Naked in papal regalia

David Zubik, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, on the decision to file charges against a CMU student who paraded naked in papal regalia:

[T]his 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.

It seems like a fairly strange conclusion to reach, given that the student faces misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure, not impiety. Moreover, CMU President Jared Cohon announced that the University wouldn’t take any disciplinary action, and that while “many found the students’ activities deeply offensive, the university upholds their right to create works of art and express their ideas.”

I think this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that respect can’t be legislated — and even if it could, wouldn’t it lose a big part of its meaning?