over culture. People should and must criticize them and hold them accountable.” After struggling to re-gain the floor from Donohue, she stated “what the Muslims think, and frankly what a lot of Christians think when they get criticized is that they are being insulted. I think it is the same thing, that criticism is taken as an insult and people have to be able to take it. I can take it.”

Hannity then declared “there’s a lot of things about the Islamic faith that I criticize. The treatment of women [and homosexuals]…if you’re a Muslim doesn’t that sound insulting?”

Morris responded by distinguishing between criticism and provocation, saying “if somebody takes a valid, true criticism, truth, as provocation. That’s their fault. Another thing is, for example, to take a cross, turn it upside down, stick it in urine, that’s provocation.”

The discussion then turned into a debate on whether the Pope was simply saying one should not criticize religion or that one cannot. Morris argued that reports that quoted the pope as saying “cannot” were inaccurate translations and that “should not” would be more accurate.

Donohue then said that radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt was wrong in his earlier questioning of Donohue over whether any Catholic archbishop or cardinal agreed with Donohue’s earlier comments regarding the attack because the pope “agree[d] with, virtually every single thing I said.”

Hannity responded by interjecting “the pope’s too liberal for me…I have disagreements. I think he’s a very good, humble, man with a great heart, but I have disagreements with him.” He added that the pope’s statement was poor since some people would interpret it, as a proclamation that one cannot criticize religion, the way he and Powers had.

The discussion then briefly turned into a debate over the pope’s joking analogy regarding punching someone for insulting his mother and whether that was a Christian thing to do.

Hannity then told Donohue “it really bothers me, your characterization that you say the role he played in their death and that if he wasn’t so narcissistic he may be alive today. That to me is, you’re almost blaming him for a stupid cartoon, for people that go nuts every time there’s a cartoon about the prophet.” Donohue again maintained that he was simply explaining why the Charlie Hebdo writers killed, not offering a justification. Powers agreed with Hannity’s sentiment, asking Donohue if he thought women who failed to wear the coverings required by Sharia Law and had acid thrown in her face could be responded to by using her refusal to cover up as an explanation for the attack against her.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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