Here at Naked Protesters we are really troubled by the power implications of this story — I did not realize that we still live in a world that lets bishops demand (and get) criminal charges for mocking the pope:
Carnegie Mellon University’s review of two students’ public nudity at an on-campus parade last month came to this conclusion Friday by the university president: Students have the right to express controversial views, but not to break the law.
In a letter sent to the university community, President Jared L. Cohon wrote that campus police had filed misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure against two students, identified in court records as Katherine B. O’Connor, 19, and Robb S. Godshaw, 22.
The parade, a College of Fine Arts tradition known as the “Annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby,” took place April 18 on the area of CMU’s campus known as the “cut” as part of the university’s spring carnival. That afternoon, campus police were notified that a naked woman was on campus, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman, later identified as Ms. O’Connor, was wearing a pope costume, but had no clothing below her waist, and on her pubic area was the shape of a cross.
The nudity incidents, noted by campus police on the day of the event, became more high profile after Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik expressed concern about Ms. O’Connor’s display, saying it was offensive. CMU officials investigated following Bishop Zubik’s complaint, and on May 1, Mr. Cohon wrote a letter to the community apologizing to those who were offended.
The decision today, to file charges, was greeted positively by Catholic officials.
Bishop Zubik, in a statement Friday, acknowledged that CMU “has taken the time to treat this unfortunate incident in a serious manner.
“Once again, and as I have said over these last few weeks, this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race, the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality.”
First of all, Bishop Zubik is an idiot and an asshole. Freedom of speech does indeed mean precisely the freedom to disrespect the sacredness of religious belief! And he’s an educated man, so he knows that — which makes him a lying idiot and asshole, to boot.
Just to be clear, let’s recaps the sequence of events, shall we?
- Girl wears a pope hat and no pants. In a parade. With creative pubic topiary.
- Campus police note the incident, but don’t otherwise give a shit.
- Bishop Zubik gets his robes knotted around his genitals and starts complaining.
- CMU investigates, having not been interested previously.
- To placate the bishop, the CMU administration instructs the campus police to file indecent exposure charges.
In 21st-century America, can you believe it?