PZ writes: Not the puppy dog!:
Religion really does make people crazy. Here’s a story about a dog who walked into a Jewish court.
“The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave, reports Israeli website Ynet.”
“It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog.”
So, obviously, this stray mutt must contain the displaced, reincarnated soul of a dead lawyer. At least, that’s what somebody steeped in magical thinking would assume.
If you have an animal possessed by the soul of a lawyer (what? Satan was busy?), what’s the next step? Obviously, you have to kill the dog, and since you’re a traditionalist, stoning is the method of choice. Again, if you’re full of theological wackiness.
Then, because you are incompetent at managing reality rather than your fantasy life, the dog escapes (Hooray! There’s one heartwarming moment in this story, at least). What to do next? Tell all the children to hunt down the dog and kill it.
Way to pass on humane values to your kids, rabbis!
To his title’s exclamation, we can now reply: No, not the puppy dog. Turns out, the story was invented by an Israeli animal rights group, has been retracted by the paper with an apology to readers and the court. The dog was collected by the municipal animal shelter (and thus did not escape, contra PZ). The crazy people were the animal rights folks, and the atheists who credulously jumped on the story. As to the humane values passed down by rabbis, here’s what the rabbi told the paper, after categorically denying the original account: “There is no basis for cruelty to animals, not in Halacha (Jewish religious law) and not in logic.”
PZ hasn’t commented on this retraction.
This comes barely a week after PZ asked What has happened to Amina?, referring to “the young Syrian woman who was threatened with rape by Islamist thugs” who, PZ told his readers, “disappeared a few days ago.” “This is the world we live in, that such nightmares can occur,” he wrote, after quoting an account of her alleged abduction posted to her blog.
Except it turns out Amina doesn’t exist. She isn’t a young Syrian “gay girl,” as the blog claimed. Amina was actually Tom McMaster, a 40 year-old man from Georgia, studying the Middle East in Scotland. He told the Washington Post, “he fictionalized the account of a gay woman in Syria to illuminate the situation for a Western audience,” and justified the fictions he perpetrated by writing: “While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.”
PZ took McMaster to task, saying “Screw you… you have undermined authentic voices. Lies never help.” He has not corrected the original post where he perpetuated those same lies, even though the first comment on that post notes that Amina’s story was already considered fishy.
Remember back when Chris Mooney published an account of a purported incident of an atheist insulting his audience’s religion, and then it turned out that the key parts of the story were made up, and Chris Mooney issued repeated corrections and apologies (including edits to earlier posts). And remember how PZ said: “The only good thing to come out of the whole sordid mess was a tarnishing of the reputation of … Mooney”?
Of course, Mooney didn’t just acknowledge and call out his commenter’s ethical failings (as PZ called out McMaster), Mooney also apologized on his own behalf to his readers for having elevated the profile of those fictions, even after he’d made a good faith (but clearly insufficient) effort to check the story’s facts.
If that’s what PZ thinks it takes to tarnish a reputation, I’d hate to think what he’d say about someone who repeatedly promotes fake stories (two in 8 days!) and doesn’t take responsibility for it.