Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dawkins' witch-hunt

Dawkins' latest invitation to anti-religious hatred has been to call for the arrest and prosecution of Pope Benedict when he visits the UK in September. Dawkins' article in Tuesday's The Guardian newspaper proceeds by attempting to muddy the waters around the Pope's involvement in the case of an abusing priest by drawing an analogy between the actions of the Pope (then, Cardinal Ratzinger) and those of a teacher in a secular institution who failed to report a teacher, who he knew to be abusing children, to the police. But Dawkins' analogy is a misrepresentation of the facts because the priest in question had already been reported to the police. In the letter repeatedly cited in the current media frenzy the then cardinal was treating the issue of whether the priest should also be defrocked, which, as a matter of fact, he subsequently was. But then atheists never let facts get in the way of a good story as anyone who is accustomed to reading the wildly defamatory, and usually violent, comments by atheists on comment threads understands. For instance, this piece of erudite reasoning was posted under Dawkins' article in The Guardian: 'Lets accuse him [Pope Benedict] of witchcraft and see if he floats'.

Dawkins' attempt to make child abuse into an anti-religious issue, and specifically an attack on the Roman Catholic priesthood per se draws attention away from the widespread incidence of child abuse which is endemic throughout society, in secular, as well as religious, institutions and in the family. Indeed research indicates that the incidence of child abuse is higher in the general population and in secular institutions than among Roman Catholic clergy. But what tops all this in terms of hypocrisy is Dawkins' sudden interest in the topic of child abuse given his previous lack of concern for such victims voiced in The God Delusion. There he complains about the 'hysteria' and 'mob psychology' over pedophilia which he likens to a witch-hunt. Yet he has shown himself only too happy to ignite the hysteria of the mob when it suits his atheist agenda. In particular, his ill-judged comment that subjecting one's child to a Catholic education was in itself more damaging than sexual abuse had the effect of branding millions of teachers and parents who send their children to Catholic schools as guilty of crimes more heinous than those of a child rapist.