Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Pope’s Big Mistake

Someone says that my recent controversial post on religious mockery puts me in a hard place over the matter of the Pope’s ill advised quote.

Why? The Pope is able to say things about religion that aren’t helpful. He’s just another guy with too much power. This proves it. I’d have thought it would be more difficult for some of my critics since they will, no doubt, be tempted by their desire to slam the pope on this. But if they do that they will be slamming him over something they claimed as their right when they do it, slamming religion. And The Pope was at least trying to make some kind of point, as bad an idea as that turned out to be. It wasn’t just a bunch of stupid, repetitious junk meant to annoy people without entertainment content.

As for the controversy itself, it being “just a quote”? That’s certainly not relevant to its being a bad idea. If he meant anything by it or not, who knows? The intentions matter to the Vatican they aren’t likely to matter to rioters. Based on the experience of similar information and gossip generated rioting in the past several years, this is exactly the kind of thing that could lead to violent consequences. Those blow up like Aunt Marge.* The Pope has enough of an information collecting infrastructure around him that he should have anticipated that.

I have a deep dislike of Joseph Ratzinger based on his past activities but I don’t think he would have tried to cause the violence that has broken out. He certainly should have guessed this kind of thing could be used by those who would like to incite a mighty sensitive population for their own gain. Will he learn to submit his self-written speeches to people who are in a position to see problems with them and who won’t hold that back? Or will he rely on his own Vatican insiders with every reason to tell him what they think he wants to hear? Maybe that’s the kind of thing that always happens when you have an absolute monarch whose approval can make or break you. Look at what happens around George Bush.

No, the Pope’s blunder isn’t a time to hold back criticism. It's important. This kind of thing not only calls for a critique, it makes it mandatory. That’s a job for thought, not canned snark.

* If he’d read the third Harry Potter he’d know how thoughtless comments can balloon. He should read it to a group of his courtiers as penance.

Good post.
Thank you, Sanjay. I hope the quality is making up for the lack of quantity. Work is the curse of the blogging class.
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