Gov. Bobby Jindal says the pope is being played for a sucker.
Let us hope His Holiness does not think that constitutes mocking religion, for he has already made it known that he prescribes a punch on the nose for such an offense. “Pontiff Biffs Bible Belt Politico” is a headline we never expected to write.
No, it won’t come to that because Jindal is the most ostentatious of Catholics.
He declared in a news release that President Barack Obama “lied” when he told Francis that Americans are “free to live out their faith without fear of intimidation.”
The Jindal news release asserts that “We have Christians who are jailed for their closely held religious beliefs” in this country, which is pretty rich, considering that Jindal called the president a liar in the preceding paragraph.
Jindal is the stranger to the truth around here. All we really have is one court clerk in rural Kentucky, Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed for contempt after defying a court order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. After the pope met briefly with Davis, his spokesman said this did not signify “support of her position.”
But because she cited her faith in the supernatural as a pretext for flouting the law and abandoning her official duties, Jindal went along with the fiction that she is some kind of Christian martyr. He will evidently say anything if he thinks it might make him a contender. No, not in the ring with the pope. In the presidential race.
His disagreements with Obama are not limited to the First Amendment; they are equally at odds over the Second. Catholicism features here, too, for the Second Amendment, like much of the American Bill of Rights, derived somewhat from the English version, adopted in 1689.
The English Bill of Rights granted Protestants the right to “have Arms for their Defence.” This was necessary, the preamble explains, because King James II had caused “severall good Subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when Papists were both Armed and Imployed contrary to Law.”
The English Bill of Rights figures in the American gun debate because the Supreme Court cited it in the landmark Heller ruling in 2008. The English legislation said nothing about membership of a militia, the court observed, in concluding that Americans had an individual right to bear arms notwithstanding the wording of the Second Amendment.
That pretty much ruled out significant gun control in this country. Obama, after the massacre of the week, will always demand it nevertheless. This time, following the Oregon bloodbath, he urged the adoption of “sufficient, common-sense” gun laws and noted that Australia and the United Kingdom, which he called “countries like ours,” have “found ways to prevent” mass shootings.
Jindal, just as predictably, was among the many prominent politicians who reiterated their opposition to gun control. The Jindal view will prevail, of course, because it is plain silly to suggest that, in this respect, Australia and Britain are like us. They did not become nations through revolution or award themselves a constitutional right to bear arms. Moreover, they have parliamentary systems and can impose controls by statute.
Even if Congress did have the power to enact meaningful restrictions on gun ownership off its own bat, it would clearly never do so, and not just because so many of its members quake before the NRA. Americans regard guns as necessary not only for self-defense but for resistance to any government that might seek to abridge our liberties. Thus does the right to bear arms protect our right to bear arms.
The carnage has become the price we are prepared to pay for freedom. If the rest of the world thinks that makes us crazy, then the American view will be that the rest of the world is wrong.
So a few modest measures — laws designed to disarm psychopaths, say — might be feasible. But, if Obama expects major changes, he is only deceiving himself.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.