Pharyngula

You can’t trust a Murdoch paper

I was a bit suspicious of this story that Dawkins and Hitchens were going to “ambush” and “arrest” the Pope when he showed up in England. It was just a little too sensationalistic, too out of character. I was right.

Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5366
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.

Comments

  1. #1 shonny
    April 11, 2010

    Geoffrey Robertson is a top bloke, and not easily intimidated.
    Should be fun if the Paedophilia-enabler-in-chief has to cancel his trip to the UK!
    Either way it will receive a lot of adverse publicity.

  2. #2 daedalus4u
    April 11, 2010

    I have blogged about some aspects of this. The Holy See has signed international agreements that state that there is no immunity for a head of state for crimes against humanity.

    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-call-goodwins-law.html

    The Pope and his minions are not stupid. I think by September, they will realize that the Pope is culpable in the continued torture of children by priests and that any fair tribunal will find the Pope guilty of crimes against humanity for not stopping it when he clearly had the opportunity to. If his office can delay defrocking a priest, then they are in charge and can accelerate it too. They only delayed. They are culpable.

    I think the Pope will cancel his trip to the UK for fear of arrest and prosecution. The UK government cannot give him guarantees that he will not be arrested.

  3. #3 neon-elf.myopenid.com
    April 11, 2010

    That’s a thread heading that definitely deserves a ‘no shit, sherlock’ response.

  4. #4 jidashdee
    April 11, 2010

    Who would play Joey the Rat in a movie version of his scurrilous life?

    I honestly can’t think of anyone currently alive that’s creepy enough. Peter Lorre comes to mind, but is tragically unavailable and even he would need a ton of makeup to get that supervillain-living-in-a-hollowed-out-volcano look.

    Wait. Eureka moment! Ian McDiarmid. If you can play a Sith Lord then surely you can crank it up one more notch.

  5. #5 llewelly
    April 11, 2010

    Richard Dawkins:

    What I DID say to Marc Horne … I declined to comment to Marc Horme …

    Horne? Horme? Hormel?

  6. #6 recovering catholic
    April 11, 2010

    Isn’t it refreshing to learn that even Richard Dawkins forgets things at times? Or misplaces that little piece of paper he wrote someone’s name on?
    Thanks, PZ. I was puzzled when I read that article, thinking un-Dawkins-like it would be for him to physically approach Ratzi and say “I place you under citizen’s arrest for crimes against humanity!”

  7. #7 HidariMak
    April 11, 2010

    Seeing Richard Dawkins endorsing Pope Ratzi is kind of like seeing Jon Stuart endorsing Sarah Palin. It would be nice if the same effect could be achieved without all of the collateral damage that comes with it.

  8. #8 raven
    April 11, 2010

    I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

    Dawkins makes a good point.

    The greatest allies of the No Relgions are…some xians.

    The vaguely humanoid toad leaders like Falwell, Hagee, Parsley, Robertson, Dobson, Ham etc..

    The xian terrorists such as MD assassins, Hutaree militia wannabe cop killers, and the assorted loons that toss off death threats like normal people say Hi.

    The Perpetual Liars for jesus hordes who hate secular democracy, the USA, science, the Enlightenment, and most of humanity.

    With such an illustrious cast of advocates, US xianity is slowly shaking itself apart. Someday, this Pope will get the Distinguished “A” medal in the fight to save the USA from toxic, malevolent religion.

  9. #9 louis14
    April 11, 2010

    I’ve been trying to quote Dawkins’ comment in the Times Online comments for a couple of hours now. It hasn’t appeared yet – it keeps getting moderated out.

    llewelly @ #5 – I see you posted the same dumb comment on RD.net. It’s a typo – get over it.

  10. #10 ambulocetacean
    April 11, 2010

    Re headlines: One main reason they’re written by sub-editors rather than by reporters is because when reporters file their stories they don’t know what the layout of the page will look like and so don’t know how many characters they will have to work with.

    The other is that headline writing is a real art (especially when you’re stuck with three or four decks across a single column), and sub-editors are far better and more experienced at it than reporters are.

    Problems arise when a sub either doesn’t understand the story and/or its context and/or implications and writes an inaccurate headline. Of course, reporters should write clearly and unambiguously so this doesn’t happen. And if the sub still doesn’t understand it he/she should call the reporter.

    Unfortunately, many papers (usually tabloids, but frequently also Sunday broadsheets) deliberately go with senational and misleading headlines to sell papers and/or keep eyeballs on the page. Which is both insulting and stupid. The Sunday Times headline is a terrible example.

  11. #11 llewelly
    April 11, 2010

    louis14 | April 11, 2010 11:55 AM:

    llewelly @ #5 – I see you posted the same dumb comment on RD.net. It’s a typo – get over it.

    Seriously, can you tell me you read about a Murdoch paper and didn’t think about a certain Hormel canned food product?

  12. #12 Jason Ball
    April 11, 2010

    I’m glad the headline was so sensationalist and over-the-top; it has attracted more attention than anyone could have hoped for, don’t you think?

    As Dawkins said, it’s about “raising public consciousness” about the issues.

    Mission accomplished.

    #PopeArrest soon to become a trending topic on Twitter…

  13. #13 Pierce R. Butler
    April 11, 2010

    Murdoch papers are the quintessence of reliability – when compared with Murdoch broadcasts.

  14. #14 Jason Ball
    April 11, 2010

    I rather like Allison Kilkenny’s take on the case for arresting the Pope.

  15. #15 Pierce R. Butler
    April 11, 2010

    Speaking of Hitchens – I recently attended an episode (at the U of Florida) of his debate series with D’Souza, and was struck by his almost total restraint on the obvious topics du jour concerning DD’s Holy Mama Church.

    Hard to believe that anti-saint Christopher is mellowing to such a degree. Could he have been practicing discretion for the next evening’s gig (at Notre Dame), or is there some sort of New Atheist Kewl Kid rule against grabbing for ripe, juicy low-hanging fruit?

    Or could he have succumbed to a threat from his dance partner to break up their remunerative act if he didn’t lay off the people who won’t lay off the kids/gays/pregnant women/cock socks?

  16. #16 Givesgoodemail
    April 11, 2010

    I should know better than to trust a Murdoch news source.

    My bad.

  17. #17 Orac
    April 11, 2010

    Actually, it’s not entirely true that you can’t trust a Murdoch paper. For instance, investigative reporter Brian Deer published his exposes of anti-vaccine crank Brian Wakefield in a Murdoch-owned paper.

  18. #18 Richard Dawkins
    April 11, 2010

    I have just submitted the following to the relevant page of the Sunday Times electronic edition. It’ll be interesting to see whether the moderators let it through:-

    Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. So all the vicious attacks on me for seeking publicity etc are misplaced. The headline is, in fact, a barefaced lie.

    Marc Horne, the Sunday Times reporter, telephoned me out of the blue and asked whether I was aware of the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit. Yes, I said. He asked me if I was in favour of their initiative. Yes, I said, I am strongly in favour of it. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horne, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341
    How the headline writer could go from there to “Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” is obscure to me.

    The history is as follows. Christopher Hitchens first proposed to me the idea of a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5366
    The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

    Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.

    But the Sunday Times headline is a straight lie, and the paper should apologise, both to me and to Marc Horne, the author.

    Richard Dawkins

  19. #19 Antiochus Epimanes
    April 11, 2010

    And then there’s inaccuracy stemming from some headline writers’ incompetence. I’ve worked for several newspapers, none of which really tried to sex up the headlines (none were Murdoch-owned), but the one I left several months ago had a well-deserved reputation for bizarrely inaccurate, occasionally incomprehensible, headlines. Several of my stories bore heds that said the exact opposite of the text. One editor wrote heds that had nothing to do with anything mentioned in the story, and the copy desk in general freely admitted that they didn’t actually read stories before slapping a headline on them. Best of all was the longtime copy editor who had the wrong candidate winning a local election. It was right in the story, but not in the hed.

  20. #20 Sir Eccles
    April 11, 2010

    I think it is interesting that the public perception of the current pope is so different to the previous one.

    John Paul II was quite well liked, relatively nice guy. He didn’t often get called by his real name. Pope Rat, Ratzi, Ratzenberger is pretty much predominantly called by his real name rather than Pope Benedict the whatever (see, no one even knows which number he is). I think that speaks volumes to the lack of respect he has brought to the position. He isn’t much liked it seems.

    One could almost surmise a conspiracy theory whereby knowing his complicity in the alleged crimes he is made head of state to avoid arrest.

  21. #21 Jason Ball
    April 11, 2010

    “Professor Richard Dawkins is on the war path” this article from the Australian press is particularly dumb and misinformed: http://www.news.com.au/world/richard-dawkins-promises-to-arrest-pope-benedict-xvi/story-e6frfkyi-1225852464459

  22. #22 irenedelse
    April 11, 2010

    Orac (#17) has a point. Ideally, one should trust Murdoch papers no less and no more than other media, but read them all critically. And keep the bullsh_t detectors fine-tuned at all times!

  23. #23 louis14
    April 11, 2010

    louis14 | April 11, 2010 11:55 AM:

    llewelly @ #5 – I see you posted the same dumb comment on RD.net. It’s a typo – get over it.

    Seriously, can you tell me you read about a Murdoch paper and didn’t think about a certain Hormel canned food product?

    Apologies llewelly. This has to be a culture/country thing. I’ve never heard of Hormel (not on sale in the UK, I think). Didn’t get the joke. I withdraw my snippiness.

  24. #24 Sili
    April 11, 2010

    I don’t care if the git visits his flock or not, but it really really shouldn’t be paid for by the English/British taxpayer (forgive for not knowing if those too are separated).

    Even if we accept the claim that he’s a head of state, would the same attention, pomp, circumstance and money really be lavish on Hans-Adam II, Joan Enric Vives Sicília or Albert II?

    If we look at him as a religious leader, would they give Rick Warren and Pat Robertson the royal treatment? What about Lhamo Döndrub, Sai Baba og Sun Myung Moon?

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?
    April 11, 2010

    Pope Benedict the whatever (see, no one even knows which number he is)

    Speak for yourself. He’s the sixteenth, like that tragic French king.

  26. #26 louis14
    April 11, 2010

    Still can’t get the above quote from Dawkins posted on the Times Online article’s comment section. Anyone else want to have a go?

  27. #27 VonWatters
    April 11, 2010

    I’d like to think Ratzo would get arrested if he landed here, but it’s about as likely as the arrest of Tony Blair (though citizens arrests have been attempted) or visiting Israeli top brass for war crimes ie not happening. We even let Pinochet go home.

    @Sili #24: The UK taxpayer – I’ll be coughing up from Wales.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    April 11, 2010

    The fact remains that Dawkins should arrest the Pope. But it wold be cool if PZ did the deed.

    Either way …

  29. #29 SEF
    April 11, 2010

    He’s the sixteenth, like that tragic French king.

    I had him as being B-16 like the bomber – and it evidently caught on since it’s now in wikipedia!

  30. #30 Meathead
    April 11, 2010

    Aww, and here I was all ready to start writing the screenplay for a hilarious new buddy cop movie with Dawkins and Hitchens. We would get those guys from Hot Fuzz since it’s set in the U.K.

  31. #31 Andyo
    April 11, 2010

    The fact remains that Dawkins should arrest the Pope. But it wold be cool if PZ did the deed.

    Now THAT’s an NBC cop show I would watch. Who’s “Law” and who’s “Order”?

  32. #32 andy.wetmore
    April 11, 2010

    He’s the sixteenth, like that tragic French king.

    I had him as being B-16 like the bomber – and it evidently caught on since it’s now in wikipedia!

    I favor (someone else’s coinage) Benny Hex.

  33. #33 Stardrake
    April 11, 2010

    louis14 @23:

    Hormel is the company that invented and still makes SPAM.

    (Cue Viking chorus…)

  34. #34 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    April 11, 2010

    @Meathead

    Simon Pegg as RD and Nick Frost as the Hitch?

    Hm, wonder who to cast as Ratzi… It’s a pity that Marty Feldman died because that’d work. Be about the right age now too.

  35. #35 blf
    April 11, 2010

    The Pffft of all Knowledge (Wikipedia) claims:

    Richard Dawkins started a campaign to arrest Benedict “for crimes against humanity”.[126]

    126. Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI The Times, 11 April 2010.

  36. #36 Sean Ellis
    April 11, 2010

    Don’t forget to sign the “de-recognize the Vatican” petition at:

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoVaticanState/

    And also listen to the latest episode of The Pod Delusion, which has a section on Vatican Statehood:

    http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2010/04/04/episode-28-2nd-april-2010/

  37. #37 tsig0
    April 11, 2010

    Joey the Rat AKA The Pedophile Pope AKA Pope Peddy.

    Crime:

    Conspired to cover up acts of pedophilia.

  38. #38 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 11, 2010

    You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

    That’s the reason why the Fox News Channel can’t be trusted, either.

  39. #39 louis14
    April 11, 2010

    louis14 @23:
    Hormel is the company that invented and still makes SPAM.
    (Cue Viking chorus…)

    My life is a quest for knowledge. It’s part of the reason I come here. Thanks for aiding in my quest!

  40. #40 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 11, 2010

    Pilty’s overweening love of the Catholic Church and his refusal to admit the Church ever did anything wrong was just one reason he was banned.

  41. #41 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    April 11, 2010

    Hoax, your dishonesty and attempt to obfuscate is unbecoming. For years, there were panics about the abuse of children in various institutions. Most have been shown to be based on nothing. The main things that were learned from the destruction of many lives was this, check the evidence and be careful of leading the children under question on. But for the abuses that Benny kept covered up, THERE IS FUCKING EVIDENCE FOR THE ABUSES AND RAPES!

    You are showing just how full of shit you are by trying to use those paragraphs by Dawkins in order to show how he is being a hypocrite. Yet again, you show just how much of a moral monster you are; never mind the harm caused by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Richard Dawkins is being a hypocrite.

  42. #42 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 11, 2010

    I see, for the moment, a banned and deleted on sight insipid troll, both trolling and being inane and insipid. If you are deleted on sight, why bother posting? What an unintelligent loser.

  43. #43 WowbaggerOM
    April 11, 2010

    Do you know how many Catholic priests have been found guilty of pederastic crimes over, say, the past 50 years?

    Duh! That’s the whole point, ‘Miltdown’ – the Church has been protecting them so they haven’t been arrested and tried. Obviously the numbers aren’t going to be a) very high, or b) accurately reflect the occurrences.

  44. #44 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    April 11, 2010

    If a crime is covered up. it never really happened.

    I know you are still reading, Hoax, and I want you to know this: I really hate you. You have allowed your devotion to an inhumane organization to destroy anything decent in you.

    Also, as much as you love to show off your arcane knowledge, you are a moron. You know your litter will be swept up and placed in the dust bin yet you keep dumping your shit. Perhaps you think that if you keep showing up here, you might change some minds. But I have news for you, that is just an other fiction you keep feeding yourself. Now show you have some fucking intelligence and learn from your experience, stop commenting.

  45. #45 theGobi
    April 11, 2010

    ‘Miltdown’, ‘Hoax’ and others — you still reading?

    You seem to want to defend these crimes so how about some old-timey justice applied to you?

    Unlike the current situation with the Pope and clergy, I have no evidence — but my perusal of these old church-based legal systems leads me to think that it is overated.

    Please answer:

    1. How long you have been a witch paedophile?
    2. When did you first start to cavhort with the devil internet?
    3. Who are the other members of your coven pedophile ring?

    Of course you would have to be submitted to torture anyway, just to be sure…

    Unless, of course, you are clergy and not just one of the common folk.

    I understand that your comments are being deleted so you can’t answer here, but you can always pop down to the local church and confess.

    Don’t worry though, the priest will most likely not call the police like any moral person would because they need to protect the reputation of the church.

  46. #46 Peter G.
    April 11, 2010

    Sure you can trust a Murdoch paper. Trust is merely an expectation of a given behavior. You can trust them to never tell the truth. They almost always meet my expectations.

  47. #47 AJ Milne
    April 11, 2010

    Rupert Murdoch says sub-editors at his papers who do not wildly sensationalize headlines are regularly fired

    by AJ Milne, staff

    Some guy at a bar who was almost certainly in no way, shape or form actually Rupert Murdoch said drunkenly to his mates the other afternoon that at a Murdoch paper, if you didn’t tart up the headline at least a little, you’d probably get in some sort of unspecified trouble…

    (/Mandatory.)

  48. #48 Sean Ellis
    April 12, 2010

    Sorry about the petition I mentioned in #36, guys. The UK Government have paused it for a few weeks while they have an “election”. Sounds important – you’d have thought that they’d at least have talked about it on the news.

  49. #49 Moggie
    April 12, 2010

    #27:

    I’d like to think Ratzo would get arrested if he landed here, but it’s about as likely as the arrest of Tony Blair (though citizens arrests have been attempted) or visiting Israeli top brass for war crimes ie not happening. We even let Pinochet go home.

    IANAL, but I think a citizen’s arrest of the pope is unlikely to be legal, even if it’s ruled that he’s not immune. Under the laws of England and Wales, one of the necessary conditions for a citizen’s arrest is that the person performing the arrest believes that it’s not practical to leave it to the police. Everywhere the pope goes during his visit, there’s likely to be a police presence for security, so the legal thing to do is to approach one of those cops and say “officer, arrest that pope!” You can imagine what the outcome of that would be.

  50. #50 tutone21
    April 12, 2010

    I read the article and the comments by Dawkins. I don’t know if Marc Horne has any control over the title at all, but it makes him look like an idiot!

    More entertaining than the articles were the comments on the times page. Some real gems on there! I did have a question though and wanted to see if anyone here knew the answer. Who is Denish D’Souza and what happened at the debate with Hitchens? There were several posts saying Hitchens lost badly and I wondered what would lead the “Christianists” to say this. Of course they also said that Hitchens doesn’t speak ill of the Muslim religion and that Christ died for our sins so maybe they are a little off on the assessment…just a guess!

  51. #51 aratina cage
    April 12, 2010

    Troll cleanup on aisle 51, PZ.

  52. #52 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    April 12, 2010

    Wrong Pilty,

    The reason you are despised isn’t because you disagree with people here. It’s because you won’t back up those disagreements. If you were anything like heddle (can’t believe I just defended him) you wouldn’t have been banned.

  53. #53 V. infernalis
    April 15, 2010

    Check out this editorial from self-described “atheist libertarian” Brendan O’Neill in another Murdoch rag, The Australian:

    There is nothing remotely positive in the demand that British cops lock up the Pope and then drag him to some international court on charges of “crimes against humanity”. Instead it springs from an increasingly desperate and discombobulated secularism, one that, unable to assert itself positively through enlightening society and celebrating the achievements of mankind, asserts itself negatively, even repressively, through ridiculing the religious.

  54. #54 Walton
    April 15, 2010

    As I have repeatedly explained on other threads, the Pope cannot be arrested by the British police, nor can he be tried for any crime whatsoever by a British court. He has immunity, under the State Immunity Act 1978 and under recognised principles of customary international law, as the head of a foreign sovereign state. This gives him complete freedom from arrest and detention, and complete immunity from the jurisdiction of the British courts, whether he is acting in an official or a private capacity. This is known as immunity ratione personae. It attaches to all current heads of state, heads of government and senior government ministers, whenever they are travelling in a foreign country. Its main purpose is to ensure that state officials can travel freely to other states for purposes of conducting international relations.

    The Pinochet case was different because Pinochet was a former head of state at the time of his arrest, so he was no longer immune ratione personae. He could therefore legally be arrested. The British courts still had to consider issues of immunity in deciding whether to grant the extradition request – these issues being complex, and relating to a different kind of immunity (immunity ratione materiae) which is outside the scope of this discussion – but Pinochet was not entitled to absolute personal immunity, because he was no longer the Chilean head of state. This is not the case with the Pope.

    The only courts which could exercise jurisdiction over the Pope, in international law, are (a) the courts of the Vatican City itself; or (b) international criminal tribunals, such as the International Criminal Court in the Hague. But the jurisdiction of international criminal tribunals is strictly limited to a few special international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and related offences).

  55. #55 strange gods before me ?
    April 17, 2010

    Walton, don’t you agree that evading a block is trollery?

  56. #56 strange gods before me ?
    April 17, 2010

    That’s a weird … bug? I was seeing “Miltdown Pan” on the left side and I thought this thread was current.