The second Bense affair
Like in his lectures at university, Bense was outspoken and forthright in front of non-university audiences too. His unmistakably hostile remarks about the Church and the Pope led to heated disputes on the "Bense affair" in the Baden-Württemberg parliament.
On 4 December 1970 Max Bense was interviewed in the "Stuttgarter Nachrichten" newspaper, during which he was asked about the attack on the Pope in Manila:
"Question: Would you also be capable of pulling a knife on someone, on the Pope for instance?
Bense: No, I don't kill.
Question: You don't kill, but you don't object to others doing so?
Bense: Not at all. If someone does that, I might admire them for it. I personally don't do it."
Initiated by the Church, a debate began during which the Christian Democrat parliamentary party called for Bense to appear before a disciplinary hearing and for him to be immediately dismissed from his post. Other parties also reacted with fierce attacks on him. After a huge political uproar and debates on academic freedom, which led to several politicians having to resign, Bense published an extensive public defence and was allowed to continue teaching.